Monday, September 8, 2014

When is a scout rifle not a scout?

Ruger has announced that they now offer their Gunsite Scout Rifle in 5.56/.223. This contravenes the scout rifle's very definition, which calls for a full powered cartridge, but it will prove a fine rifle none the less--nearly recoilless, cheap to feed, handy and accurate.

When Steyr introduced a scout rifle in the same caliber, Col. Cooper dubbed it the "poodle scout," and spoke rather scornfully of the idea of a light caliber scout rifle. I see his point of view; such a weapon is useful for fewer things than one chambered for his recommendation, .308. He wanted the scout rifle to be useful for as many things as possible. But we need not be persuaded by his reasoning. A scout in .223 goes against the scout rifle concept, but it is not inherently a bad idea. It would be a great gun for pest control, small deer as found some places in Europe, and likely some other things as well.

Of course Cooper was right about the versatility factor. There are varmint loads for the .308 but no moose loads for the .223. So if you really are looking for all the versatility you can get, which was the original idea behind scout rifles, .308 is a far better answer.

For some uses, though, the .308 is overkill, and if that describes your uses, fine. I see no reason to be doctrinaire at this late date, so many years after the scout rifle concept was thought up. Of course when the scout idea was initially promoted, it was important to clarify by repetition that the concept was a broadly useful rifle, light, small and full powered. But everyone understands the concept by now, and not everybody is persuaded. Some people may like the form and function of a scout but do not need the .308.

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