I have a Ruger 77 MkII that just came back from having a new Krieger barrel fitted. It was NOT cheap, but Krieger appears to have done some very nice work. Sadly, Krieger has since changed their policy on which actions they will fit a barrel to and the Ruger actions are no longer on the list.
I have not fired the rifle yet, so I cannot comment on its performance or whether or not the money spent was worth it. I have put some handloads together and am still working on the bedding. I am waiting for some decent weather to put it through its paces.
I have about $1500 in the rifle (including the purchase price of the rifle), not counting optics. Most of the money I have in the rifle has been spent on the barrel. I currently have the rifle in a factory laminated stock that I bought from Midway USA. I could have kept the original walnut stock and saved some money, but I had different plans when I ditched the original stock.
If you wish to economize, here is my advice:
1. Order a contoured chrome moly barrel blank. One can be ordered from various sources online. A contoured blank will cost you about $90 at the low end for an Adams & Bennett to about $400 at the high end for a Hart or Krieger.
2. When you have your barrel blank in hand, strip the action and the bolt and send them both to Mark Skaggs. Have him true the action face, lap the bolt lugs, thread/chamber/install the barrel. He has put barrels on several of my rifles. He does good work at a fair price. If desired, you can also have Mark apply a bake-on finish while he has your rifle for the action and barrel work. The barrel and action work will cost you about $150 and the bake-on finish will cost you about $100.
3. Once the barrel and action are together, you can do the metal finishing yourself. Alternatively, you should have little difficulty finding someone to do the metal finish work for you since the action type will have little or no bearing on finding someone to do this sort of work.
4a. Assuming you have not had an overly large barrel contour installed, order the correct pillars from Brownells and pillar bed the action into the factory stock. My ruger has a #4 contour barrel installed and there was easily enough material in the factory stock to accommodate it once the barrel channel was opened up.
4b. Select a stock that fits your budget (Stocky's and Midway are two good sources). If the stock has a bedding block, skim bed the action. If it does not have a bedding block, pillar bed it.
5. Replace the trigger, if desired.
If you go with an A&B barrel and don't replace the stock or the trigger, you should be able to have your build together for about $450ish. Cost goes up from there.
Personally, I like the Ruger Mk II actions. They have some great, classic features (3 position safety, claw extractor, box ejector) and can be had at a reasonable price. Of course, they are not at the top of the list among competition shooters, but I don't see that as the only measure of a rifle/action. For a rifle that is meant to be used afield, I think the Ruger is just as good as any other non-custom action.
Shoot, enjoy, and let us know how your build turned out!