According to Col. Jeff Cooper, a scout-concept rifle should be magazine-fed, bolt action, chambered in a full-powered rifle caliber, relatively short-barreled, and designed to run iron sights or a low-zoom intermediate-eye-relief scout scope mounted ahead of the action. Ruger’s Gunsite Scout Rifle in .308 Winchester checks all the right boxes. It’s a handy, rugged little package that’s equally at home hunting deer, providing self defense for the homestead or fending off a North Korean invasion (Wolverines!).
The solid, stainless-steel bolt runs smoothly. It unlocks and cocks without a fuss.
Drawing that Mauser-style, controlled-round feed bolt to the rear puts that big ol’ extractor to work. Pretty sure it could suck the . . . well, it hangs on tightly, which helps the fixed ejector kick those empties all up in your range neighbor’s business.
The Gunsite Scout’s gray/black wood laminate stock fools no one with its almost-like-the-real-thing figure (grain), but I happen to like the look of laminate. It also provides more weather resistance than a solid piece of ex-tree without weighing the 7.1-pound rifle down.
Using the included spacers one can easy adjust the length-of-pull from 12.75″ to 14.25″. To accommodate the sling — a mandatory component of a scout rifle — the Ruger Gunsite Scout sports a swivel stud at the front and rear. (A light Ching sling would be nice.)
Ruger adorned the sporter-style grip and forend with laser checkering. It looks great from a few feet away and no one can claim it isn’t functional. [ED: As if they would!]
A flash hider rides up front — on the 5/8×24 muzzle threads — ready to accept the .30-caliber suppressor of your choice. Or, try one of these muzzle brakes to let everyone know what’s up.
The Ruger Gunsite Scout’s all-black, shielded front sight is serrated to prevent glare. It’s thick enough to be easily visible through the rear peep/ghost ring but it’s not the long-range or precision shooter’s first choice. Good thing minute-of-bad-guy/deer at a few hundred yards is the extent of a scout rifle’s accuracy requirements.
When it’s time for a refill, push the flappy paddle (similar to that found on the Mini-14) under the front of the trigger guard forward to release the single-stack, 10-round detachable box magazine.
A three-position safety sits on the right of the Ruger Gunsite Scout’s bolt sleeve. All the way forward and it’s ready to fire. All the way back, locked into the groove in the cocking piece, is full-on safe. In this position the bolt is locked, the firing pin is blocked, and the trigger is disengaged/blocked. In between “safe” and “fire” is a load/unload notch. It prevents firing while still allowing you to manipulate and/or remove the bolt.
For a “battle” or “survival” rifle, the Ruger Gunsite Scout’s trigger is a welcome surprise. Short on creep with a fairly clean break, it looses rounds downrange at a hair under 5 pounds pressure. A couple of months on Nutrisystem (or Haribo gummy bears…read the reviews) — say 2 pounds worth of a diet — wouldn’t hurt. But again, for the Gunsite Scout’s intended use (i.e., shot from a bipod, not shot from a rest) it’s dead-on perfect.
Should you be so inclined, though, the Gunsite Scout is plenty comfortable shooting from a rest anyway. With just a 2.5x red dot, shooting 168-grain Federal Tactical TRU, not handloads, the Ruger Gunsite Scout turned in groups hovering around the 1.3 MOA mark.
Gorilla Ammo’s 175-grain Sierra Matchking load shot similarly, delivering shot groups of about 1.6 MOA.
Then I got all fancy with some Hornady Superformance 168 grain ELD Match. I don’t think the secant ogive played well with the RGS’ leade angle, and/or the bullets are too far from the lands. The result: 3.6 MOA from a round that has produced one-lumpy-hole-sized groups out of a couple other rifles for me.
These groups would have tightened up a bit with a higher-powered scope attached to the integral scope mounts (machined directly on the solid-steel receiver). If that sounds more your speed, fret not, as the RGS receiver is grooved for rings. In fact, the Ruger Scout ships from the factory with a pair of 1-inch rings.
Should you choose to go the iron sights-only or standard scope route, that section of Picatinny rail ahead of the receiver is easily removed to jettison extra weight or provide extra clearance for the objective bell.
Through hundreds of rounds between multiple TTAG writers and a mess of silly optics at silly heights, the Ruger Gunsite Scout performed flawlessly. Even dirty and hot, it ran smoothly and shot straight. Thanks to a classic stock design and a soft rubber buttpad, recoil is almost as comfortable as a bro’s shoulder pat.
On the other hand, shooting .308 out of a 16-inch barrel with a wood-stocked bolt gun provides a kind of sensory feedback that you just can’t get from .223. Instead of a whip crack, you’ll enjoy the sonorous, deep thump of a full-power cartridge. The push and movement of the rifle signals that something of gravitas has just happened. It’s comfortable enough to shoot all day long, but it has a wallop and thump that puts you in the moment and makes you smile.
Despite being drawn to this specific rifle when it was announced some six years ago, I’d never actually shot a new Ruger Gunsite Scout until I got my hands on this guy. As I’d hoped, it’s exactly what it should be and nothing more. Which is everything it should be.
Specifications: Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle (.308)
Overall Length: 37 inches to 38.5 inches
Barrel Length: 16.1 inches, CHF, 1:10″ RH twist, 5/8×24 muzzle threads, matte black finish, flash suppressor
Weight: 7.1 pounds
Caliber: 308 Winchester/7.62 NATO
Capacity: 10-round magazine, magazine fed
Length of Pull: 12.75 inches to 14.25 inches
Stock: black/gray laminate wood stock, free floats barrel, soft-rubber recoil pad with spacers
Sights: protected blade front sight, adjustable peep/ghost ring rear sight, 1″ scope rings, scout location Picatinny rail
Action: Bolt action (based on Ruger M77 bolt actions) with Mauser-style controlled round feed
MSRP: $1,139 ($855 from the guys at 1800GunsAndAmmo)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
Not a single hitch or glitch whether clean, dirty, cold, hot, or not. From steel-cased Wolf and Colt to the fancy stuff, it fed, fired, and ejected rounds reliably and smoothly.
Accuracy * * *
A scout rifle should be capable of 2 MOA. The Ruger Gunsite Scout delivered about half that (in the good way). It’s more than accurate enough for its intended uses. That said, the $1,139 rifle falls well short of what dozens of other bolt-action rifles can achieve at that price and below.
Action * * * *
It’s no custom, but Ruger’s Gunsite Scout Rifle is smooth and snag-free. The bolt unlocks, cycles and locks up again easily, the trigger is perfectly judged, and the detachable magazine inserts and locks in place easily. The safety is easy to use, and a large lever on the left of the receiver makes removing the bolt fast and simple.
Utility * * * * *
I can’t argue with a rifle of handy size and weight with a good balance that comes out of the box ready-to-rock with functional iron sights and the ability to immediately mount up a scope or a scout scope. Or a suppressor.
Overall * * * *
I’d like to see short Pic rail sections machined onto the receiver in place of the proprietary rail sections, and some quick-detach sling sockets would further modernize the gun. Overall, the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle is a fantastic hunting rifle, and a hard-use, survival or battle rifle — and exactly what Jeff Cooper had in mind with the scout-rifle concept.
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