Saturday, July 16, 2016

Savage Arms .308 Model 11 Scout Rifle Review

Savage Arms .308 Model 11 Scout Rifle Review

Despite being quite old, the scout rifle concept originally developed by Jeff Cooper is still very hot. Ruger’s versions are reportedly still selling well on the retail shelves and now Savage Arms has joined in with its own Model 11 Scout Rifle offering. Like all Savage rifles, the already frequently backordered Model 11 Scout Rifle delivers a lot of value and accuracy for customers paired with Savage magazine compatibility and a design with proven durability and accuracy. For a $799 MSRP, customers now have available a very affordable scout focused rifle which is about $300 less than the competing Ruger model.

THE COOPER SCOUT RIFLE CONCEPT

The late great Jeff Cooper was quoted as saying, "The natural habitat of the general-purpose rifle is the field, the forest, the desert and the mountain -– not the shooting shed with its bench rest. To be really useful a rifle must be as short, light and quick to use as is technically compatible with adequate power and useful accuracy. What matters is not what the equipment can do, but rather what it will do in the hands of its operator under field, rather than laboratory, conditions."
Cooper’s influenced Steyr Scout Rifle was offered in .223/5.56, .243, 7mm-08, .376 Steyr, and obviously .308/7.62x51 Nato.  The rifle weighed in at only 6.6lbs without an optic and was only 38.6” in length. By today’s standards, it was very light and still had a number of forward thinking features such as spare mag in the buttstock, forward mounted optic, and integrated bipod. Most people have netted down Cooper’s concept to a magazine fed .308 Winchester based bolt action rifle with a length around 40-inches and a weight under 8-lbs which allows for a forward mounted optic and can support iron backup sights. That noted, any Scout Rifle student knows that an individual’s “scout rifle” can look much different depending on the shooter’s needs.
SAVAGE’S TAKE ON SCOUT RIFLES
I am going to jump in with both feet and make many comparisons between the Savage and Ruger offerings, because after all, buyers will on the showroom floor. The Savage Arms Model 11 Scout rifle follows closely to the original design intent of a scout rifle as outlined by Copper, but does have a few welcome departures. The Savage Scout Rifle shared many great features with the Ruger including adjustable stock pull length, magazine fed action, free-floated barrel to maximize accuracy, dual sling studs to support a scout sling, a forward optic mounting rail, and iron sights. When customers are comparing the two competing rifles, that is where the similarities end and value starts to tip over to the side of the Savage.

Out of the box, the Savage Scout rifle arrives with an exceptional peep sight system that is significantly higher quality than the included Ruger iron peep sight system. The same can be said for the Savage trigger system which is arguably as good as most entry level aftermarket match triggers. The Model 11 Scout includes an incredibly effective brake with recoil reduction that takes a huge bite out of the bolt action .308 recoil which delivers a rifle that is extremely comfortable even during all-day range training. This effective brake is a huge plus on the Savage. The current line of Ruger Scout Rifles can start to pommel the shooter after a day at the range. Savage offered the initial Scout Rifle released with a top tier billet aluminum pillar-bedded Hogue Polymer stock that is completely waterproof and allegedly stiffer than a wood stock.
On the Ruger, even after using the lowest rings possible for mounting an optic, the cheek rest height was still too low for a comfortable cheek weld. I solved the problem on my Ruger with a nice Hornady cheek rest bag, however Savage solved the problem up front by including an adjustable cheek rest out of the box. Notably, with the cheek rest in place, the factory peep sights are too low for regular use. If you plan on using the iron sights, owners will need to remove the cheek rest first.
The stock on the Savage is better equipped than the Ruger out of the box for those that want to add an optic. On top of integrated cheek riser, I found it ergonomically more comfortable as well with less felt recoil that the Ruger. Overall the Savage is 1-inch longer and about a half pound heavier than the Ruger, though both felt nearly identical in weight.
FUNCTION & ACCURACY
Feeding and functioning was perfect from the box fed Savage magazines. My only real complaint with the proprietary Savage magazines is that they are proprietary vs being AICS magazine compatible like the Ruger Scout Rifle. For someone with a couple other bolt guns with AICS magazines this may alone be a deal breaker for them.
The adjustable Savage AccuTrigger on the Model 11 is really very impressive. The trigger weight is adjustable from around 2-lbs to 6-lbs, however I would leave it set at the factory 2.25lb weight (as measured by my Timney trigger gauge.) As is, the trigger is amazing when compared to the crunchy Ruger trigger.
Savage has made a name for itself in the accuracy department and this scout rifle format delivered good accuracy for the $800 price tag. I think it would be an epic head to head battle between the Ruger Scout Rifle and the Savage Model 11 Scout for which could deliver better accuracy out of the box. I spent the better part of an afternoon attempting to show a clear winner, but there is no clear winner. Both of these guns will easily deliver 1.25” 100-yard groups, however I have personally seen both of these guns deliver touching five shot .5”-inch groups. I would really not say that either has the advantage from an accuracy perspective, but I do feel confident that the Savage Model 11 will deliver consistent 1-1.25-inch 100-yard groups with good ammo.
FINAL THOUGHTS
With a better factory trigger, stock, sights, brake, included adjustable cheek rest, and lower price, the Savage Arms Model 11 Scout Rifle is sure to please Savage loyalist and potentially convert many Ruger customers. Out of the box it is easier to shoot and better equipped.
Notably the Savage AccuTrigger is leagues better than the factory Ruger Scout trigger. My only significant complaint with the Savage Model 11 Scout Rifle are the proprietary Savage magazines. As a guy that has a bunch of rifles that accept AICS compatible .308 magazines, it makes my eyes roll that I need to go out and buy more mags for the Savage. Many will note that you can buy a lot of ammo and spare magazines for the $300 price difference between the two rifles.
Since many will wonder if the Model 11 can be a good suppressor host - it is. After attaching my Asymmetric LYNX suppressor, the Savage Model 11 Scout Rifle was a quiet and tame beast which delivered easy .75-inch 100-yard groups with the pictured Federal Gold Match ammo. Actually it was “lovely to shoot”.
The Cooper Scout Rifle concept notates useable accuracy sufficient for the application and the Savage Model 11 Scout delivers easily on that concept. The Model 11 is a rifle that can do “everything” for and owner and serve as that single rifle for everything that can hunt any North American game. I think Savage nailed the concept with the Model 11 Scout Rifle.
SPECS
Savage Model 11 Scout - .308 Winchester
Series: Specialty
AccuTrigger:Yes
AccuStock:Yes
Magazine: Detachable box
Stock material: Synthetic
Barrel material: Carbon Steel
Stock finish: Matte
Barrel finish: Matte
Stock color: Natural
Barrel color: Black
Sights: Adjustable iron sights
Features:Includes a one piece rail
Caliber - 308 WIN (Other Calibers reportedly planned)
Sku:22443
Handed:Right
Rate of Twist:10
Weight:7.8 lbs
Overall Length:40.5"
Barrel Length:18"
Ammo Capacity:10
MSRP:$818.00


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