A Review of the Ruger Scout Rifle
- Saturday, 02 March 2013
Since its introduction, the Ruger Scout has received much attention and caused somewhat of a stir. It was named 2011 Rifle of the Year by the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence, and Ruger is trying hard to keep up with demand in the USA and international markets. There are numerous articles and reviews now, along with demonstrational videos from the Gunsite Academy - a training centre which collaborated with Ruger on the design. Many folks will give praise to the late Col. Jeff Cooper and his philosophy behind the scout concept, while others deny any advantage of the set-up, and some even mentioning it is nothing new (e.g. Mauser G33/40 Mountain Carbine with ZF41 scope, Lee Enfield No5 Jungle Carbine). Our American contingents will also throw the semi-automatic argument into the mix, which does not apply in the UK.
Personally, I knew little of these points before making my decision. For me, it was very simple: I had a particular set of requirements and was looking for one rifle which fulfilled them. It had to be good for hunting, reasonably priced, short, light-weight, suitable for competition, and adaptable to different situations. In other words, general purpose. I did my research and made my decision, although I bought the Ruger Scout with some apprehension. I had never fired, handled, or even seen one on the shelf, but was sure the design and functionality rang true to my needs. After collecting it, I quickly set about mounting a 2.75x Burris Scout scope and installing a short Picatinny rail on the stock forend. I then attached a quick release Atlas bipod and Galco Safari Ching sling, bought some extra ten-round magazines, a five-round magazine, GGG ammo, and was ready for the range.
To put the Ruger Scout through its paces, I visited Bisley and made good use of a 100m combined electronic range, with running deer and running boar on either side. Sending the first bullet down-range was a thrill as the muzzle jumped and the whole rifle kicked like a mule. Thankfully, Ruger was thoughtful enough to include a good quality rubber butt pad to absorb most of the shock. The action is smooth and robust with very positive case extraction, while the trigger has an average pull with that typical breaking-glass feel. The short barrel and light weight allowed for easy control with running targets, and the Safari Ching sling added even more in that respect when I tucked it under my arm. The laminated wood stock is very solid and comfortable to hold, being much better looking in the flesh than in photos.
I was not able to comprehensively test the accuracy of the Ruger Scout. Zeroing at 100m proved difficult with only 2.75x magnification, so I had to rely on a spotting scope to do most of the work. I managed it in the end, but the wide grouping had me slightly worried. (A quick check online will show that some owners have managed 1.5" groups, and a select few can shoot less than 1" with custom loads and high power scopes.) Thankfully, some more practice and friendly competition laid my fears to rest. Firing at an electronic deer target with a Sius control unit gave me a score of 94/100, and I was positive the stray shots were my own fault. At the end of the day I had a stupid grin on my face, and went home confident that I made the right choice.
Aside from what has already been mentioned, the Ruger Scout includes numerous other features which shooters will appreciate. Three position safety, adjustable LOP, and iron sights to mention a few. Folks who are interested in the mechanics might like to take note that the action is a controlled-round-feed, which also operates as a push-feed. I can confirm this for myself, having manually loaded single rounds and closed the bolt over the case rim. However, it does not feel like it was specifically designed for such use. I would recommend shooters practice cycling the bolt smoothly but with authority, rather than rely on push-feeding.
The Burris Scout scope is obviously not included with the package, and those who want any long eye-relief scopes will struggle to find them in the UK. This particular one is worth getting, however, especially if you are on a budget and keen to try the forward-mounted option. Originally, I was disappointed after attaching it because a focussed picture would not mate with a clear reticle. So I went to the range with a slightly fuzzy reticle, as seen in the following photo.
It still proved its worth, being easy to adjust without tools, having a clear picture, adding little weight to the rifle, and maintaining zero after a hundred rounds. Later on, I managed to eke out a bit more movement from the lock ring and now everything is clear. Other scout scopes are produced by Leupold, Bushnell, and Weaver.
Since going to the range, some minor issues with the Ruger Scout and non-Ruger related equipment have come to my attention. While still on the topic of the Burris scope, I suggest folks stay clear of buying the Burris XTR quick release rings. The levers can only be adjusted in steps. Without the ability to fine tune the knobs I was not able to balance the tension and maintain a strong hold on the Picatinny rail. Selecting the next step would probably break the levers as they were too difficult to close. Too much free-play developed and I was able to push them back and forth along the rail with less effort than typical recoil. While zero was maintained, I have no confidence in them at all and have now replaced them with a single piece ADM mount. Needless to say, it is rock solid.
The main issue with the Ruger Scout seems to be a manufacturing fault, which became obvious after a few shots. Every now and then, a round would snag on something in the receiver and simply not feed. A handful of people have reported the same problem, which can be observed in the following photo and only happens when a round has been pushed firmly against the back of the magazine.
A lighter than usual push of the bolt, while trying to chamber a round, would indicate the bolt skimmed over the top without grasping at the rim of the case. Looking into the magazine well from underneath, where the black polymer meets the steel, the offending strip of metal can clearly be seen.
This is a job for a gunsmith, but I suspect the overhang of steel is unnecessary and I am tempted to remove it myself. If the gunsmith were to grind it away completely, I would not be surprised. At the very least some bevelling should fix the problem.
The final issue is minor and everybody has noticed it, but I am sure some would be interested to learn what I discovered. The magazines which Ruger is using for the Scout rifle are quite loose when attached. They rattle around but stay put, and they need thorough cleaning to wipe away the excess black coating which gets all over your hands and clothes. Folks complain about the price of these "quality" magazines, but they are not, like many believe, made by AI. They are in fact copies made by Accurate-mag.
Finally I must raise a subject which I touched on earlier, as there is much debate. The Ruger scout concept and philosophy has many excited, and many others in a commotion. As you may know, Ruger is not the only manufacturer to implement Jeff Cooper's idea. Another example is the Steyr Scout and I had the pleasure of shooting the Elite version. My intention is not to convince anybody that the concept has advantages over regular scope mounting, or longer barrels, or internal magazines, or semi-automatics, etcetera, etcetera. I can only tell you about my personal experience as an owner of a Ruger Scout, and how it meets my demands. Having been trained on an assortment of small firearms, including SMGs and assault rifles, and having played around with many more, I can truly say that I am hooked on the scout concept. Target acquisition is definitely quick and something I noticed immediately. It was as easy as pointing my finger. The fact the scope is way over yonder means it takes very little visual space and does not obstruct the view of my surroundings. Being a light-weight and short-barrelled rifle added to the ease of use, with the Ching sling playing its part. These main features will greatly assist me with stalking deer, hunting hogs, and competing on a friendly basis. I am convinced it serves the general purpose role.
After spewing a hundred rounds of lead at various stationary and moving targets, I was thoroughly impressed. Not only does the Ruger Scout meet all my expectations as a serious weapon and hunting tool, it is also a robust work-horse and cracking good fun! I look forward to taking it into the field.
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