Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan 416 Magnum Revisited

© 2009 Albert A Rasch

Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan in Ruger 416 Magnum

As many of you have heard, Robert Ruarke once said, and titled a book with, "Use Enough Gun." Oftentimes we sit around campfires and ponder the question, "What is enough gun?"

Keeping that in mind, while sailing the Internet's hazardous shoals, I've noticed a series of conversations relating to the new Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan and the 416 Ruger. There is nothing that can compare to the verbal riposte that occurs on many of today's forums. Many times it sounds like the Parliament, where Lord Holland and Holland debates propriety with Joe Remington.

Many of the arguments revolve on the need or even necessity of another 40 caliber plus cartridge. We have the 416 Rigby, Remington, Weatherby, Taylor, Hoffman, Barrett, and the odd one based on the 45-70 case the .416 Barnes. But is it fair to compare them?

Others question the business sense of issuing a proprietary cartridge. Since Jamison decided he could sue over a cartridge that he claims he designed, who can blame Ruger, Sako, Remington, or anyone else for deciding they would much rather do it themselves and on their own. To this day, I refuse to even look at Shooting Times. And that my friends, is another story. I'll stand by Ruger on this one; I wouldn't want to pay royalties on a cartridge, when the gentlemens' agreement was to use a cartridge royalty free as long as you used the inventors name.

Still others argue whether it is even worth getting since it's not a Model 70. Myself I liked the original Ruger 77s with the tang safety. Now that was a man's rifle.

As many have noted, few people shoot enough to become proficient with large bore rifles. This is very true. I've met more than a few folks with powerful medium bores that have not even used up a standard box of ammunition. The few they have fired have been fired at the range and off the bench. I suppose it is difficult to shoot accurately off hand when you "know" that every yank of the trigger is going to result in a wallop. At the range one day, it was necessary to offer the use of my Weatherby 30/06 to a fellow shooting a 338WM at the range. He was younger than I, but much better off. He had all the do-dads and equipment. But he sucked royally in the shooting department.

He couldn't hit the darn target at 100 yards for the life of him. He finally came over to me and asked me if I knew anything about rifles. He explained that he had shot six times and he wasn't hitting the target. I went over and looked his rifle over. It was a new Savage and seemed sound. The spent cartridges looked fine. I ran a patch and the bore was clean. So I asked him for three cartridges. As he handed them to me he warned me, "That rifle is powerful, it kicks like a horse." Right then I knew what was the matter.

I set it up on the bench, did a quick boresight, and looked through the scope. It was close enough that I didn't fiddle with it. I fired all three shots in quick succession, and it printed them in a 2 inch group, low and to the right. That's minute of deer as far as I am concerned. I turned the turrets to zero the rifle.

I picked up the empties and studied them. I asked him for three more rounds, and loaded two into the rifle's magazine and then palmed one of the empties, dropped it into the chamber, closed the bolt, and put the rifle on safe. I set it down on the bench and asked him to get himself ready.

He sat down, shouldered the rifle, lined up his sights, and thumbed the safety off. I moved up a bit so I could see what was happening.

He yanked, and I mean yanked, on the trigger, and by the time the pin struck the empty cartridge, the rifle must have moved six or seven inches to the right. Before he could react I pinned the rifle down on the blanket roll he was using as a rest.

I said, "Look through your scope now."

It was an eye opener for him. He was a good 12 or 16 feet to the right of the target.

In conversation I found out that it was his first rifle, he had never shot before, and he really wasn't too aware of the fundamentals of shooting. Undoing the damage done was not too difficult thanks to my Ruger 10/22 and the 30/06. When it was all said and done, he had decided that he would get a .308 in the same configuration as his Savage.

The point is that few people have the time or wherewithal to shoot enough to truly become proficient with their firearms. In order to become a great shot, you have to put thousands of rounds down range. 22 rimfire serves admirably in that capacity, and even a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun will help!

Do you need a big bore hitter? Only you can decide. Here are some of the facts.

The new Ruger 416 gives you the equivalent Rigby performance out of a twenty inch barrel instead of the twenty four.

The Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan is $1079.00. The closest DGR would be the Remington XCR in 375 H&H at $1092 and the Ruger M77 MKII Magnums in 416 Rigby at $2334.00 Both the XCR and the MKII have 24" barrels which in and of itself isn't a deal killer, but the really neat thing is the compact size of the 416 Hawkeye Alaskan. Aesthetically the Ruger MKII Magnum is a winner.

Enough people go to Alaska to hunt grizzly and brown bear, and plenty of folks go to Africa and match wits with cape buffalo. Those two destinations alone are enough to justify Ruger's decision to create the Ruger 416 Magnum.

My experience shooting the 416 was enough for me to decide to add it to my arsenal of hunting weapons. The recoil, though substantial, was easily managed by the Hogue stock along with the new improved recoil pad. Both had a lot to do with the relatively reasonable felt recoil generated by the cartridge/rifle combination.

Hunting dangerous game is little different from hunting small game, albeit that dangerous game can bite, scratch, and stomp the living right out of you. The hunter who carries a big bore rifle does so in order to make sure that he does not end up lying comfortably in a pine box, when an error in tactics or execution whipped everything into a maelstrom of discontented wildlife and people parts. If you are considering that sort of activity, get yourself a big bore.

It's good insurance.

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...


Brigid said...

You HAD to post this right when my income tax refund came didn't you.

But I need a new Heat Pump. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Albert, this was a very good post. To be proficient at anything takes time and patients.

tom said...

MY favorite personal Rugger is a Number ONE in .458 Lott and I paid less for it with only about a box through it because it scared the original purchaser with recoil than any of your quoted prices. So what if you have to reload after every shot, you rarely need two and it has a fantastic extraction/ejection system. Destroys scopes, though. All of them.

Happy Shooting says the man with the Shite Eating Grin and a Tropical Safari No. 1 in .458 Lott.

.416s are sorta wimpy.

You never notice the recoil of anything in the field anyway says the man that's building an Encore pistol companion for it in .458 Lott as well.

Cheers and happy hunting,
Tom known on the other continent "If Nugent is the "Texas Wildman", you must be the "Crazy Texan!"--Obed, African Summer 2006

Phillip said...

Hey Albert, that .416 was one heck of a gun, huh? Sadly, I'll have to wait and shoot yours when you get it... I think I'll have a hard time justifying adding it to the arsenal.

Hubert Hubert said...

"...a maelstrom of discontented wildlife and people parts."Nice!

Mike P. said...

Mr. Rasch,

I picked up my 416 Ruger last week and got to put a couple rounds through it last weekend (no accuracy testing, just a couple shots to get a feel for it before heading to the range). THIS RIFLE IS WAAAAY more comfortable to shoot than my 375 H&H was!!! I was expecting relatively brutal recoil. Although you know the rifle goes off, the hammering isn't there like shooting the fast 338's and the 375's. I was shooting at a small empty plastic soda bottle approximately 35 yards away and both shots hit right in the center of the label (Ruger, Thank you for sighting this thing in at the factory!!!) I bought this rifle for backing up hunters in Australia. My 458 Lott is my "Heavy Game" rifle and I love it, but it's a single I convinced myself (and the Home Commander) I NEEDED to get a repeater. This Hawkeye in 416 fit the bill perfectly!!! Thanks for the great review and I "Ditto" everything you wrote in your article. All the Best, Mike.