Tuesday, August 12, 2014

General purpose rifle squee.

I also got a chance to take another look at the .308 Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle while picking up the bruiser loads, and confirmed much of my initial impressions on that gun.  Nine bills for the base gun...add a Leupold scout scope with QD rings...take out all the stock spacers...add a proper Ching Sling...acquire a half-dozen magazines...sweeten the trigger if your example needs it (it's pretty good OOB)...and you are ready to do anything that you might reasonably ask a rifle to do!  I do not think you can get a finer general purpose rifle for less outlay and fuss than this.  No, it's not a Steyr, but it is a grand less, and at least seems to be far more gun than a Steyr-less-one-grand.  (If that makes sense.)

Today it struck me more forcefully than before, that the rear aperture is actually not a proper ghost-ring.  It's a nice aperture, but it's not big enough and the rim is not thin enough to fully disappear during sighting, which is the point of that system.  I suspect that there are already replacement parts available at minimal cost (Brownells, etc.), and while the stock sight is very nice as it is, you'll lose no functional precision and will gain measurably in speed with a bigger, thinner ring.

Why am I thinking about this lately?  There are two reasons.  One is that I'm putting some thought behind a recommendation for how a noob might reasonably build a working battery of guns from scratch, with maximum utility for minimum outlay.  (e.g., first, the general purpose rifle;  then, the general purpose pistol;  then, the general shotgun;  then a survival/combination gun;  from there, add other layers as fits the principal's interest--for fighting, a battle rifle / carbine / carry pistol; for hunting, medium / heavy / varmint cartridges to complement the GP guns;  etc.)

The other reason is this (click to embiggen):

That is my last remaining Gunsmoke project, now in progress, and I am very excited about what's in those pictures.  (There will be a full writeup when it completes, I assure you.)

Bonus points for anyone who, in the meantime, can figure out why.  (I promise, the answer is both fully arcane and personal to me, and also perfectly logical and utilitarian.  :-)


MamaLiberty said...

No idea, my friend. :) And most of your suggestions are far outside of my budget. I've got seven long guns, of various kinds, and plenty of handguns too... all I could ever actually NEED - whatever that has to do with it. LOL

If I had lots of money, I'd have lots more of everything, but I suspect I can get the job done with what I have pretty well.

But I'm still eager to read about your smithing projects, of course. I never tire of gun talk.

Kevin Wilmeth said...

Oh, I assure you, this one is outside my budget too--long story there--but aside from that rather painful matter, it should end up being a fantastic instrument when it's done. (And as long as I'm going to be "affording it" for an unexpected period of time, I intend to get full squee value out of what it represents. :-)

And you know me well enough, too, that you know I never tire of the talk either. My interest in this mental exercise ("build a working battery from scratch") is actually several-fold. I do get questions from others just often enough that I'd like to have a considered answer ready to go. As well, having a plan to set up a kid starting out seems a good idea. And of course in a disaster scenario, having a plan may well help me to rebuild if necessary.

It both is and isn't about "need". As the late Jeff Cooper used to say (paraphrasing): when asked if my practice of dry-snapping at letter "o"s on the TV set is not somehow a violation of Rule Two, I respond by saying that I don't need my television, but I do need my rifle skill.

(And of course, people can refer to "need" all they want when talking about what they want for me. They can also have a monkshood salad and drink a quart of hemlock if they like...)

MamaLiberty said...

Had an interesting discussion on a forum I visit often about the need to avoid confrontation as an important part of carrying a gun. For some strange reason, a few went postal about it, accusing me of being a "pacifist" and a coward!!

I maintain that carrying a gun causes me to evaluate my attitude and actions a bit differently than before... makes me aware of a need to be more polite, careful with my words, and does not give me any license to go into dangerous situations or places voluntarily... It certainly does not reduce my complete dedication to non-aggression.

Obviously, that's a determination each person must make for themselves, but when they finally stopped shouting long enough to listen, I reminded them that I'm an old lady, with some serious physical disadvantages, and must choose my battles very wisely because I can't fist fight or run away if push comes to shove. Far better for me to avoid it altogether if possible because my gun is the only other option, and the repercussions of that are serious and not always just.

But, I hope it is clear that - if the teeth of liberty must come into play - I have no reservations about using that option. Sadly, the closer things come to a melt-down, the more that will apply.

I'd a whole lot rather never "need" my gun skills, but will continue to build and hone them as long as it is physically possible for me to do so. :)

Oh, did you see my latest at PoL? Something I think too many firearms classes don't cover completely. I know it is not adequately addressed in NRA training material, which is why I wrote this in my book.

Gun Safety Rules – The rest of the story

Kevin Wilmeth said...

In my experience, the cries of "pacifist" and "coward" seem to come nearly exclusively from people whose commitment to the carry-everywhere lifestyle is marginal or worse. I don't know of anyone who always passes the "so what are you wearing right now?" test, that holds this view.

And it makes sense. The point isn't to carry the gun. The point is to be prepared for disaster, and it would seem logical that the first thing to do to avoid disaster is not to do anything to invite it.

Maybe that's just me (too). :-)

MamaLiberty said...

Indeed... and I just smile when I discover that my critics live in NJ or somewhere they couldn't dare carry a gun, but they are so often young men, especially those all bad ass with their ninja kung fu or whatever...

Paul Bonneau said...

The Ruger Scout leaves me a little cold. For one thing, Cooper emphasized handiness, and with that magazine the Ruger is not handy. I haven't seen any pictures with the 5-round box, much less held one, so I don't know about that.

I also don't like barrels shorter than 20 inches in .308.

I have a pseudo-scout built on a Remington 7. I simply eliminated the iron sights as they got in the way of the scope sight picture. I'm probably over weight too because the custom barrel is not pencil thin. There is of course no mag cut-off and it only holds 4 rounds in the box. But it sure is handy.

Kevin Wilmeth said...

Paul, I appreciate your input there. You seem to know enough about the concept and history to have an informed opinion, and I'm happy to record every data point I can.

Point taken about the magazine. I haven't seen a five-rounder in person either, but I'd imagine it would be much closer to flush, if probably not quite (oddly, it seems to be a single-stack design). What I don't understand is why Ruger didn't just go with the M14 magazine system, which would permit boxes from flush to gaudy per your preference.

The sense I get from what gunstore handling I've done is that the standard magazine is just short enough for prone, but not by much. And I'd always prefer flush, at least with the trigger guard if not the stock bottom. (I prefer my Steyr as a 5-rounder.)

I used to be leery of sub-20" barrels, but I've become a convert. Maybe it's the experience of having run my Steyr for a good many years now with complete satisfaction, or maybe it's just the field luxury of having things as short as possible, but I no longer see the downside. The way I look at ballistics, velocity loss is essentially trivial, and accuracy loss is essentially a myth. I handload for efficiency and have been very happy with results.

And completely agreed on "handy". I've never been a fan of the Remington action, but clearly it works, and the M7 you're talking about is the very definition of compact. (You may recall that Cooper's Scout I was a dog-leg Remington 600.) But "handiness" can go even further, with a levergun or a well-set-up single-shot. (I once built a "hunting pseudoscout" on a Ruger No. 1 in .30/06, and that's the handiest mountain rifle I've ever held in my hands. Not the lightest, but absolutely the best power-to-handiness ratio I can recall. :-)

Paul Bonneau said...

No argument about ballistics and accuracy; I like longer barrels for reduction of muzzle blast and signature. I have a Winchester 1885, the 28 inch barrel really tames the .300 WSM cartridge.

My handiest rifle is another 1885, Low Wall this time, with a custom 22" barrel in 6.5 TCU and a scout scope. Sounds like you already understand the point of a scout scope in such a gun.

Probably the M14 mag was too wide for the Ruger action, thus the single stack. But why not use the Tikka mag?

Kevin Wilmeth said...

Oh, now that low-wall 1885 sounds like something to see. (IMO, it's hard to achieve lines more elegant than a well (read: simply) accoutred 1885 or Ruger No 1.)

If you don't mind sharing, what sort of ballistics do you get out of 22"?

Paul Bonneau said...

The best load I have found so far is 2310fps using a Speer 120gr "hot core" and 26gr of H335. I believe this is about a 200yd deer gun, which is good enough since most deer are killed within 100 yards. Better than hunting with a bow, anyway!

I had another 1885 Low Wall in .260 Rem but the gun was so light that the recoil made it not so fun to shoot (strangely enough), so I sold it at a nice profit - some of those went for over $2000 due to demand for that rare caliber. I used the profit to have this custom gun made. If you want I can send a picture, but you will have to tell me how.

Kevin Wilmeth said...

Thanks Paul; I would certainly love to see pics. You can send to kevin dot wilmeth, at that Google-y type place for mail.

And that would indeed seem to be a very nice custom gun and cartridge combination. A cursory peek at JBM Ballistics (which is my go-to comparison tool*), with your numbers, suggests that for a 3" vital zone radius and sighted at maximum point-blank range, you may actually get about 225 yards of "hold dead on" performance, dropping more than 9" low only somewhere around 275, where it still retains some 1800f/s and 125lb of "Optimum Game Weight". And that MPBR curve is less than fifty yards off of a traditional 308/150/2700, which is exactly the ballpark I look for myself. Very nice indeed.

(I admit that I'm tempted, when I can afford it, to build a simple micro-Scout on the adorable little CZ527 carbine in 7.62x39, once CZ finally loses the backward safety of that design the way they have with the larger actions. That much-maligned round seems to get very nearly the same curve as your T/CU out to about 250, where the 6.5's superior ballistic coefficient starts to make a noticeable difference. And that's with factory-round performance out of a 16" AK. Not being much a fan of the AK/SKS series myself, I'm thinking the CZ would be a great way of being able to handle available 7.62x39 ammo in several potential roles.)

* It's pretty amusing, really, how my use of ballistic calculators manifests itself. If I'm objective about observing my own behavior, I must conclude that every great while, I simply get the geek-jones to go back and do a bunch of comparisons to see what new I can learn; often this is spurred on by something specific, such as reconsidering a wildcat. (In the current case, I think it's both the immediacy of having the '03 project completed, and considering adding a micro-Scout to the family sometime down the road.) And so there I go, happily crunching numbers and analysis in mind-numbing volume...which has always led me right back to where I started: a stable of perfectly boring cartridges that can do anything I might care to ask of them: .223, .308, .30/06, .45/70.

In this case, I started the "micro-Scout" idea thinking of using the 6.5 Grendel cartridge in the 527's action, and I do think that would be a splendid piece, for sure. But there's at least a custom barrel involved, and ammunition is nowhere near as ubiquitous as the parent 7.62x39. Given that what I want out of this is a field piece rather than a sooper-dooper long-range snipery tacti-tool, what does the Grendel really give me? (Crunch, crunch.) And the answer turns out to be: not enough to justify the benefit at the expense of the loss.

I dunno. It would be easy to look at all of that as a waste of time, but somehow I find it invigorating. :-)

Paul Bonneau said...

I sent some pics (sorry for the largish size, should have used lower resolution). In the first you can see the details, weaver bases directly on the 22" barrel (regular octagon rather than the rounded octagon of the stock barrels, and a heavier contour). Barrel contour gives a useful amount of scope tilt. The pic also shows my low-tech way to get a couple of quick reloads. Note how the loading port is accessible and where you'd grip the rifle is devoid of scope making it very handy. Second pic is the entire rifle and third pic is cartridges, .223 parent case, 6.5 TCU and .260 Rem. (I think the latter has a 140gr bullet).

The whole point of this exercise was a walking varminter/light deer gun/lady-youth gun, and just something fun to shoot with little recoil or fuss. The bullets go down to 85gr for varmints. On the scout scope, I think most people miss the point. Instead of thinking of it as a piss-poor scope, think of it as the best possible iron sights. The gun carries like an iron-sighted gun...

If anyone wants to try something like this I have a reamer to rent, once used. The "standard" 6.5 TCU reamer typically has a somewhat sloppy throat. If I were to do this over again I would just go .300 AAC although I like the TCU cartridge, very easy to form. But it is a fading cartridge and with nowhere near the load data and support of the .300 AAC. Even the 7 TCU is better in that respect.

I know what you mean going back to the old reliables. My list is .223, .308, .300 WSM and .300 AAC. Notice that 3 of them are .30 caliber, makes it simple to keep in loading components. Well, .300 AAC ain't very old but it does have some virtues that can be of use, e.g. easy to suppress and not terrible to form from the ubiquitous .223. So I have been playing with .300 AAC lately, just in that Handi-rifle.

I don't care for the 7.62x39 due to the odd bullet diameter. OK for blasting ammo in an AK or SKS, but anywhere else the .300 AAC makes more sense to me, and it seems to have enough staying power to be around for a while.

Kevin Wilmeth said...

Thanks for the pics, Paul. It's kinda cool to see someone else do up a falling-block like that. Reminds me much of my old Ruger 1, which just looked a little stubbier (with barrel lopped to 19" and LOP shortened to 12.5") and which had the front barrel band sling stud, making the Ching Sling mount work quite well. (I wouldn't be surprised if your fore-end would prove a little crowded to get both forward studs in the right place.)

And a cool idea, too, about the quick reload, low-tech or not. In fact it's probably more ergonomic than a butt-cuff, since opening the underlever already has your hand moving in the right direction. I'm also totally with you on the "scope is out of the way when the rifle is carried" idea. I don't think anyone can really understand that value fully without actually carrying the gun for a whole day, when it becomes self-evident.

And I'll have to remember the "best possible irons" line for an appropriate time--that's a good one.