The Scout Rifle
T he late colonel Jeff Cooper, USMC Ret., was, and is, a familiar figure in the art of combat shooting. He founded the American Pistol Institute in Arizona, now called Gunsite Academy. There, he pioneered modern combat shooting for pistol, rifle and shotgun.
His combat pistol technique incorporated five parts: using a large-caliber semi-auto pistol; the two-handed Weaver stance; the draw stroke; a “flash” sight picture; and a compressed, surprise break
Col.Cooper also conceived the Bren 10, chambered for 10mm Auto, a cartridge considerably more powerful than the 9mm Luger or .45 ACP. That handgun enjoyed a brief popularity, but is now an obscure footnote in firearms history.
Much more notable was his invention of the “scout rifle” concept. Col. Cooper was greatly influenced by the life of Frederick Russell Burnham (look up Scouting on Two Continents by Frederick Burnham, buy it and read it. You will not regret the time spent) and came up with the idea of “. . .a short, light, handy versatile utility rifle,” which he called a “scout rifle.”
To Col. Cooper’s mind, this would be a bolt-action carbine chambered in 7.62 Nato/.308 Winchester, less than one meter in overall length, weighing less than three kilograms (6.6 pounds), with iron sights and a forward-mounted riflescope. This all-purpose rifle would be capable of bringing down large game—or if used in a military engagement, a human target at relatively long range.
This was not a rifle for close quarters battle (CQB) like the M4/M16, nor was it a sniper rifle like the M24 rifle used by the U.S. Army, which is based on the Remington Model 700 bolt-action. Instead, Cooper envisioned the scout rifle to be used by a single man or in two-man reconnaissance teams on extended missions without support.
In 1997, Steyr-Mannlicher in Austria produced a scout rifle with a polymer stock and integral bipod, which Col. Cooper regarded as “perfect.” Unfortunately, it was quite pricey (like most European rifles) and was not a huge success, although it is still available today. At today’s prices, a shooter would have to spend well over $2,000 for one after equipping it with a suitable, good quality scope.
Fortunately, America’s gunmakers stepped up to the plate for those of us who want a versatile firearm such as the scout rifle.
Ruger’s Gunsite Scout Rifle is about $600 less expensive than the Steyr, and it comes in a left or right-hand version with several additional options. This includes a polymer, laminated or American walnut stock, with blued or stainless steel action and barrel. It is chambered for 7.62mm/.308; 5.56mm/.223 and the recently introduced .450 Bushmaster.
My Ruger Scout Rifle started out as a plain vanilla (except that it’s a left-hand version), blued-steel, laminated stock 7.62mm/.308. Because I wanted to use it for night-time hog hunting, I needed to modify it a bit. I replaced the forward-mounted picatinny rail with an extended rail from X-S Sights in Fort Worth. This meant removing the Ruger factory rear sight to allow room for the rail. However, the rail has a fixed peep sight for use in a pinch.
Also, I replaced the factory flash hider with a SureFire flash hider/silencer adapter to fit my SureFire FA762 silencer. Mated with Cor®Bon 200-gr FMJ-RBT subsonic ammo, this should be an effective combination.
To use it for night hunting, I installed a Nite Site WolfTM infrared night vision system. Nite Site is another Fort Worth, Texas company. The Nite Site system attached to my existing riflescope, which is a Leupold VX-III 1½-5X-20mm. A Harris medium height folding bipod completed the set-up.
I’m working with TF&G’s Dustin Warncke to set up a Texas hog hunt in the near future, so I’ll keep you posted.
Aside from Ruger, both Savage and Mossberg now offer scout rifles. I haven’t had the opportunity to try out the Savage, but my Mossberg MVP® Scout Rifle arrived a few days ago. Despite an even lower MSRP than the Ruger offering, I was impressed with its evident quality. As a bonus, the Mossberg comes equipped with a Vortex 2-7X-32mm Scout long eye relief riflescope.
Chambered for 7.62mm/.308, this Mossberg has a right-hand bolt-action, which as a lefty, I like, because I find it more convenient when I shoot it from prone or other rest position. I can easily operate the bolt with my right hand while my left hand remains in position on the pistol grip ready to begin trigger pressure. Also, with the ejection/loading port in front of my eyes, I can readily single-load a round or troubleshoot, if necessary.
The Mossberg uses a 10-round, detachable box magazine that is compatible with M1A and AR-10 magazines. Unlike the Ruger, the factory-installed forward picatinny rail extends back over the receiver so you could mount a conventional scope if you wanted.
An interesting feature of the polymer stock is a pair of integral picatinny side rails near the fore end tip. This is useful if you wish to mount additional goodies such as a laser or high-intensity flashlight.
As I did with the Ruger, I completed the package with a folding Harris bipod. I still need to decide whether to add night vision and a silencer, but I suspect that’s in the cards pretty soon—maybe in time for that Texas hog hunt.
On another topic, I expect to have a few notes next month about the 2017 Annual Meeting of the National Rifle Association in Atlanta that took place in May. With a little luck, I’ll have found a few new toys to try out and tell you about. Keep tuned.
—by Stan Skinner
—BY STAN SKINNER
TACTICAL GEAR REVIEW
45ACP AR15 CMMG Guard
After shooting some pistol caliber carbines in the past, I’ve wanted one in .45ACP because suppressing a PCC is fun, but suppressing a .45 is even better.
Granted it’s not always as quiet as a 147-grain subsonic 9mm, but it packs twice the wallop. However, the .45ACP isn’t easy to run in a straight blowback-operated rifle because of the pressures, so we haven’t seen them in mass production, until now.
The cornerstone of the Guard is the Radial Delayed Blowback system that uses a mostly standard AR15 bolt carrier group. The only purpose of the bolt key is to give the bolt-charging handle something to snag. Everything else works the same way as an AR15 action, except the cartridge blowback pressure itself unlocks the bolt instead of a gas system or piston.
This delays the operation just enough to allow the bolt to cycle safely and reliably. In turn, this keeps the bolt and buffer weighing less than 9mm straight blowback systems.
In fact, the bolt system weighs so little that you can buy an extra weight kit to tune the rifle for your intended use and loads. For instance, I used the two ounce weight since I was running suppressed. If I was shooting +P loads I might try the 3.5 ounce weight pictured above. The 16-inch rifle itself weighs in at only 5.5 pounds.
The Guard accepts Glock 21 magazines. Thirteen rounds of .45ACP carries more than twice as much lead as a 30-round, 55-grain 223 magazine. The Guard has a patent pending, dual-pinned fully-machined bolt catch linkage that keeps the bolt open after the last round is fired. Yet it still uses a standard bolt catch.
As soon as I had the Guard home, I removed the cool .45-caliber muzzle brake and screwed on my Bowers ASP suppressor. 230-grain rounds are naturally subsonic, so we can make the rifle nearly Hollywood quiet with a can.
It’s actually quieter for bystanders than for the shooter since my ear would pick up the recoil spring twang. The rifle was noticeably quieter than my pistols owing to the extra volume of the barrel. In fact I didn’t even wet the “wet only” ASP suppressor. Pretty neat for just an extra five ounces.
Accuracy was impressive as well. I’ve tested a few 9mm PCCs with disappointing results, but the Guard was splattering one spot about two inches” in size on steel at 100 yards.
Granted there was a little drop from 25-100 yards. The Guard could be a direct competitor to a .300BLK rifle, especially when the .45 ACP ammo is naturally subsonic and more affordable than subsonic .300BLK.
The Guard retails for $1,300+ and has several options available, even pistol and NFA SBR versions. You can find all the details at CMMGInc.com.
—by Dustin Ellerman
—BY DUSTIN ELLERMANN