By John Johnston

In 1962 Remington came out with their 7mm Remington Magnum. It was a surprise for the sporting arms industry since metric rounds had not been especially popular in USA up to then. Remington designed the round to fit their 700 long action. Winchester could not be out done and the next year produced a round they called the .300 Winchester Magnum. Both rounds are based on the tried and true .375 H&H in one form or the other. . The 7mm magnum case is a little shorter at 2.5 inches compared to the 2.62 inches of the .300 Winchester Magnum; this gives the .300 case a 11.8gr. larger water (powder) capacity. Up to the time when the .300 Winchester Magnum joined the firing line of the major long range contests, the .300 H&H magnum had held all the trophies for long range shooting. The .300 Winchester Magnum has shown it has tremendous value to the snipers of the military and law enforcement. This round has also shown its value in civilian target competitions and hunting.


The Ruger Kodiak Mark 77 Long Range Target Rifle, mounted with a Riton 24x50 RT-S5 scope

When I sat down to write this review it was difficult to believe the number of all the variations of ammunition which is currently available in the .300 Winchester Magnum. If you are a reloader there are over fifty different weight bullets available in hundreds of designs, weights, lengths, purposes etc. The ballistic coefficients are very high with those long heavy bullets which the .300 Winchester Magnum can spit out.

Ruger, which stays in touch with the interests of the public, builds a rifle which is called the Kodiak Model 77 Long Range Target. It comes in .300 Winchester Magnum, 6.5 PRC and 6.5 Creedmoor. Normally I would have chosen one of the 6.5 calibers to review but like a lot of you, I just simply wanted to shoot a round that can really reach out there so I selected the .300 Winchester Magnum. The Ruger 77 Long Range Target rifle is 48 inches long. The stock is made of a laminated wood core which is covered with a polymer resin coating.


The barrel channel

To keep the stock stiff, there are three bolts from side to side through the stock. The recoil pad is substantial and the rifle comes with two half inch shims which can be easily attached under the recoil pad to meet your needs. Next is a cheek piece that moves up and down as well as front to back. It works easily to help the rifle and scope fit your body.

There is also a small cut out on the bottom of the butt stock. This is there for the bench and prone shooters. You put your off hand under the stock to help you move the stock to meet your aim. Under the front of the stock is a steel plate bolted to the bottom. This is where you can attach your flush mounted sling swivel and/or an accessory rail. The rear flush mounted sling base is installed at the factory on the right side of the butt stock.


The mounting plate for accessories

The muzzle brake is a new design of Ruger's in an effort to reduce the muzzle blast. There is a thread protector also in the box. The barrel is tapered from .86" to a little over 1" at the action. It is hammer forged, with 5 R rifling. After all the shooting I did, there was no sign of fouling plus it was easy to clean, which I did after every 20 rounds. The rifle is not the typical Ruger and has a 20 MOA scope base screwed to the action. The trigger is the best trigger I have seen Ruger produce. It is an adjustable two stage trigger. The first stage is 1 pound 10 ounces with the second stage set at 2 pounds 6 ounces. I did not see any sense in adjusting it as it was sweet out of the box.


Ruger's new muzzle brake

The action is fed by a synthetic magazine. The problem here was that some the rounds that had Berger bullets were just barely too long for the magazine. The magazine was 3.58" inside measurement and the Berger rounds were 3.60" overall length. I just fed them one at a time. If you have a particular round that is too long just see if you could seat the bullet down into the case just enough. The rifle was fairly heavy at 11.66 pounds without the scope rings and ammunition. Fully loaded it weighed in at 13.49 pounds. It probably is not a rifle you want to haul around the mountains. The front action screw is installed at 95 pounds of torque and the rear at 45 pounds


The recoil lug recess

In order to get the best accuracy out of this Ruger, I chose a scope from a fairly new optics company, Riton, pronounced, Right-On. The owner has a work history with the US Air Force and US Secret Service. I had used one of their scopes and a pair of binoculars last year on an elk hunt. The hunt was rough and we spent a lot of time on the glass. The scope gathered light very well. One morning an elk came out just at light and before my guide could finish saying" take him" the elk was on the ground at over 140 yards. He had taken one step and dropped. The 6.5 PRC Havak had spoken.

So for this test I decided to get another Riton. This scope was 6-24x50 RT-S5 with a lighted reticle, with MOA adjustments, 30mm tube, 70 MOA of vertical adjustment, all for less than $600.00. It was very easy to sight in and set the zero. The company replaces scopes within three days when sent in because of a factory failure. For the money it is excellent, with great Japanese glass and coatings. Mounted with Burris tactical rings, the scope stayed solid all through testing and believe me it got a good taste of high recoil rounds. I now own three Riton scopes and a pair of their binoculars.

All the shooting was done from a reloading and shooting room which is 116 yards from the targets on the side a pond dam. I have a portable shooting bench on a trailer set at 100 yards but the weather was not real pleasant. All velocities were measured by my LabRadar set to take the reading at 15 feet from the end of the barrel. I sighted in the Ruger and broke in the barrel with some old 150 grain rounds I had had for years. It was sighted in "dead center" of the target. Each brand or type of ammunition was shot three times for a group size, velocity and standard deviation, then the next brand and so on. After which the three shot groups were shot again. Each of the ammunitions were shot a total of 9 rounds with the exception of one or two that I shot another round since I pulled one.

What amazed me was that even though I sighted the rifle to shoot dead center of the target, all the other ammunition impacted within 3 inches of the center. The rifle and scope performed exceptionally well.


Shooting Results

The velocities and SD's are the average of the three rounds shot. The group is the best of the three groups shot. This rifle and scope can shoot just about any ammunition very well.

The Ruger Kodiak 77 Long Range Target is a lot of rifle for the suggested retail of $1279. It would be great for long range bench shooting, F Class competition, long range hunting or any shooting that requires rounds to reach 1000 + yards accurately. The only thing I would do to the rifle is bed the action. As you can see in the photo, the recoil lug takes a beating.

The Riton scope is also a great buy for the money. It seems well built but you cannot see the gears and parts inside. Only time will tell as to how well it stands up to the twisting of the elevation and windage turrets but that is pretty much true of most scopes. With such a great warranty, there should be no problem.

For our readers wanting to get into long range shooting, this combination is a very good start.


Rifle and scope in a case

After twenty-five years with a major law enforcement agency, John Johnston retired to the hill country of central Texas. His law enforcement career was diverse with assignments with the tactical/motorcycle unit, patrol, and criminal investigation. After retiring, writing became his calling. He started with a newspaper column, which he still writes, and then he moved up to major magazines in the area of shooting and hunting. He is known for his unbiased product testing and evaluations. Having a full size range from 25-450 yards next to his home was his dream come true. 2010 marked his fiftieth anniversary in the hunting, shooting and reloading sports. You will notice his writing style is quite relaxed and he prefers to write like he is speaking to you around a camp fire. John welcomes questions and comments whether good or bad. You can reach John at [email protected].