It?s nice to own several rifles and lots of different kit, but do we really need all that equipment? Wouldn?t it be beneficial both financially and as far as space is concerned to own just one good do-anything rifle?
This concept is not new. Probably the most famous ambassador for such a rifle has to be one Colonel Jeff Cooper, a retired US marine who ran the infamous Gunsite firearms training ranch. The Colonel advocated a short, detachable magazine, reliable bolt-action rifle with open sights that also possessed a forward-mounted scope mount for fast target acquisition in a stock design that afforded perfect handling. Most rifles can be customised into such a rifle, and the Colonel?s concept ultimately resulted in the Steyr Scout rifle. Now, however, Ruger has entered the ring by reinventing its Hawkeye M77 rifle ? could this be the best all-round rifle available?
Barrel, action and sights
Originally, Scouts had a flash suppressor and a 16.5in barrel for the American market, but in this UK model we get an 18.5in tube and the option to have a screw-cut for a sound moderator, which reduces the length to 17.5in. That?s a great barrel length for a .308 calibre ? keeping the overall length down to 40in makes it ideal for woodland stalking. Fullyfloated, the profile of the barrel has a twin stepped taper to reduce the weight yet still keep rigidity and strength in the barrel, which, like the action, is finished in a brushed or matt stainless steel. The rifling twist is one in 10in, with six grooves and a right-hand twist rate, so will shoot accurately most .308 weights.
An unusual feature are the open sights, which maintain the Scout rifle ethos. The foresight is from Ruger?s Mini 14 rifle and the rear ?ghost ring? sight, mounted directly to the rear scope mount, can be removed easily when a scope is installed. The long Picatinny rail mount that sits forward of the receiver and halfway up the barrel is more significant. This allows a shooter to mount a Long Eye Relief scope such as those from Leupold or Burris with low magnification that give the shooter an incredibly wide peripheral view and fast target acquisition ? it is akin to looking at a mini computer screen at arm?s length. If this does not suit you, the standard Ruger 1in ring mounts supplied fit over the receiver.
Ruger?s action, modelled around the old-fashioned Mauser 98 action, has many refinements, such as its stainless steel finish. The large external extractor claw is typically Mauser in style and ensures the cartridge has a controlled feed. The semi-dogleg bolt handle is one thing I would change on this model: a larger, straighter bolt handle would enhance the cocking.
Trigger, safety and magazine
The LC6 trigger system is a non-adjustable trigger mechanism set at the factory to give a crisp and light trigger-pull straight out of the box. A single-stage pull with no creep means this model breaks at just over 4lb. This gives a good feel and safety to the Scout. As on all Ruger rifles, the safety is a three-position lever-operated unit sited on the right rear of the action through the bolt shroud.
The detachable magazine is far better than a more normal hinged floorplate example. First, you have a choice of size: three, five or standard 10-shot, so you can tackle a normal stalking trip, change to a high-capacity hind or doe cull job or just keep a spare with different bullet weights or loads. The magazines are released quickly by pressing forward a lever emerging from the front of the trigger-guard.
Outwardly a Sporter-type stock but with far more than that. First, the stock is strengthened across the receiver web with two cross-bolts, rather like a heavy recoiling African rifle. Second, the length of pull can be adjusted from 12.75in to 14.25in through the use of separate spacers between the rubber recoil pad and the stock. One is fitted and two spares are supplied. Best of all is the material. It is made from a tough, highly practical laminated wood. It looks great and is impervious to the weather. There is no cheekpiece, but the handling is superb and the rifle sits correctly in the shoulder. This is also helped by the nicely raked pistol grip. I really like the wrap-around chequering to the fore-end.