The “scout rifle” concept delivers a handy, accurate, and capable firearm for use in the real world. Thanks to Savage it’s now affordable! Learn more.
By Major Pandemic
Despite being quite old, the scout-rifle concept originally developed by Col. Jeff Cooper is still very hot. Ruger’s versions are reportedly still selling well on the retail shelves and now Savage Arms has joined in with its own Model 11 Scout Rifle offering. Like all Savage rifles, the already frequently backordered Model 11 Scout Rifle delivers a lot of value and accuracy for customers paired with Savage magazine compatibility and a design with proven durability and accuracy. For an $818 MSRP, customers now have available an affordable scout-focused rifle that is about $300 less than the competing Ruger model.
THE COOPER SCOUT RIFLE CONCEPT
The late great Jeff Cooper was quoted as saying: “The natural habitat of the general-purpose rifle is the field, the forest, the desert, and the mountain -– not the shooting shed with its bench rest. To be really useful a rifle must be as short, light, and quick to use as is technically compatible with adequate power and useful accuracy. What matters is not what the equipment can do, but rather what it will do in the hands of its operator under field, rather than laboratory, conditions.”
In 1983 the Cooper-influenced Steyr Scout Rifle was offered in .223/5.56, .243, 7mm-08, .376 Steyr, and of course, .308/7.62×51 NATO. The rifle weighed only 6.6lbs without an optic and was only 38.6 inches in length. By today’s standards, it was very light and still had a number of forward-thinking features such as spare mag in the buttstock, forward mounted optic, and integrated bipod. Most people have netted Cooper’s concept down to a magazine-fed .308-Winchester-based bolt-action rifle with a length around 40-inches and a weight under 8-lbs which allows for a forward-mounted optic and can support iron backup sights. That noted, any Scout Rifle student knows that an individual’s “scout rifle” can look much different depending on the shooter’s needs.
SAVAGE’S TAKE ON SCOUT RIFLES
I am going to jump in with both feet and make comparisons between the Savage and Ruger offerings, because after all, buyers will at the gun counter. The Savage Arms Model 11 Scout rifle follows closely to the original design intent of a scout rifle as outlined by Copper, but does have a few welcome departures. The Savage Scout Rifle shared many great features with the Ruger including adjustable stock pull length, magazine fed action, free-floated barrel to maximize accuracy, dual sling studs to support a scout sling, a forward optic mounting rail, and iron sights. When customers are comparing the two competing rifles, that is where the similarities end and value starts to tip over to the side of the Savage.
Out of the box, the Savage Scout rifle arrives with an exceptional peep sight system that is significantly higher quality than the included Ruger iron peep sight system. The same can be said for the Savage trigger system which is arguably as good as most entry-level aftermarket match triggers. The Model 11 Scout includes an incredibly effective muzzle brake that takes a huge bite out of the bolt-action .308 recoil and delivers a rifle that is extremely comfortable even during all-day range training. The current line of Ruger Scout Rifles can start to pummel the shooter after a day at the range.
Savage offered the initial Scout Rifle released with a top tier billet aluminum pillar-bedded Hogue Polymer stock that is completely waterproof and allegedly stiffer than a wood stock. On the Ruger, even after using the lowest rings possible for mounting an optic, the cheek rest height was still too low for a comfortable cheek weld. I solved the problem on my Ruger with a Hornady cheek rest bag, however Savage solved the problem up front by including an adjustable cheek rest out of the box. Notably, with the cheek rest in place, the factory peep sights are too low for regular use. If you plan on using the iron sights, owners will need to remove the cheek rest first.
The stock on the Savage is better equipped than the Ruger out of the box for those that want to add an optic. On top of integrated cheek riser, I found it ergonomically more comfortable as well with less felt recoil that the Ruger. Overall the Savage is 1-inch longer and about a half pound heavier than the Ruger, though both felt nearly identical in weight.
FUNCTION & ACCURACY
Feeding and functioning was perfect from the Savage box magazines. My only complaint with the proprietary Savage magazines is that they are proprietary vs being AICS magazine compatible like the Ruger Scout Rifle. For someone with a couple other bolt guns with AICS magazines this may alone be a deal breaker for them.
The adjustable Savage AccuTrigger on the Model 11 is impressive. The trigger weight is adjustable from around 2-lbs to 6-lbs, however I would leave it set at the factory 2.25lb weight (as measured by my Timney trigger gauge). As is, this trigger is amazing compared to the crunchy Ruger trigger.
Savage has made a name for itself in the accuracy department and this scout rifle format delivered good accuracy for its $800 price tag. I think it would be an epic battle between the Ruger and Savage as to which could deliver better accuracy out of the box. I spent the better part of an afternoon attempting to find the clear winner, but there was no clear winner. Both guns will easily deliver 1.25-inch 100-yard groups, and I have personally seen both of them deliver touching 5-shot half-inch groups.
With a better factory trigger, stock, sights, brake, included adjustable cheek rest, and lower price, the Savage Arms Model 11 Scout Rifle is sure to please Savage loyalists and may just convert many Ruger customers. Out of the box it is easier to shoot and better equipped.
The Cooper Scout Rifle concept mandates accuracy sufficient for the application and the Savage Model 11 Scout delivers easily on that concept.
Learn more about this rifle HERE
About the author: Major Pandemic is an editor-at-large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival-related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. MajorPandemic.com