An Updated “Jed Eckert” Rifle

The Jed Eckert rifle post05

As a teenager I remember watching “Red Dawn” the first time and thinking, “WOW, that’s all they had to choose from in a gun shop?”. A .308, a .38 Special (revolver), a 12 Gauge shotgun and a 30-30 Winchester lever gun (a Marlin). Lookin’ back I realize they actually had a pretty good assortment of firearms for survival purposes, but out of all those firearms, I always thought the short, light, Ruger “Ultralight” in .308Win. that the “Jed Eckert” (Patrick Swayze) character carried was the best choice for a “Survival Rifle”out of the selection they had.

The Jed Eckert rifle post06

“Jed Eckert” with his Ruger M77 Ultralight in .308 Winchester.

One of my issues with firearms over the years has been being a left-hander in a right-handed world. Except for a few weapons systems like the M-60, weapons in the military never gave me issues shooting them left-handed, and I got around the ones thast did. On the other hand, bolt-guns were always an issue when it came to shooting quickly and correctly.

No bolt action rifle type out there is as reliable and dependable as a Mauser type action. Solid lock up. as robust an extractor as is available, and the fixed ejector is solid and dependable. Compared to the small surface grabbing, claw extractors and plunger type ejectors of most other bolt action rifle types made today, the Mauser action wins, hands down, as the durable, reliable, “Go To” bolt type action in a survival rifle.

For all it’s PC faults, Ruger makes great guns. I’ve owned a dozen or so Ruger firearms over the years, and one of the thing I will give Ruger is the fact that they put the extra effort into making firearms for both right and LEFT-handers in most models. I’ve owned three of the M77 rifles. A left handed .300WinMag, an older right handed, tang-safety, Heavy Barreled .308Win. (I like right handed guns when shooting from the prone), and the most recent “Gunsite Scout” rifle in .308 Winchester

The Jed Eckert rifle post01

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle with four 10 round mags and mag carrier.

I always liked the idea of the Cooper “Scout Rifle” concept to a point, but having had a few rifles with long eye relief, low powered (2 3/4-4x) scopes, I’m not the biggest fan of the forward scope mount in execution. The first scope I ever used was a 4x on my BB gun (Dad made me get good with irons first). Next, I had a 3-9x on my Savage 24 .223Rem./20Gauge combo gun. I also used a 3-9x on my Father’s Springfield ’03 (another awesome Mauser action) for deer hunting. So when it came time to scope my Scout Rifle, I put an older 1″ Sightron 3-9x MilDot that I had on it, and mounted it in Leupold Quick Detach, Zero Hold rings .

The '03-02

First Mauser action rifle I ever used. A Springfield 1903, 30-06

For a multi-purpose Survival/Hunting rifle, I think the 3-9 power scope gives the most bang for the buck. If the rifle is up to it, accuracy wise, the 9 power will give you all the range you could ever want in either scenario. For dense brush or snap shooting, 3 power will get it done easily if you’ve practiced. I normally leave it set on 6 power because it is truly a “happy medium” in an optic’s magnification for ease of use.

The Jed Eckert rifle post02

Safety is in the forward “Fire” position (position 1) right behind the bolt handle in this pic.

As to the features present on my “Modern Day Jed Eckert Rifle”, let’s go over them. When I bought the Ruger Scout rifle, I picked the 18.7″ barrel over the 16.1 inch model. I figured since it was for Survival/Hunting use, 18 inches will give the ammo I usually use (Federal 168gr Match and Hornady 168gr AMAX TAP) a little more room to perform well.

Overall length is 40 inches with the flash hider and the “length of pull spacer” (it comes with a couple) I used. It weighs in at 9 1/4 pounds empty  and with optic mounted. Ten round mags weigh 1 pound. Loaded but without the extra mag in the buttstock pouch it’s 10 1/4lbs.  and 11 1/4lbs. with extra mag on the stock . Speakin’ of Mags. I have four for my Scout. All are Ruger 10 round mags. One is the steel one that came with the rifle. Three are Ruger synthetics that are slightly lighter but just as robust.

The Jed Eckert rifle post03

Two 10 round mags in a mag pouch originally meant for 20 round 30 cal. mags.

It has 5/8×24 threads for a flash suppressor, a muzzle brake or a sound suppressor. This could be advantageous for obvious reasons if you are using it in a survival role, and it makes it easier for smaller framed people to shoot the .308Win. if you get an effective muzzle brake.

I bought the stainless model with a laminated stock for the obvious corrosion resistance and durability. I like a laminate stock over a synthetic because it feels and hefts more like a wood stock, but still has the durability of synthetic. I’ve always liked the feel of a wooden stock on a solid rifle. Attached to the stock is a mag carrier originally designed for one 20 round 30 cal. magazine. In it I carry a pull through bore cleaner rolled up in the bottom, and an extra 10 round mag. Also, I like Ruger’s dull stainless finish because it is very corrosion resistant, but doesn’t glow/shine in the woods due to it’s dull finish.

The Jed Eckert rifle post04

One 10 round mag and a “Boresnake” go into the buttstock mag pouch.

Another feature I love about this rifle are the back up iron sights. It started out with the factory Ruger peep sights (ghost ring). The front sight is wing protected and about as solid as can be without it being brazed onto the barrel. I replaced the rear sight with a full length (it came with the forward mounting rail) rail from XS Sights and this has a built in ghost ring aperture.

Last, but not least is the Ruger 3-position safety. After using a Springfield ’03, three position safety while growing up, I absolutely love the Ruger version. The Springfield safety rotates over the top of the bolt counter clockwise from 3oclock “safe, bolt locked” (position 3), to 12oclock “safe, bolt unlocked” (position 2), to 9oclock “fire” (position 1).

The Ruger action has the safety rotate forward on the left side of the rear of the action (left handed action). It starts at the rear of the bolt, next to the firing pin protrusion where it’s in “safe, bolt locked” (position 3). It rotates forward and left about 3/8 inch to “safe, bolt unlocked” (position 2), and finally forward again, next to the bolt handle for “Fire” (position 1). It is easy and sure to flip it from “Safe” (position 2) to “Fire” (position 1) with a normal firing grip with the left thumb next the left side of the rifle.

The Jed Eckert Rifle09

A three shot, 2.5 inch group at 200 meters

As far as accuracy goes, it is a 1.5 to 2 MOA (with LC Ball) rifle on average. I have shot a 2 inch group at 200 meters with my rifle and Match ammo, but that is the best, and a little smaller than the average. The only downside I see with the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle is cost. They average around $800-$900. Do I think it’s money well spent? Yes, No one else makes a Scout configured rifle left handed. Savage, and Mossberg  each make one, but none are left-handed, and they’re within $200 of the cost of my Ruger.

The Jed Eckert rifle 10

Is my Scout the most accurate bolt gun I own? No, that position is owned by my Savage 10 Tactical with a TTI StraightJacket barrel system. It shoots 1/2 MOA or better out to 500 meters all day long (I don’t usually get to shoot further than that on regular basis). The downside for the Savage 10Tac is that it is a 46 1/4 inch long, 13 1/4 pound rifle with a 10x scope and a bipod. That’s 6 inches and 4 pounds heavier than the Scout.

The Jed Eckert rifle08

Savage 10 Tactical. This is the most accurate rifle I own, and the second most accurate rifle I’ve ever shot. 

The Scout and Savage Tac have different applications as rifles, and fill their intended niche perfectly. Given the choice, the Ruger Scout would be the “Grab and Go” gun as a survival/hunting piece, and I would not feel under-gunned in a wilderness survival situation with the Scout as my only rifle . Coupling the Scout with my compact 11″ ParaFAL and Glock 21 pistol as self defense guns, a .22LR rifle (I use a Marlin 880SQ for hunting and an AR-7 as a pack gun) for small game, I’d be hard pressed for a better compact survival arsenal.


Coupled with this 11″ ParaFAL “pistol” in the same caliber as the Scout, it would be a good start to a versatile, compact, centerfire, survival arsenal. 

I hope this was able to help with your choice for a good, compact, boltgun, especially if you’re a left-hander.


"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.




24 thoughts on “An Updated “Jed Eckert” Rifle

    • I bought a Gunsite 308. Took it to the range and with 6 ammo varieties could hot bet it to better than 12 inches at 100 yards. Dealer let me swap it out and told me early ones were bad. Be careful buying used they suck

  1. My idea was very similar. I have a Mauser 2000 in 3006 with a modern Redfield scope in 3×9. My go to battle rifle is a Garand, with a 1903Mk1 as my backup. My “Mouser” is almost a twin to the “Jed” rifle. Using only one ammo type makes my logistics that much easier to move. Without the removable box magazines and pistol grips I can “fly under the radar” for the most part. The whole point being to attract no attention from the LEO’s, while still packing weapons that turn cover into concealment at 300 to 500 yards. The other reason I chose this line up was Ammunition Conservation. IMO something that should be the # 1 concern of anyone once the weirdness gets serious. Say the balloon go’s up and all I can get in the “go buggy” before I have to beat feet, is 4-5 .30 cal. cans. With my basic load that is around or a little over 1000 rounds. That sounds like a lot to most rookies. But if the SHTF and you get in a fire fight that much ammo dry’s up FAST. So I train for a sustained rate of aimed fire of 12 RPM. with the ’03. 16 RPM with the Garand. and “one shot-one kill” with the scope. Basically following the guidelines in the WW1-WW2 ,and Korea FM’s.

  2. Pingback: MDT: A Modern Jed Eckert Rifle | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  3. I have the exact same rifle in the tight hand version. My 3 polymer mags all failed. Ruger replaced them with 3 steel 5 round mags. FWIW

  4. Great article. I have never heard of that barrel treatment system. Very interesting and informative.

    FWIW, I think all guns are cool. But some guns are, in fact, better than others.

    What’s the muzzle flash on that FAL like?

  5. Put together a similar rifle with a Savage 11 I have. Had the front sight and scope mount used on the Savage Scout installed, shortened the barrel to 20” and left the original rear scope mount on. With this configuration I can use a forward mounted scout scope, red dot, conventional optic or use an XS weaver back up ghost ring

  6. I love my Ruger Gunsite. I mentioned on WRSA that the Mossberg MVP is also worth a look being lighter, cheaper, and taking both AR-10 style AND M1A magazines without any modification or swapping of parts. That said having shot both I liked the iron sights and magazine release better on the Ruger so I went with it but I don’t think you could go wrong with either.

  7. I like Ruger’s too, but my go-to deer rifle as been the Remington 600 in .308 Winchester for nearly 40 years. A carbine similar to the Ruger but fixed 4 round internal magazine. 2.5-8x scope on top, its been a winner in my book.

  8. I was intrigued by the Ruger Gunsite, but went with the Mossberg MVP instead because it accepts LR-308 Mags = Same as the AR-10. Gunsite Mags are proprietary.

  9. I am currently building a Scout rifle on a Remington 700 BDL action. The problem is to ‘make weight’, as the Col put it, and 6.6 lbs unloaded (including optics, though) doesn’t give a lot of wiggle room. The best I can find is a Magpul 700 Hunter stock and a Vortex Scout scope, in terms of quality and light weight. We are fabricating the ghost ring rear and the cantilever mount for the scope bases at the moment. A certain amount of work, but custom is as custom does.
    I echo your sentiment regarding the 600. I would give my eye teeth for one, but they are certainly hard to come by now.
    Great article. Thanks for your thoughts.

  10. I have been working with the Swiss K-31. It’s my go to bolt gun, I plan on re-barreling one in 308 soon. I have done one in 260 Remington it’s a one hole wonder but to heavy. I have designed a 10 round mag that works good with the 7.5 and 260. My scopes are Shepherd 310- P2 BDC out to 1000 yrds. This scope is also good with 7.62×54.

  11. Pingback: Firearms For Freedom and Forage-Part 3, Hunting Long Guns – Mason Dixon Tactical

  12. Pingback: Firearms For Freedom and Forage-Part 3, Hunting Long Guns – Mason Dixon Survivalist Association

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