Sunday, December 18, 2011

30 Caliber Versatility and the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle

Among the virtues of manually run rifles - Pumps, Bolts and Levers - is their ability to function normally with a wide variety of ammunition.  Light and heavy, super and subsonic, jacketed and cast, economical and premium, reloads and store bought... and in the case of non-tubular magazine fed guns, pointy, flat point and round nose bullets too.

The 308 Winchester in an easily customizable platform such as the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle is a fine match of rifle and cartridge and I believe lives up to Ruger's claim of "The one rifle to have if you could have only one."

 Equipped with the Ruger Gunsite Scout a hunter could take to the field with loads suitible for both big and small game.

 A subsonic lightweight cast bullet or .314" buckshot will cleanly harvest game such as Grouse without destroying the delicious meat.  The load I like best for this purpose is the Lyman 311008 over a small amount of Winchester 231.  It is accurate, inexpensive and quiet to shoot.

Another subsonic load that has proven to be very accurate in my Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle is the Lyman 311284 (~210 grains).  Pushed to almost 1,000 fps it is very accurate and hard hitting making it useful for steel targets and control of larger vermin species.  The bullet also performs very well at supersonic velocities and my favorite load for this is using Unique to propel it to 1350 fps.

Lyman 311284
The Lyman 311334 (~190 grains) has proven itself in several of my 30 caliber bolt action rifles.  It also shines in the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle when pushed to 1900 fps with SR4759.  This makes an ideal load for inexpensive practice where high repetitions are required.  Rather than spending $0.50/shot for cheap jacketed ammunition you can shoot these for less than half that and reduce barrel wear.  Though the velocity is 300-600 fps lower than your typical 308 jacketed bullet ammunition it will perform at long range, perhaps even better.

Cast Bullets I've successful run through the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle

 For a fun and very inexpensive gallery load a #0 (~.314") buckshot over Bullseye is surprisingly accurate (less than 2" at 50 yards) out to 50 yards and will shoot Point of Aim out to 25 yards.  A fine remedy for garden vermin too.

For hunting loads I've had excellent results with 165 grain JSP bullets over the max (Hodgdon) published data for IMR 3031.  In the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle it is both accurate (1 MOA  or better) and achieves the highest velocity, 2573 fps in my Rifle.  Varget and IMR 4064 have both produced excellent groups in my GSR too but fell short of the velocity produced with the IMR 3031.  With all the rifle powders I've tested  I've found that the best performance in the GSR is at or near the max published data (ALWAYS double check data and work up incrementally!!), it seems happiest when velocities reach 2500 fps or better with 165 grain jacketed bullets and around 2700 fps with 150 grain jacketed bullets.

I will be testing IMR 4895 and Winchester 748 under a variety of Jacketed bullets as I've seen a number or impressive results from other GSR owners.  The Hornady 150gr SST has produced some notable results at 500 yards and has me especially intrigued.

After 11 months of ownership of a Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle I like it even better than I expected.  It has impressed me in the field and at the range.  With the introduction of the Polymer magazines it has improved field-ability of the rifle even more making it easier to carry and operate as well as superior weather resistance.

What the rifle lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for in functionality.  I believe Ruger really thought this one through and made the comprises that made the most sense.  The only improvement I'm really considering is a rear sight that can be adjusted without tools and possibly a finer more visible front sight.  

If I really only could have one rifle, the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle would serve me well.


homefront said...

Nice work! This is a very interesting rifle. The cast bullet and reduced load applications are especially appreciated. Ruger has certainly nailed the niche in ways that Savage and Steyr have not. Perhaps Mossberg's MVP will follow suit.

Whit Spurzon said...

That MVP is interesting in that I think it takes AR magazines. A 300 AAC Blackout MVP would be and intriguing offering.

Seems like it would be a nice option for AR enthusiasts looking for a little spice and/or with family members they'd like to equip with a simpler platform.

My understanding is that Ruger will be offering the Scout in 223. It'll be interesting to see what magazines it'll take,
AR? Mini 14? Something else?

I wouldn't mind seeing the Scout offered in something like 358 Winchester. It'd be another caliber with a lot of versatility including Big Bears.

homefront said...

.358 Winchester sounds really good. Have you done much shooting with that caliber? I wonder how flexible it is, with regard to using reduced loads and cast; I also wonder about it's accuracy potential out to about 300 yards. I have a 7mm-o8 Savage I want to re-barrel and was thinking .308, but the ,358 might open up a whole new world. .358 would make the Ruger Scout into a Cooper "Thumper"!

Whit Spurzon said...

Homefront: The flexibility is what is attractive to me about the caliber.

I have zero experience with the 358 caliber but my research has me considering it. It looks like it would do pretty well at longer ranges for a bigger bore caliber. loaded with 225 grain bullets pushed to around 2450 fps gives a point-blank-zero out to about 250 yards. I imagine it would be pretty stout at both ends of that shot.

Like other rifle calibers I rarely need a full power load so I'd probably look to make some general purpose loads using ~200 grain cast bullets clocking 1000-1800 fps.

Another fun thing to think about.

danontherock said...

I am seriously considering a Ruger Scout. I have a an older tang safety m77 with an 18" barrel in 30-06. It was my goto rifle for moose for years.


Whit Spurzon said...

Dan, sounds like a mighty handy rifle, especially for the Moose hunting I'm familiar with - Wet, thick cover and tough going.