In 2004, Ruger announced the production of the Frontier Rifle based on the scope forward concept of the Scout Rifle pioneered by Jeff Cooper. Ruger utilized its proven M77 compact rifle as the base unit for development of the Frontier. The result is a fantastic rifle which handles remarkably fast and accurate. The Scout rifle concept is ideal for hunting situation which require fast target acquisition and quick shots accurately place such as very brush areas or darker game habitats. The gun is a smaller rifle sporting a 16.5" barrel and a laminate stock which reduced the overall weight of the rifle to light 5.
5 lbs. The real achievement though, is in the scope placement. The scout concept utilizes the natural "Dominant Eye" kinesiology of the human body. This means the brain actually combines the 2 perspective optical images from both the left and right eye into one panoramic picture.
Where both images overlap, the mind is able to create a 3 dimensional image. By having the scope mounted forward, the shooter is able to keep both eyes open while in target acquisition and shooting. Let's experiment for a moment. Hold a tube or rolled up paper up to your shooting eye and close the other.
This is usually the perspective one gets when shooting through a standard rifle scope. The image you see is 2 dimensional and limited to the FOV of the scope. Now open your other eye with the tube still in place in front of the dominant eye. Suddenly, the FOV has change to a 3 dimensional image with a much bigger FOV. You should also still be able to see the "ring" from the tube around your dominant shooting eye. This is the concept of scope forward mounting and is impractical in highly magnified scopes with minimal eye relief.
Currently, Leupold is manufacturing Scout scopes for their guns but they will be reviewed in another article. I first approached the Frontier with a little curiosity and hesitation. I am a little leery about new "concept guns" and need to handle them before buying into the hype usually surrounding most guns just introduced to the market place. This gun was one of the exceptions.
From the moment I picked it up, I knew I wanted one. The gun throws to the shoulder quickly and with a little practice and instruction, shooting with 2 eyes open became natural. The Ruger Frontier was out fitted with a Leupold FX Scout Scope in 3x and was calibrated in 308. After some dry fire exercises, I was able to test the gun on the range. WHAT A HOOT! After getting acquainted with the feel of the gun and understanding how it handles, we began have contests of pulling the gun from a carry position and firing an accurate shot on one of 10 numbered targets randomly called out by my shooting buddies.
By comparison, I attempted the same thing with my hi-powered hunting rifle (Betty Lou the 30-378 Weatherby) and found the Ruger to be superior in quick shots. The Ruger did have one draw back for which seem to be standard among the M77 line. The trigger was heavy and rough to pull. A good trigger job or replacement with a Timney and the gun would be perfect. The Ruger Frontier is being offered in a variety of calibers including the 300 Win and 325 WSM. Both of these calibers provide excellent stopping power for North America's largest game animals.
The lightweight of the rifle might provide for some increase in perceived recoil, but who cares if you can drop a trophy elk in the middle of the Jack Pine thicket. Ruger also announce the new stainless models which are coming out in 2006. I can't wait until they are release and am excited to add one to my collection.
Kelsey Hilderbrand is an avid shooter, hunter, collector, outdoor writer, and founder of High Mountain Hunting Supply