As a teenager I remember watching “Red Dawn” the first time and thinking, “WOW, that’s all they had to choose from in a gun shop?”. A .308, a .38 Special (revolver), a 12 Gauge shotgun and a 30-30 Winchester lever gun (a Marlin). Lookin’ back I realize they actually had a pretty good assortment of firearms for survival purposes, but out of all those firearms, I always thought the short, light, Ruger “Ultralight” in .308Win. that the “Jed Eckert” (Patrick Swayze) character carried was the best choice for a “Survival Rifle”out of the selection they had.
One of my issues with firearms over the years has been being a left-hander in a right-handed world. Except for a few weapons systems like the M-60, weapons in the military never gave me issues shooting them left-handed, and I got around the ones thast did. On the other hand, bolt-guns were always an issue when it came to shooting quickly and correctly.
No bolt action rifle type out there is as reliable and dependable as a Mauser type action. Solid lock up. as robust an extractor as is available, and the fixed ejector is solid and dependable. Compared to the small surface grabbing, claw extractors and plunger type ejectors of most other bolt action rifle types made today, the Mauser action wins, hands down, as the durable, reliable, “Go To” bolt type action in a survival rifle.
For all it’s PC faults, Ruger makes great guns. I’ve owned a dozen or so Ruger firearms over the years, and one of the thing I will give Ruger is the fact that they put the extra effort into making firearms for both right and LEFT-handers in most models. I’ve owned three of the M77 rifles. A left handed .300WinMag, an older right handed, tang-safety, Heavy Barreled .308Win. (I like right handed guns when shooting from the prone), and the most recent “Gunsite Scout” rifle in .308 Winchester
I always liked the idea of the Cooper “Scout Rifle” concept to a point, but having had a few rifles with long eye relief, low powered (2 3/4-4x) scopes, I’m not the biggest fan of the forward scope mount in execution. The first scope I ever used was a 4x on my BB gun (Dad made me get good with irons first). Next, I had a 3-9x on my Savage 24 .223Rem./20Gauge combo gun. I also used a 3-9x on my Father’s Springfield ’03 (another awesome Mauser action) for deer hunting. So when it came time to scope my Scout Rifle, I put an older 1″ Sightron 3-9x MilDot that I had on it, and mounted it in Leupold Quick Detach, Zero Hold rings .
For a multi-purpose Survival/Hunting rifle, I think the 3-9 power scope gives the most bang for the buck. If the rifle is up to it, accuracy wise, the 9 power will give you all the range you could ever want in either scenario. For dense brush or snap shooting, 3 power will get it done easily if you’ve practiced. I normally leave it set on 6 power because it is truly a “happy medium” in an optic’s magnification for ease of use.
As to the features present on my “Modern Day Jed Eckert Rifle”, let’s go over them. When I bought the Ruger Scout rifle, I picked the 18.7″ barrel over the 16.1 inch model. I figured since it was for Survival/Hunting use, 18 inches will give the ammo I usually use (Federal 168gr Match and Hornady 168gr AMAX TAP) a little more room to perform well.
Overall length is 40 inches with the flash hider and the “length of pull spacer” (it comes with a couple) I used. It weighs in at 9 1/4 pounds empty and with optic mounted. Ten round mags weigh 1 pound. Loaded but without the extra mag in the buttstock pouch it’s 10 1/4lbs. and 11 1/4lbs. with extra mag on the stock . Speakin’ of Mags. I have four for my Scout. All are Ruger 10 round mags. One is the steel one that came with the rifle. Three are Ruger synthetics that are slightly lighter but just as robust.
It has 5/8×24 threads for a flash suppressor, a muzzle brake or a sound suppressor. This could be advantageous for obvious reasons if you are using it in a survival role, and it makes it easier for smaller framed people to shoot the .308Win. if you get an effective muzzle brake.
I bought the stainless model with a laminated stock for the obvious corrosion resistance and durability. I like a laminate stock over a synthetic because it feels and hefts more like a wood stock, but still has the durability of synthetic. I’ve always liked the feel of a wooden stock on a solid rifle. Attached to the stock is a mag carrier originally designed for one 20 round 30 cal. magazine. In it I carry a pull through bore cleaner rolled up in the bottom, and an extra 10 round mag. Also, I like Ruger’s dull stainless finish because it is very corrosion resistant, but doesn’t glow/shine in the woods due to it’s dull finish.
Another feature I love about this rifle are the back up iron sights. It started out with the factory Ruger peep sights (ghost ring). The front sight is wing protected and about as solid as can be without it being brazed onto the barrel. I replaced the rear sight with a full length (it came with the forward mounting rail) rail from XS Sights and this has a built in ghost ring aperture.
Last, but not least is the Ruger 3-position safety. After using a Springfield ’03, three position safety while growing up, I absolutely love the Ruger version. The Springfield safety rotates over the top of the bolt counter clockwise from 3oclock “safe, bolt locked” (position 3), to 12oclock “safe, bolt unlocked” (position 2), to 9oclock “fire” (position 1).
The Ruger action has the safety rotate forward on the left side of the rear of the action (left handed action). It starts at the rear of the bolt, next to the firing pin protrusion where it’s in “safe, bolt locked” (position 3). It rotates forward and left about 3/8 inch to “safe, bolt unlocked” (position 2), and finally forward again, next to the bolt handle for “Fire” (position 1). It is easy and sure to flip it from “Safe” (position 2) to “Fire” (position 1) with a normal firing grip with the left thumb next the left side of the rifle.
As far as accuracy goes, it is a 1.5 to 2 MOA (with LC Ball) rifle on average. I have shot a 2 inch group at 200 meters with my rifle and Match ammo, but that is the best, and a little smaller than the average. The only downside I see with the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle is cost. They average around $800-$900. Do I think it’s money well spent? Yes, No one else makes a Scout configured rifle left handed. Savage, and Mossberg each make one, but none are left-handed, and they’re within $200 of the cost of my Ruger.
Is my Scout the most accurate bolt gun I own? No, that position is owned by my Savage 10 Tactical with a TTI StraightJacket barrel system. It shoots 1/2 MOA or better out to 500 meters all day long (I don’t usually get to shoot further than that on regular basis). The downside for the Savage 10Tac is that it is a 46 1/4 inch long, 13 1/4 pound rifle with a 10x scope and a bipod. That’s 6 inches and 4 pounds heavier than the Scout.
The Scout and Savage Tac have different applications as rifles, and fill their intended niche perfectly. Given the choice, the Ruger Scout would be the “Grab and Go” gun as a survival/hunting piece, and I would not feel under-gunned in a wilderness survival situation with the Scout as my only rifle . Coupling the Scout with my compact 11″ ParaFAL and Glock 21 pistol as self defense guns, a .22LR rifle (I use a Marlin 880SQ for hunting and an AR-7 as a pack gun) for small game, I’d be hard pressed for a better compact survival arsenal.
I hope this was able to help with your choice for a good, compact, boltgun, especially if you’re a left-hander.
"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.