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Gun Review: Ruger K77/22-VBZ
Spend this summer sharpening your shooting skills — fall comes quick, and you need to be ready. And that’s where the Ruger K77/22-VBZ comes in…
As a young lad I wandered the hills and coulees of Southern Alberta with my trusty Daisy BB gun and dreamed of the day when I would eventually own my first .22 calibre rifle. That day finally came when I had socked away enough hard earned paper route money to buy a Cooey .22 calibre single-shot rifle. I then spent every spare dime I made on buying ammo for that rifle. In the ensuing years I have never gone without one or more a .22 calibre rifles in my arsenal. It is without a doubt my favourite cartridge and I have shot literally tens of thousands of rounds through them. Back a few years, when I was heavily into .22 calibre silhouette shooting, I bought ammo not by the box or brick but by the case — and usually a case or two at a time. I’m not alone, as it is the most popular cartridge in North America with billions of rounds being sold annually.
The .22 is fun and inexpensive to shoot and provide a great way through year-round practice to keep you sharp for each and every hunting season. But the question has always remained — just what .22 calibre rifle should I buy in order to provide the best form of practice?
There are a lot of fine .22 calibre rifles on the market these days but I went looking for a rifle that would meet a number of definitive criteria. These criteria included: the rifle must closely match a centrefire rifle in fit, size and weight, it should be reasonably priced, be very accurate in order to provide positive feedback, and have a similar action to my centrefire rifles — a bolt action.
I must admit I looked at a lot of .22 rifles before finally settling on the Ruger K77/22-VBZ as coming as close to meeting all of my predetermined criteria as I was going to get.
Out of the box, this rifle looked so much like a centrefire rifle that I had to take a second look to ensure that Ruger had sent me the right rifle. Its fit, feel and weight at 7.5 lbs. came as close to matching my centrefire rifles as I could have wished for. But how would it shoot? Read on, as I would first like to discuss some of the fine features this rifle has to offer.
I’m going to start with what I consider one of Ruger’s most innovative rimfire rifle features, that being its rotary magazine. With its unique rotor to separate cartridges, it has a 10-round capacity and yet mounts flush with the stock to provide a clean finish with no protrusions. It is totally detachable and feeds cartridges very reliably with no stuck rounds. What a joy to use! The only difficulty I had was in keeping track of just how many rounds I had left in the magazine when switching between ammo manufacturers. Another feature I found to my liking was its integral scope mounts that are machined directly on the steel receiver, thereby providing a very solid base for scope rings eliminating any potential movement and making mounting a breeze. But even better, the scope rings that are designed to precisely fit in these mounts are included free with the purchase of the rifle.
The K77/22-VBZ has a stainless steel barrel/action and a brown laminate stock. With the barrel and action’s target grey finish and laminate stock, the rifle had a very distinctive look. The action, with its 90-degree bolt lift was, after a bit of use and lubrication, smooth and never faltered during my entire test. The only concern I had, and it is one of my longest standing issues with a lot of .22 rifles on the market, is its trigger pull, which was factory set a five-and-a-half pounds. This is just far too heavy in my view, especially for a target .22. There is however a saving feature with this rifle and that is its super-fast lock time. It was so fast, in fact, that despite the heavy trigger pull I had no difficulty on the range testing this rifle’s accuracy.
Vortex 2-7x 35mm Rimfire Scope
In searching for a scope to match this rimfire rifle I went looking for a scope that would provide good optics at a reasonable price and closely match most centrefire riflescopes in magnification, size and weight — all with the ultimate aim of attempting to uncover the perfect practice .22 calibre rifle and scope combo. The Vortex 2-7x35mm Rimfire scope met each of these criteria. For a reasonably priced scope it offers fully multi-coated and anti-reflective lens coatings that I found provided as bright and clear an image as one might expect to find in a more expensive scope. Its Argon gas purging and O-Rings also guarantee top notch fog and waterproof performance in the field and, when combined with its solid one-piece tube that is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum, makes this one tough scope. I also liked the fingertip elevation and windage adjustments. You could feel and hear each click as well as see at a glance the dial setting. The fine machining of the metal to metal dials no doubt contributed to this ease of use. The scopes high grade fluoropolymer Teflon resin bushings also provided very smooth operation of the magnificent adjustment. And with its V-Plex reticle and 50-yard parallax, it was a solid match for this rimfire rifle.
A couple of years back I had the opportunity to test the Ruger Target 10-22 rifle and was itching to compare its results with the K77/22-VBZ Target rifle. A virtual shootout between a .22 calibre autoloader and a bolt action rifle, with the winner to take all — well not quite as despite being able to utilize much of the same ammunition for a solid comparison, I wasn’t able to do so for all tests. I did however attempt to run the gamut by including lower priced ammunition that cost less than $3 a box to high end ammunition that cost just shy of $18 a box, with plenty of choices in between.
I will begin by stating that both the rifle and scope performed flawlessly. The scope was so simple to mount that it took but minutes and provided just enough eye relief with the fixed mounts on the Ruger to ensure a proper sight picture. I also waited weeks for a day when the wind or weather would not play a factor. And while some .22 rifles with good ammo can easily match or even better the performance of many centre fire rifles at 100 yards, conditions have to be about perfect and as most .22 rifles are never shot at that distance, I choose to shoot five-shot, 50-yard groups for this test despite the perfect weather conditions (see chart).
As you can readily note by the test results (below), the K22 shot very well indeed as some groups approached a quarter-inch and many others hovered at or under a half-inch. The one noted variation in this excellent accuracy was the 60-grain Aguila Sniper SubSonic ammunition. It, in fact, key-holed on a couple of shots, so I immediately went to the Ruger catalog and attempted to ascertain this rifle’s rate of twist. But nowhere could I find out if this was the potential cause for this abnormal grouping, so I contacted Ruger seeking this information. Upon establishing that the rate of twist is 1:16, I had my answer, as it was just too slow to stabilize this heavy bullet.
When looking at comparing the accuracy of these two Ruger .22 calibre rifles, it is readily apparent that in most instances the K/22 outshot the 10-22, in couple of cases by a fair margin. Reconfirming, at least in my mind, that if you are looking for accuracy, a bolt-action rifle, including .22 bolt action rifles, will in most instances out shoot all other actions.
In so far as my choices of ammunition for this rifle, I would be hard pressed not to consider Federal Gold Medal Target with its superb accuracy for my range work and for hunting I would certainly give CCI Velocitor, with is good accuracy and velocities that topped 1,300 feet per second, a hard look. There is no question that this rifle is exactly what I was seeking in a year-round practice rifle that can double as a great hunting rifle for small game or provide a fun day on the range.
Range Testing: Ruger .22 K77/22-VBZ VS. Target 10-22
|Ammunition||Group Size (inches)||Velocity (fps)||Group Size (inches)||Velocity (fps)|
|Remington Target 40-grain solid round nose||.330||1,062||.860||1,030|
|Federal Premium Match 40-grain solid round nose||.345||1078||n/a||n/a|
|Federal Gold Metal Target 40-grain solid round nose||.280||1,211||.926||1,215|
|RWS Dynamit Nobel R50 40-grain solid round nose||.490||1,049||.540||1,067|
|Aguila Sniper SubSonic 60-grain solid round nose||1.980||961||.580||957|
|Winchester Super Speed 37-grain Plated Hollow Point||1.410||1,292||1.90||1,298|
|Eley Target 40-grain solid round nose||.583||1,063||.595||1,073|
|CCI SGB Small Game Bullet 40-grain solid flat nose||.670||1,185||.578||1,205|
|CCI Velocitor 40-grain copper plated hollow point||.520||1,316||.628||1,347|
|Winchester Super Speed 40-grain solid round nose||.575||1,260||.790||1,284|
|Federal Game-Shok High Velocity 38-grain copper plated hollow point||.820||1,264||.827||1,247|
|Remington Match EPS 40-grain solid round nose||.425||1,059||.533||1,083|
|Winchester T22 Target 40-grain solid round nose||.520||1,210||.954||1,183|
|Winchester Xpert 36-grain hollow point||1.25||1,222||1.20||1,224|
|Remington Cyclone 36-grain hollow point||.730||1,231||.810||1,235|
|Winchester Super X 40-grain plated round nose||.440||1,259||.790||1,284|
|Winchester Wild Cat 40-grain solid round nose||.883||1,215||.820||1,201|
|Federal Auto Match 40-grain solid round nose||.620||1,218||.738||1,228|
Note: All velocities were measured on a Chrony Gama Master chronograph and all five-shot, 50-yard groups and velocities were averaged.
- Calibre: .22 LR
- Capacity: 10 rounds
- Barrel Length: 24 inches
- Weight: 7.50 lbs. (total weight: rifle, rings and scope – 8 lbs. 7oz.)
- Overall Length: 43.25 inches
- Length of Pull: 13.50 inches
- Rate of Twist: 1:16 inches (see test section for additional comments)
Vortex 2-7x35mm Rimfire Scope Specifications:
- Magnification: 2-7x
- Scope Tube Diameter: 1 inch
- Weight: 14.2 oz.
- Length: 11.6 inches
- Field Of View At 100 Yards: 64.3 -19.3 feet
- Eye Relief: 3.5 – 3.1 inches (see test results for additional comments)
- Reticle: V-Plex
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