John McAdams

Here's What You Need to Know About the New Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter

Read on to learn all about the new Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter rifle.

Sturm, Ruger & Company just introduced the Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter rifle, which is their latest addition to their Hawkeye lineup of hunting rifles.

Ruger, in partnership with the Sportsman's All-Weather, All-Terrain Marksmanship (SAAM) school at the world famous FTW Ranch in Texas, specifically designed the Hawkeye FTW Hunter as a precision, all-weather, multipurpose hunting rifle capable of performing at a high level in a wide range of brutal conditions.

Ruger sent me a left-handed version of the Hawkeye FTW rifle (no, those photos aren't backwards) chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum for testing and review.

This is the first in a series of articles I'll be writing over the next few months about it. Though today's article only gives a brief overview of its features, future articles will detail the performance of the Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter at the range and eventually in the field during hunting season.

Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter Features

While the Hill Country Rifle Team accomplished some incredible feats of extreme long-range shooting at the FTW Ranch, SAAM takes great pains to emphasize that they train students on precision marksmanship for ethical hunting, not for long-range shooting or long-range hunting (there is a difference). For this reason, they designed FTW Hunter as a hunting rifle that can make longer than average (though still ethical) shots if necessary.

It is not a bench rest rifle nor is it intended for taking unethical shots at excessive range.

Built on the venerable Hawkeye action, the FTW Hunter uses the same non-rotating, Mauser-type controlled round feed extractor that has earned such a good reputation for reliability in the eyes or hunters and shooters over the years. Like all Ruger Hawkeye rifles, it has a three position safety and LC6 trigger.

Additionally, Ruger provides a set of 1-inch scope rings with the purchase of a Hawkeye FTW Hunter (scope not included).

It's very important that you use an appropriate scope in order to get the most out of this rifle. I initially mounted a Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm scope on my FTW Hunter. It performed well during the first two seasons I used it.

However, while the VX-3i is a good scope, I've since replaced it with a Leupold VX-5HD. That is a much higher quality and just generally more capable rifle scope that has also served me extremely well over the past few years.

ruger hawkeye ftw hunter action

The Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter features a Natural Gear Camouflage dipped laminate wood stock with a rubber recoil pad. Ruger provides three 1/2-inch spacers that allow the shooter to adjust the rifle's length of pull for a proper fit.

The rifle comes from the factory with a 13 1/4-inch length of pull, which the shooter may adjust to 12 3/4-inch, 13 3/4-inch, or 14 1/4-inch by adding or removing the spacers.

This great feature enables shooters of different sizes (or the same shooter wearing varying amounts of cold weather gear) to customize the FTW Hunter according to their needs.

ruger hawkeye ftw hunter recoil pad

Each Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter rifle has a 22-inch or 24-inch (depending on the caliber) cold hammer forged barrel with the Ruger Muzzle Brake System mounted at the end.

The muzzle brake does noticeably reduce felt recoil. However, the major downside of the brake is that it also substantially increases muzzle blast. This is especially true for someone standing to the side of the shooter.

For this reason, it's extremely important to always wear ear protection when shooting this rifle with the muzzle brake, even when hunting. Be courteous to your fellow hunters and shooters as well and don't shoot when there is someone right next to you (like a hunting guide or a buddy), especially if they're not wearing hunting ear protection.

Trust me: they won't be happy if that rifle goes off next to their head!

The muzzle brake also increases the overall length of the rifle by approximately one inch.

Fortunately, the Ruger Muzzle Brake System also includes a muzzle weight, which may replace the muzzle brake without changing the rifle's point of impact (assuming the same load is used). This allows the hunter to save his or her shoulder while practicing at the range using the muzzle brake, but preserve his or her hearing while hunting without having to rezero the rifle.

Those who have the necessary NFA tax stamp will be happy to hear that most suppressors are compatible with the threads on the FTW Hunter's barrel. Finally, the rifle also comes with a thread protector if the hunter does not want to mount a suppressor or use the muzzle brake/weight.

ruger hawkeye ftw hunter muzzle brake

Last, the Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter has a solid steel, hinged floorplate that's engraved with the FTW logo. Intended to facilitate rapid and easy unloading of the rifle, the latch for the floorplate is also flush with the trigger guard to prevent accidental dumping of the magazine.

ruger hawkeye ftw hunter 1

Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter Calibers

Ruger currently initially produced the Hawkeye FTW Hunter in seven different calibers: .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .375 Ruger.

However, as of 2020, Ruger only offers the rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor and .375 Ruger.

FTW Hunter rifles chambered in .375 Ruger have a 22-inch barrel and a three-round magazine while the 6.5 Creedmoor rifles have a 24-inch barrel and a four-round magazine.

Ruger initially offered the rifle with a left handed bolt in 6.5 Creedmoor, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .375 Ruger. All current production rifles use a right handed bolt, but it's possible to find left handed versions of the rifle on the secondary market.

Check out this article to see what I think about the Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter rifle after hunting with it for several years.

Like what you see? You can read more great articles by John McAdams on the Big Game Hunting Blog. Subscribe to his show: the Big Game Hunting Podcast.