Monday, April 28, 2014

Range Day: Ruger Gunsite Scout, Two Years Later

On Saturday I also took out the Ruger Gunsite Scout. This is a compelling little "scout" rifle, bolt action, in .308. It got the usual coverage in the mags a couple years ago, and probably sits on the shelf of your local gun store for about $850-900. It boasts a grey laminate stock, ghost ring rear sight, box magazine, and a picatinny rail on top of a 16.5" barrel. It's Ruger's homage to Jeff Cooper. Take a gander:
Ruger Gunsite Scout, accessories not included
I picked up this sucker as soon as it hit the shelves a couple/few years ago. I think a lot of people wonder what good this thing is, as it masters no category. It's a modern-day curio, a "by-the-door" cabin gun, and in Alaska, it's like someone took an honest hunting rifle and transmogrified it with a low-down brush gun. Ta-daa! The Gunsite Scout.

But wait! That sounds pretty damn cool, and it is! You can read plenty of reviews on the web, so I'm not going to rehash. Here's the rub - you'll want to modify this gun a bit, but the good news is that Ruger built this thing to be modded.

You'll need to buy replacement mags, as the ones out of the box are single-stack and therefore unnecessarily tall. The ones pictured above are from Alpha Industries Manufacturing, are double stack, single feed, and you can read about them here. There are decent nylon mags made now as well. Thanks to Ruger setting this guy up for standard Accuracy International magazines, aftermarket replacement solutions are readily available, though expensive.

Another issue that leverages the flexibility of this gun is the length of pull. Ruger includes spacers to extend the length of pull out to 14.5". As I'm 6'2" with a 37" arm length, I found having all of them installed is best, though the gun now bears a resemblance to a canoe paddle.

Finally, the ghost ring on mine seemed to be set for 50 yards out-of-the-box. For me, 100 yards is the gospel default for iron sites, open or aperture, and holdovers for everything else if you don't have windage and elevation adjustments. This is even the zero for my real brush gun, a 45-70 1895SBL, which incidentally hits a small plate at 100 yards quite reliably, thank you, even with 525 gr. Beartooth Pile-Drivers. The ghost ring is adjustable by loosening a locking screw with an allen wrench and then rotating the ring up or down. Pretty simple, but make sure you have the right tool on hand before you leave the house.

My understanding is that Jeff Cooper believed a scout rifle should be able to hit a man-size target out to 450 meters without optics. While the .308 round is absolutely capable of bringing all that and a bag of chips, there's no way I can reliably pull that off with ghost rings. They really are made for quick acquisition at shorter ranges, being de riguer on tactical shotguns. I find my eye naturally centers the front post quickly, but the longer I stare at it, the less sure I am about alignment. Anyway, the scout hits the 100 yard target reasonably well, and the grouping pictured is entirely the fault of your author's aptitude with ghost rings. That said, I feel you certainly can get 'good-enough' accuracy with the scout to knock something down at a 100 yards (pictured), and at 50 yards (not pictured) the grouping was really fantastic (further condemning my performance with the sights rather than the rifle).

Finally, that rail: I've been playing with a Vortex Diamondback on this gun for a while now and it works great. Don't skimp on the rings for mating with the rail if you want to keep your zero. Last New Year's Eve, I used this configuration to light off some creative tannerite setups from about 75 yards in low light conditions, in -20 F temps. What's nice is that the ejection is angled enough that you really can lay that scope right over the chamber and not worry about it turning into a deflector. I'm sure the rail was meant more for a red dot sight or something mounted further forward. Jeff Cooper would say that the chamber needs to be clear for stripper clips and would frown on the Vortex - but it works, and you could certainly take better advantage of what the cartridge has to offer with a better sight system.

So in conclusion, after owning this guy for a couple/few years I'm still not sure what I'd use it for that other rifles don't do better. Even as an all-arounder, that mythical "if you could only have one gun", I think there may be better candidates than the Scout. It's like a staffordshire bull terrier - won't find it on dog sled to Nome or bushwhacking, wouldn't take it hunting, but it's great around the house and impossible not to fall in love with!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be courteous and of good spirit.