I have always considered the Ruger 77 to be a rugged, well designed rifle. Stock design is pretty good the rifles fit most people well.
The Howa is a simple functional design and is a reasonably priced rifle. The action is similar in many respects to the Sako L61 but without the integral scope mount dovetails. I think the Howa trigger is better. I like the Ruger extractor better. I like the angled front guardscrew on the Ruger and the bolt stop. The Ruger scope mounting system is very rugged.
Both rifles have good service records. That is to say, there are no serious design-related problems. In the end, I would lean toward the Ruger unless the Howa felt better to me. I have built rifles based on both actions and found nothing to hate about either. GD