Ruger’s Newest Rifle: The Hawkeye Long-Range Hunter Reviewed

Ruger has decided to enter the light-weight, long-range hunting rifle game with their appropriately named Hawkeye Long-Range Hunter Bolt Action Rifle. This gun is designed to be accurate, lightweight, user-adjustable and tough. The light profile, stainless steel barrel contributes most to this rifle’s low weight and comes chambered in the most popular 6.5 calibers: 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC in order to provide the perfect balance of ballistic coefficient, velocity and recoil for you to make the one shot that matters most.

The Hawkeye Long-Range Hunter is a very capable rifle with the features that you would want on any hunting rifle all while lacking the weight.

Interesting Features

The Hawkeye LRH is built on a stainless steel M77 Action but comes with a 20 MOA rail already mounted using #8-40 bolts torqued to 20-inch pounds. The added elevation that you are able to get out of your optic with this rail is valuable for the long shots that you can end up taking while hunting and target practicing alike. The single-stage LC6 trigger measured in using my Wheeler Trigger Pull Gauge at a crisp 3.5 LBS which is not adjustable. I have heard horror stories about how these triggers feel, but I was only reassured by this trigger being light, crisp and lacking any kind of creep or overtravel.

The optic rail on the Hawkeye LRH is a 20 MOA rail which allows you to dial more elevation for longer range shots. Under the rail, Ruger’s integrated mounts can also be seen and potentially used.

The M77 Action that this rifle is built on is a controlled-round feed which means that the bullet being mechanically pushed into the chamber by the bolt is guided up into place on the bolt face before being driven home into the chamber. This is an extremely reliable design which I was happy to see being incorporated into this rifle. The bolt itself is also stainless steel, making the construction almost completely weather-resistant.

The controlled feed system that this rifle uses is extremely smooth and reliable when coupled with the Mauser style extractor. You can see here how the round in the magazine lines up directly below the bolt face.

The stock on the Hawkeye LRH is a very simple wooden laminate stock (despite appearances) which helps achieve the lightweight aspect of this rifle. The length of pull is adjustable using 1/2″ spacers underneath the butt pad. The LOP goes from 12.75″ all the way to 14.25″ and the recoil pad is VERY soft which makes this gun quite comfortable and enjoyable to shoot. On top of having a soft recoil pad, the Hawkeye LRH is outfitted with a radially drilled muzzle brake, threaded 5/8″- 24. This brake is specified to be torqued on at 20 inch/pounds, but when I removed mine, I had to apply well over 100 inch/pounds to break it free in order to install a suppressor. That said, be aware that it is not mechanically fixed with any kind of thread-locker in the event that you find yourself needing to use elbow grease to remove the brake.

The radially drilled muzzle brake is held on with 5/8″-24 threads and a flared muzzle so that it can seat against the shoulder of the barrel.

The bottom metal and trigger guard are integrated into the same piece and are both plastics in construction. The rear magnum cross-bolt runs through the bottom metal and must be removed for the subsequent removal of the bottom metal. The magazine release is located in front of the trigger guard as a push to release lever mechanism. This rifle accepts AICS style magazines and comes with 1 supplied Accurate Mag. Capacity for the 6.5 Creedmoor is 5 rounds and 3 rounds for the PRC.

The long 145 grain 6.5 PRC rounds fit easily within the AICS style Accurate Mag short action magazine.

Accuracy Testing

One worry that I always have with light-weight rifles is accuracy, as in “will it perform well?” This is because material is typically removed from the barrel in order to make the rifle lighter. This action can be highly detrimental to accuracy if the proper precision isn’t utilized during the process. That said, Ruger says on their specifications that this rifle has a “Free-floated, cold hammer-forged stainless steel barrel with 5R Rifling at minimum bore and groove dimensions, minimum headspace and centralized chamber.” which makes me believe that the utmost care was placed in manufacturing these rifles, and it shows in my results.

Using Hornady Precision Hunter 6.5 PRC 143 grain ELD-X ammo and a Sightron SIII 8-32×56 optic, I fired multiple 3 round groups at 92 yards from a prone position. I would have liked to test the Hornady 140 grain ELD-M ammunition, but I could not get my hands on any as of yet. When I do, I will update my results appropriately.

The following groups were shot on the same day while allowing the barrel to cool between shots.

The following group was shot on the same day, while not allowing the barrel to cool between shots.

Specifications

  • Wooden laminate stock speckled black/brown
  • no iron sights
  • 22″ barrel length
  • stainless steel construction
  • controlled round feed
  • 20 MOA rail
  • 3 position safety
  • LC6 trigger
  • 5/8″ – 24 muzzle threads
  • radially drilled muzzle brake
  • 1:8″ RH twist
  • 3 round capacity (one magazine included)
  • 7.2 pounds
  • 42.25″ – 43.75″ overall length
  • 12.75″ – 14.25″ adjustable length of pull
  • $1279.00 suggested retail price
  • suspected street price ~ $1,000
The Hawkeye LRH is well built. I especially appreciate the stainless steel construction.

Final Verdict

I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Ruger Hawkeye LRH despite Ruger being known for producing quality firearms, just for the reason that the barrel is a thin profile. However, I believe this speaks volumes for Ruger’s quality manufacturing capability. This rifle’s barreled action is obviously dialed in as proved by my accuracy testing.

The feature set for this rifle is perfect for a lightweight hunting rifle, and weighing in at 7.2 pounds unloaded, it falls right into its primary purpose on someone’s backpack. The choice between 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC provides the end-user the perfect selection and balance between cost, availability, ballistic coefficient, velocity, and knockdown power. The muzzle brake on the rifle would not be my first choice in design style, but it did significantly reduce recoil and make shooting the rifle a more pleasurable experience.

The barrel on the Hawkeye LRH was properly floated when I checked with a dollar bill. Here, you can see even clearance around the barrel and stock.

The Hawkeye LRH runs smooth and reliably which can be contributed to the controlled feed system that the M77 action uses. The Mauser style extractor that is incorporated is one of the most reliable and strong extraction methods used in rifles today. The rifle stock can be fit to virtually anybody who may choose to use it because of the adjustable LOP. It is a slight shame that the trigger is not also adjustable, but I am very happy with the trigger as it is; weighing in at a crisp 3.5-pound pull on my rifle. Finally, I found the 3 position safety is a handy combination of safety and usability.

The curved LC6 trigger is very comfortable to the touch and crisp on the break. Here, you can also see the mag release which is located in front of the trigger guard.

After all of my testing was done, I would be confident enough in this rifle to potentially trust my life with it on the mountain. Because of its accuracy, feature set, caliber selection and reliability, I would recommend buying a Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Hunter if you are in search of a light-weight hunting rifle around the $1279 MSRP that this rifle comes in at. I place added value in it because of its highly weather-resistant stainless steel construction.

The recoil pad is extremely soft and comfortable to shoot behind. In front of the Recoil pad, you can see I have 3 1/2″ spacers in order to make the rifle fit me best.

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Additional Pictures

Here, the safety is shown in the on and locked position.

About the author: Riley Baxter is an avid and experienced hunter, shooter, outdoorsman, and he’s worked in the backcountry guiding for an outfitter. He also get’s a lot of enjoyment out of building or customizing his firearms and equipment. Check out Riley’s Instagram @Shooter300

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Matt December 16, 2020, 4:48 pm

    Got one of these recently. Why? Because $1000 just is pretty darn good for a mauser-style action in stainless steel chambered in versatile and accurate calibers.

    Boomers b!%(#!ng about how great their old reliable is and why would they ever spend this much on this–okay, and? I was born after they stopped making and selling those old reliables. This is one of the last commonly affordable bolt guns that represents the “old reliable” tradition. Your old reliables are rare and inaccessible to the rest of us–kind of like affordable housing and social security, but that’s another gripe. Maybe it’s impossible for you to imagine a manufacturer catering to someone’s tastes and needs other than your own, but come on.

    This is a really solid offering from Ruger and it’ll be a sad day when they discontinue the Hawkeye line to focus on churning out their more disposable models. Then it’ll be more expensive custom guns for those of us who want quality.

    And don’t forget about inflation. Sure, you bought old reliable for like a dime back when you still had your original teeth, but that’s now how pricing works anymore. You could sell that gun for thousands now, and I’m sure you’d try to get every penny of that and more if you were selling.

  • Giles August 27, 2020, 10:01 am

    You’re quoting 1 group and ignoring the .27” group that followed. All using one singular type of ammo. Every gun will run a little better with a specific ammo. Plus who knows the shooters capabilities. The 1/4” group he followed up with after his very first one, shows it’s likely capable of shooting better than the operator can.

  • Tom Carvelli June 24, 2020, 6:51 am

    Ruger should be using Bell and Carlson stocks on their rifles instead of the junk they are putting on them. Many Ruger rifles are just too darn heavy. Somebody at Ruger thinks that everyone is in perfect physical shape. Nobody I know wants to lug a heavy rifle around the woods. Ugly goofy stocks and overweight is not a winning combination. At least they still make the standard Hawkeye. A great rifle.

  • Nate January 8, 2020, 11:26 am

    it is about as precise as an entry level Ruger American. Interesting.

  • Jack ralston September 28, 2019, 2:00 pm

    Listen too all these boomers complain about price and stupid shit.

  • Bill Skudder September 9, 2019, 8:04 pm

    My Savage 110 Hunter with their accustock and other std goodies shoots .5 ” at 100 yds and costs 400 bucks less. You go figure. Did spend 340 on scope and mount.

  • Don September 5, 2019, 10:17 pm

    I have the Ruger Hawkeye in the 7mm Remington Mag. I shoot the Hornady sst 139 grain.
    My rifle is the FTW Hawkeye that Ruger carried for a while. Got the rifle brand new on line
    for under 500.00 . It is stainless and powder coated. I topped it with a 4-16X40 mildot scope.
    This last WV buck season, I took a nice body buck from a medium squatting position at probably
    120-140 yds. through and through both lungs. I really like the rifle. it has great accuracy.
    I’ve had an interest in the 6.5, but I think the price is still riding the hype of its newness and
    the press its been getting. Don

  • Sam Meyer September 3, 2019, 11:44 am

    As the proud owner of four tang safety M77’s and a Ruger Hawkeye African I agree with the prior comments regarding “Old Reliable” – the M77 tangs ALL have a better trigger (user adjustable) and much more user friendly safety than ANY of the newer Rugers including the Hawkeye, and all shoot groups under an inch at 100 yards. The African is in 6.5 x 55 Swedish- I never could see the advantage of a short action 6.5 although they are all the rage among gun writers and ammo manufacturers. The African shoots great groups but required an after market trigger spring to make it truly useable. The big drawback to the Hawkeye if that it cost me $1100 – equal to what I paid for three of the other four together.

  • Tom September 3, 2019, 11:22 am

    .8 inch, 3 shots, at 93yds? Give me a break! #1, that sucks for a LR rifle. #2, if you can’t do 2.5″, 5 shots, at 500, it is NOT a LR rifle. At 1K for a “Ruger”, & no accuracy guarantee at distance, this is a non-starter.

    If you want a “real” LR rifle, send your Rem700 action to my GS, Jeff Walker, in Culpeper, VA & he will flat make you one.

    I have several from him. The last one was a 6.5-06, 1.9″, 5 shots, 500yds. It is less than 8# & is super.

    I’d even recommend just buy a comparable Savage; cheaper & it “will” shoot much better!

    Not that I have anything against Rugers – they have always made good fence posts!, they just don’t shoot that well.

  • Daniel bardwell September 3, 2019, 10:34 am

    A thousand bucks for a good shooting rifle from a very reputable manufacturer, sounds about right to me ! Build up your own hunting rifle & see what you have into it , my custom rifles inc in .338 win mag was just under 4.5k ! I say if you can buy out of the box accuracy for a thousand bucks , do it 👍👍👍👍👍🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  • Zupglick September 3, 2019, 10:08 am

    Nice rifle. But for $1000 I’ll keep my 100 year old 30-06 Springfield. With the Burris scope I replaced the old Weaver with, I still get 5 shot groups under 1″ at 100 yards.

  • Richard R. Coppola September 3, 2019, 9:22 am

    Why would a Hunter that has relied on the RIFLE that has served him so well with NO adverse effects for the game he hunts regularly want to pay $1000.00 dollars for a rifle that gives him NO more advantage than his OLD RELIABLE ? ? ? As I see it $1000.00 is a lot of money to take in the field. Makes as much sense as SAND BLASTING A DIAMOND! ! ! The Rifle has a GREAT HERITAGE but a GRAND? GIVE ME A BREAK.

  • kerry purcell September 3, 2019, 8:28 am

    a better selection in calibers would help,,,,,not all of us like a cartridge with a 6.5 bullet,,,,too small,,,,

    • Brown October 19, 2019, 11:14 am

      You don’t need a bigger or better cartridge if you can shoot, and savages are the ugliest rifle on the planet and won’t shoot any better than the ruger

    • Brown November 18, 2019, 1:14 pm

      You must not know much about ballistics

  • Jerry S. September 3, 2019, 7:58 am

    A few years back I owned a Hawkeye in .223/5.56 that I worked with and got to shoot my handloads very well. Groups at 100 yds. consistently under 1/2 in. were easy to do with it. I floated the barrel, lightened the trigger and lapped the barrel. So, why did I sell it????

  • Dr William R Hester September 3, 2019, 7:23 am

    Be nice to see what it can do at 300-500 yards. My old Ruger M 77 in 6mm Rem. gives similar groups at 100 yards.

  • triggerpull September 3, 2019, 7:17 am

    The Hawkeye model is one of the most venerable line of hunting rifles made, and it’s nice to see Ruger bring these out. I am the proud owner of a classic limited edition 35 Whelen Hawkeye and it is one of my favorite rifles. At first glance, these look like a “re-invention” of their bolt-actions into something of a blend between their precision rifles and the synthetic stocked Americans. In fact, I first thought I was looking at Savage’s newer 110 rifles which are also called LRH. I bought one in .338 Lapua Magnum and let me tell you, pass go and go directly to one of these: it is one of the most effective long range, deadly accurate bang for the buck rifles available at coincidentally around the same MSRP as these Rugers. It features a fully adjustable accustock, full-length rigid pillar bed adjustable trigger and brilliant brake that makes shooting the powerful 338 LM actually fun; it’s almost unbelievable how Savage engineered it to be so soft shooting. It too comes with a fixed 20 MOA scope base–but re-install it anyway before mounting a scope because it will likely be loose. Same with the action–but doesn’t everyone strip and clean their rifles upon purchase anyway?

    • Jim88 October 11, 2019, 9:24 am

      Yes Triggerpull. I agree, the new model Savage 110 LR is a better choice, Savage did their homework and just produce a better LR rifle. They offer a better fitting/shooting out-of-the box rifle. They did it with better caliber choices, (including 6.5). Though 6.5 CM is great on paper, it’s not necessarily as astounding in the field on game larger than Pronghorns. That said, “Long Range Hunting” requires skill sets from the hunter that apply to any/all rifles configurations or brands, even an old military surplus rifles can do the job well in good hands. Ruger has built some good ones, but I honestly believe that when price is considered, Savage did it better.

  • Bmstylee September 2, 2019, 5:45 pm

    Just saying 3 shots does not a group make. Just saying.

    • Raleigh Thomas February 14, 2020, 10:31 am

      I think that 3 shots works fine for a HUNTING rifle, the first shot and MAYBE a follow-up is ‘real world’ when hunting. For a long range PRC COMPETITION rifle, let’s see a 10 rd group, shot within 2 minutes. I agree that I would be a lot more interested if it came in 7mm Rem. Mag, .270 WSM, etc., something with a little more horsepower than a 6.5.

  • Wild Bill September 2, 2019, 5:23 pm

    Seems like a nice offering from Ruger. If I didn\’t already own something similar(Bergara HMR) and I was looking for the type it seems like a nice option. It adds a few touches my Bergara didn\’t. Namely a 20 moa base and a brake. But in all fairness that cost me under $100 for a Leupold steel base and Surefire Procomp which is my go to brake. The HMR comes in around$900 and if the Ruger comes in at $1000 with those options already installed and it shoots as good as the HMR it\’s a good value.

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