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Contrary to belief, there is nothing wrong with a little controversy when it adds a bit of zest to the conversation. This statement really holds true if the conversation concerns firearms. Start a discussion on the merits of the 9mm Luger cartridge compared to the .45 ACP, or the AK versus the AR, and the conversation will surely turn lively.

One of my longtime favorite discussions, guaranteed to bring about varied opinions, concerns the late Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper and his Scout Rifle theory. A major portion of the controversy concerns Jeff Cooper (1920-2006) himself. As a writer for various firearm publications, he would often be rather blunt, and many considered him as an arrogant, opinionated blowhard. To those, all I can say is, “So?”

He used the label of “Scout Rifle” in reference to the outdated definition of an Army Scout. In his words, “A scout is a man trained in the use of ground and cover, movement from cover to cover, rifle marksmanship, map reading, observation, and accurately reporting the results of his observations. He acted alone, not a member of a team. By choice he did not fight, but he had to be an expert at the hit-and-run art of single combat. By choice he did not shoot, but if forced to shoot he shot quickly, carefully, and as little as possible. One round, one hit, and then vanish!”

The naysayers of the Scout concept tell you that in modern warfare the Scout Rifle is a poor excuse for a combat weapon. However, they ignore that by its very definition, it was never meant to be an assault weapon. It is Cooper’s answer to the age-old question: “If you could have only one rifle, what would it be?”

Cooper may have used the label “Scout,” but in my eyes this rifle was more in tune to the needs of a lone survivalist. Since I still maintain the same thoughts on the subject of survival as I did 30 years ago, I’ll often read the reviews as new Scout rifles are introduced by various companies. Yet, it was when Ruger recently brought out their Model 6829 Gunsite Scout Rifle that my interest in this style of weapon was amplified. This model hit close to home and resembled a rifle I had relied on for years as my go-to weapon of choice. My “chosen one” had been stolen a few years ago, and this alone would justify reviewing the new Ruger.

Ruger’s Model 6829

Before we start stirring the pot of controversy, it is logical to take a quick look at the new offering from Ruger. The rifle is built around a stainless Ruger M77 Mark II bolt-action. This action features a Mauser-type non-rotating extractor, controled round feed, and a fixed blade ejector. In other words, it has all of the desirable features that could be built into a bolt action rifle. The rifle is equipped with a one-piece stainless bolt, a three-position safety, and integral scope mounts machined into the receiver. The trigger on the sample was a single-stage affair with a pull of 4.1 pounds. There was zero take up, and the trigger break was so crisp that it felt much lighter.

The free-floated barrel is 16.1-inches of stainless steel with a 1-in-10-inch twist, and is capped with Ruger’s new muzzle brake. Since the barrel has a muzzle thread of 5/8-24, the user does have the option of using their choice of devices or just utilizing the threaded cap supplied with the rifle.

The stock is a black synthetic model with an aluminum bedding block forward and a rear aluminum pillar that positively aligns the stock to the receiver. Up until this model, Ruger had been using laminated stocks on their Scout Rifles; it was the change to a synthetic stock that caught my attention. The synthetic version reduces the overall weight of the rifle down to 6.2 pounds while still featuring a soft rubber buttpad. Three half-inch spacers are supplied to allow the rifle to be sized for different shooters.

All of Ruger’s Scout Rifles are equipped to take removable magazines in capacities ranging from three to 10 rounds. The barrel supports a Picatinny rail running from in front of the receiver forward for six inches to accept the long-eye-relief Scout-style scopes or other optics. A blade front sight is provided as well as a removable ghost ring adjustable rear aperture sight.

The Chosen One

As I previously mentioned, for several years I had relied on one rifle for the majority of my needs. It was selected as my chosen “Bug-Out Rifle.” It was one of the first Ruger stainless Mark II rifles equipped with what has become known as the “Boat Paddle” synthetic Zytel stocks. I had cut the barrel down to 19 inches, and even though Ruger offered walnut inserts for the stock, I fashioned my own from the wood of a walnut tree taken off of my own property. After taking 16 whitetails and numerous other game animals, this rifle had become the first weapon I would pick up anytime a need arose. Just comparing the photos of this rifle to those of the new Scout will make it obvious why I was attracted to the new Model 6829.

Scout Versus AR-15

Several companies have offered their version of the Scout, but even I have to admit that the AR-15 has outsold all of them combined 20-to-one (or more) for the past two decades. The AR is so plentiful that it has just about supplanted the lever action as the most popular American rifle, and there are those that state the AR-15 is the better choice for the do-everything rifle. After all, the Model 6829 and the basic M4 carbine are about the same length and weight, but the AR is a semiauto with a 20-30 round capacity.

This is where we not only get back to Cooper’s original thoughts, but also to a little common sense. The major objective of a Scout or survivalist is to avoid conflict. Foolishly walk yourself into a hostile crowd and you’re out of luck with either weapon. The daydreams of coming out the victor in a post-disaster firefight are best left for a fictional novel. In such a situation, you are not trying to win; you’re trying to survive. Do what is needed to disengage, and to be blunt, haul ass.

At the same time, the capacity aspect may go to the AR, but the power factor is easily won by the Scout Rifle. Cooper always called for the Scout to be chambered in the .308 Winchester and most of the AR-15s handle the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO cartridge. If you are one to believe the 5.56 has enough power then I say go for it. I am a true fan of the .308 Winchester and I have never hidden the fact that I consider the 5.56 a nice little varmint cartridge. Cooper always referred to it as a “poodle shooter.”

The Firing Line

When you’re testing any rifle, the final judge is always performance. The new Ruger was carried to my range with an assortment of loads, as well as an equally equipped AR-15.

The AR-15 set a high standard for accuracy. I was rather surprised to find that the Scout rifle matched it shot for shot. In fact, using Sig’s 168-grain match loads, the sample rifle never turned in a five-shot group over 1 MOA. Federal Match loads performed just about at well, and even my 125-grain reloads gave outstanding performance.

The only disappointing aspect was the muzzle brake that came with the rifle. It did lessen the recoil, but I found the back blast and noise level override any benefits provided. Wilson Combat had just come out with their new Q-Comp and I found this unit to be a much better solution. The kick of a .308 Winchester round has never really given me much discomfort, but the recoil-reduction of the new Q-Comp proved to be worth its cost.

The range sessions also gave me a chance to compare the energy level between the 5.56 NATO and the .308 Winchester rounds. It is easy to run the numbers to gain the energy levels, but it is really more impressive to compare the difference by shooting concrete blocks. It may not be as precise, but watching the explosive results of a .308 round hitting concrete is more fun.

Overall the Scout rifle gave excellent performance, and I have found myself making several more trips to the range just for the enjoyment of shooting this rifle.

The New “Chosen One”

Gather around a campfire at a hunting camp and it is easy to start a conversation on firearms. There will always be a little controversy and as long as it is kept friendly and no harm is done.

When the conversation turns to the ultimate bug-out rifle I’ll be putting the Ruger Scout at the top of my list. I don’t plan on doing battle with a hoard of ravaging bikers, and my main objective is to get from point A to point B with as little contact with others as possible.

The Model 6829 is easy to carry, more accurate than I expected, and capable of supplying enough firepower to give me a chance to break contact and run. It isn’t the exact configuration called for by Lt. Col. Cooper, but it is close and fits my needs. In the proverbial “SHTF situation” pride goes out the window and survival should be your only objective. Until that day comes, this Ruger will make a fine rifle for hunting and general trail walking.

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle Specs

Caliber: .308 Winchester
Barrel: 16.1 inches
OA Length: 37.0-38.5 inches
Weight: 6.2 pounds (empty)
Stock: Synthetic
Sights: Protected front blade, adjustable aperture rear
Action: Bolt action
Finish: Matte stainless
Capacity: 10
MSRP: $1,199

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle Performance

Load Velocity Accuracy
Federal 168 GMM 2,428 1.12 (Average), 0.81 (Best)
Nosler 125 Reloads 2,847 0.87 (Average), 0.62 (Best)
Sig 168 Elite 2,847 0.87 (Average), 0.62 (Best)

*Bullet weight measured in grains. Velocity measured in fps by chronograph. Accuracy measured in inches for three 5-shot groups at 100 yards.

For more information, visit ruger.com.

This article is from the winter 2018 issue of “Survivor’s Edge” magazine. To order a copy and subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.

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