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Feature Writer
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Our neighbor to the north, Canada, is the second largest country on earth. Much of that land is above the Arctic Circle, putting it high on the list of harsh environments. The thing is, accidents still happen up there and when they do, someone has to go in and bring them out. For that, Ruger made a special rifle.

Canadian Military Search and Rescue
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With some of most rugged and most downright deadly terrain in the world (ever heard of the Yukon?), the Canadian military has a special unit of rescue personnel who stand ready to deploy in any condition and provide on-scene medical aid and extraction for those injured in the wild. These 130 men and women are the SARTECHS, the search and rescue technicians of the Canadian Forces Search and Rescue group (CFSAR) who volunteer for this mission. Specially selected and trained for 11-months in parachuting, mountaineering, long distance hiking, wilderness medical survival and emergency medicine, they are possibly the best in the world at what they do. Canadian military SAR Techs are sometimes parachuted into some of the worst environments imaginable.

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Moreover, sometimes they need to be armed for those 'just in case moments'. For that reason, they called up Ruger to make them a special rifle in the early 1990s.

The 7.62-63mm Model 77 MkII

They needed a bolt-action rifle that would prove more reliable in sub-zero weather. This rifle needed to be chambered in a caliber large enough to stop dangerous game such as grizzly bear, pissed off Bull Moose, wolves, and polar bear-- yet with recoil low enough that a small statured female medical specialist could still handle it. The bolt action rife in the form of the Ruger M77, chambered in 30.06 (7.62-63mm to you metric guys), fit the bill nicely. However, it needed a few tweaks.

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Since the gun would occasionally be rigged to a SAR Tech's parachute harness, and for storage in rucksacks, boat bags, and plane survival kits, the international orange color fiberglass buttstock folded. Barrel length was a very handy 14.5-inches (and as such would be considered a NFA SBR in the US). These two features gave it a total folded length of just 25.37 inches. The rifle held one round in the chamber, five in the fixed magazine, and another six spares in a trapdoor in the butt plate for a total of a dozen 180-grain soft-point 'aught-sixes to help get the SAR Tech through the night. Total weight with sling and 12 rounds came in at under 7.5-pounds to lessen the burden. The rifle had simple and rugged sights that included a hooded bead front sight to lessen the likelihood of it being knocked off on a tree or rock.

For production of the estimated 300 rifles, Strum, Ruger allowed Diemaco Inc., of Kitchener, Ontario to locally produce the guns under a temporary license. Diemaco was the leading military small arms maker in Canada and has made the M16 there under a license from Colt (as the C7) for decades before Colt bought them out in 2005.

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A SARTECH on polar bear patrol with a Ruger SAR rifle.

The Mountie Model 77

The Ruger Model 77 wasn't a stranger to Canadian federal service. In 1986, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) purchased an undisclosed quantity of the bolt-action rifles. Chambered .22-250 Remington (5.56x49mm), these guns had black synthetic stocks and 24-inch heavy barrels. Marked "RCMP-GRC"on the receiver these guns are used for 'special purpose'. This type of rifle was advocated by groups such as the SAS for urban counter-terrorism duties in the 1980s, in an attempt to reduce excessive penetration and ricochets while still providing stopping power out to 300-yards. Besides the .22-250s, several further M77s were ordered in 7.62x51mm NATO for work at longer ranges. It should be noted that until 1993, the sole counter-terrorism unit in Canada was the RCMP's Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) -- who apparently had some M77's in the rack.

So whether its polar bears or terrorists, the Canadians have long trusted the Ruger 77 to have their back. "Eh?"
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