Ruger Gunsite Scout: Beware the man with only one rifle

If you were to select a “one rifle”, what would it be? Col. Jeff Cooper, founder of the Gunsite firearms training academy, spent a good part of his later years pursuing essentially the same question.

His conclusion was what he called the “Scout Rifle”.

Following Cooper’s guidelines, Ruger now has a rifle worthy of consideration for the one rifle role: The Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle.

Scout Concept

The idea of the Scout Rifle was born when Jeff Cooper acquired an old Remington Model 600 and had new sights installed.

The sights he chose had a wide rear aperture and a front blade, an arrangement he later termed the “ghost ring”.

When Cooper then took this M600 hunting he found that the combination of a compact and handy rifle with a fast sighting system seemed to him to to produce a system that was greater than just the sum of its parts.

Over the next few decades, Cooper refined this concept into the Scout Rifle and had a few more modern examples built.

Eventually, he even had Steyr produce a factory model Scout.

Unfortunately, the Steyr was priced too high for most shooters, so that model and the scout concept never became quite as popular as was hoped.

Enter Ruger.

The staff at Gunsite has worked with Ruger over the last couple of years to iron out exactly what a modern production Gunsite Scout Rifle should look like.

The goal was to meet the criteria of a scout rifle, while keeping the price low enough to be available to a broader market than the Steyr version.

Additionally, the rifle needed to be rugged enough to hold up under hard use, something not every bolt-action does well.

So lets look at what makes a scout rifle and how the Ruger GSR compares.

Col. Cooper defined the scout rifle as a general-purpose rifle suitable for taking targets of up to 400 kg at ranges to the limit of the shooter’s visibility.

It should have:

Maximum weight with sights and sling: 7.7 pounds
Maximum Length: 39 inches
Sighting system of either:
-A forward mounted long eye relief “scout” scope of between 2x and 3x,
-Iron sights of the ghost ring type, without a scope, or
-A low powered conventional position scope.
Sling: should be usable as a fast shooting aid.
Caliber: .308 Winchester (7.62 x 51mm NATO) – strong enough for most game on earth, and available the world over.
Accuracy: capable of 2 MOA or better

How the Ruger Compares

The Ruger GSR weighs 7.45 lbs with our speedy two-point sling, so it makes weight.

The rifle feels very light in the hands and points quickly and naturally for me, even with all of the stock spacers removed.

This is a rifle that would feel right at home when hunting in mountainous or otherwise demanding terrain.

The overall length is 38” with the stock spacers removed, so it makes length.

As it came from the factory, one stock spacer was installed and two others were included.

Each spacer adds just a half-inch, so I didn’t notice much difference when I tried it with them all removed.

In it’s shortest configuration, it didn’t feel cramped to me and I was able to operate the bolt comfortably from all positions.

The barrel length of the GSR is 16.5”.

If that sounds like it’s too short for a hunting rifle, that’s because almost nobody else makes a barrel this short.

But the fact is that a 16.5” barrel gives up only about 100 feet per second when compared to the more common 20 or 22 inch barrels.

I will gladly give up 100 fps to save half a pound (from the muzzle, no less) and get a handier rifle overall.

The iron sights are of the protected ghost ring type, so it qualifies there.

When the rifle is brought to the shoulder with both eyes open, and one eye focused through the ring and on the front sight, the unfocused rear sight blurs to the point that it is practically transparent.

The benefits here are speed and field of view, as would be needed with close game.

For those that prefer an extended eye relief scope, there is a 6” long section of picatinny rail mounted just forward of the receiver.

If the rear iron sight is removed, then a scope can also be mounted in the conventional position with standard ruger rings.

The ruger has two sling studs as it ships from the factory.

I think Ruger missed an easy chance to include a third sling stud for those of us that would like to use a ching sling or similar fast loop-up shooting slings.

However, a modern adjustable 2-point sling will also work as a shooting aid, so the GSR should qualify on this point as well.

If you want to use a sling that attaches to the rifle at three points, it is relatively easy to add a third stud in front of the magazine well.

The Ruger GSR is chambered in .308 Win, so it is the ideal scout rifle caliber.

The .308 will do most things that mankind needs a rifle to do, making it just about as general purpose as it gets.

More specialized roles often require specialized ammo and a specialized rifle.

With good ammo and a good shooter, the Ruger Scout has shown to be capable of 1 MOA, so it passes the accuracy test with ease.

Not many people will be able to outshoot the Ruger Scout in the field.

Additional Value

Aside from the mandatory “scout specs”, the Ruger GSR has several additional features that I think dovetail nicely with its general-purpose role.

The compact barrel is fitted with a flash hider in the style of the mini-30.

The flash hider can be removed to reveal threads in the standard .30-caliber 5/8×24 pitch so a wide variety of brakes, compensators, and suppressors/mounts will fit right on.

The action is a variation of Ruger’s standard M77 Hawkeye.

It has a well earned reputation for being robust, reliable, and accurate.

The action is of the controlled-round-feed variety with the classic Mauser style extractor.

As soon as a cartridge is stripped from the magazine, the rim is captured by the extractor.

From that point on, the extractor and bolt head directly control the position of the cartridge (forward or back, at any point during the cycle) until the ejector kicks it out.

This type of action eliminates the possibility of a cartridge coming out of the gun early, staying in the gun too long, or of the case head getting into the wrong position to feed reliably.

Even if it’s being operated in the most awkward positions imaginable, malfunctions won’t be a problem.

The bolt knob is also well positioned and is the right size to be easy to work.

With just a little practice I was able to snap the bolt back and forth in just an instant between shots.

Ruger’s safety lever is also excellent.

When the lever is forward the safety is off.

The center position blocks trigger movement, but allows the bolt to be cycled for loading, unloading, or disassembly.

In the rear position, the lever not only prevents the trigger from moving, but actually blocks any movement of the bolt or cocking piece/firing pin as well.

This acts as a physical block against mechanical failure as well as serving to keep the bolt closed even during rough handling.

Ruger chose a detachable box magazine to feed the action of the GSR.

But they didn’t choose just any magazine.

They went with the Accuracy International pattern which is quickly becoming the standard on hard-use bolt guns.

There is an extra benefit here: these magazines are available from a variety of sources, so you’re not limited to looking for Ruger-branded mags.

This magazine staggers the rounds slightly to reduce length, but for reliability’s sake it presents only a single centered cartridge to feed the action.

This type of magazine feeds smoothly and quickly and is unfailingly reliable.

Insertion is simple: I tend to angle the mag slightly and put the front corner in first.

Rocking it back will depress the magazine release until it snaps into place.

Once it clicks in, it’s not coming back out by itself.

Releasing the mag is just as easy, too.

Press forward on the release paddle and pull straight out.

I really like the GSR’s trigger.

In fact, it’s better than I expected for a factory rifle and the break surprised me at first.

It’s crisp and comes set at a useful weight of 4 pounds, 2 ounces.

The laminated stock has grown on me.

At first I thought it was an odd choice, but upon handling the rifle it was apparent that the stock is neat and well constructed and it just feels good in the hand.

It is sized appropriately for a rifle intended to be carried, so it’s neither too thin or too wide.

It’s also lighter than it looks, and very rigid.

Ruger could have gone with some sort of polymer stock, but apparently the price would have been a bit higher.

Plus, if you compare weights from their other models they probably would have saved only about 4 ounces.

Ruger seems to have done it.

The rifle fits all of Jeff Cooper’s threshold specifications for what may or may not properly be called a scout rifle.

But to Ruger’s credit, they’ve gone above and beyond and they did so at a price point of less than half of that of the Steyr version.

Ruger has truly brought the ideal general-purpose rifle, the “one rifle”, to the general public.

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Comments (21)

  1. I think the idea that you should “beware the man with only one rifle” is more smoke than substance. I know many people with one rifle/gun and they are neither good shots or knowledgeable firearms enthusiasts.

    My experience is the “man with one rifle” either can’t afford two or is not interested in firearms. If he can’t afford two rifles the chances are he can’t afford the ammo to practice with one – and it’s practice that makes a competent shooter.

    If he can afford more than one gun but only has one he is probably not interested in shooting and therefore doesn’t practice much, which doesn’t make him as dangerous an adversary in a gun fight. Knowledgeable shooters know that one gun in one caliber for all shooting situations is impractical. It’s similar to claiming to be a top mechanic when the only tool in your tool box is a 12″ Crescent wrench.

    I have tremendous respect for Jeff Cooper. I have all his books and believe him to be one of the giants of the shooting world along with Elmer Keith, Charles Askins, John Browning and others too numerous to name. However, his argument for the scout rifle has never made sense to me in terms of what the defensive shooter is likely to encounter in modern America or on the modern battlefield. The quality, reliability and accuracy of modern autoloaders is such that only the most expert of off-hand shooters (which I am not) could possibly exploit the accuracy difference between a quality bolt-gun and a quality autoloader. And remember, a scout rifle is not a sniper rifle.

    I shoot and reload thousands of rounds of ammo annually and shoot bolt guns, pump guns, semi-autos, trapdoors, falling blocks, and break actions so I am familiar with almost every action made. If I had to grab one gun and head out on foot for a “scouting” mission (heaven forbid at my age) it would be a lightweight autoloader with a high capacity magazine. If bolt guns (scout rifles) were the answer there’d be two of them in every rifle squad.

    None of this is a knock on the Ruger rifle. Ruger makes great firearms and I have more than one. I just think the whole scout concept is more about marketing than survival.

    In closing, my favorite Jeff Cooper quote is, “One cannot have too many books, too many wines, nor too much ammunition.” He is/was a great American.

  2. For everyone asking ” how is this better than a M1A”. Because that in many states ( including PA where I live) It is illegal to hunt with semi-autos. And it costs half what a M1A does. If I had a choice I would probably go with a M1A Socom. But I don’t, so I would go with the GSR.

  3. Gentlemen, there will always be a better something around the corner…. As someone who has experienced a M1a Socom 16, has two shoulders that have minor rotator cuff tears and degenerating eyesight, and isn’t expecting to make this product into a tactical rifle etc., I like it. Why? Flexibility of optic type and placement options via its rail, after market rails and ring “mounts”. Why else? Caliber choice (e.g., standard vs. .303, .45-70, etc., a threaded muzzle, reliable action and feed system, length and weight (especially vs. semi-auto scout setup), and price. Also, a left-handed version, already out, will work well for my left-handed son. Other reasons: length of pull adjustment, laminate stock (vs. walnut) for stability and a nice recoil pad (vs. a metal buttplate). In some, many of the amenities it features, trumpted by its proponents, are this time around true assets to me vs. just more marketing hype. Good enough for a gp rifle for this fellow but ymmv…

  4. I saw one of these on sale at my local dealer for Black Friday. I researched it fairly well online, including NutnFancy (doesn’t appreciate bolt action lore) and Hicock45 (knows his stuff and regularly demonstrates it) reviews on YouTube, and then bought one the next day. Also, the Rifle of the Year (2011?) award was a pretty good indicator for me.

    I am very impressed with the build quality — very impressed. I love the Mauser style bolt with the 3-position safety, and it’s easily as smooth action as my nice CZ550 bolt gun. It feels very solid. The laminate stock is great, and it also includes 3 spacers for the recoil pad (also very nice) so you can adjust your pull length. The barrel is fully floated in the stock. I love the threaded barrel for the flash suppressor and silencer options. I have seen a couple of vids on YouTube of the Cyclone silencer on this rifle, and it’s a very tempting idea, especially since shorter barrels mean more noise in general.

    I did order some of the new Ruger polymer magazines, though. Not a fan of clanky metal mags.

    I also have an M1A SOCOM but I wanted a bolt action scout rifle, too. Doubt I’ll even scope it, and will probably remove the scope rail, too.

    Haven’t shot it yet, but soon will.

    Thanks to Ruger, Gunsite, and Jeff Cooper (RIP) for this great package!

  5. I just bought one.I was looking at tactical rifles but this will defiantly do can’t beat the price of this rifle considering how many different ways it can be used. It’s very accurate I love the iron sights .


  7. Excellent post at Ruger Gunsite Scout: Beware the man with only one rifle. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  8. #3 – really??? Read #12.

    I just purchased one of these from an individual FFL….let’s just say after transfer fees and shipping I was still more than $250 under MSRP….not a bad deal. I am excited as heck to shoot this one! Trying to decide on Leupold vs. Burris scout scopes…sounds like a coin toss as I’m sure both are great.

  9. Comment # 3 by Rick Pere is uneducated.

    The Ruger GSR is light weight. It’s more accurate than a Standard or Scout-style Springfield M1A (I read 3MOA for the Springfield :O) Also simpler & easy to clean. IT’S A BOLT ACTION FOR A REASON! and I <3 bolt actions

    If you want an autoloading Scout Rifle, I'd say a short-barrel M15 would do the trick in .223 up to .308. The Springfield M1A is too heavy [to be considered a Scout Rifle]unless you just do not mind fat rifles.

    .308 IS a .30 cal. You do not know what you are talking about lol 'Tactically Simple'?? The Ruger GSR is MUCH SIMPLER than an M1A. Really, you need to go to the shop and hold one of these.

    The only thing I do not like about mine is that the front sight post is too thick. And I wish it came with a 5rd magazine along with the 10rd. The price is not bad. I payed less than US $850, and have heard of others paying even less. This is AFTER TAXES 😀

  10. I got one yesterday. Fired it today. Love it. Love it. Love it. Ripped through the ten rounds pretty smooth and quick. All shots nicely inside 4″ fired fast. Would like it more to have gotten an extra mag with it, or even to be able to find extra mags anywhere. This is my first .308 and usually I have always stuck with the .30-06 and compared to my T/C I have to say that this is definitely worth the money.

  11. Come on people most of us use a rifle for sporting purposes only, not for a living. This rifle has great sporting features, sights, safe quick unloads and Rugers Most importantly IT’S A COOL RIFLE!!!!!
    I have my name on the waiting list with my dealer!

  12. Found at the “but it now link”

    ImportantPlease Note
    We’re sorry, but this product is no longer available.

    Please click here to be notified by email if this product becomes available.

  13. Isn’t bolt action usually lighter weight than semi-automatic? I thought that was the main reason the scout rifle was supposed to be a bolt gun.

    And Rick: do you not know that the 7.62 (not 308) NATO round and the .308 Winchester are essentially the same thing, except the .308 is higher pressure?

  14. Wow, already a bunch of nonsensical comments.

    Compared to an M14, this is…different. Different purposes. Different weight. Different feed. Different reliability. Different failure modes.


  15. why rant about this review if you havent even seen one in person? (yes i made the assumption) why do you need a tactical .308? do you think you will be unable to shoot zombies at close range with a bolt action? i don’t think you quite understand this rifle or its purpose. this is a multi-purpose high power rifle, a sporting rifle, a varmit rifle, an entry target rifle, and it has 3 optic options from the factory… see where im going with this? this gun has something for everyone and is made to carry. i don’t define a tactical rifle based on weather or not it is semi automatic and comes with a 20 or 30 round clip. the operator makes the rifle tactical in my humble opinion. i will be buying one.

  16. Joe,
    Does comment #2 make no sense to you either? What does a .22 have anything to do with something chambered in .308? Did I miss something in the article where it connects the two?
    I agree with comment 1 and 3. You can exceed this rifle’s capabilities on another platform in a much better way. Although I LOVE the concept of a bolt gun with bottom metal that accommodates a box mag, Ruger is not the manufacturer to trust, and CTD is not the place to buy it.

  17. Joe — The Scout does not replace the overall service rifle. It is shorter and lighter overall (the Ruger is 7lbs and 38 inches, just under Cooper’s cut-offs), which make it potentially “nimbler” than the M-14. And all other things being equal, consensus has it a bolt-action is more accurate than a semi. Their “purpose areas” overlap but are not the same (the M-14 can potentially put more lead downrange than the Scout; the Scout is more multi-purpose than the M-14).

    See the Wikipedia article here about what the Scout was intended for.

  18. I do not like it! Will not buy it. It is not better than the M1A Socom, or the Scout!Too much flummery and it is not tactically simple enough to use in the field!COme on people. Getg away from these laminated stocks. TT?Hey are not practicle in the field! And get away from 308 Win. Why not 30 Cal, like the M-1, or the 308 Nato, like the M1A? This has not practicle! Get with it people. YOu’re supposed to be the cats meow, as far as schools go. I’m sure that Jeff Cooper wouldn’t be endorsing this piece of crap!

  19. Joe
    Think about this….A .22 rimfire is a very small round but very damaging providing you know where to place the round. When it comes to personal carry, you can also pack more rounds per weight than 5.56 and .22’s are a whole lot cheaper in price. Also, .22 rifles are smaller, easier to hide, they can be compacted to fit in their own gunstock and you can use a water bottle or a baby nipple for a silencer..OOOPS! did I just say that? They are great little guns at very affordable prices. Now, I’m not taking anything away from the awesome M-14. I own an AR-15 and love every inch of it but, if I was to have to run and hide to survive with minimal weaponry, it would be a .22….

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