It’s funny. I think of myself as a fan of semi-autos, and particularly modular systems like the AR-15 and 10/22. Yet, I own as many bolt-action rifles as semi-autos, and more revolvers than pistols.
In these politically uncertain times, it’s wise to look forward and plan for the worst. This also coresponds to my interest in bolt-actions. For the past few years, I’ve been looking at the Ruger Scout Rifle.
Ruger designed it in conjunction with Gunsite, the shooting academy founded by the late, great Jeff Cooper. If you don’t know who Jeff Cooper was, then you have some reading to do, but that’s for another day. If you don’t know what a scout rifle is, it’s a concept put forth by Cooper after many conversations with his associates. The idea was to create a rifle capable of doing any job adequately.
Criticisms of the Scout concept: Basically, many argue that the Scout is an outdated concept. Some argue that an AR-15 is more versatile than a Scout. Some argue that the Scout’s forward-mounted scope is an obsolete relic, replaced by modern hi-speed optics such like the EoTech, Aimpoint, and ACOG. Regardless, that’s also a separate disussion.
There have been endless custom gunsmith projects to create Scout rifles, and a few commercial production attempts. Steyr made one, but it lacked iron sights (scope only).
The Ruger seems to be a very good version of the Scout. It has adjustable sights, a forward mounted scope rail, removable 10-round magazines, 16.5″ threaded barrel, and flash hider. A scope can be mounted in the normal location, but it means removing the adjustable rear sight. Alternatively, the rifle can be equipped the the XS Sight rail. The XS Sight rail allows a scope to be mounted in the forward location or the normal location while still retaining a rear sight. However, the rear sight on the XS Sight rail is not adjustable, unlike the Ruger factory rear sight.
As much as I like the Ruger Scout rifle, I do have some concerns. First, it is chambed in .308 Win, which is a pretty serious cartridge. I can handle it, but I know my wife cannot. She doesn’t shoot often, but I still hesitate to buy guns that she can’t handle, just in case she ever needs to use one of mine. It would be nice to have a mini-Scout. In fact, Ruger makes 357 Magnum and 44 Magnum bolt-action carbines, but they’re far from ideal as a mini-Scout. They don’t have a forward location scope mount. They don’t have a threaded barrel & flash hider. They’re limited to just 5 rounds of ammunition and most be reloaded one-by-one from the top. Accuracy and range are severly limited compared to the full-size Scout in .308. Something chambered in an intermediate rifle cartridge would probably serve very well. Possibilities include .223 Rem, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 Spcl, 7.62×39, 300 BLK, etc.
Second, the magazine capacity is somewhat limited because it’s a single-stack magazine. It’s limited to 10 rounds. The Ruger Scout is compatible with Accuracy International magazines. The mags are quite expensive, too. Ruger steel mags are about $40 each. They’re so expensive that Ruger go so may comments that they eventually came out with cheaper polymer mags. On a note about expense, .308 is not exactly affordable ammo, either.