October 2011

Apostasy? Scout Rifle Pushback

Reader Root disagrees with the value of Cooper’s signature rifle concept, but Readers Smith and Ochs disagree. Reader Johnson suggests a simple 60-year-old fix for Luger malfunctions.

Re "Savage Model 10 FCM Scout: Another

Competitor for Steyr," September 2011

As a longtime subscriber, I’ve really had it with Scout-style rifles. Nothing against Ray Ordorica’s recent series of Scout reviews, but the concept has proven to be a market failure.

I know Jeff Cooper sits next to Jesus in heaven. Being dead has its advantages — ask Elmer Keith or Jack O’Connor! I would note, that at age 69, I read everything these guys and their contemporaries wrote when it was "new." The original Cooper Scout was a concept looking for a home at a price, as I recall, of $3,500. By the time Cooper’s Scout hit the street, any competent AR builder could build an AR-10 in 308 Win. that was just as light, held more ammo, shot faster and as accurately for a lot less money.

For almost any tactical situation under 200 meters, a bolt-action rifle makes about as much sense as teats on a boar hog. Where the scope is mounted means not a durned thing. Bolt actions are slow, end of story.

Don’t like ARs? How about the FNH USA FNAR in 308 Win.? Or even a plain old Remington 750 Synthetic carbine in 308 with the 18.5-inch barrel and aftermarket hi-cap magazine? Put a 2.5-10x32 illuminated Nightforce variable plus a light/laser combo on either and they would outperform these silly scout rifles under any real-world conditions. In fact, I’m sure either would be deadly at 400 meters.

The Steyr was a bust, and the Ruger and Savage will be too because anyone with real field experience knows that accurate, fast shooting trumps accurate, slow shooting every time.

Perhaps it’s time to run a head-to-head test with modern semi-automatic rifles that have tactical as well as "scout" applications?

In the interest of full disclosure, I own everything from a flintlock to the latest carbon-fiber AR-15, but when it comes to big-game hunting here in Wyoming, my Benelli R1 300 Win. Mag. with the aforementioned Nightforce always gets the nod. A 150 TSX @ 3100 fps that will hold 3⁄4 minute of angle to 400 yards (as far as I shoot) will turn out any animal’s lights. Should it ever come to dealing with the looters, my trusty AR-10 DPMS 308 with a 16-inch barrel carrying a 1.2-4X Trijicon should suffice, as it will hold 1.5-MOA with DWM German mil-surplus ammo. A shame that it is Berdan primed.

Thanks for listening.

—Larry Root


I just read your review of the Savage Scout rifle. I’ve been very interested with the concept ever since I first heard of it a few years ago. When I first saw the Steyr, it left me unimpressed despite its superior performance and features. I just couldn’t get past the looks. Call me shallow, but there it is. It looks like a toy dreamed up by someone infatuated with Buck Rogers.

But when I first laid eyes on the Ruger version, I said to myself, "Now here is a proper rifle, and I must have one!" I am a left-handed shooter, and that’s the reason I didn’t run right out and buy one. They weren’t yet offiering the left-handed model. When I read your review, which I trust implicitly, I was disappointed that it failed to measure up to the Steyr.

So it was with some anticipation that I read your review of the Savage, which then raised some questions. Is this rifle available as a left-handed model, and if not, does Savage have plans to introduce one? And, Ray’s report said it is not offered with a 10-round magazine, but that other similar rifles in the lineup come with one. Can the 10-round magazines be purchased separately as an accessory, and if so, will they work in the Savage Scout?

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. I no longer subscribe to any other gun magazines (NRA publications excepted) because, over the years, I have found them to be full of hype about the latest whiz-bangs, but very short on substance as to how they stand up to other whiz-bangs. Yours is the only publication which offers the unvarnished truth and isn’t afraid to skewer whichever latest golden calf needs skewering.

—Chris Smith


Mr. Smith, thank you for your interest in the Savage Scout, and for your trust in our reports. I spoke with a Savage representative today, and there are no left-hand versions, and no plans to introduce one. However, the magazine issue will be addressed in the somewhat distant future when Savage will offer a conversion package to permit owners of Savage Scout rifles to install a different base plate that will indeed accept the ten-round inline magazines. The conversion will be necessary because the current setup will not accept the ten-rounders. Savage expects it will be at least a year before this product is offered. —Ray Ordorica


As usual, a thorough review of the weapons I am interested in. Every issue has something that catches my fancy. In the September 2011 issue you addressed the Savage Model 10 Scout rifle. One of the things you found it lacking in was a larger-capacity magazine. I had the same problem when I purchased my Savage 10-FCP-K 308 Win. As you put it: "The magazine box held only four rounds. Sadly, that (plus one) is the limit for this rifle." That was what I thought, too, until I found a shop that specializes in Savage enhancements. It’s called Sharpshooter Supply: The Savage Experts at www.SharpshooterSupply.com.

I called their shop on a Saturday expecting to leave a message, but got one of the owners instead. She explained exactly which magazine I would need to increase my capacity from 4+1 rounds to 9+1. The magazines are $80 each, so I got two, and they showed up by Wednesday. So far I have run each magazine through about 15 test sessions without a single failure to feed. The magazines I got are outstanding. I put my 4+1 mag away in the bottom of my range bag and don’t use it any longer.

You also mentioned that the 10 BA and the 10 FCP-SR have 10-round inline mags. They do, but they are single stack (nothing wrong with that) and stick out a lot farther than the doublestack 9+1 from Sharp Shooter. I like the fit and feel of the doublestack 9+1 better.

Don’t get me wrong. There are countless articles I have seen about box magazines being inherently less reliable than blind magazines (because the box mag can get released without the hunter knowing it). There is also the argument that there is no need for more than 4+1 in any high-power hunting rifle, but I like more rounds even if I am a reasonably good shot and probably will never need more than one. From a reliability standpoint, why don’t the armies of the world use blind magazines if they are afraid of losing their box magazines? Besides, that is why I got two — in case I finally do get unlucky and lose one.

—Tom Ochs
Albany, OregonRe: "Classic Military 9mms: Luger Falls

to High Power, Walther," June 2011

Reading about your crew’s problems with the Luger consistently failing to return to battery, brought back memories. I kept having the same problem with the Luger that I bought from a Chicago mail-order firm in 1952 (for all of $30.) It is a civilian-model "1908 type" dated 1916. When I took it to a range to function fire, it kept jamming open part way. Following a tip posted in some gun magazine, I clipped off part of a coil of the main spring. This didn’t help, so I clipped some more off. After several cycles of this sequence, the spring was so weak that it wouldn’t even start the bolt back to closure. After replacing the spring with a new one from Stoeger, I decided to try to analyze the problem myself. I removed the main spring and cycled the action by hand (very carefully.) The trouble was traced to the hold-open cut in the bottom surface of the bolt. This is a shallow cut perpendicular to the axis of the bolt with a lead-out relief toward the front face, allowing the hold-open catch to rise up into it and stop the forward travel after the last round had been removed from the magazine. The trouble was in the front edge of this cut that tapered back out to the bottom surface of the bolt. This formed a fairly shallow angle between the two surfaces, but sharp enough to drop into the extraction groove in the top cartridge and stop the rearward travel of the bolt.

At this point of the bolt’s rearward travel, the inertia of the bolt was becoming nearly equal to the force built up in the main spring, so it didn’t take much to stop it.

I found a simple fix by using a stone on this angle of the cut, rounding it out to a longer, more gradual change of angle that tended to span the extraction cut not drop into it. I’ve often wondered if the German ammo tended to have a narrower extraction cut that didn’t allow this malfunction. In this case the design was never corrected to fix a problem that they never experienced. Anyway, I’ve never had this type of jam happen since.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t get a P-38 for the same price at the same time! But then, that is 20/20 hindsight. Anyway, at the time, the word on the street was that a lot of poor P-38s had been stamped out near the end of the War, and they weren’t the precision pieces of machinery as the Lugers. How perceptions change with time.

—Bob Johnson,
Kettering, Ohio

Suggested Tests

Two tests that I would love to see: 1) a head-to-head of all the currently available 22 LR 1911s, and 2) ditto for the 22 LR AR-15s. I’d also suggest an interesting article might be to rate matching pairs of 22 LR and 5.56mm ARs, like the M&P15 and the M&P15-22, comparing not only the qualities of each, but how the 22 matches its full-size counterpart in terms of function, controls etc. That would allow you to gauge how good a training aid it is. The story hook in a nutshell is, "If I have an AR-15, which 22 AR should I get?" Or, "If I want to go buy a matched pair, which should I choose?"­­­

—Conrad Homer


I am checking into the availability of newer 22 LR 1911s, a category that’s gotten more interesting with the advent of Browning’s new rimfire. We have covered some of those guns already, as well as conversion kits to make your 45 ACP into a more economical 22 LR, and back. On the rimfire ARs, it is possible to get most of what you need to know about training crossover from the rimfire reviews we’ve done already, because we looked closely at how well the 22s arranged their controls to line up with standard AR operations. Also, I’m researching another solution to that as well, which is conversion uppers. I do like the big brother/little brother angle on the ARs, however. Thanks for the provocative ideas. — Todd Woodard

Re "Mannlicher-Style Hunting Rifles: CZ

Outduels Ruger and Steyr," September 2011

I enjoyed the article on the different Mannlicher rifles. The #1 Ruger in 7x57 Mauser has always been my dream rifle for still-hunting deer in river bottoms or tight blinds. I have a Remington Model 7 Mannlicher in 350 Rem. Mag. that I use from their custom shop for that purpose, and it is awesome. You might look at that rifle sometime.



Re "Firing Line," August 2011

I just received this issue, the first of my new subscription to Gun Tests. In it, you have an email from Leo the LEO who praises the Taurus TCP in part of his letter. I would like to provide another view, because I share neither his enthusiasm for nor experience with the TCP.

Based on an article I read in one of those gun magazines that never met a gun they didn’t like, I bought two TCPs, one for my wife, one for myself. The first time we took them to the range, my wife could not complete a magazine without failures to feed or eject. With less than 15 shots fired, the slide jammed part-way open and wouldn’t budge. The gunsmith at the range had to help us unjam the slide and could not find a reason for its performance. My TCP performed a little better, but still gave me more failures than any other gun I have ever heard of.

After a thorough cleaning and oiling, we returned to the range. My wife’s TCP still failed to perform well. Mine did a little better than the first time, but still jammed several times. With less than 50 rounds fired through my wife’s gun and repeatedly having jams, I talked to the dealer and found he had so many problems with the Taurus TCP that he no longer carries them. He gave us full credit for trade-in on a Sig Sauer 380 ACP, which we accepted on the spot and paid additional money. He had only one Sig Sauer on hand and offered me the same deal if I wanted to trade in mine, too, when new stock came in. His shop is out-of-town, and I didn’t get back to him in good time. So, sadly, I still have a TCP that I am not happy with.

Leo further describes the TCP as an accurate gun. Again, I do not share his experience. With my TCP, I have to aim high to hit the target where I want to, quite unlike my S&W 66-1 or Glock 17. At 7 yards, if I aim dead-on target, the group will fall several inches lower. Perhaps others have had good experiences with the TCP. I certainly have not.

Wichita, KansasRe "Three Big 9mms: Sig Sauer P6 Does It All,

at a Great Price," July 2011

The Prvi Hrvatski Pivtol may do more than you give it credit for! The "first Croatian pistol" part of the article was wonderfully entertaining, but I was struck by something other than the remarkable take-down procedure — the year of manufacture. 1991 would have been right after the collapse of the Soviet Union! That would make this object a declaration of independence wrought of steel. Every bit as sure and resolute as any that has ever been written. Talk about repealing gun control! Great magazine.

By-the-way, on a personal note: I am a returning subscriber because you and your team have re-made your product into the very useful tool that I always knew it could be. There seems to be no trace left of the reasons that convinced me to leave. Congratulations.

—Carleton Black


Gun Tests Welcomes Mail