Thursday, January 06, 2011

Scout pro, Scout con.

I like slim, light, handy bolt-action rifles in reasonably potent calibers. For instance, I have two South American Mauser carbines, one from Venezuela and one from Chile, chambered in the classic 7x57mm Mauser. Both are just about an inch over three feet long and weigh in at eight pounds or less, even with the full military stock. Autoloaders in these calibers tend to be bulkier and heavier, due to recoil mechanisms and gas tubes and so forth.

Jeff Cooper spilled barrels of ink over how much he liked light, handy bolt-action rifles in reasonably potent calibers, too. I don't think he liked slim ones, though, because the one that eventually sent him royalty checks got his blessing had all the svelte grace of a gray plastic railroad tie. It was light all right, but suffered from issues with hard military primers and soft flimsy integral bipod legs.

Now comes Ruger with a little carbine built on their very Mauseresque M77 action. With a classic-looking stock that eschews geegaws like a built-in bipod in favor of being actually shaped like a rifle, it has integral backup irons, a mount for an intermediate eye-relief scope, and takes detachable magazines. This is all good.

Now the bad: Of course Ruger wanted the marketing cachet of the "Gunsite Scout©®™" name on their offering, and Shiva only knows what the per-unit licensing fee is for putting a laser-etched chicken on each gun, but I'll bet it's not free. (And if it's not, then that cost gets passed along to the consumer.) Further, when they picked their choice of detachable mags, they went with Accuracy International magazines which, like everything else from AI, are made of compressed unicorn tears and priced like imported sin. A quick look around the 'net shows them running ~$80 for a ten-round stick, and good luck finding those at Billy Bob's House of Surplus.

Tempting, but I think I'll let someone else take the depreciation hit. Besides. given the pricing in this economy, the baffling choice of mags, and the lack of cachet that the Ruger name has among tactical buffs and rifle snobs, I'd say there's a one-in-three chance that these will be available from CDNN in a year or so.

59 comments:

JP said...

I'm of the mind that its better to buy the action/base rifle and build it up to what you want it to be anyway.

No reason to spend a ton of money on something like this when you could probably build a much better rifle for the same, or less.

Frank W. James said...

Tam: Our thinking is in lockstep on this one.

I know detachable box magazines are THE thing in semi-autos, but I'm still not convinced it was the way to go on this design.

Plus, this turkey has NO ability to use stripper clips to recharge the magazines (detachable or otherwise). If you want light weight in a rifle, stripper clips make far more sense, especially so for one with a forward mounted scope, than a detachable box magazine...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

bluesun said...

Oh good. In a year or so I might actually have some disposable income!

Skip said...

Nuthin wrong witha 7x57, 'cept the barrel.
Then again Mr. Bell kinda liked his results.

Jeff the Baptist said...

I'm with Frank. I don't see why it needs the big box mag in the first place. I would much rather it accept stripper clips and have a smaller magazine.

Ken said...

I used to enjoy shooting Mosin-Nagant M38s, and often wondered whether it would be worth the candle (assuming one had a good bore) to add Mojo sights and a Huber trigger.

Don Meaker said...

The M-77 always seemed to me to be a modern knockoff of the P-17 Enfield, itself a stout copy of the Mauser with a kink in the bolt handle to permit the WWI style trick of working the bolt with thumb and forefinger and pulling the trigger with the middle finger.

As a stout copy of the Mauser, the P-17 had better accuracy than the Springfield! My copy was bowlderized, but retains its accuracy after 93 years of service.

Don Meaker said...

And the P-17 happily accepts stripper clips with the mighty .30/06

Tam said...

Accepting stripper clips would be cool, but I'd guess it would probably require prohibitively expensive changes to the receiver (i.e. a whole new casting mold) or else would be some nasty-looking brazed-on setup like on the Gew. 88/05's.

I can't tell if the 5-round mag is a flush (or nearly-flush) fit, and I can't tell if the rifle ships with both, or only the awkward 10-rd stick.

Flight-ER-Doc said...

And of the defining characteristics of a Cooper "Scout" rifle, this one has perhaps 3 and lacks.....a dozen? Starting with weight

Tam said...

Flight-ER-Doc,

Yeah, I don't get all OCD about that.

Besides, it weighs a claimed 7 pounds empty, which certainly gives it parity with the Steyr offering.

Anonymous said...

The bolt is on the wrong side.

Gerry

Tam said...

Gerry,

No, our right hands are. ;)

James family outpost, Iowa. said...

Looks nice, I hope the price falls a bit over time. I got a deal on my Ruger Frontier (scout) rifle because it finally went on clearance at $499, from $799. My frontier does lack iron sights and a box mag - I like a box because as a truck gun I can leave the gun in soft case behind the rear seats, and have a loaded mag in the glove box. I can park by a hunting area (coyote open 24/7 & 365) grab mag, gun & go - no standing around shoving individual cartridges into the gun. BTW - the 5 rounders hang just past the trigger guard I saw some range photos on gunblast dot com.

jon spencer said...

As others have said, Enfield NO. 5 MK 1.

1911Man said...

Engineering mistakes made on the Steyr Scout:
- 1:12 twist .308 barrel will not stabilize bullets longer than 150gr, 1:10 twist .243 barrel will not stabilize bullets longer than 60gr or so
- retention pin pierces bipod pivot axle too deeply, causing axle to break after a few hundred shots from bipod
- barrel is non-replaceable, pressed on by Godzilla's mother-in-law
- not available in .30-06
- 5- and 10-round mags not interchangeable in the field, 10-rounder requires additional ugliness to be bolted onto the gun
- spare mag can drop out of .376Steyr under recoil in early units before stock was stiffened (widely misunderstood to affect other chamberings)
- another 2in of barrel would add ~0 weight, improve accuracy and velocity
- ditto for another .5pound of barrel thickness, Cooper's 3kilo target be damned
- ridiculous, Jennifer Connelly should rub my shoulders at the range, price

On the plus side:
+ sub-MOA accuracy, close to .5MOA with carefully-developed hand loads
+ light weight
+ truly outstanding trigger
+ integral bipod adds ~zero weight
+ owner-adjustable firing pin solves military primer "problem" LOL
+ very quiet safety in uber-convenient location

DirtCrashr said...

I don't get it, why all the self-imposed limitations? I mean if you're gonna go with a magazine go BIG, go high-cap, go thirty rounds!

Anonymous said...

"I can't tell if the 5-round mag is a flush (or nearly-flush) fit"

Going by the pics (esp. the ones showing the Gunsite instructor with the rifle) taken at the unveiling and posted on multiple shooting boards, the 5 round one sticks down about even w. the bottom of the triggerguard.

ThoreMo

theirritablearchitect said...

If'n it's the Steyr Scout you are Jonesin' for, and if you'd prefer to part with far less cash, look for a Steyr Mountian Rifle, available in .308 no less, and you'll get your svelte profile, though still in a sort of gray plastic railroad tie-ish kind of way.

It's a reeaaallly good shooter too, though mags are pretty spendy, and the 10-round mags require a clunky conversion piece that has to be bolted on, if you like that sort of thing.

Mike S said...

Yep, them are some expensive magazines:
http://shopruger.com/Bolt-Action-Magazines/products/559/

Scout .308 Mag M77-5S
$64.00

Scout .308 Mag M77-10S
$70.00

Another dumb thing about the rifle that I found out by looking it up on Ruger.com: Among the rifle's features, they list the Picatinny rail and the Ruger-standard integral scope mounts, and "scope rings included" for the Ruger-mounts, but not for the Picatinny mounts.

Plus, the rear iron sight is mounted in the rear scope mount slot, so you'd have to remove it to use the Ruger rings.

Kind of a confusing set of features at cross-purposes. Hopefully it hits CDNN for around $500 in a year or to, and Mec-Gar starts making $15 magazines for it.

Weer'd Beard said...

I think you can get some modern interpretation of the FAL made with Alloy receivers that are pretty close to that size and weight for about the same price, and the machines will handle all the loading and unloading for you. Plus mags can be had for short money, and they hold a bunch more BBs

Jason said...

CProducts makes AI-type magazines as well, so you're getting them for $55 instead of $80.

Me, I'm not getting one since I don't a have Springfield 1903 MkI yet. That's what I want to start my collection of bolt-action rifles.

wv: dedumpa. What you find in large quantities when Willy Wonka snaps.

sobriant74 said...

I like its looks though, I'll hope to see it on CDNN eventually where I can pick it up for about half price, I've been jonesing for a .308 BA that isn't a bench queen.

perlhaqr said...

I think you can get some modern interpretation of the FAL made with Alloy receivers

NO! BAD! Aluminum receivered FALs explode.

----

Tam: So, I don't know, and thus I'm asking. Is the magazine an integral part of the "accuracy" picture of a rifle? I know there's a lot of parts that go into making a really precise bolt gun, but once you've cut that big rectangular hole in the bottom of the receiver, does what you put through it make that much difference?

The only thing I'd want AI mags for is if I had an actual AI gun. And I sure wouldn't mind that, if I was rich. :)

Anonymous said...

Okay, so why hasn't anyone mentioned the Savage Scout?

Accutrigger, but no bipod. Makes weight, though.

With the peep and radway green, I was getting minute of The Best I Can Do Anyway...

John said...

Still Available!!!

Walking into y'r latest gun show, generally already 1/2 bubba'd --
assorted specimens of ex-military rifles in assorted states of usable...and cheap enuff, too.

About any SMLE or MK-sumthin's can and does serve in that capacity [rechamber to to 7.62x54R Nagant since .303 has dried up]. Stripper clips, rugged, cheaper parts, good to batter in doors,etc.

And the Ishapore .308's quite often can be found already mostly chopped and channeled with after market stocks, bits, and pieces.

Perfect solutions? Styer/Rugers? Nah. Still, generally well within minute of a silhouette at 300 meters.

My first thought on seeing the new Ruger was -- "Where's the M-14 Mag?" Then realized it just wouldn't fit the image. I like the irons and the rail, but don't see the 16" ear-smasher as of much use, but it's 'tac-y cute'.

Pretty moot, personally, as a needful caliber and config and purpose already exists, sorta handy like here.

Still, I do like it's looks and my first CF's were flatbolt Rugers and Blackhawk revolvers. Hope this new anointed and marketing-polished piece sells something like it's fore-bearers.

FWIW

Rob Reed said...

I almost built up something like this when the Ruger Frontier rifles were liquidated by CDNN a year or so ago.

The idea was to put a long eye relief scope on a Frontier and then do the M-14 mag mod that someone wrote about on THR and a few other places.

I couldn't come up with the cash for the rifle before they were gone, so it didn't come to pass.

Rob (Trebor)

tomcatshanger said...

I can't for the life of me figure out why they didn't use .308 PMags instead of those $80 single stacks.

Me said...

Call me old-fashioned, but if I feel the need to carry a bolt rifle afield--and at times I do--I have more than enough military Mausers, Springfields (Mauser by another name) and Enfields to cart around. And if I need light and slim, well that's what the lever-actions are for.

Sigivald said...

The Scout, in Cooper's vision, was essentially a hunting rifle.

Thus it doesn't need stripper clips, and it doesn't much matter how much a magazine costs, since, like on an AG-42 or SMLE, you never actually remove it in normal use.

(Unlike those two, of course, since you're not in combat with it, it doesn't matter that you can't do it in 1.5 seconds with a stripper.)

Assuming the magazine it comes with is sturdily built, the need for replacements should be exceedingly small in normal use; perhaps have one lying around.

Tony Muhlenkamp said...

I like a Model 70 Featherweight in .308 for this purpose. I added iron sights and quick detach mounts for the scope and it makes for very fine practical rifle along the lines of what you are describing. One of these days I will probably ship it to Brockman for his "peep sights", but that's a luxury.

Anonymous said...

John said: "About any SMLE or MK-sumthin's can and does serve in that capacity [rechamber to to 7.62x54R Nagant since .303 has dried up]."

I've asked about such conversions before, and when I do the entire Interwebz tells me this Ought Not Be Done, since the Enfields are built to take the pressure of the 54R round. Have you made this conversion yourself?

Antibubba

Anonymous said...

The full-length M1A Standard weighs about 8.6 pounds empty. The shorter Scout version will weight less. They take readily availabe, good quality mags in 5, 10 and 20 rounds capacity.

Any of the "Mountain" rifles would qualify as "Scout" rifles per Cooper, optic or no. -- Lyle

Darrell said...

Michael Bane (who apparently had a hand in the gun's development) addresses many of the issues raised here, in a couple of posts on his blog. A commenter at the Firearms Blog said that Ruger will be coming out with some (cheaper) polymer mags for the gun.

DirtCrashr said...

Is the picatinny rail on the top so you can attach a grenade launcher?

Ed Foster said...

What Frank James and 1911Man said, including Jennifer Connolly.

AntiBubba had a really great idea, assuming one started with a No.4 Mk.I or II. If they could run them in 7.62 NATO, they could certainly run them in Roosian Long.

For reference, there's an outfit down in Australia (Australian International Arms) that still manufactures new No. 4 MkII's in 7.62 Nato, with cut down M-14 magazines. They do a "Jungle Carbine" version in 7.62x39mm for sure, but I don't know if they offer it in .308 Win.

I gather a few of them trickled in a while back from Canada, before Bubba's cohorts put a stop to it. If anybody knows of one available, Tam has my e-mail and phone number.

I want one. Oh yeah.

Kristopher said...

Dirtcrasher: The scout concept requires a forward mounted long eye relief scope.

Faster to use or somesuch is the reasoning. I put one on an M-38 Mosin-Nagant ... the notion does work.

If Ruger's offering accepted stripper clips, or used FAL magazines, I might have been more interested.

Firehand said...

I think there was an article at JPFO(http://jpfo.org/homepage.htm) at one time on the Enfield 7.62x54r conversion; they said it worked quite well. They did use a #4MkI.

Stripper guide... I'd think that could be welded to the front of the bridge quite neatly.

Firehand said...

Found it:
http://jpfo.org/filegen-n-z/smle.htm

Tam said...

Ed Foster,

"I gather a few of them trickled in a while back from Canada, before Bubba's cohorts put a stop to it."

Those just got cut off here recently; apparently it turned out that the receivers are actually made in Vietnam or some other country with which we Do Not Trade and finish-machined/assembled in Oz. The powers-that-be blew a fuse and that was the end of that. I saw one of the little AK-mag "Jungle Carbines" at our local Gander Mountain back in late '08 or early '09. In retrospect, I should have snapped it up.

Charlie said...

Tam,

The magazines are made by Accurate-Mag, not Accuracy International. Price is still the same between the two companies though. C-Products makes a mag that will fit was well for about 2/3rds the price. Ruger is also supposed to be developing synthetic magazines that will be substantially less expensive. The magazines for the Savage 10BA are $113 each (bought from Savage), and I believe they are are also made by Acurate-Mag. The Ruger Scout MSRP is $168 more than a standard M77 Hawkeye. This is a reasonable price increase given that the Ruger Scout includes a beefed up barrel, Picatinny Rail, open sights, flash suppressor, and 10 round detachable magazine.

Tam said...

Charlie,

Yes, the Savage mags are stupid expensive, too, but I wasn't writing about the Savage. ;)

Good point on the minimal price hike over the Hawkeye, although at a price that will likely be north of eight bills, street, we've still strayed pretty far from Ruger's traditional target demographic, and buyers at that price price point start getting a little label conscious...

It may well be a success; who knows?

Retired Spook said...

I can special order a left-handed Savage Scout, get Accu-stock and Accu-trigger, in 7mm-08 with two spare mags fitted to the gun, for less money than this one, and the bolt-handle will be on the correct side.

I love my Rugers, but they are way out on this one!

westofthewest said...

"a full-featured rifle designed to meet the Scout Rifle criteria of hunt, fight, defend,"

I stick with my my 6.8 SPC AR-15 it's lighter and more accurate. I don't hunt elk or bears so I don't worry about the smaller cartridge's ballistic performance.

With that 16.5" barrel Ruger is not worrying about ballistic performance either.

Boat Guy said...

Had a Steyr Scout. Past tense.
As I read Cooper back in the day (the reason I bought the damn thing) the Scout was a "do-all" to include "tactical" use.
At Gunsite in 92 or so I saw some "sorta Scouts" (didn't "make weight") built on 03 or 03A3 actions - that might be the ticket. God knows the Steyr wasn't for me. For the $1800 I got mine for, I coulda/shoulda bought several A3's or 7x57's

Firehand said...

I once built a semi-Scout from a Turk Mauser in 8x57(back when you could buy one for about $60). It wouldn't meet the exact criteria, because it was too long(I only took the barrel down to 18"), no built-in bipod, etc. But it was short, much lighter than the original, very handy. And gave very nice accuracy, at least as good as I was capable of using. I think it cost around $200 with the added-on parts(receiver sight, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Bolt actions are great for hunting and were fine battle rifles - a hundred years ago.

Is we're talking hunting or paper punching, fine. But any weapon I carry into battle will NOT be a bolt action (unless executing a special mission, etc.).

Just sayin'


Diamondback

CTone said...

I kind of understand the scout concept and draw to it; I cut my teeth big game hunting with a Remmy 788 carbine in .243 Winchester, which pretty much fit the criteria without the iron sights.

That handy little rifle helped me establish field marksmanship, which my DPMS LR308 and hand loading addiction have completely ruined at this point.

I do think that the concept would work way better if the piece didn't cost a mortgage payment to get, for starters. The flash hider is lame too, and why oh why do magazines have to cost so much? Many magazines in the field can hold many choices of ammunition for different tasks, and does not necessarily mean that one wants to be prepared to take on a squad of tangos while out looking for groundhogs. A functioning cell phone can be made for the purchase price of $20 or less, so why not a thin piece of blued steel?

Tam said...

Diamondback,

"But any weapon I carry into battle..."

Do you carry guns into battle a lot? I don't. We don't have too many pitched battles around here and besides, I'm not even in the Army.

I suppose if hordes of zombies came shambling at Roseholme Cottage, I'd grab the M4gery and a dozen magazines instead of a lightweight little bolt gun, but I haven't seen any zombie hordes lately, either...

Tam said...

CTone,

"The flash hider is lame too..."

I'd replace that thing with a Phantom or a Vortex before I even took it home. :D

Kristopher said...

Hey Tam, some of us have to wade through zombies just to get the mail.

Although the local constabulary frowns on me shooting them before they get fully turned.

Bob H said...

I have what may be a silly question. (most will agree this is not unusual for me.) What is the advantage in a bolt action rifle over a semi-auto? I am not looking for emotional responses or questioning collectors.
Are they less expensive, more reliable, more accurate for the average shooter? In other words why would you reccomend that someone buy a bolt gun over a semi-auto?

Firehand said...

"Well hell, officer, even if he's not a real zombie, don't he look better dead?

Some people just look better dead!"


WV 'naint': "I naint gettin' into that argument."

Rivrdog said...

All youse guys 'n dolls are ignoring the OTHER action in light rifles: slide action. Remington makes the 7625, available in short barrel ("Patrol Rifle") or longer 22" (Varmint"), both in .223. It is charged via an AR maggy. Street pricing at around $600-700.

Before the trombone/AR, Remington made the 760 pump action, available in some heavier calibers. It is fed by a 4-round magazine, but I had one and got an Eagle polymer 10-rounder for it. Mine was light, handy, and chambered in .308. It kicked like a mule due to it's straight stock, way more than my Savage 99E, which is MY definition of a Scout Carbine.

Tam said...

Bob H.,

"I have what may be a silly question. (most will agree this is not unusual for me.) What is the advantage in a bolt action rifle over a semi-auto? I am not looking for emotional responses or questioning collectors. "

Generally?

A bolt action will be lighter, slimmer, and more compact. As I said in my initial post, they lack recoil mechanisms, gas tunes, and what-have-you. If your mission requirement does not involve laying down suppressive fire but does involve carrying a rifle around all damn day on foot, then a bolt-action is very attractive.

Larry said...

What's the opinion of the 6.5 Arisaka?

Tam said...

Of the 6.5 military cartridges most frequently encountered (Arisaka, Carcano, M-S, and Swede,) it has the smallest case and in factory loadings is roughly tied with the Mannlicher-Schoenauer as the weakest of the class.

The Arisaka action is hella stout, though, and I've seen some pretty stout handloads bantered about for the chambering.

In factory form, it's usually recommended as a whitetail-and-smaller round; it's no 6.5x55 Swede.

Rick said...

It kicked like a mule due to it's straight stock, way more than my Savage 99E, which is MY definition of a Scout Carbine.

Agreed. Chambered for .308 but looking like a "cowboy gun" makes for a very low profile.

Will said...

I guess after reading your post about that Ruger carbine, I'd probably just look for one of those 1895 Chilean carbines like you have, Tam. They are more available than I'd realized and are really neat little rifles.