Ruger just added a new rifle to it’s lineup, a Gunsite Scout in 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. I’ve shot numerous examples of the original .308 Ruger Scout rifles, and liked them so much that I added one to my collection. They are accurate, rugged and fun little pieces.
For those not familiar with the Scout Rifle concept, the idea was the brainchild of several folks including Col. Jeff Cooper, the late founder of Gunsite Training Academy in Paulden, Ariz.
A Scout rifle, properly speaking, is a general-purpose rifle that can be used for survival, hunting and personal protection. It was to be a nimble magazine-fed bolt gun that could be carried all day and called upon to haul the shooter’s bacon from the proverbial fire when the need arose.
To give some meaning to this broad mandate, Cooper and his cohorts created a list of specific criteria that a Scout rifle needed to abide by. It was supposed to be less than one meter in length, weigh less than 3 kilograms, and have functional iron sights capable of hitting a man-sized target at 450 meters. The rifle was also to have a useful shooting sling (not a carrying strap) and could be topped with an optical sight, but one that offered no more than 4X magnification.
It also had one other requirement. Let’s turn to the words of the Colonel himself: “The general-purpose rifle will do equally well for all but specialized hunting, as well as for fighting; thus it must be powerful enough to kill any living target of reasonable size. If you insist upon a definition of ‘reasonable size,’ let us introduce an arbitrary mass figure of about 1,000 lb.”
That last tidbit was from The Art of the Rifle, authored by Cooper, where he discussed the general-purpose rifle, upon which the Scout rifle is based.
Given that, does this new Ruger merit the “Scout” rifle badge? Personally, I wouldn’t rely on a .223 for taking down heavy game. While I’ve killed whitetails with .223s, it isn’t my first choice for that sized critter either.
Perhaps this line of reasoning is too esoteric and too fussy, but I have little doubt that Cooper himself would give the 5.56 his blessing for that level of work.
Despite this, I’m curious to shoulder and shoot one of these diminutive Scout rifles. Maybe some trigger time with it will alter my perspective.
But if you had to pick a go-to, general-purpose cartridge for hunting, survival and fighting, would the .223 make the cut?