Story and Photos by Dave Spaulding
Sturm, Ruger and Company has created a bit of excitement in recent years. In November 2010, Ruger was presented with the Manufacturer of the Year Award for the fourth year in a row by the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers. In July 2010, Ruger received the Handgun of the Year Award for the third year in a row from the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence. Such accolades do not come easily and to receive them time and again, the company must be doing something right.
If we look at the level of interest Ruger created with its LCP .380, LCR revolver and the SR-556 AR, it is easy to see that this company is listening to its customers. Has Ruger missed the bullseye? Sure, the introduction of its underrated SR-9 pistol was plagued with trigger problems, but Ruger did the right thing in offering free repair—including the cost of shipping—and offered a free magazine for the inconvenience. It’s hard to ask for more than that.
With all of this success, it would be easy to just sit back and enjoy, but that’s not Ruger’s style. If you have checked in at Ruger.com, you will see this company is continually introducing new products directed at both sportsmen and those who are concerned with personal security.
Recently, Ruger introduced a trio of new products to members of the firearms media and I was fortunate to be in attendance. Not only did I have the opportunity to shoot these new products before they were released to the buying public, but I got to do it at one of my favorite places on earth—the Gunsite Academy. Why Gunsite? Simply because of the input the folks at Gunsite had in the development of these new products. And once each gun was introduced to the group, the Gunsite staff offered training for each weapon platform, which was the part I liked best.
THE GUNSITE LEGACY
The definition of the word “combative” is to be ready and willing to fight—something those concerned with their personal security must be. Being ready means developing a plan of action and then backing it up with proper gear and training to use the chosen kit. There are few places better than Gunsite to do this.
Gunsite was founded in 1976 by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper who was an author, columnist, professor, researcher, WW II and Korean War combat veteran who intended Gunsite to be the vehicle for spreading the “Modern Technique of the Pistol,” which he created during his years at Big Bear Lake, California. Cooper built the facility about 20 miles north of Prescott, Arizona in the high Sonoran desert. Gunsite’s current operation covers 2,000 acres, with modern facilities, spacious classrooms, a fully stocked pro shop and a full-service gunsmith operation for students.
There is a variety of ranges purpose-built for varied class offerings, including shoot houses and deep ravines that offer varied threats, a 400-yard rifle range, an unknown distance range and various steel ranges for specific drills. Most of the target arrays move, turn, run, pop up or appear and disappear. The current owner, Buz Mills, invested several million dollars in upgrading the facility, improvements that were “blessed” by Col. Cooper before his death.
Gunsite is the oldest public firearms training facility in the world and all that have followed since, whether they like it or not, can attribute their curriculum directly to what Gunsite has done as it set the model for all that has come since. Over the last three-plus decades, Gunsite has amassed an impressive group of instructors with extensive knowledge in armed conflict.
Since Ruger has a production facility in Prescott, it would be silly not to consult the folks at Gunsite in product development, as Ruger wisely did here. In the case of the latest introduction to its rifle line, I was personally involved from the beginning. I wrote an article on Ruger’s Frontier Rifle (now discontinued) and how close it was to Cooper’s Scout Rifle concept.
A MULTITASK RIFLE
I was invited to a meeting with Ruger’s Ken Jorgenson, Gunsite owner Buz Mills, (then) Operations Manager Ed Head and “Shooting Gallery” host Michael Bane to discuss Ruger creating such a gun, as Ruger wanted a Gunsite-approved version of the short bolt-action that Col. Cooper envisioned. Previous versions were expensive and Ruger wanted to offer Cooper’s concepts in an affordable package.
Cooper saw the Scout Rifle as a true multi-purpose gun that could be used as an impromptu sniper rifle, hunting arm, farm/ranch rifle or even as a police cruiser carbine. It would not do anything perfectly, but would perform a number of functions quite well. After several years of development, Ruger has introduced the Gunsite Scout Rifle with the full support of Gunsite.
“Beware of the man who has but one gun, for he likely knows how to use it!”— (origin unknown). This would be an excellent way to think of Ruger’s Scout Rifle. It is the gun for the man (or woman) who feels he needs a medium-range precision rifle, but is not sure exactly what it will be needed for.
At heart, the Scout is a Mauser-based, Ruger M-77 short-action in caliber .308. The .308 has proven to be “kind” to short barrels, offering ballistic capability at ranges far beyond what many shooters believe. The precision rifled, 16.5-inch barrel has a 1 in 10 rate of twist with a medium contour made from cold hammer-forged alloy steel.
The classic Ruger-designed birdcage flash hider has been added to help reduce muzzle blast as well as give the gun a distinctive Ruger look. A forward-mounted Picatinny rail permits the mounting of a wide variety of optics, including the proven Burris 2.75x Scout Scope. Forward mounting of the optic allows for both eyes open capability, giving the shooter a much greater view of the area in front of him. Both eyes open also makes it easier to hit a moving target, a difficult task under the best of circumstances.
To read this article in its entirety, pick up the July issue of Gun World magazine, available on newsstands now.