Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review

Long-term review: Ruger Gunsite Scout


A lot has been written about the origins and technical aspects of the Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout but how does it stand up in the long run? What’s the verdict after hunting with one for more than a decade?

The short answer is that this bomb-proof, superbly accurate, highly versatile carbine has outlasted all but one other firearm in my safe since I bought it in 2012, and nothing has come along to replace it yet.

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review
Fitted with a red-dot sight, the Scout rifle is a quick killer of multiple, moving targets

The Scout was designed to be appealing and built to be dependable, a combination that’s hard to knock back. 

The appeal is its all-round ability: it can be used for almost any kind of hunting.

Its dependability is built into the M77 action mated to a very good barrel and supported by a strong laminated timber stock.

I’m not going to dwell on the specs and features, because that’s been covered over the years. Instead, I’ll talk about the rifle as it is now, after a lot of use.   

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review
First blood: The Ruger felled this goat on its first hunt, still fitted with its aperture sights

From day one I loved the way this thing shoots. The Scout has always been very accurate. 

It shoots most factory loads to less than 1.5 MOA and a number of them average around 1 MOA, sometimes better, and they’re the ones I stick with.

When I was handloading for it, it placed eight different test loads (same bullet, but stepping up the powder incrementally) into a 2 MOA group. I ended up with two choices of .75 MOA loads to choose from. 

Accuracy does not vary much during long strings of shots, either. The short, fairly rigid medium-contour barrel handles the heat. It’s an interesting contour, with no taper for the first 4.5cm, then a step down to 24.5mm (1”) for about 11.5cm, then another step to 20mm from which it gradually reduces to 16mm before the thicker front-sight section near the muzzle. 

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review
A good handloaded recipe brought .75 MOA groups to the Ruger’s repertoire

It has on several occasions blasted through 25-30 rounds during culling sessions without losing minute-of-goat accuracy. 

The point of impact never shifts, even when it has been months between trips out of the safe; or if the weather’s hot, cold, humid or dry. After such long-term consistency, I know I can pull it out, point it at a target and hit. 

I estimate it has fired a little less than 2000 rounds and the stainless-steel barrel is not fouled, damaged or visibly worn. It has only had a basic cleaning regime.

The 46cm (18”) barrel probably sacrifices around 100fps, depending on the ammunition and bullet weight, which is not a great loss by any means if you’re not shooting long distance. The benefits you get in handiness from this 97cm-long carbine vastly outweigh it.

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review
Scoped up, the Ruger is capable of perfect accuracy on small and medium targets at longer ranges

I have twice made clean hits with the Ruger at targets just over 400m away with a bit of holdover but the vast majority of use has been in thick bush or rolling hills where shots are either quite close or under 200m. 

There, the Scout comes to the shoulder quite naturally and points really quickly when you need it to.

It also has a stable, smooth-swinging feel to it thanks to its above-average mass that’s well centred.

That weight is not just the rifle’s bare 3.2kg but also the weight of whatever optics you’ve got and the burden of 10 .308 rounds. It’s not overweight but it all adds up to over 4.5kg field-ready, depending on the scope. 

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review
How it looks today: 11 years down the track the Ruger is as tidy as it is reliable

Despite bouncing around in utes and on quads, as well as doing some fairly rugged hunts in the mountains in all weather, the Ruger still looks very presentable. Nothing has broken, come loose or required anything more than routine cleaning and lubrication. 

It suffered a warranty issue concerning feeding when new, which the distributor fixed without fuss, and apart from that this has been the most reliable and trouble-free rifle I’ve ever owned for any length of time. 

The M77 action’s Mauser-based design is incredible strong and its controlled-round feeding (warranty aside) and non-rotating claw extraction have never let me down. 

Other rifles have come and gone since I bought the Scout, including some very good ones, but I’ve never been tempted to offload this one, for several reasons besides its dependability.

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review
The Mauser-based M77 action is extremely strong and functional. Note Ruger’s proprietary ring-mounting system and the sensible design of the magazine release. This is an aftermarket five-round magazine

It is remarkable practical. Being a .308 helps, of course, as does the fact that you can supplement the standard 10-round steel box magazine with others for quick reloading on culling drives.

I’ve also got a five-rounder for stalking when I know one or two shots is all I’ll need. It hangs down about level with the trigger guard so does not get in the way like the bigger boxes sometimes do. There are also three-rounders available.

The multiple sighting options are terrific. The Scout comes with a rear aperture sight fitted, which I used for a while and found excellent; peep sights are much quicker and more accurate than V-notch types. 

Then I had a little 2-7x Leupold, a compact choice for the close- to medium-range shooting I bought the Scout for. It was mounted in the standard-issue Ruger rings on top of the receiver. 

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review
With an Aimpoint red dot, the Ruger accounted for deer, pigs, goats, foxes and plenty more

Then for years I ran an Aimpoint Micro mounted well forward on the Picatinny rail on the barrel, a perfect position for both-eyes-open shooting at close and moving targets. Nothing beat it for culling, hunting ferals and stalking deer within 150 metres, maybe 200 at the outside. Target acquisition is so quick.

Now that my eyes aren’t so good any more, I’ve reverted to a regular scope on the receiver again — currently a 3-9×40 with a duplex reticle giving holdover hints, and it matches the Ruger’s all-rounder status nicely. 

For a while I had a 2-12x, which I feel was about the best for taking advantage of the Scout’s broad ability.

I’ve never been fond of the non-adjustable trigger and its pull weight of just over 2kg but I’ve become used to it and can live with it. 

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review
The very basic trigger isn’t the greatest but that wing-type safety is a good thing

On the other hand, I love the three-position wing-type safety that’s very tactile, very secure and nicely quiet.

The magazine release lever in front of the trigger guard is right where it should be for fast one-handed reloading. 

By fitting a couple of the supplied spacers to the butt I’ve got the length of pull just right for me. This is the only out-of-the-box rifle I’ve been able to achieve this with.

Mine is not quite the same spec as a Scout you’d buy now: this laminated/stainless model with 18” barrel has had a flash hider since not long after I bought mine without one. 

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout long term review
A blued left-hander in .223, one of several alternatives in the Scout range

There are also variations: synthetic stocks; walnut stocks; blued metalwork; 16.5″ barrels; muzzle brakes; left handers; and a number of other calibres. 

The Gunsite Scout deserves all the praise it has had in reviews, both professional and amateur, and if anyone bags it I’d say they’ve either missed the point or can’t shoot.  

And I’m convinced that it’s a rifle that will still give you great service after a lifetime of use. You could probably shoot it out eventually, and abuse will kill anything, but the Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout is a rifle that doesn’t grow old.

 

 

 


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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.

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