Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Scout Rifle Study

I like practical rifles and for years the scout concept has appealed to me. A decade or more ago I toyed with the idea of a custom build (those old Brockman sights just looked great for starters), and honestly that was really the way you obtained one if you didn't pony up for the Steyr Scout. Eventually the idea just lost traction for a number of reasons, cost being one, the other being that I owned two .30-06s what did I need with a .308 (talk about dumb reasons to not buy a new rifle).

Yet in the last few years since Savage started running a line on Scouts then Ruger picked up the ball, maybe especially since Ruger, I've yearned to fulfill the void.

The Scout Rifle, the Patrol Rifle and all of their kin in between as been a sound concept in my opinion, because despite the AR's popularity and overall general usability, the Scout rifle can travel anywhere you can take a rifle be it into the less free states here in the U.S. or hunting abroad. In my line of work, where I do travel with a work rifle on a semi-regular basis being able to stay within the legal parameters is paramount. And in the possible scenario of having to deploy a rifle for defensive work I'd be massively surprised if a complete reload would be required of any repeating rifle. Note I didn't say not to have reloads readily available, I said required.

I see you apocalypse-man with your finger in the air and your mouth opened.

All things aside noted gun-writer Richard Mann is conducting what is probably the first in depth investigation and study into the Scout Rifle concept over at his blog  empty-cases, since Jeff Cooper went on to Valhalla and preach the gospel of the modern technique. You know, the one all of these neat kids on the internets keep re-inventing all the time.

What has always intrigued me about the Scout-general-purpose-utility-rifle concept is the idea of if you were limited to one rifle, whether for a limited period of time until you expanded your personal collection, or were somewhat bound by finacial constraints to own only one, why this concept works not only as a hunting arm, but a defensive and recreational one as well. Because proficiency comes from owning a gun you enjoy shooting and want others to shoot as well.


David said...

I love my Ruger Scout. Neither sniper rifle nor falls somewhere in between as a great utility rifle. Every time I shoot it, I like it more. If I were told I could only have one rifle, I think I'd be OK with the Scout.

I started out with the 2.75x Burris fixed power scout scope like the one in your picture, but last year switched to the Burris variable scout scope which is 2x-7x. Very happy with it.

Took 2 deer with it last fall from blinds where a longer barrel would have been a liability.

Paul said...

Picked up a ruger M77/357 and I think that might meet the need of the scout rifle as well as being compatible with a whole slew of pistols in 357/38 configuration.

Sure, I don't have the range nor do i have a lot of rounds at my disposal, but all in all I like the concept

Paul said...

The Ruger 'scout rifle' needs:

1. A staggered row magazine. The 5 shot version is pitiful and the 10 shot ridiculous. Surely they can make one!

2. Stripper clip guide. I mean, come on, it's not rocket science!

3. A truly adjustable rear peep sight. Not that cheep thing-a-ma-jig.

Do that and a stainless fluted barrel. Just NP3 or Polymax coat the whole thing if you want it with a dull matt non-reflective finish.

Matthew said...

Paul, I am jealous of your bolt action .357.

And I had the same wonder about the Ruger Scout not having a stripper clip guide.

David, How do you like the changeable butt pads on it?

ChrisB said...

These are nice, but there's just something about a lever action that appeals to me. Plus the ability to load more rounds easily is nice.

Matthew said...

Chris, The lever action rifle is one of the other reasons I never committed to the scout concept. They always filled that utilitarian general purpose place quite well.

Will said...

Got a friend with a Steyr Gunsite Scout Rifle. He had to remove the scope for repair, due to fogging. Those rings are a real pain to deal with. Glued together. Very clean exterior, but this comes at the price of having the ring clamping screws underneath. This complicates the hell out of the job of aligning the scope, rings, and rail, since they all now have to be done simultaneously, which is not possible. I suspect this is the reason for the glue in the scope/ring surfaces.

Then, he decided to zero the backup sights, so he was fiddling with them, and left them up while I was setting up to add the butt cuff accessory. Broke the rear sight blade. Aluminum.
Replacement blade is plastic. He hasn't been able to get it on paper, yet. The buttstock profile makes using these sights very difficult. They are not tall enough. The constraint is the space needed to tuck the rear sight into the receiver. Knowing this, I would not have put this system on the gun. Sounds good in the advertisements, but reality says otherwise.

MikeS said...

I've always liked the looks and handling of short bolt rifles, and have an old Enfield "Jungle Carbine" that often rattles around with me.A friend has a Gunsite-made (Yost, perhaps?)bolt .308 that is beautiful, with a forward-set scope. Beautiful!We went to my northern MI cabin which is in a deep swamp, and upon coming by my friend's blind he berated me for staying out so long, insisting there was no way I could see. It occurred to me later that his forward-mounted scope got no light to his eye, while my scope increased ambient light considerably. The Scout (w/scope) set-up is just not made for dim light, I've found.

Anonymous said...

I like the theory of the Ruger scout, just the execution was off. First, I'd like a 20 inch barrel. 16 inches is just way too short for heavy .308 bullets with slower burning powder. The flash hider doesn't do much, i the overall length is going to be increased, you might as well have usable barrel instead. Also, I'd like the XS sight rail to be a factory option. I had a Savage Scout and still have an M1A scout and just don't like scout scopes. A gain of 2-4x doesn't make the rifle perform much better. I finally put an Aimpoint on the M1A and never looked back. I sold the Savage. I'd rather have a 2-7x or 3-9x on a nice set of QD rings. Give you more scope options and more accuracy.

Anonymous said...

My scout rifle is a regular Ruger M77 Hawkeye. It's light-weight even with a scope, and recoil is perfectly acceptable when firing 168gr .308 Win loads. I have owned and shot plenty of rifles with center of gravity too far forward, and I'm convinced the long eye relief scopes used in traditional scout rifles are a mistake.

David said...

Matthew...I think the interchangeable butt pads are one of the best parts of the design. Different body sizes, different optics choices, etc. can require different length-of-pull setups, and the included spacers make that an easy adjustment.

If I had to come up with one gripe about it, it would be that the actual rubber on the pad might be a tad "sticky," and can foul on loose clothing when bringing the rifle up.

I have countered that by modifying the motion to first push the buttstock out away from my body, then raise, then pull into the shoulder to avoid snagging on clothes. Not a huge liability, but probably a hair slower.

I know the Ruger has its naysayers, but mine is not for sale.

Anonymous said...

the sight picture on fwd mount scopes gets washed out to the degree the sun is behind your back. No recourse to shading it with the brim of your hat. if you arent dead set on using stripper clips, what is the advantage of a fwd mount scope? Seems like a red dot with a flip out magnifier would be a better near/far compromise. fwd mount scopes perform worse in both low light and bright light conditions, not to mention the reduced pointability of the rifle.

if you can mount a red dot with a swing aside magnifier such that you flip it aside and thus have access to the receiver allowing stripper clips, then that seems like it could have potential.

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Steffen said...

Personally, I want to try out a scout mount and similar to 30-30 type ballistics on a VZ-58.

It even has stripper clips and 30 round mags. Might not be legal everywhere, though.

Anonymous said...

I have great respect for Jeff Cooper. I do wonder if he had much experience with an AR10. It seems as if his main contention was that 5.56 was a pipsqueak, and that 7.62 auto loaders were too heavy and bulky. One could certainly see a big gap in handiness between a Garand or a FAL and a short Mauser action bolt gun. Not so sure that would apply to a more modern design. Even a sporting Browning auto.

I really can't think of any reason why a modern auto loader is inferior to a bolt action in any technical application.
If you are in some jurisdiction where you want a rifle but don't want to raise eyebrows just get a Marlin 30 30. Preferably a beat up pawn shop gun. If some cop is going to look suspicious at you, might as well have some deer hunting -Billy left the rifle in the cab-I forgot to take it in and clean it excuse. That scout rifle just yells ODD AND DIFFERENT!

Nathan Burcham said...

If you ask every single human being you have ever met in your entire life to count up how many times they have actually taken, or needed to take, a rifle shot at another human being, in a non-military situation, then you will quickly realize that the real fantasy is the "most dangerous game" arguement for rifle specs - it is virtually zero. Try it some time. Cooper's insights into rifle configuration requirements reflect an emphasis on survival skills and are much more realistic. Scout configuration makes for a great farm gun, outback gun, in the trunk for an emergency gun, on the wall in your cabin gun, on the horse as a back-up gun. Etc.

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