Ruger sent us two of these guns and in our first outing we fitted them both with long eye relief scopes mounted to the forward rail.
The highest power scope we used was a 4 power, and our best groups at 100 yards were with the scope rear mounted and came in at just under an inch and a half.
Thankfully Ruger has provided a set of rings specifically for this gun that allow you to mount an optic in the normal position. With higher magnification and tuned loads the Scout is most likely an MOA gun.
The rings are proprietary Ruger and come with the gun. You take off the rear peep sight to expose this notch. There are aftermarket 30mm rings, and XS Sights also makes a full length rail that allows you to keep the rear peep on.
While the rear scope mount takes some of the advantage of periferal vision, this is the scope most people have and are used to. It also slows down single round manual loading, which I’m sure was part of Colonel Cooper’s thinking when suggesting the front rail.
The safety on the Ruger Gunsite Scout is two position, to either block just the trigger or in the second position to also lock the bolt forward. Both test rifles were easy to manipulate quietly. The peep sight is also fully adjustable.
The beefy Ruger Model 77 extractor is known for durability and positive extraction even on sticky cases.
The Scout comes with one 1/2″ spacer mounted and the two others may be installed with an included Allen wrench.
As the 2012 SHOT Show approaches, one of the guns that didn’t get as much attention as it should have from this past year’s show was the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle. If you haven’t seen this gun, it is based on a theoretical design from a shooting legend, Colonel Jeff Cooper, who started the Gunsite Academy. The premise of the gun is a “one gun solution, ” with a spec that it has to be a .30 caliber with an effective kill power on a man sized target out to the effective range of the shooter, and that is has to be short , light, and handy. This isn’t the first “Scout Rifle” design to hit the market, and Col. Cooper was involved with a Steyr project back in the day that is still sold today. But for the money, Ruger definitely has a very strong offering, and has nailed the Scout concept at an affordable price, MSRP $995.
Chambered in .308 Winchester, the 16.5″ barreled Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle comes in at 7 lbs. empty and is 38″ long. This is basically to the spec of Col. Cooper, and this is with a wood, not plastic stock. The length of pull is adjustable with stock inserts from 12.75 inches to 14.25 inches, so it fits all sizes of shooters and can be adapted to body armor. Gunsite has a method of training shooters where length of pull is crucial, and this rifle is made to help you “settle into it.” I think that is the reasoning behind the wood composite stock as opposed to plastic. Laminated wood looks a little funny, but it is just as durable and weatherproof as plastic, and it is only about a half a pound heavier. The fine checkering on the beefy feeling forend and handgrip make you feel good with the gun, like it was made for you, and the weight distribution of the wood also just “feels right,” which is what the designers at Ruger and Gunsite were going for.
When you see the profile of this new Ruger Scout collaboration, a couple things immediately stick out. One is the ten round removable box magazine. To my knowledge there are no other bolt rifles in this price range that even have a box magazine. You are stuck with 3 or 4 rounds in the mag. The Scout also has a forward optics rail, for a special type of scope called, coincidentally, a Scout Scope. The Scout Rifle concept is 50 years old and the methodology of the Scout has been applied to experimental rifles for two generations now, using everything from standard Remington, Winchester and Ruger actions, to surplus Mosin-Nagants and Mausers. The forward mounted Scout Scope has what is called a “long eye relief.” That means you can see a full field with the scope 8 or 9 inches away from your eye. These scopes are also used on pistols to some degree by handgun hunters and long range target shooters.
The forward mounted scope allows you to take advantage of the optic, while retaining your peripheral vision for optimum situational awareness. It takes some getting used to, but most major optic companies make a Scout Scope model, and once you get used to it, the advantage is clear. In an unknown situation with nobody but you covering your back you don’t want your eye locked into a normal scope. Col. Cooper had this forward mount in his spec, long before long eye relief scopes were popular, and he was definitely on to something. The respect that his name commands in the gun world is well deserved. Most of us don’t have the ability to go out to Gunsite to train, but the expertise there has given us what amounts to the right tool for the job.
There is also an M1A/Mini-14/30 style set of iron sights on the Gunsite Scout. The rear is an adjustable peep sight, and the front is an ear protected blade. They are functional, and compliment the simplicity of the gun. On the front of the barrel is a Ruger birdcage flash hider, which is also similar to the Mini-14/30 series of rifles. If you want a standard mounted scope on the Scout instead of the long eye relief Scout scope, the rear sight removes and is replace by Ruger proprietary 1″ rings that come with the gun. I was also able to find aftermarket 30mm rings made for the gun, and XS Sights makes a full top rail that goes for $90 and does not require you to remove the rear sight.
The Ruger Model 77 that this rifle is made from is known for reliability and durability. It was based on the Mauser 98 design, and the later Winchester Model 70. Very few old time gun nuts don’t have a Ruger Model 77 in their safe and this next generation of the gun nuts will most likely be the same. I’ve looked around the internet for reviews of the Scout and all have been positive, through thousands and thousands of rounds. We had no failures in hundreds of rounds over two rifles, and the accuracy was well within the tolerance of modern production rifles.
Our resident US Army Sniper Ben Becker was able to shoot the Ruger Gunsite Scount into just under an inch and a half at 100 yards, translating to roughly 1.5 Minutes of Angle, or MOA. The most consistent accuracy was with Hornady Match 165gr. A-Max, but we also shot our two test guns with Hornady Superformance, and Steel Match, as well as others. In casual rested shooting none of the ammo went over 2 MOA. The Ruger Model 77 is known as a gun that likes certain bullet and velocity combinations, and I’m sure with careful hand loading and testing it wouldn’t be difficult to find the sweet spot load for this rifle that will hold into under 1MOA.
Ben also had some insights into the overall purpose of the gun itself, and the thinking on the “if you only can being one gun” concept. Is a bolt rifle, even a box magazine bolt rifle, a valid choice in as the one gun solution? After all, the AR-15/M4 configuration is the battle rifle of the US Military, and in a pinch, the .223 cartridge can be used to hunt the majority of North American game. The AR-15 platform is wildly popular and most people consider it the ideal one gun solution.
When you think about it though, If you are going to have to bug out with one gun, and that gun may be the only thing between you and a world out of order, do you really want a rifle that was created to fire what was previously a woodchuck cartridge? Even in a 16.5″ barrel the .308 Winchester is powerful enough to stop a car with one shot at 200 yards. The true effective soft target deadly range of the cartridge is in excess of 600 yards, and confirmed sniper kills have been widely reported at over 1,000 yards. I have personally fired it through 1/2″ pig iron, and there are no parts of a wooden construction house that will stop it. I asked Ben if he had ever seen people try to stop cars with an M4 in Iraq. His answer was that he has, on several occasions, and it sometimes works, with a lot of bullets, and it sometimes doesn’t, even with a lot of bullets
The other issue with an AR-15 is the gun itself. While the technology of the AR-15 has definitely come of age and the current guns are 100% reliable, they are still gas driven. If you don’t clean them after 200 rounds or so they tend to start to jam. If you shoot some dirty ammo or surplus ammo with corrosive primers they can fail you very easily, even sooner than that, and unexpectedly, just because you didn’t have a chance to clean them. The AR-15/M-16 was created for the military, with a light cartridge that you can carry a lot of, and a rifle that is carried by someone who can disassemble and reassemble it with his or her eyes closed. For a novice shooter who just wants the right gun to protect his or her family in a pinch, the AR platform is probably not the best choice when you get right down to it.
A bolt rifle will rarely if ever fail you, and the Ruger Model 77 action and extractor system are particularly considered the more reliable among riflemakers. Does this outweigh the ability to shoot bang, bang, bang, twenty or thirty times like you can with an AR-10 or an M1A in the same .308 Winchester? I don’t know. I think it is a matter of personal choice. I personally like the weight and handiness of this rifle. It reminds me of my M44 Mosin-Nagant, but with a comfortable length of pull, a smooth reliable action and a 10 round magazine.
Just in case you are concerned that this is a proprietary magazine, thankfully it isn’t. The magazine that comes with the gun does have a Ruger emblem on the bottom, but they are to the spec of Accuracy International magazines and they are available for the gun at Midway USA and other internet retailers. These AI mags are not cheap though, $85 for a 10 rounder, but you can’t really get cheap mags for an AR-10 or M1A either. The magazine is a straight inline presentation, and as I said, I have yet to hear of anyone having a failure in this gun.
The “one gun solution” is largely a matter of opinion and preference, and many people tire of “come the day” and “end of the world” discussions. Nobody wants to sound like a supermarket tabloid, and you won’t find ads for gold brokers or fearmongering on GunsAmerica. With all of the checks and balances now built into the New World Order, the chances of a collapse are about as good as the chance of all of your neighbors turning into zombies. But as generations of Americans who have stood up for the 2nd Amendment have always known, you just never know what might be coming down the road at you. No matter what that turns out to be, having a zeroed and ready Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle, and some good quality, accurate .308 in your corner will never hurt.
Ruger Firearms Gunsite Scout Rifle