I've owned 4 or 5 pre '64 M70s in both standard rifle version and Featherweights and still have two; a 1952 '06 standard rifle and 1960 .270 FW, along with two newer M70 Featherweights. I have also owned many Ruger 77s over the years, still owning five at this time. The Ruger 77 is a very nice rifle, but simply not in the same class as a mint pre '64 M70. For someone to say a mint 1956 M70 is not collectible is silly. If you take some time to check online, you'd see them selling for a minimum of $1,000-$1,200 in that kind of condition. The last pre '64 I sold was two years ago and that 1954 FW version sold for over $1,600.
I prefer the FW version with 22" barrel, but if you have handled the 24" standard version and like it, buy it and enjoy hunting with the "Rifleman's Rifle". For the slight difference in price you've mentioned and having owned several examples of both rifles you've mentioned, IMHO the M70 is most definitely the way to go. Good Luck!
Last edited by pilothunter; September 19, 2013 at 02:15 PM.