Ruger’s New Gunsite Scout

The “Do All” Carbine.

What if I told you there is a new rifle perfect for hunting, ranch work or defense. It has a short, 16-1/2″ barrel, iron sights, as well as the means to mount conventional and forward mounted telescopes, uses 5- and 10-round magazines and it’s capable of better than minute-of-angle (MOA) accuracy? Further, what if I told you Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Gunsite Academy have teamed up to create this rifle and it’s available now? — It’s called the Ruger Gunsite Scout.

Ruger Gunsite

The Scout Rifle concept has been around for some time. Gunsite founder Jeff Cooper started exploring the idea about 30 years ago and since then a number of custom Scouts, as well as production Scouts from Steyr, Savage and others, have been marketed. So what’s a Scout Rifle? First and foremost, it’s a general-purpose rifle suitable for defense, hunting, or, as Cooper visualized, for use by a lone military scout who might be expected to operate in enemy territory and away from friendly support.

Such a rifle would have to be lightweight, user friendly and capable of striking a decisive blow quickly at distances from just off the muzzle out to 300 yards or more. Over time, Cooper defined a set of goals and then challenged others to create solutions and products to meet these ideals. These criteria included: an overall length of 1 meter; bolt-action; a weight of about 7 pounds; provision for both iron sights, as well as a forward-mounted, low-power telescope; a good trigger and the ability to have about 10 rounds of ammunition “on the gun.” Initially, this project faced some very difficult obstacles. Nobody was making many of the needed components and the costs of producing them were prohibitive. Still, over time, progress was made, some rather expensive custom rifles were built, and finally, in 1998, Cooper was successful in having Steyr of Austria produce the Steyr Scout.

Ruger Gunsite 2

The Scout

I feel very fortunate to have been involved in this new rifle from the beginning; it’s rare, indeed, to be able to say you helped design a new firearm. We got the ball rolling several years ago while we were doing a writer’s conference for Ruger at Gunsite. I asked Ruger’s Ken Jorgensen if they might be interested in producing an updated version of a scout, perhaps based upon their little Frontier bolt-action rifle? This simple question grew into a meeting to discuss the concept to Ruger’s engineers making it a reality. In December 2010, at a writer’s conference at Gunsite, we introduced the production Ruger Gunsite Scout.

Gunsite has always been known for conducting practical, reality-based training. The folks at Ruger decided this new rifle should be the answer for anyone interested in not only a practical or hunting rifle, but a tactical one as well that might serve as an attractive and less costly alternative to the semi-automatic .308 tactical rifles on the market. As such, the rifle is short, lightweight and handy. The barrel is 16-1/2″ long and has a Mini 14-style flash hider, as well as a Mini-style blade front sight protected by two sight ears. The rear sight is an adjustable aperture, also from the Mini 14. Overall length of the rifle is adjustable from between 38″ and 39-1/2″ by means of three 1/2″ buttstock spacers provided with the rifle. Adding or subtracting these spacers allows for adjusting the length of pull from 12-3/4″ to 14-1/4″.

The stock is what Ruger calls a black laminate. It’s checkered at the forearm and wrist, and not only looks good, but feels good too. Using a laminate, into which the action is tightly locked and the barrel is free floated, adds greatly to the strength and accuracy of the Scout. One thing I wanted was a soft recoil pad and this rifle has one. After shooting hundreds of rounds from the bench, prone and in the field, I have yet to experience any bruising or soreness.

When we were doing the planning, plotting and scheming for this rifle everyone felt it was important it be magazine fed. This created a number of obstacles for Ruger, as they had never made a box magazine-fed, bolt-action rifle before. During one of their many trips to Gunsite during the development process, Ken Jorgensen and Mark Gurney brought out a couple of early prototypes, one using M14 magazines. After shooting these rifles we agreed that 20-round magazines were not necessary for the rifle we were envisioning. There had been some thought that using military magazines would be a good idea since so many are available, but there is also an issue with quality variations and we didn’t want someone criticizing or complaining about this rifle due to using junk surplus magazines. The first run of magazines is quality five and 10 rounders made by Accurate-Mag, the same magazines used by several high-end sniper rifles. By the time this magazine hits the newsstand, Ruger will be providing Ruger-designed polymer 5- and 10-round magazines.

The Gunsite Scout makes use of Ruger’s proven M77 action, meaning you get controlled round feeding and the Mauser-style claw extractor for the most reliable feeding, extracting and ejection in the bolt-action arena. The bolt-handle is smooth, and if I may digress, therein lies a tale: Jeff Cooper had always stipulated that bolt-actions have a round, smooth bolt handle knob and he carried this idea over to the conceptual Scout. When Steyr introduced their Scout at the SHOT Show, I went to their booth to visit Jeff and see the rifle. The first thing I noticed was the Steyr had the European-style “butter knife” bolt handle. Marching over to Jeff, rifle in hand, I asked for an explanation of this discrepancy. I’ll close the curtain on this scene right there. If you knew Cooper you could imagine how he responded! Anyway, I’m pleased to say Ruger got it right and put a smooth knob on the bolt.

Ruger Gunsite 3

Ed domonstrates how easily the GS Scout comes to shoulder with the
forward mounted optic and Galco Ching Sling.

Sights And Sighting

This little rifle, perhaps more properly referred to as a carbine, allows for great variety as far as sighting systems are concerned. The rifle comes with iron sights and the included Ruger receiver rings can be used to mount conventional riflescopes. If necessary, the forward-mounted Picatinny rail can be removed to provide clearance for large objective lenses. The rail is forward of the receiver, so that long eye relief (LER) Scout scopes of low magnification can be forward mounted. Also, intermediate eye relief (IER) scopes, like the new Leupold 1.5X4 variable I have on my Scout, can be mounted. The Scout rail also easily accommodates any of the red-dot or military sights you might wish to mount, such as those by Trijicon, Aimpoint, Leupold, EOTech and others.

This idea of forward-mounted optics requires a little explanation. Whether a Scout scope or a red dot, forward mounting the optic allows you to keep both eyes open. This provides a number of advantages, such as maintaining peripheral vision and tracking moving or multiple targets, but the greatest advantage is speed. When someone or something is trying to kill you, speed is of the essence and nothing is faster for a snap shot than a forward-mounted optic. The good news is there is no downside. The forward mounted scopes work just as well as conventional scopes for longer range shooting. Other advantages are the optic isn’t covering the action, making loading, unloading and clearing malfunctions easier, and it prevents malfunctions sometimes created when ejected brass hits the scope and falls back into the action.

Ruger Gunsite 4

Iron sights or optic of your choosing, they all work on the GS Scout.

Adjustable Stock

The stocks on most rifles are too long for most people, with a length of pull (LOP) averaging around 14″ or 15″. LOP is measured from the face of the trigger to the middle of the butt and when it’s too long, it forces the shooter into a bladed stance with the stock on the ball of the shoulder. Shooting this way hurts — the recoil is directed right into a joint — and it results in excessive muzzle climb, and often, shots impacting off to the side of the point of aim. Not good. Much better is the ability to fit the stock to the shooter with an adjustable buttpad, just as we have on the Ruger Scout. It took me a long time to learn this, I’m hard headed and Cooper had to beat on me until I understood, but most shooters are better off with a short(er) stock. This allows us to shoot more accurately without discomfort, manipulate the rifle bolt, control recoil, get back on target more quickly and shoot from a squared-up stance.

Try this: Standup straight with hips squared to an imaginary target. Bend the knees slightly, lean forward and get your chest ahead of your belt buckle. Place your strong-side foot back 6″ or so from your support-side toe, but keep both feet pointing at the target about shoulder width apart. Now, bring your hands up into a boxing stance then imagine holding your rifle with your hands in this position. You’re now in a balanced shooting/fighting stance, and adjusting the number of spacers in the Scout stock allows you to shoot this way.

ruger gunsite 5

ruger gunsite 6

Ruger and Buz Mills’ crew at Gunsite teamed up to make an outstanding rifle


At the start I mentioned MOA accuracy, meaning, more or less, the rifle will shoot into an inch at 100 yards. At 200 yards that would translate into 2″ and at 300 it would be 3″. With both Remington and Federal Match ammunition, shooting prone from a bipod, I managed to get 1″ 3-shot groups at 100 yards, 1-1/2″ groups at 200 yards and 2-1/4″ groups at 300 yards. Doing accuracy testing from a bench with six different brands of ammunition, I found the hunting loads average between 1-1/2″ and 2″ at 100 yards. The overall average for more than 150 rounds used in the accuracy testing at 100 yards was 1.54″. Federal Gold Match averaged .994″ for five consecutive 5-shot groups.

For years, I have heard the argument Scout rifles don’t work any better than Pappy’s hunting rifle that has been harvesting deer for the past 50 years. True enough. If all you ever do is fire a couple of shots from the bench to confirm zero, then fire one or two rounds a year harvesting your deer, you probably don’t need a Scout. But for those who work or live with a rifle every day and use it for a variety of field-shooting opportunities, to know the Scout is to love the Scout. If I had to walk out the door with only one rifle it would be a Scout, and in particular, the Ruger Gunsite Scout. Why? Because I can hunt, fight or defend with this rifle; this one rifle does all those jobs well. Is it perfect for each of these roles? Not at all, but it is very good at all of them and that is enough. There is nothing more simple or foolproof than a Mauser-type bolt-action. It will last for many lifetimes with minimal maintenance. Chambered in .308 Winchester, the Scout is powerful enough to handle any reasonable task and the ammunition is universally available.

This rifle can serve well as a ranch or truck gun, a hunting rifle or for defending home and hearth. As a law enforcement rifle it might serve as anything from a patrol rifle to a sniper rifle, when equipped with the right optics. I don’t see the military dropping automatic rifles in favor of a bolt-action infantry carbine, but I also don’t see the armed citizen as needing a .308 semi-auto battle rifle (Don’t send hate mail, I said needing, not wanting. It is also great for those who don’t live in “Free America,” like poor editor Sammy stuck in Kalifornia.) Absent the exceedingly unlikely event of, as my friend Michael Bane puts it, the zombie apocalypse, there is nothing you can do with a semi-auto .308 you can’t do with a bolt-action Scout. You’ll save money buying a Scout and can invest the savings in a plentiful supply of ammunition. Try it, I bet you’ll like it.

By Ed Head
From The GUNS Magazine 2012 Special Edition

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17 thoughts on “Ruger’s New Gunsite Scout

  1. William Ake

    Your article is dead on. I purchased one of the first, if not the first GSS in Arkansas, I found it at the BX at our local AFB.

    It is everything you have said and more.

    Also what you said abour 308 in semi-autos, well I spent half of my life in the military and fought to keep my M14 when in NAM. Always loved the M14, so I had to have a Springfield M1A Scout rifle. I had stayed away from the AR platform, but since my son is in the Army and making a career of it, I finally broke down and got an AR in 5.56, had to be mil spec not .223 and then I got one in 7.62×51. My son finally got to find out the difference in firing the 5.56 versus the 7.62×51. His comment the first time was it kicks more, but reaches out a greater distance.

  2. Bob Fritz

    That’s a pretty useless product, in my opinion, and ugly. Who wants to hunt with a rifle that you can’t carry at the balance pint with one hand, because of the big pointy-edged magazine? And the forward-mounted scope is no faster in target acquisition than a properly mounted one.

    Jeff Cooper or Ed Head are just plain wrong about factory stock length. I have NEVER seen a factory rifle that I had to hold on the ball of my shoulder. It would be impossible to shoot it accurately.

    The photos, incidentally, show Ed in a very poor offhand position, speaking of accuracy. You should stand up straight (I suspect the stock is too short), your left arm should be vertical under the rifle, and your right elbow should be a lot higher. He looks like he is curled up with a toy gun.

    Basically I think this gun is about as useless–and unpopular–as the original Steyer version. What good is a 10-shot clip loaded bolt action .308? None. Steyer at least tartged theirs up with the cheap looking black plastic stock inserts.

    1. Christopher Smith

      It’s not useless. You just don’t get it. And Ed Head’s position is not classic match standing position, but it IS classic AR15/M4 standing position for slicing the pie in CQB….which is what they teach at Gunsite. And by the way, the balance point is right IN FRONT of the magazine, not the magazine well itself, so carrying and handling the rifle is quite pleasant and natural.

      I don’t own a GSS yet, but I have handled one and it will be my next purchase. It is no bigger than my AR15, and maybe about a half pound to a pound lighter. I also own an EXTREMELY accurate Remington 700 in .308, and a SASS configured custom built AR10 which is about the same accuracy as the GSS. My AR10 is too damned heavy to carry around. My Remington 700 is not as heavy, but it has a 26″ heavy barrel, and it is not what you would call handy. My AR15 is handy, but it is a marginal caliber for hunting targets beyond 100 yards, particularly Texas hogs.

      The GSS very nicely fills the niche between my larger, heavier, Remington 700 and my AR15. It is a great all-around ranch rifle, walking around rifle, and general hunting rifle, and I must have one.

  3. Brian O'Connell

    There are mags that are flush with the stock for the Ruger Scout.

    I thought target acquisition was faster with the scout scope but I never shot one. Can it also be fired faster when brought up to the shoulder due to not having the scope near the eye, which means no worry of the scope hitting you in the eye area. The other purpose of the scout scope it is peripheral view.

    The Steyer never caught on at least somewhat because if has always been unaffordable for most people.

    The 10 shot mag is good for defense purposes. Use the 3 or 5 inch ones for hunting.

    I know some people claim the scout rifles are obsolete due to the semi’s becoming more and more accurate. But the scout is a bolt action, so it will be less likely to break.

    That said, this model isn’t for me due to muzzle blast from the 16.5″ barrel; also the loss in velocity with a short barrel. Then, I’m skeptical about the MOA claim.

    The same/similar model with a 18″-20″ barrel sounds good.

  4. Daniel

    This is a good example of an answer looking for a question. I really can’t see that it does anything well. Who in his right mind would choose a bolt action rifle for home defense? If you need more than one shot it is likely you need an undertaker. Just get a good pump shotgun and spend what you saved on ammo. Even better choice would be a handgun.
    I have never needed a large capacity magazine for hunting. If I need more than three I need more practice.
    I am sixty seven and I have never had a bolt action rifle jam from the empty shell hitting the scope. I have never even heard it was a problem.
    I have heard of multi-purpose arms before, but this does not seem to have even a single purpose.

  5. Mack Missiletoe

    This is the answer to that question, “Why do the autos get all the love?” Some people enjoy bolt actions–and for good reason!

    There is nothing wrong with this rifle design. Maybe it takes a younger generation to understand that. The Ruger GSR is not your dad’s hunting rifle. It’s your son’s scout rifle 😀

    Also check out the CZ 527 Carbine with iron sights in .223 or 7.62×39. I heard it makes AK47’s look bad in 7.62×39 with MOA accuracy. I want one. Very nice looking 5rd metal mag. Just a nice looking rifle. It’s not threaded for a can but comes with longer 18.5″ barrel vs the Ruger’s 16.5″ barrel.

  6. Tom O'Dwyer

    I recently completed the GunSite Scout Rifle course at GunSite in Arizona. The course was lead by Ed Head, Ill Ling New and Ron Fielder. It has been a lot of years since my military qualifications and the training was outstanding. An amazing all around adventure.

    The Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle preformed beyond my expectations. From 25 yards to 300 yards on the range to the simulator exercises. Our class had a range of students from active duty military to novice shooters. Once the instructors drilled the basics of rifleman ship into us, the GunSite Scout Rifle proved to consistently put rounds on target. Accuracy is in the hands of the shooter and my performance was as inconstant as most sports shooters, but I did achieve a 10 round – 2 inch group at 200 yeads with ease from a prone position in the dirt on a sand bag. In a moving target simulation, the bolt action was smooth, fast and accurate.

    I am a fan of semi automatic platforms, but the simplicy and reliability of the Ruger’s M77 action….Accurate; super reliable with the .308 round… makes my Ruger GunSite Scout my go to rifle.

    I am also proud to have my GunSite 270 pin on my rifle strap…If you want to become the best shooter you can be, no better place than GunSite Academy and no better instructors than Ed, Ill Ling and Ron.

  7. kevin

    The scout rifle was the best purchas I made. My wife uses it more than I. She likes the open sight, since she has a hard time using a rifle with a scope. She likes the fact that She can grab the rifle and pop a mag in to it and jump on the quad to go and check on the cows. We live in Grizly,black bear and coager country and that I’m working away from home, so she has to tend to the cows Her self. the rifle fits Her like a glove.

  8. Jay

    Its a great handy rifle for us people driving in the ute and coming across something to shoot. Short length and open sights mean less room in the ute and easier to get out and on target quicker. Also a great scrub gun.

  9. HJ Lamb

    Just got one today. Was in the store and no one noticed it being put up on the rack as there was a feeding frenzy for ARs going on at the time. Silly that, but understandable given the approach Obama and the gun hating media are trying to force on us. If Barry succeeds in his war against guns, the first to go or face massive jail times for those not giving them up will be the AR styles and especially anything that looks like it can fire in an auto or semi auto mode. I have used an auto in 5.56 and 7.62 at the behest of unca suga during my tours in nam as well as a captured AK and SKS in 7.62 X 39. Also qualified in BMT with the venerable M2 carbine. I could use them fairly well, well enough to qualify as an Expert rating and get the little ribbon hangers for it. But I recall that during nam, marksmanship was not a disciplined path when you were in a bomb crater shooting at multiple enemies coming at you firing full auto AKs. Kinda just put the AR over the top and did what was called spray and pray. An auto shotgun would have been more effective, especially at close range. But, when you had the opportunity to ambush in established fire zones, a bolt action like the SMLE jungle carbine variant with 10 rounds worked pretty well. Many of the VCs had mosin’s and man those things were accurate and hit hard (7.62 X54) despite their age and limited capacity (5 rounds)! A bolt action rifle in combat is nothing to sneeze at. A good carbine high capacity lightweight with variable sighting options does fill a valid niche and after over 55 years of shooting and hunting, I would not feel under gunned nor handicapped if this were the one and only all around rifle I owned.

  10. AL

    I just got a scout.Shoots great.But the action is sloppy and will bind in rapid fire. Called Ruger and im sending it back for repairs.Hope it works out I like the gun

    1. Glock

      I just bought a Scout and seem to have same binding problem. Did Ruger fix your Scout? What did they do?

  11. warren

    why in Australia did we get the lesser variant with No Gunsite Logo under handgrip, Not good enuff, Why do we missout. Pissed Off

  12. Isaiah

    “A solution in search of a problem.” Care to throw out any other cliche’s? Seems like that’s the go to line on the gun forum’s these days. Come up with something new.
    I just got a RGSR yesterday and it is fantastic. Light, powerful, and accurate. Take it hunting, target shooting, or for defense, it does all 3 well enough. Free floating barrel, 10 round mag, carbine size, and bolt reliability. If a shooter can’t see the possibilities this arm has to offer, then it just isn’t for them. Move along.

  13. mike day

    I own a scout. The gun out of the box does not work ! The #2 round I fired struck in the chamber . The first 30 rounds I fired would not eject right , bolt does not work correctly . bolt will not cycle . Sent gun back to ruger AND IT CAME BACK AS BAD AS THE FIRST TIME ! NOW IT HAS GONE BACK 3 TIMES .Called Gunsite academy and talked to a gunsmith there” quote” they are aware of all failures of this gun ! please call them to confirm my statement. this gun is not safe it is not any good the design is false . my name is mike day and I would be happy to tell anyone about this junk gun and “ RUGERS” poor customer service !!!! my email is


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