In a market awash in AR style rifles, the shooter looking for an alternative should look no further than the “scout” style bolt gun.
Designed by the legendary Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper who established the Gunsite Academy, a scout rifle should be no longer than one meter (about 39 inches), weigh no more than three kilograms (about 6.6 pounds) and be chambered in a cartridge with enough power to deal effectively with medium to large size game and human aggressors. He liked the .308 Winchester and the short-action, turn-bolt rifle. His basic idea was to have a lightweight rifle that was easy to carry and maneuver, and that could be used for hunting, survival or self defense.
Initially, only a few other people saw the value of such a gun, and if a shooter wanted one, it had to be custom made. Eventually, a few models were introduced by commercial manufacturers, but acceptance was marginal. Now though, consumers are recognizing the utility of Cooper’s scout rifle, and several major manufacturers are offering their version of his concept.
Savage Arms has a reputation for making high quality, accurate rifles and offering them at very reasonable prices. Building on that reputation, the company has recently introduced the Savage 11 Scout Rifle. This is an accurate rifle – the sample consistently produced sub-minute of angle groups well within Cooper’s scout standard of two MOA.
Cooper was an advocate of an extended eye relief scope for a scout rifle, and the Savage is configured with a Picatinny rail mounted forward of the receiver to accommodate one. A scope of this nature permits the shooter to keep both eyes open when aiming – that makes target acquisition very fast and enhances situational awareness by reducing tunnel vision. For testing, the reasonably priced quality Burris 2-7x32mm Scout scope was mounted using Burris rings. The combination worked well at very close range and for distant targets beyond 200 yards. In keeping with the scout concept, the gun is also equipped with backup iron sights consisting of a front blade with protective wings and an aperture rear that is adjustable for windage and elevation.
With a synthetic stock and three sling swivel studs to permit the use of the Ching sling, the rifle is easily carried and the sling can be quickly configured for braced supported fire. The gun is fed from a ten round detachable box magazine with the latch located in front of the well. Push it towards the rear and withdraw the magazine. The bolt cycled smoothly without binding during feeding and extraction, and the large bolt handle was easy to grasp quickly.
At the muzzle of the 18-inch, matte black, carbon steel barrel is attached a very effective muzzle brake that did an excellent job in conjunction with the stock’s recoil pad of reducing felt recoil. Muzzle rise was very controllable permitting fast recovery while running the bolt for follow up shots. And Savage’s tang mounted safety is in the ideal place for fast manipulation by right and left handed shooters.
Savage was one of the first companies to introduce an adjustable, clean breaking, original equipment, factory trigger. That AccuTrigger is installed on the Scout, and out of the box, the one on the test gun broke cleanly at just over three pounds with no discernible creep or overtravel. That’s just about perfect.
For more information, contact Savage Arms, 800-370-0708, www.savagearms.com.
SAVAGE 11 SCOUT
Caliber: .308 Winchester
Barrel length: 18 inches
Overall length: 40.5 inches
Weight: 7.8 pounds
Sights: windage and elevation adjustable aperture rear, protected blade front, with Picatinny rail
Finish: matte blue