If I Could Only Have One: Rifle Edition

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There are many types of rifles. Some are so specialized they are not useful for anything outside their specific design intent.

Some, like the AR-15, offer good protection, are useful for some types of hunting, and are great for recreation.

This series of reports, “If I Could Only Have One,” is challenging. As for myself, I made my mind up long ago as to the one rifle in a SHTF situation.

Reliability comes first, followed by a mix of accuracy and reliability in taking game of 200 pounds at 200 yards, and providing good protection at close-quarters range.

An interesting part of my research was learning that many nations that have far-flung ski patrols use rifles similar to my own.

As one example, only recently have the Canada Rangers traded in their .303 rifles for a modern 10-shot .308.

The Sako rifle replacing the Enfield is a fine choice.

When you hit something with the .303, it stayed hit and while either is marginal for the truly big bears, they are a reasonable choice when packing out in the wild.

Penetration and wound potential are good and there are many loadings available —125 to 220-grain handloads are among these.

Savage Model 11 Scout One Rifle
The Savage Scout Rifle is easily among the most useful rifles the author owns.

My One Rifle

The Savage Model 11 Scout was chosen due to a long familiarity with the Savage 110 rifle and its variants.

The one gun, go-anywhere do-anything rifle, in my mind, should be a Savage. Let’s look at some of the details of the rifle.

The rifle features a cocking indicator. I like this for safety and knowing the rifle is loaded — or at least it is cocked.

I also like a three-position safety. When it is forward toward the muzzle, you expose a red “fire” indicator and the rifle is ready to fire.

In the middle position, the bolt may be operated but the rifle will not fire. All the way to the rear and the bolt is locked in place.

Since the rifle may serve as a truck gun and may be used in close quarters, the Savage Scout features an 18-inch carbine barrel.

The barrel is fitted with a four-port muzzle brake. This brake has a great deal to do with the rifles easy shooting characteristics.

It doesn’t kick as much as a light rifle should. A rail is fitted for mounting forward long eye relief scopes or red-dot sights.

So far I have experimented with various TRUGLO red dots and an Eminus scope. At present, I am relying on the excellent factory aperture sights.

When I have time to properly sight the rifle and practice, one of the TRUGLO sights will be added.

Savage Scout Muzzle Break
The rifle’s well-designed muzzle brake makes for lessened recoil.

Features and Specs

When you are looking for the one rifle to do everything you need, you cannot short-change yourself on features.

The Savage rifle features the famous adjustable Accu trigger, the one everyone else has copied.

I found the trigger set below three pounds from the factory and simply left it in this setting. Adjustment may be set down to 2.5 pounds.

The trigger guard and magazine well are well-designed for overall good handling. The detachable magazine has a 10-round capacity.

This is more than enough reserve for most uses. There have been no feed issues with any load or bullet style.

The rifle also features a modern Accu Stock. I own several rifles with the Accu Stock and it is good kit.

It is supplied with spacers to allow changing the length of pull. There is also a cheek riser.

After some thought, I removed the cheek riser, as it isn’t needed with my preferred reliance on aperture sights.

Savage Peep Sight
Peep sights make for real speed and accuracy.

Savage Model 11 Scout Specifications:

Action: Bolt-Action
Finish: Matte Black Carbon Steel
Barrel: 18 Inches
Trigger: Adjustable Accu Trigger
Sights: Williams Adjustable Peep Sight
Overall Length: 40.5 Inches
Weight: 7.8 Pounds
Capacity: 10 Rounds

How It Fires

After years of experience with bolt-action .308 rifles, I was prepared for a jolt when firing the rifle.

The .308 isn’t a hard kicker, but common sense told me the Savage Scout would kick more than the M1A or Springfield Saint .308 rifles.

I was wrong. The stock is designed to re-direct recoil, but the muzzle brake must be very efficient. A well-designed recoil pad helps.

The rifle is comfortable to use and fire. Due to the rifle’s light weight and short barrel, it swings quickly and gets on target easily.

I ran a good bit of American Eagle through the rifle on the first outing.

Picking up 60 spent shell casings, I realized that my shoulder was not at all sore — the rifle is fun to fire and use.

Accuracy in speed shooting is excellent. The rifle is well-balanced and gets on target quickly. I like the fast-handling aperture sights.

Savage Scout Stock with Recoil Pad
A well-designed recoil pad makes for pleasant shooting.

Accuracy and Performance

Firing from the benchrest is necessary to sight the rifle in properly and get a gauge on the rifle’s accuracy potential.

I used two loads. First, the Federal American Eagle, an affordable and accurate practice load using a full metal jacketed bullet.

Next, the modern Federal Terminal Ascent. Now, some may ask why I used the Terminal Ascent. Let’s look at some advantages.

This loading features nickel-plated brass, the Gold Medal primer, and a modern slipstream polymer-tip bullet.

This bullet expands WAY past the normal range of expansion. If foresee a shot over 300 yards — or 500 yards — this is loading.

So I used the Premier long-range rifle loading in America to test an open-sighted rifle at 100 yards? Why not?

This load turned in a 0.9-inch 200-yard group in another rifle, but that is a story for a later date.

At 100 yards, the American Eagle load went into 2.13 inches for three shots.

The Terminal Ascent went into 1.8 inches, which is probably the best accuracy this rifle and shooter are capable of.

I feel well-armed with the Savage Scout. The .308 absolutely beats the .223 for tactical penetration and I have confidence in taking game with the .308.

I have plenty of .308 on hand and it would be ridiculous to change at this point.

At present, I have other rifles, but if there could be only one, this is the one.

Federal .308 Ammo
Among the premier loads for precision and wound potential is the Federal Terminal Ascent.

What would be your choice if you could only have one rifle? Let us know in the comments section below!



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