Scout Rifle Guidelines

df5c504d10c538e4c5b88e308206a324ed6c0fcff9e54a3e131fc3c17aff7464

The Scout Rifle concept isn’t a hard set of Rules that Define a Scout Rifle as a Scout.  They are really just guidelines that are flexible to fit within your needs, not someone else’s definition of what your needs are.

The Steyr Scout. The first Production "Scout" Rifle.
The Steyr Scout. The first Production “Scout” Rifle.

I had dinner with Jeff Cooper many moons ago.  We talked for a good while about the Scout Rifle as a Concept and about the Steyr Scout specifically.     He truly loved the concept… but not so much the Steyr product that bore it’s name at the time.   He indicated that it captured the concept for the most part, but was not perfect.

The Ruger Gunsite Scout. The Heir to the Empire, bearing the Gunsite seal of approval.
The Ruger Gunsite Scout. The Heir to the Empire, bearing the Gunsite seal of approval.

For example… .308. Jeff Cooper himself, who made up the concept only used .308 as an example. He did not say that it HAS to be .308. Evidence to support my assertion, he was also fond of the .376 Steyr cartridge and shot his .376 Scout rifle quite a bit.  He also had a .358 Lion Scout concept, which turned into the .376, which he called his Scout Dragoon.  All were following the Scout Concept, not a hard set of rules.  

The Savage Scout. A good alternative for a factory Scout that fits the concept just fine.
The Savage Scout. A good alternative for a factory Scout that fits the concept just fine.

The main concept of the caliber for a scout is that it’s a cartridge potent enough for your area of operation, and in a common caliber so ammo availability isn’t an issue.   .308 Win is a great option, but not the only option.  .30-30, .307 Win, 7.62x39mm… .300 BLK, and yes, even 5.56mm… pretty much any cartridge you can get your hands on that serves for 95% of your likely targets is going to work just fine for YOUR SCOUT.

You can create your own Scout based on your own needs. I think the Jeep motto works well here. It's not bought, it's built.
You can create your own Scout based on your own needs. I think the Jeep motto works well here. It’s not bought, it’s built.

The Forward Mounted Optic is also not a Requirement, but a configuration that Jeff Cooper found to work well with his Scout Concept.    But many Scouts can use a normal configuration of scope, Red Dot, or other Optical Gunsight.

marlin-336-scout
In my opinion, the best Scouts can also be Lever Actions… a .30-30 or even a .45-70 makes for an IDEAL Scout platform.

What the Scout boils down to is a light, handy, jack of all trades rifle that can do most of the practical things you might need a rifle for out in the field. A General Purpose Rifle, rather than something specialized. But “General Purpose” sounds Generic and unappealing.

In my opinion, the best Scout rifles I’ve seen are actually .30-30 Lever Actions… what are called “Lever Scouts”.  They fit Cooper’s Philosophy of Use just about perfectly.  They are light, thin, handy, and potent enough.  They have a reasonable capacity, reasonably accurate, and always have and always will embody the Scout concept – arguably more than some Scout rifles which are too bulky and heavy for the intended purpose.   In fact… Take any Marlin Lever Action in .30-30 and put a decent Sling on it… and your done.  You have your Scout.

Lever Scouts > Bolt Scout.

Ruger’s Light Weight Commander

13935059_10208966966144786_2673424073534876438_n

I stopped into a joint called “Nichole’s Store” in Rockhill, SC and found this little guy sitting there, all alone in a display full of other Ruger 1911’s.  This little one was all alone, because he’s a Davidson’s Exclusive.  Ruger is the Master of Distributor Exclusives.  I didn’t even know this guy existed.

13939327_10208966966104785_8739979605902572584_n

This finish on the slide looks blued, not coated.  If it is coated – I don’t know what it is.  But it has some color tinge to it, it’s not just black.  Depending on how the light hits it, it can look purplish, bluish, or brown – ish.   It’s pretty unique and the photo does kinda capture it, but then it really doesn’t.  It looks very nice in person.

14022123_10208966966184787_4019427249552150641_n

Like all Ruger 1911’s, the gun feels pretty solid and well made – and smooth.  But without feeling tight like a custom.   You can tell this is a Working Class Production Gun.  With tolerances generous enough for Reliability over Bank Vault Pleasures.  One one is going to mistake this for a Nighthawk or a CAG… But no one is going to mistake it for a Rock Island or ATI either.

It has two warts.  One you can see… the Novak Rear Sight.  Which is The Devil on a gun for this purpose.  The purpose being, this is a Defensive Gun.   Which means it’s a Fighting Gun.  And Novak Sights should not be on any Fighting Gun.  Ever.   The sights need to be replaced anyway, as they are just white 3 Dot sights… and any defensive pistol NEEDS Tritium.  That’s not a point I’ll argue about.  That’s God’s Own Truth.  This is why He created Tritium.  So it can be used on His Saint, John Moses Browning’s handguns.  While I’d be getting Tritium sights – I’d just make sure the Rear wasn’t Novak, and that it was a Straight 8 instead of 3 Dot.

The other wart is the Manual Safety… it flicks on with a nice snap.  The way it should.  But it flicks off, with no click, no snap, no tactile sign, and no audible tell.  It just… slides off.  Way too easily.  Like it was loose or broken.   That is a huge turn off to me.  Going Off Safe should be Tactile and Deliberate.  This feels like it could slide off if you had it in the holster and jumped up and down more than once.  This is of course, an easy fix.  But it’s a fix that would have to be made before you loaded it.

Overall.  I love this gun.   Well done, Ruger.

Colt needs to step up.

11029477_10206344155336155_5105444812896027913_n

COLT.  One of the most famous names in the firearms industry.  And one of the most poorly managed companies, with some of the most lack luster products for some of the highest dollars.   Colt is one of the least impressive companies still in business.  They think their name still holds currency in the market, and for a small, dwindling market segment, they do.  But that base is shrinking.  Colt may be coming out of bankrupcy again – but if they don’t change, they are going to go right back into it.

Any Colt firearm only looks good if you don’t look at any of the competition’s products.

From these images it looks like Colt is making some fine weapons.
And really, they are.  But there’s a problem.  They are over priced.  Somewhere about 200 dollars over priced.  At the same time they are not up to snuff, compared to the competition.

11855735_10206344272619087_6838740654867145340_n

Let’s look at the Mustang.  The competition is the SIG 238 and the Kimber Micro.  All three of these pistols are subcompact .380 Autos, all similar design and function.  And all taken from the original Colt Mustang, that Colt killed, SIG resurrected, and then Kimber and Colt came on with the Me Too theme.

11855748_10206344155456158_3414958049244882086_n

Of the three, the Colt is the most expensive, and as you can see, the least desirable.  It’s the worst finished, with the worst sights.

11863486_10206344272979096_2765592659748474450_n

The other Colt guns leave me a bit unimpressed.  The slides are alright, but the frames all feel like they are unfinished sand-castings. Of course, they are not… they are Media Blast finished… but they feel… sandy.    Rough.  Sets my teeth on edge like fingernails on a chalkboard.

11880455_10206344154576136_7471875301209925883_n

SIG’s 238 set the bar for what this sort of pistol needs to be like.  And Kimber took that challenge and came in with a tie score.

11888072_10206344272459083_7745045408872495375_n

The Kimber – being not a favorite brand of mine by any means… has a strong game in the Micro.   Making the Colt look like the Ugly Step Sister… which it is.

11902529_10206344272019072_7093522347484724687_n

Other than the finish, the Colt’s molded in front sight is just flat out unacceptable.  The others have dove-tails with high viz sights.  The Colt’s is No-Viz.

11923248_10206344272739090_6664855761592085744_n

You can see, of the Three Amigo’s, the Colt is one no one wants.  It’s clearly the worst of the three, and yet carries the higher price tag for no reason.   (The Kimber in the photo is wearing the Crimson Trace Grips, which makes it more expensive than the standard Micro.)

11951107_10206449242323264_8389511706863381915_n

Here’s the Cold Railed pistol.  A Tactical pistol with an all the bells and whistles price take, but has no bells and no whistles.  It’s pretty much at the same level as a Springfield Loaded Model, being simply a railed 1911… but has a premium price tag only because it bears the Colt name.   Rough finished frame, notchy feeling action, and a trigger that feels like you are dragging a piano over a gravel road.  This is not a good gun for the money.

11960064_10206449242363265_6388149816880200062_n

If you get one, you are going to need to an action job, trigger job, new sights, and you are going to want to get that frame cerakoted or something.  So about 500 dollars worth to put this gun where it needs to be.

11988307_10206449242283263_7532056819955394412_n

While I do like the look of it in the photos I took… yes, it looks nice.  It just doesn’t feel anywhere near as good as it looks.   Honestly, for less money, you could buy a Springfield MC Operator or a SIG 1911 TacOps, and have a better gun right out of the box, and save enough money for some spare mags and a case of ammunition.

What does Colt need to do to fix these?   Well, finish them for one thing.  Everyone else is throwing on some checkering or a nicer finish, and coming in at less cost.  Let’s start with that.  If Colt can step up to that level… That would be nice.  A move in the right direction.

We don’t even need to talk about the Reliability issues.   The Defender model of 1911 is one of their most popular models.  It’s also the most unreliable 1911 I’ve ever seen next to any Kimber Ultra pistol.  I saw one guy that had bought two of them.  Both of them didn’t work.  Both went back to the factory.  Once returned, one of them still had the reliability of a 4 year old.   And the one that “Worked” had the most sporadic ejection I’ve ever seen on any gun.  It was more like an open pan of popcorn… it could spit cases out in any direction.  Including into my forehead and teeth.  Some directions seemed physically impossible.    And that’s just the guns from one customer.  One man.  There have been others.  Many others.   In fact, of all the Colt Defenders I’ve seen sold or have sold myself.  Well, I don’t know of any that didn’t cause the owner some sort of grief.   I do know a couple guys that have them and say they have no problem with them.  But these guys don’t actually fire the guns.  If you don’t actually shoot it – of course it’s not going to cause you any problems.  Problems are only going to pop up when you pop rounds.  So these guys are saying that the guns don’t spontaneously self destruct, I guess.   Grips don’t suddenly spring off the gun and fly across the room… No problems then.

I’ve never seen a reliable Colt Defender.  Ever.  I’ve never seen a reliable Kimber Ultra either, but you can get an Ultra for a lot cheaper than a Defender, and any of the Ultra series guns are probably better guns than the Defender.  Maybe even more reliable.  Maybe.

If Colt is going to really make a come back with the American Gun Owner – Colt is really going to have to step up.

The Pros and Cons of Polymer Cases.

pcp_rounds-tfb

I’ve been talking with some folks about Polymer Cased Ammunition… and I found myself defending it.   Which is interesting because for all the bonus points polymer cased ammo gives you, there is one distinct drawback I’ll get to in a bit.

Polymer cases give us some advantages.  First off, is weight.  Now I’ve read some things that say you can save as much as 60%, but I think those numbers are either bogus, or maybe only in specific calibers… I don’t know.   But a more accurate figure I believe is the 40% reduction in cartridge weight.  The other big advantage is in cost.  Brass is expensive and the cost of that isn’t going back down anytime soon.  Or ever.  Brass requires a lot of work to make and shape.  Brass can sometimes get short in supply, and the commodities market can fluctuate the prices.  A polymer case can smooth all of those problems out.

As a former Light Infantryman, I can tell you… a 40% reduction in our combat load – that’s amazing.  That alone makes it work considering. That means we could be 40% lighter… which is nice.  Or we could carry 40% more.  Which is better.

Some folks question the strength of the cases, at the case heads and rims with a pure polymer case.   Valid concerns.  An Extractor could more easily tear through the rim instead of pulling the case out.   On the other hand, a polymer case would be less likely to be stuck in the chamber and thus would always be easier to get extracted than a hot expanded brass case that’s now fire-formed to the chamber.

An alternative to the polymer case head – is to use a polymer case body, but with a Brass, Steel, or Aluminum case head.   A two part case has been proven to be very reliable in Shotguns.   Because almost all shotgun shells are using a two part case.  How often do you ever see or even hear about a case head separation in shotgun shells?   Even back when the hulls were paper, you didn’t hear of it.  Ever.  You just didn’t.

Some guys argue that rifle and pistol cartridges operate under much higher pressures than shotgun, so this would remain a bad idea. Those guys don’t understand the Internal Ballistics.  See, all that pressure isn’t contained in the case.   It’s  contained in the Chamber.  See, we even have caseless ammunition and that stuff works without exploding the action.

Manually cycled repeaters will have had all the internal pressure dropped off to nothing before you open the chamber to cycle the action.   Automatic firearms all have mechanisms built in to allow the reduction in chamber pressure before the action starts to open.  This is for the most part, a non-issue.

We see case failures mainly because of a couple reasons.  One being incorrect headspacing in the firearm.  And two, cases that had been reloaded too many times at high pressure, causing the metal to become brittle, or thinned out due to metal flowing.   A rifle case gets longer when it’s fired.  This is why Reloaders have to use something called a Case Trimmer… Metal flows, gets trimmed, case walls get thinner.   This is a Material Science issue that Polymer could resolve.  Polymer is elastic so it can move, and then return to shape in exactly the same way metal doesn’t.

No, those are not the problems with polymer cased ammunition… The real problem with polymer cased ammunition is heat.  But not for the reasons your thinking.   You’re thinking a plastic cased round could melt into the chamber and cause a serious stoppage.  That’s not the problem.   Let me explain this… We’ve got a thermal dynamic issue here.   When a cartridge is fired, there is more than just pressure that is created.  There is heat.   A lot of heat.  The brass case will absorb some of that heat, and some of it will be conducted into the chamber walls.  And then upon extraction, some of that heat is pulled back out of the chamber and ejected with the empty case.

With a polymer case, the heat is insulated from the chamber.  At first, we might think that’s a good thing.  Keeps the chamber cooler.  At first it does.  But remember, energy can not be created or destroyed… it can only be contained or directed.  And with an ammunition cartridge being fired – it’s obviously directed.  This puts all that thermal energy at the case mouth.  Here’s what’s going to happen… we’re going to have a problem.  Increased Throat Erosion is going to be a problem, exacerbated by differential heating.  Especially in M-16 or other MSR type guns which are often taken from stone cold, to red hot in the matter of a moment.  All that heat hits the throat first and then radiates back to the chamber.  Over time, this differential heating will cause problems.  Though these problems will not develop quickly… but I do foresee them developing over time.   Much like the point of impact shifts in Ruger Mini-14’s as those barrels heat.  And eventually there could be fracturing.   With brass cases, the chamber and bore will heat up more evenly and we don’t get any differential problems.

To counter these problems the firearms will need to be manufactured with high quality materials and will need to be made to high standards.   Many guns we use now, will have no problems.  But the cheaper guns will become even… cheaper.    So… don’t use a lot of polymer cased ammo in cheap guns.

Here’s the thing though… I think polymer cased ammunition is the way of the future.    It’s advantages far outweigh the minor disadvantage.  Again, the main advantages are reduced weight and cost.  And I think the most key advantage is cost.  Ammunition cost remain the #1 Stranglehold on the shooting sports.  Ammo is expensive and makes shooting an expensive hobby, thus limiting it.  None of us shoot as much as we want.  None of us are really shooting what we want.  Cost of ammunition effects our choices on calibers and the guns to shoot them.  In one particular article, a number of top instructors picked their favorite calibers and almost all of them mentioned ammunition cost as an important factor in their selection.   I wonder if their selections would have been different if the costs were different.  Hmmm.     And how different would our own choices be?    What guns in what calibers would you be shooting if ammunition costs were different?    How would this effect the gun industry as a whole?   I think it would help the whole industry.   But that’s just me.

Shotguns vs MSR’s for Home Defense.

A well respected Firearms Trainer and Friend,  has recently done a video about AR’s vs Shotgun for Home Defense.   Follow that Link, and check it out.  And then come back here.   I am forced to respectfully disagree.

Rob’s demonstration proves the effectiveness at stopping a threat.  A shotgun is a devastating weapon.   It’s the most potent stopping tool we have.   Rob’s conclusion though was that he prefers the AR-15 rifle (or other Modern Sporting Rifle) due to Capacity and Speed of Reload.   Which are good points, but forgets the mission and purpose the weapon is employed for.  This is for Home Defense.  So unless you live in Helms Deep, the shotgun will be the better option.

Theoden_at_hornburg

Wait… is that really true?  Would an AR be the better option at Helms Deep?

We saw the Battle of Helms Deep was pretty much going the way of the Defenders for most of the battle.  The Orcish Horde was suffering heavy attrition until one thing happened.

U7y9tN

The Breeching Orc took several small caliber hits, but his hostile action was not stopped.  This is like what an AR-15 would do.   Don’t believe me?  Read the book “Blackhawk Down” by Mark Bowden.  The one the movie of the same name was based on.   Great book, and you should have it in your Library.    It describes in detail the lack of stopping power that 5.56mm has.

Warning:  Graphic Image Follows:

Continue reading Shotguns vs MSR’s for Home Defense.

Clips

mag-clip_cartoon

Some “Gun Guys” get a burr up their asses when someone who knows little about guns, says “Clip” instead of “Magazine”.   Some gun guys turn into pedantic asshats about this and regardless of the situation just can’t help but to go into full lecture mode to make sure that they beat the “proper terminology” into their heads.   And it wouldn’t be so bad if you just said something like “If it has a spring, it’s a magazine,” and move on… But interjecting your “Knowledge Bomb” with the whole looking down your nose, half sneer, and eye rolls only makes you look like a complete jackwagon.

Instead of rolling easy, you guys have to puff out your chest like a Male Sage Grouse trying to impress a Mate.   Then once you’ve beaten your point into the ground like your driving railroad spikes, you then act smug as if you’ve fixed some part of the world that was broken and now can be healed thanks to your blessed wisdom dispensation.

Some times I’ve observed the results of this…  and it’s not good. You’ve taken a new and curious shooter that wants to learn… and turned them off completely.   I’ve seen this happen at Ranges.  I’ve seen this happen at Gun Counters.   I’ve seen Customers do this to other Customers… and I’ve even seen Gun Counter Guys do this to someone who was a Customer, but suddenly are no longer one.  And then they don’t want to go back.  Because people don’t like being talked down to.  This does us no good and seriously – Who the hell really cares?    This isn’t important.

Clips vs Magazines – It doesn’t matter.   Both are devices that hold ammunition… That’s close enough.  It’s not “Shoulder Thing that Goes Up” level of ignorance… So let’s let this shit slide and then offer some educational training in a more subtle way, okay?

Remington R51 Do-Over

Remington_R51_RightSide

I was asked what I thought about the Remington R51 Re-Release.

Look… I wanted to like the R51.  I really did.  I think it looks cool, and I like the idea of an all metal single stacked 9mm, that’s not a 1911, Kahr, or SIG P225… just for the sake of variety.  I really wanted to like it.  But a couple things gave me pause.  One, is the Pederson Hesitation Lock system it uses… which is… just not that good.  Then Remington made a very limited invitation only special pre-release introduction for certain Gun Media guys with a history of liking everything that comes their way.    Okay, that’s fine… They wanted good impressions to get out there.  Sure.  Every Gun Company wants that.   But the warning lights started flashing when shortly there after at the Media Day at the Range, the day before SHOT SHOW that year – The Remington R51 was suspiciously absent.

Warning Klaxons sounded in my head when at the Remington Booth, Remington Employees were physically blocking people from getting to where the R51 was on display.   They stood around the display like defensive Musk Ox surrounding their young.

Remington Reps protecting the R51 at SHOT SHOW.
Remington Reps protecting the R51 at SHOT SHOW.

They wanted Dealers to order them… they just didn’t want anyone to actually touch it.  But I did.  I went around behind them, went behind a counter, and got in to where it was hanging on the wall, behind the Remington People.  I could tell from the expressions on their faces when they saw me – that they were pissed.

When I handled the gun… I liked the size and weight just fine.  But the action felt like it was broken inside.  That hesitation lock felt like it was going to be a Jam Maker.  The Grip Safety was awkward as it pivoted backwards from normal, it had sharp edges of the frame exposed when the safety was depressed.
I warned people to avoid being an early adopter of the R51.
Turns out I was right, and all the pistols I had warned people about – all got recalled.  The gun was a bigger pile of crap than I had expected it to be.

Remington_R51_LeftSide

Now, fast forward and Big Green is releasing the gun again.  All the work to rebuild the gun, all the new engineering and testing… should have been done before it was released to begin with.   It should have been tested – thoroughly – before it was released.    This was Remington’s fault, resting squarely on the shoulders of Remington.  But Remington pointed their fingers at Para USA, in Charlotte, NC…. where the R51 was being produced.   This wasn’t a quality control issue… this was a DESIGN ISSUE.   And guys at Para were saying “This isn’t right”.  Turns out that the guys at Para were right as well.  Because to fix the gun, Remington didn’t have to tight QC on the production line… they had to re-engineer  the bloody handgun.  Proving that it was indeed, a design issue.

Maybe the gun is now “fixed”.  But the first people to test it and say it’s fine – are some of the first people that said it was good to go the first time.   I have a bit of a problem with that.   When asked by a friend what my initial thoughts were about the new again R51… my knee-jerk reaction was “I’d rather have a Bersa.”

So my advice is the same as before.  Avoid being an Early Adopter of these R51 2.0’s.

Kassarine Lost: Part 5

Tun-43-250

As soon as the Captain was far enough away, Sergeant Weston leaned over to Lt Clayton and said softly, “Why do you act the nutter when the Captain is about?”

Philip Clayton grinned, “He thinks I’m mad, so he doesn’t give me any administrative jobs.   And it’s a grand sport!   Now hand me my clothes, I am freezing my nipples off.”

Sergeant Weston grabbed the small bundle of pants, shirt, and a jacket, and tossed them to the Lieutenant who started dressing as quickly as he could as he was just starting to shiver.   A few minutes later Trucks One and Two fired up their engines.  Weston fired up Anvil and Lt Clayton jumped in, pulling a woolen cap down over his ears.    Continue reading Kassarine Lost: Part 5

THE GUNS OF: HEAT

heat

The movie HEAT is notorious.  It had a huge effect across the USA.  Because of this movie, cops are now wearing heavier levels of body armor and carry rifles more often than shotguns in many departments around the country.  This is because the bad guys saw this movie too… and decided to do it like that did.  Especially 2 fellows who held up a Bank Of America in LA.  This flick also had an effect on Hollywood.  Since then many movie makers have strived for more realistic gun fight scenes.  The reason is because HEAT has the best gun battle in it.  Ask any group of gun nuts about celluloid fire fights, and HEAT will always come up.  Always.  Enough has been said about he movie by me and every other critic out there, so I’ll just do what I do and talk about the guns.

ColtOfficers

Continue reading THE GUNS OF: HEAT