Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle
Major Pandemic 03.27.14
The Ruger Gunsite was specifically designed around Col. Jeff Cooper’s concept of a Scout Rifle by some of his closest friends at Gunsite and Ruger. This collaboration produced a great version of the Cooper Scout rifle, which matches up well to his original guidelines.
Some folks will nit pick that it may be a little heavier and longer than Cooper’s Scout Rifle guidelines, but it has still become one of Ruger’s top selling rifles and is excellent as far as I am concerned. The reasons are simple. The gun features bulletproof reliability, good usable accuracy, and most of the common sense scout rifle design elements that make it handy and user friendly. If you were only going to own one bolt action rifle, the Ruger Gunsite Scout would be it.
Fit, Feel, Finish, and Features
For those new to guns, Ruger is and hopefully always will be synonymous with extreme, rugged durability and very high quality. The Gunsite is no exception and has had a fair amount of attention paid to its design. This is the same proven Mauser style non-rotating extractor action Ruger used in the Mark 77, Hawkeye, and Guide guns. The Ruger action works infallibly, is regarded as one of the most robust actions on the market, and is fast and efficient to operate by anyone.
The Ruger Gunsite is offered only in .308 Win, but the gun is available in either left or right handed versions with 16” blued or 18” stainless barreled actions. I opted for the 18” stainless version in right handed, because after all, shouldn’t you also have the ultimate in corrosion resistance with the bolt placed on the correct side? For some reason it seems almost all the big publication writers are left handed, so I am sure they will be happy with the left handed offering.
The rifle is a brute and feels like your typical, over-engineered Ruger that could take everything you could throw at it. Add in the corrosion resistance of the stainless version and you have something that could last indefinitely. Despite the substantive feel, the rifle is only 7.10lbs which is very light but enough weight that recoil does not flog the shooter.
Out of the box, the Ruger comes equipped with front and rear swivel studs, three ½” buttpad spacers to fit the rifle’s laminated stock to the shooter, and durable front and rear adjustable iron sights similar to what are found on the Mini-14 line.
Ruger includes one of its proprietary 10-round magazines. I do wish Ruger would have found a way to use standard DPMS .308 style magazines versus creating yet another format, but the magazine works. Ruger does have polymer magazines available that maintain capacity but are shorter. Those would be my choice when extra mags are purchased.
There is a goofy looking/unique birdcage flash hider that seems to do an okay job at controlling flash but very little to tame the recoil. A swap to a combo brake/hider would greatly enhance the comfort of long training days with the rifle and tame down the muzzle flash a bit more in the process.
To deliver on the Cooper concept, Ruger added a forward mounted Picatinny rail for mounting the long-eye-relief optics Cooper suggested. I topped this rifle with Hi-Lux/Leatherwood’s newest long-eye relief variable power 2-7 Scout Rifle scope exactly where Cooper intended: way out in front of the bolt.
Note that the Hi-Lux Scout Rifle scope was designed specifically for the Gunsite rifle and delivers a .308-tuned BDC, which aligns to a 200-yard zero with 300, 400, 500, and 600 yard aiming points and a breadth of magnification from 2-7x for very close and longer range targets. Hi-Lux’s clarity is excellent and as equipped, this rifle matches almost perfectly to Cooper’s specs.
The only other extra I added during testing was an Andy’s Leather Rhodesian Scout Sling, which I personally consider one of the finest leather slings you can put on a rifle. Think of it as the offspring of a National match and easily useable field sling. Technically, it is the closest sling you will get to a Cooper recommended Ching Sling without adding extra swivel studs and a triple sling mount.
Function and Accuracy
Operationally, the Gunsite manipulates like any typical bolt action with a few differences. The basics are as follows: slip a magazine in, cycle the bolt to chamber a round, and pull the trigger to fire.
The Ruger three-position safety provides a fire position, a locked trigger safe position, and locked trigger and action locked safe position. In the third position, where the trigger and bolt are both locked, it proves assurance that the bolt will not be accidentally opened while the gun is slung over a shoulder or lashed to a pack. The bolt can be removed via a left-side dedicated bolt release.
Some writers inaccurately note a precision accuracy requirement for a scout rifle. This was not true, as Cooper’s definition was a rifle and shooter capable of field accurate 4″ groups at 200 yards. The Ruger Gunsite can certainly deliver on the 2” 100-yard accuracy requirement, with most of my 100-yard groups in 1.2”-1.5” range with quality factory ammo. With less expensive and surplus military ammo, shooters can expect 1.5”-2” 100-yard groups. This is not particularly accurate for today’s modern factory rifles from the bench, but the accuracy is more than sufficient for hunting and defense at ranges out to 600-yards.
Testing the Concept
I set up four tests, varying the shooting positions and respective distances: standing at 50 yards, kneeling -at75 yards, sitting at 100 yards, and supported prone at 200 yards and 400 yards. Standing, kneeling, and sitting positions were stabilized via an Andy’s Leather Rhodesian Scout Sling, and the 200 and 400-yard supported prone position was shot with the rifle supported over my pack. The idea was simple: to hit a large, 4” can of corn at each distance out to the 200-yard line while moving into different positions and then be able to ring the 400-yard 12” gong and do it at a pretty brisk pace of around 30-seconds. Think of it as a timed 3Gun competition, but with one gun, 4 cans of corn, and a gong.
Hit a can of corn with a .308 Hornady round and you know it. “Corn: It’s what’s for dinner in a 20-yard radius.”
The Ruger Gunsite delivered a near perfect performance. Running the four-can gauntlet three times with the Gunsite delivered only one miss out on the 200-yard line can, but this was more my fault than the rifle’s. My first run was at 32 seconds, the second at 29, and the third, I got cocky and missed the 200-yard can and that cost me with a 44 second time. It may not be a tack driver but the Gunsite can deliver practical “move and shoot” accuracy quickly on targets.
This exercise will certainly get your heart rate up and show you all your horrible flaws in less than one minute. For the price of just one box of 308 ammo, you can run this drill three to four times depending on your accuracy.
If I had to only choose two or three rifles to escape with, the Gunsite would be my top choice due to its ability to eat any .308 Win or 7.62×51 Nato surplus ammo without worrying about the cycling problems of an semi-auto. Paired with the Hi-Lux scout Rifle Scope and the Andy’s Leather Rhodesian sling, it is about as perfect a field and Cooper rifle we could hope for in a modern sporting rifle.
- Caliber: 308 Win
- Cap. 10
- Stock: Black Laminate
- Front Sight: Post
- Rear Sight: Adjustable
- Length of Pull: 12.75″ – 14.25″
- Mod. #: 6822
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Barrel: Matte Stainless 18.00″
- Length: 39.50″ – 41.00″
- Weight: 7.10 lbs.
- Option: Right-Handed
- MSRP: $1099.00