Rigby. The name conjures up images of hot, still mornings while sneaking through the brush in Africa in search of game. Or wading through icy cold streams in Alaska, hoping the bears give you enough warning to get in a lick or two before the charge comes home.
A brief envy moment: I was at an industry function a few years back, and the Rigby company was there. The range officer offered me a London Best rifle to shoot. I threw it up to my shoulder. It fit as if it had been made for me. He loaded it up with cigar-sized cartridges, and I hammered the target at warp speed with big-game rounds, working the silky-smooth bolt between shots. Classic hunting, classic rifles. How often do you get to shoot ammo at 20 bucks a pop—out of a rifle that starts at $26,000? Oh, how I love this job!
DONE AND DONE
I had always wanted a rifle with a Mannlicher full stock, and when Ruger came out with its Mk 77 Mark II International, I was intrigued (a Rigby with such a stock is well into “after-I-winthe-lottery” price range). When I learned Ruger made it in .275 Rigby, I was hooked. And when I found out Hornady made .275 Rigby ammo, I ordered a rifle there and then.
The rifle is an M77 Mk II in stainless with an 18.5-inch barrel and a walnut stock. It was done as a special-order short run for distributor Lipsey’s. As an M77, it has the Ruger integral scope ring sockets machined on the receiver. It has the large extractor, the three-position safety on the cocking piece and the hinged floorplate we have all become accustomed to.
The ammo? Hornady has been quietly making runs of classic ammo—rounds that had almost gotten to the point of collector’s status—for firearms that are still entirely useable. It just came out with a run of .30-40 Krag, for example, and it has also made .25-35 Winchester, 250 Savage, .264 Winchester and even a run of 7.92×33 … for those 17 people who have a Sturmgewehr to feed.
Hornady’s viewpoint: Rifles that can still be used need ammunition that doesn’t break the bank to acquire. So, it produces production runs of the classics, from which we can all benefit.
.275 RIGBY AMMO
The .275 Rigby ammo comes loaded with Hornady’s own Interlock bullet. Introduced in 1977, the Interlock has an interior ring in the jacket to help keep the core and jacket together, even during expansion and penetration. It might be an old idea, but Hornady has kept up with design and production— and it is a 21st-century bullet, make no mistake. It is also available as component bullets for reloading. Hornady now makes the Interlock design in 46 different caliber and weight combinations, from 6mm up to .458, for reloaders. The choices in factory-loaded Hornady ammo? I can’t keep track.
In the .275 Rigby, the Interlock bullet weighs 140 grains, and the book velocity is listed as 2,680 fps out of a 24-inch test barrel. My Ruger International is doing well to push the 140 out of the muzzle at slightly more than 2,500 fps, but that’s just fine by me. With a BC of .451, the “modest” 2,500 fps of the Interlock is still moving at 1,960 fps at 300 yards; this is about as far as I’d be willing to take a whack at a game animal. That’s just under 1,200 foot-pounds of energy and more than enough for all the various deer in North America (if a bit on the light side for elk). But at 100 yards or closer, there’s probably enough energy—and certainly enough accuracy for precise shot placement—to make a case for this combo on bigger critters than whitetails.
But a light, handy rifle such as this is just the ticket for deer hunting, and if the price of factory ammo for practice seems a bit much, there’s always reloading. The Hornady cases are headstamped “.275 Rigby,” so the engraved markings on the Ruger and the case headstamps agree. That’s a nice, little historical buzz of fun for me.
And here’s the best part: Rigby was both a rifle maker and a promoter. The name, “.275 Rigby”? That’s what he called the 7×57 Mauser when building his rifles. Yep, the .275 Rigby and 7×57 are one and the same cartridge. If you have a reloading manual that does not have loading data for the 7×57, I suggest you throw it out. Or use it as a doorstop. Because if it lacks data for that cartridge, there’s no telling what else was left out.
If you are introducing a new shooter to the fun, there is no lack of soft-recoiling loads for the 7×57 Mauser—oops, the .275 Rigby!
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the July 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.