Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Ruger Scout Rifle Saga Part 1

Let me first say that I really like Ruger's version of the scout rifle. I believe it has loads of potential and none of my criticisms or dislikes prevented me from purchasing it. I did have several concerns at first; but felt they would be a simple fix. It wan't until I began literally using and taking the rifle apart, that I realized that Ruger really droped the ball on several features. So I'll begin by highlighting the features I like, followed by my indifferences and my truly dislikes.

First, this is the rifle we all start with. I have put a Burris 1.5x scout scope in the forward position. I really wish Burris still offered this scope because there is a lot to like about it; but thats for another post.

The first thing I'll mention is the barrel. I really like the stepped, medium contour. I believe this accounts for the rifles excellent out of the box accuracy that most of us have been experiencing. Whether you like the shorter 16.5" or longer 18" lengths; they both benefit from the rigidity and decreased vibration the barrel affords. This, in my opinion is a positve. The following is a target shot by my oldest son at 50yds, using surplus 150 gr Chilean ammo. Four shots can be covered with a dime; the fifth shot is in the xring. I'll be taking the rifle out this weekend to dial it in a little closer. The GSR is definately a 1 moa shooter.

The open sights are another good feature not found on other bolt action rifles; the Ruger sights are robust and certainly do the job well. Opinions may differ on whether these are the best; however, at the least they are more than adequate and  not offered in this good of quality, on any production BA rifle that I know of.

Integral receiver scope mounts. Many opinions vary regarding how dated Rugers scope mounts are; however, they do provide a set of rings with the rifle, so for me it is a moot point. Just gives the shooter additional options regarding the location of optical sights.

The scout rail is another feature I really like. Ruger did a good thing by not making it a permanent attachment. XS Sights has a lot of options for the shooter, including a full length picatinny rail that hopefully will be available soon. This will allow for many more sighting options in the future.

Threaded barrel. Man, am I glad for this. If I'm stuck with a flash hider, it allows me to put what ever compensator I desire on the business end of the rifle. If you are inclined, a "can" is possible.

AICS "standard" magazines. This was in my opinion, one of the best engineering decisions Ruger made, second to the stepped, medium contour barrel. The AICS standard is proven and almost flawless. The magazines are more expensive; but when your life depends on it, I can't fault the decision. I don't care for the single stack ten round magazine; but, it is easily fixed by a five round magazine. I wish they had provided the five rounder with the rifle, and the ten round magazine as an option. But no big deal. I purchased two five rounders, and am glad I have at least one ten rounder.

I personally think the five rounder is a better choice for the rifleman. It dosen't get in the way, and just looks better.

Now it's on to my indifferences. First, is the laminated stock. I like laminated stocks; however, for a scout rifle, it adds additional weight. A synthetic stock would have been a better choice; but knowing Ruger, they would have made it black with a big block "Ruger" molded into the stock. Given the options, I'd rather have the laminate. 

Swivel studs. I hate these things! They are noisy, move around, and never stay real tight. But, they have become a industry "standard", and no one can get away from them.

the studs will be replaced.........

by a set of these.

Mauser type sling swivels are hard to beat; and since I have no use for a bipod, they make for a sturdier platform for "practical" sling use. YMMV

Plastic/polymer trigger group and magazine well.

I'm really indifferent on this. Polymers are used on all kinds of hard use firearms and have stood the test of time. Ruger has demonstrated they are pretty good with polymers; and the use of them in this application saves on weight. To me, it is a good thing and not a big deal on a practical rifle.

Now on to my dislikes and where I think Ruger really dropped the ball.

Flash hider. What a useless accessory for a practical rifle. Cooper had no use for them; I have no use for them; and if a scout rifle is designed to be stealthy, a flash hider is the last thing you need on the end of your barrel. On this board my next statement is bold, but I believe it has merit. Name one "A List", bolt action sniper rifle system that has a pure flash hider on it? Can't name it? I can't either. They may have a compensator or a compensator/flash hider; but none that are worth a darnn with a straight flash hider. Yeah I know some gas operated systems may have them but by and large they use a compensator or nothing at all. Flash hiders will do nothing but give away your position. Flash hiders were designed to help the shooter, by reducing the flash signature in order to minimize night blindness. The downside is they kick up one heck of a dust signature. Thank goodness Ruger put a threaded barrel on the end instead of the thing being pinned. So, being of the practical mind ..........

I went from the tacticool POS ..........

To a much better alternative. At least it will not kick up a cloud of dust; putting me and mine in jeopardy.  

The A2 FH is compromise for me. At least the threaded barrel will allow for each of the GSR owners to attach something that will be better suited for a practical rifle. Again, YMMV. This is one addition to the scout rifle that I believe was a "stick in the eye" to the Guru. But, it's addition to the rifle does not disqualify it as a scout rifle.

The last item that I believe is a dropped ball; the recoil pad. This little gem sticks to any and everything.

I have tried putting this pad to my shoulder wearing cotton; synthetic; coats and no coats; web gear; shirts and no shirts. It dose not matter; it hangs on everything. A scout/practical/tactical rifle dose not have any place for a recoil pad. Period. It will get you killed or at the very least, cause you to miss that monster buck. The adjustable length of pull using spacers is a good idea; but this system is cheap and cheesy. If Ruger had offered an option of a hard plastic butt plate; I could have lived with the system. But they didn't.  From the beginning I was going to replace the spacer system with a large spacer and hard smooth butt plate. To my dismay, I found this once I removed the entire system.

None of the screw or mounting holes line up in a standard fashion; making it difficult to keep the stock in factory condition. Compounding the problem, the spacer system requires large holes to be drilled in the stock; making the use of standard screws nearly impossible. The system is FUBAR for anyone who would like to make changes. Ruger ....... what were you thinking?  Another "stick in the eye" of the Guru. Anyway, I'm still going to customize the the stock so it is easier to bring up and down from the shoulder. My GSR will be sporting a 1" hard rubber spacer; followed by........

a 3/8" spacer made of "tiger ebony".......

and a butt plate of Buffalo horn.

I think I'll call my Ruger the, "Buffalo Scout". Pics of the final modifications will be in Part 2.  

So there are no confusions; I like the Ruger GSR. I just believe Ruger should have done a bit more homework apart from Gunsite; and talked to a few more scout users. If they had done that, this rifle could have  been something truly special. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Frameless ALICE Modification "Bobcat"

Frameless "Bobcat" ALICE Modification

By Rod Teague

One of the problems I used to encounter when using a med ALICE w/o frame was how the pack would become misshapen after loading and then cinching the top of the ruck.

This was particularly critical when using the pack over the top of my web gear. The pack would roll around and ultimately something hard in the pack would poke me in the back making the carry difficult and sometimes painful. Heavier loads would also tear the D-rings loose making the ruck unusable w/o the frame. The solution I came up with was very simple and completely eliminated the afore mentioned problems and allowed me to carry the frameless/heavy ALICE ruck comfortably over my web gear.

Step One: Materials

1ea Med ALICE ruck

1ea 11-11.5" piece of steel tubing(from a broken camp know; the folding kind we all use for our kids sporting events and around the camp fire)

1ea Length of 1" tubular webbing about 14-15"

1 pair LC2 shoulder straps

1ea 10"x12" piece of foam padding cut from a USGI sleep pad

Assembling the Bobcat

Cut your piece of steel tubiing to about 11-11.5" and then file the rough ends. Length isn't as important as getting a snug fit.

Next slip the the steel tube into the 1" webbing letting the ends overlap

Slip the assembled rod through the bottom of the padded yoke pushing the assembly until it is firmly at the top

Next, slip the top attachment straps of the LC2's under the tube assembly and through the D-rings

Cinch the LC2 straps to the top assembly and to the "O" ring attachments at the bottom of the ruck. Your strap/yoke assembly should look like this

Next, slip the piece of sleep pad into the radio pouch............

and your Bobcat is ready for action over your web gear.

This is an excellent modification to use for cub scouts as well. All of my boys have used this mod during their cub years then we simply upgraded to the Hellcat. I'll make another post later, showing the mods for making the Bobcat kid friendly.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ruger GSR Flash hider options

So I bought the YHM Phantom and was really excited because I wanted a compensator that wouldn't kick up dust while firing prone. When it arrived I thought it had everything I wanted except the thing was a BEAST. Heavy and big. I ordered the Armalite A2 with the intention of sending the YHM back. Well, I decided to take some some pics so that you might be the judge. I like the A2; it is very clean and the smallest profile of the three, and has all the features I'm looking for.

Armalite A2, Ruger FH, YHM Phantom

Ruger Flash Hider

Yankee Hill Machine Phantom

Armalite A2

Like I said, I think the Armalite has the cleanest appearance and will lighten the overall weight; while hiding the flash and keeping dust down to minimum. The YHM will probably be the better performer; but I just don't like the size. The Ruger, I hear is a decent flash hider; but will really kick up the dust in prone, while the other two will not.

Edit:  Many of you have requested performance tests of the flash hiders; I have included the A2; YHM Phantom and a bonus, the Smith Enterprise FH; courtesy of YouTube. Sorry no Ruger FH test.

FYI  This is a pic of the Smith Enterprise Vortex

No FH; A2 FH; YHM Phantom; SE Vortex

No FH; A2 FH; YHM Phantom

No FH; A2 FH; SE Vortex

Hellcat Fit and Adjustment

Torso Fit and Pack Adjustment Guide

As promised here is a guide for proper torso fit and pack adjustment. Once you have familiarized your self with torso fit and adjustment guides you will find the Hellcat has ALL the modern adjustments that are common on todays commercial packs. First read these links to REI's backpack adjustment guides

Points of reference for torso adjustment should be the notch ( C-7 ) at the top of the shoulder pads and the midpoint of the hip pad( line of iliac crest). Remember these are just references; but I believe they will get you in the right ball park.

Loosen the side and torso attachment don't have to remove them.....measure your torso length; move the shoulder straps up or down accordingly and retighten the attachment straps. EDIT I have another comment here and I have added a couple of more pics. You must also loosen the load lifters significantly for torso fit. I just recently fit my 10 yo (Webelo II) and his torso length was 14 inches. No surprise it worked fantastic. The bonus for him was we were able to use the second set of side attachment straps and the load sets higher for better balance. The beauty is this adjustment can be reset as he matures, giving him use of the pack well into his adulthood(the Hellcat will probably outlast him)

You should now be fitted for torso length. Readjust load lifters; sternum strap; hip belt and tweak lower adjustment on shoulder strap per the REI guide. The next two pics show the difference in height of shoulder straps and load lifter straps. The top pick is mine set at a torso length of 18 inches; the bottom pic is of my 10 yo's set at o torso length of 14 inches.

In case you didn't know these are the parts refered to in the REI article "adjusting the fit"

Load Lifters

Sternum strap

Shoulder strap adjustment

Stabilizer strap.... notice it is not on the kidney belt.... it's the strap I told you not to tighten until the ruck was loaded

Quick release... most of us will never use this other than for convenience during assembly/disassembly

Now you have it; all the tools for proper fit and load stabilization of your Hellcat.

Rod Teague