Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Scout Rifle is Officially Dead

Sooo... yeah...

This is the "new product" Ruger has been teasing for the past few weeks:

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle Now Available In 5.56 NATO

"Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. (NYSE: RGR) is proud to announce that the Ruger® Gunsite Scout Rifle is now chambered in 5.56 NATO. This newest version of the Gunsite Scout Rifle features a hybrid chamber that shoots both 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem. accurately and safely. The rifle weighs approximately 7.1 lbs., features a 16.1", 1/2-28 threaded barrel with a 1:8 twist rate, offers controlled round feed and is shipped with a 10-round detachable box magazine. 
"This is a natural extension of the Gunsite Scout Rifle line," said Gunsite Instructor Ed Head, one of the contributors to the original Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle design. "Being chambered in a lower cost, universally available caliber, and with the Ruger reputation for reliability and accuracy, this is another serious rifle for those serious about rifles," he added."

Ok so lessee here...
  1. Not actually a new product
  2. It utterly bastardizes and defeats the purpose of the entire concept of the scout rifle
  3. It is that particular concept which is supposed to make the weapon desirable and useful
  4. Which even then, is flawed at best.
Straight up, it's not a scout rifle.


Because it's in 5.56.

By definition, a scout rifle cannot be in 5.56

Why not?

...and why do I say the entire concept is flawed at best?

What Is A Scout Rifle?

Col Coopers (actually Eric Chings, but Cooper was it's biggest proponent for decades) concept of the scout rifle, is a light, handy rifle in a useful chambering, and designed, optimized, built, and accessorized, to be useful for all purposes in the woods or bush, described thusly:

"Let us attempt it by declaring that a general-purpose rifle is a conveniently portable, individually operated firearm, capable of striking a single decisive blow, on a live target of up to 200 kilos in weight, at any distance at which the operator can shoot with the precision necessary to place a shot in a vital area of the target."
and further specified as follows:
  1. In a chambering sufficient to take thin and medium skinned game of up to 200 kilos at up to 300 yards, and which is commonly available to civilians (.308/7.62 nato is the exemplar)
  2. Weight: 3 kilos including "all accessories" but no ammo.
  3. Length: Max 1 meter (39")
  4. Telescopic sight: an intermediate eye relief of low power, generally 1.5-3x. This scope is mounted forward of the magazine.
  5. Generally the stocks will be synthetic
  6. Scout barrels will be short and light (approx. 19".)
  7. Actions:
    • Bolt
    • two-lug, ninety-degree rotation
    • Mauser style claw extractor and positive ejector
    • Bolt knob should be round and smooth
    • Safety should disconnect trigger mechanism and should work from front to rear.
    • Magazine: should protect the points of soft-pointed spitzer bullets
    • The action should offer some built in aperture sight.
    • Magazine cutoff.
    • Trigger: smooth, clean break at 3 lb.
  8. Accessories: Flush sling sockets, rounded heel of the butt, butt magazine, either cuff style or built in, some form of retractable bipod.
So, why is it Not a Scout rifle?

The very first part of the definition of a scout rifle is that it be in a chambering that is useful on thin and medium skinned game of up to 200 kilos, at any range which the rifleman may usefully make a shot, which is roughed out to about 300 yards.

5.56 nato is NOT useful on ANY game of up to 200 kilos... except of course human beings... at ANY range; thus, by definition, a scout rifle cannot be chambered in 5.56 nato.

Ruger can call this a scout rifle all they want... It doesn't make it so.

So... What's that you said about a "Flawed Concept"?

This is the part where I put on my flame retardant suit, for the defenders of the scout rifle concept are few, but rabid.

Now, before I said that the concept was flawed at best, what did I mean by that?

There is exactly one thing which differentiates the scout rifle concept, from any other handy rifle of useful chambering.

That one thing, is the forward mounted long eye relief scope of low magnification.

... and it's not that great an idea.

The point of the forward mounted LER scope is to facilitate fast mounting and snapshooting in a flushing or self defense against dangerous game situation; and secondarily to leave the magwell unobstructed (or at least mostly unobstructed), for topping off magazines and clearing jams quickly.

That's fine... it's a decent set of requirements for a bush rifle, and for a self defense rifle.

But the forward mount LER scope, is simply not the optimal solution for the given requirements.

There is nothing a low magnification forward mount LER scope can do, that cannot be done better in every way by a modern holographic or red dot sight.

Modern red dots are compact enough that they need not be fully forward mounted... in fact some are so small that they can be mounted on the rear receiver ring, where the rear scope base would otherwise be mounted.

Red dots have very large sighting aperture, and are effectively eye relief and parallax free, allowing for faster mounting and target acquisition than any scope type optic. This allows for faster and more accurate snap shots, without compromising accuracy out to 200 or 300 meters. They are also available with magnifiers which may be quickly folded out of the way or removed, for up to 3x magnification.

Importantly, as they have no parallax, and no specific eye relief requirement, they can be mounted wherever the user feels most comfortable.

Most importantly, they are far more durable, damage resistant, and useful after being subjected to abuse and to mud, rain, dusty conditions etc... than any conventional scope type optic.

Of course, in the time that the scout rifle was conceived and refined, zero parallax holographic, reflex, and other "red dot" type sites, were either junk, or expensive toys for shotgun and.22 pistol spacegunners. They were not the reliable, tough, well developed sighting systems we have today.

With apologies to the late, great, Colonel Cooper; the scout rifle, is officially dead.