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.