February 05, 2024
There was a time when break-action rifles were a lot more common, and with the disappearance of brands like Harrington & Richardson and Thompson/Center, it seemed as if this design was dying out. But thanks to Connecticut Valley Arms and a few other firms, these time-proven rifles are still readily available.
I cop to being asleep at the wheel, not realizing Connecticut Valley Arms made cartridge rifles. I’d always known the firm as a maker of muzzleloaders. Shame on me, because in addition to a line of bolt-action rifles, the company produces the Scout break-action centerfire—a well-built, affordable hunting rifle.
There are three flavors of the Scout: the TD (takedown), TD Compact and base Scout. Depending on which you choose, you can opt for chamberings ranging from .243 Win. to .45-70 Gov’t and .450 Bushmaster—a lineup that includes cool cartridges like the .35 Whelen and .444 Marlin as well as modern darlings like the 6.5 Creedmoor.
My test sample was the TD Compact, which is available in .243, .300 BLK and my choice, the .350 Legend. The Legend makes a lot of sense to me. It has mild recoil and therefore would be a good close-range whitetail rifle for someone who is just getting started.
While you’re not going to win any PRS matches with a break-action, it’s plenty accurate for the ranges at which the .350 Legend excels. And this isn’t a break-action like one my dad or grandfather might have looked at. The Scout comes with a Picatinny rail attached, and the barrel is threaded.
The Scout TD Compact features a 20-inch fluted stainless steel barrel. CVA is owned by BPI, the same Lawrenceville, Georgia, company that owns Bergara. The latter is famous for its barrel making, and all CVA barrels are made at Bergara’s factory. Talk about getting off to a good start.
I ran my trusty Hawkeye borescope down the Scout’s barrel, and it’s a thing of beauty. The lands are smooth as a baby’s bottom, and the groove edges are nice and sharp. These are button-rifled barrels, and Bergara stress-relieves its barrels after the rifling process is complete.
A well-made barrel pays off in a couple of ways. One, you can’t have an accurate rifle with a poorly built barrel. Two, rough barrels will exhibit a lot of copper fouling as machine marks, rough spots and the like strip off jacket material, and that fouling will typically degrade accuracy as it builds up.
While I didn’t put thousands of rounds through the Scout, I did shoot more than 100. I clean barrels throughout accuracy testing, a relatively quick procedure I perform after each type of ammo is tested. It’s enough to ensure all the ammo starts with the same relatively clean bore condition, but it’s not sufficient to eliminate any significant copper fouling that may be occurring. I scoped the Scout’s bore at the conclusion of testing, and it showed zero copper fouling—a testament to its pristine barrel.
The barrel is an inch in diameter at the back and 0.69 inch behind the knurled thread protector. Thread pattern is 5/8x24.
The barrel fits to the receiver courtesy of a block welded to the underside. The front of the block has a semicircular cut that mates with the receiver’s hinge pin.
Forward of the barrel block is the fore-end lug, which is likewise welded on. The fore-end locks into this lug courtesy of a spring-loaded latch in the fore-end. Pull the latch to separate the fore-end from the barrel.
The lug has adjustment screws that are preset at the factory, and the manual says you shouldn’t mess with them—unless through wear and tear the fore-end starts to loosen up. If you’re getting front-to-back play, adjust the forward set screw to remove the play. If the fore-end latch is too loose, the rearward screw—which has a locking nut—can be adjusted outward to take care of that.
Atop the barrel you’ll find no iron sights, but there is the rail I mentioned. It’s from DuraSight, another BPI brand. CVA naturally recommends the DuraSight line of mounts and rings for the Scout, but I used whatever set of slot-base rings I had on hand to mount a Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-15x40mm for testing, and they were fine.
Want some “inside baseball” info on the rail? Here you go. The DuraSight sports seven slots, each of which is 0.21-inch wide. That is right there with the specification for the Picatinny rail with its 0.206-inch-wide slots—as opposed to Weaver’s 0.16-inch slots.
The DuraSight depth is also similar to the Picatinny, around 0.12 inch as near as I could measure it. However, the slot centers on this particular DuraSight rail vary. The front four slots are about 0.38 inch apart center to center while the rear three are 0.86 inch apart. This is in contrast to the Picatinny, which has a constant center-to-center spacing of 0.394.
Does this matter? Probably not. Like I said, I just grabbed a pair of rings, and they worked. However, it might be something to keep in mind if you have, say, a one-piece, multi-slot mount for a scope or red dot that’s strictly Picatinny or strictly Weaver.
Moving on. The receiver and buttstock are one piece. Thanks to the receiver’s robust stainless steel construction, this unit is no shrinking violet at nearly three pounds—roughly half of the gun’s 6.5 total weight.
The receiver incorporates a hinged trigger guard with a finger hook underneath. Pull backward on the hook to open the breech to load or unload the rifle. The Scout’s action does not eject spent cartridges. You need to pluck them from the chamber, which is fine by me. I have my Ruger No. 1 single-shots set up to operate the same way.
To cock the rifle, draw back the hammer. The hammer features a spur extension that can be moved to the left or right side by placing a 3mm Allen key in the extension’s end socket and swapping sides. The hammer does take a bit of effort to cock.
The trigger is quite good for a hammer-fired gun. It measured two pounds, 12 ounces. It breaks cleanly with no creep and just a bit of overtravel.
The stock may look like a plain ol’ synthetic, but it’s got some tricks up its sleeve. It sports an ambidextrous comb. It’s not as dramatic as a Monte Carlo, but it is raised and puts your head in a good position for looking through a scope. And since the comb slope is the same on both sides, both lefties and righties benefit.
The butt also features the CrushZone recoil pad. I couldn’t find any information regarding its construction or recoil-reduction potential, but I can say that even though the .350 Legend doesn’t have a ton of kick, the CrushZone pad was comfortable against the shoulder.
The wrist has nicely executed checkering that provides a non-slip grip. The toe of the stock features a molded-in “stud” for a sling swivel, while the fore-end has an actual metal stud screwed in. The fore-end has a subtle belly to it, and it is checkered and sports a bit of a schnabel-type flare at the front.
As I mentioned before, the takedown latch is located in the fore-end. Pull it out to remove the fore-end. To finish taking down the rifle, pull back on the trigger guard hook to open the breech, and then remove the barrel from the receiver. Reassemble in reverse order.
The Scout proved plenty accurate in testing, as you can see in the accompanying chart. I was fortunate to have Silencer Central’s Banish 46 on hand when the Scout showed up. I tested two loads both suppressed and unsuppressed as well as two dedicated loads meant specifically for a can that I shot with suppressor only. The addition of the Banish 46 certainly boosted the accuracy in the two loads shot suppressed versus unsuppressed—a reduction of between 0.7 and 0.9 inch in average group size.
In the accuracy chart you’ll see an asterisk on the Hornady Subsonic, and you’ll also note a large standard deviation for this load. I had a couple rounds that were 200 fps slower than average. The first one was a fouler after cleaning, fired into the berm, so I don’t where that one might’ve printed.
After that I started shooting groups on the bottom row of the target’s aiming points. They were printing a bit low, and when the second slow-speed round went downrange it didn’t hit the target—probably a two- to three-inch drop, although I couldn’t really tell because my backer had several holes down there already, and it got lost in the crowd. Anyway, I kept the velocity figures in the results, but I didn’t want to penalize the rifle for this and therefore fired an additional shot for the accuracy results.
Perhaps that one shot aside, not one of those loads is going to miss the vitals of a deer or hog at the ranges for which this cartridge is intended, regardless of whether you’re using a suppressor.
The Scout is a pleasure to shoot. You could argue the Leupold scope I used, which has a 30mm tube and boosted total gun weight to nearly eight pounds, was a bit of overkill in terms of size and power. But even considering that, I liked the way the Scout balanced with the weight right between my hands.
I grew up hunting deer in Pennsylvania. We had no stands. We hunted from the ground, leaning or sitting against a tree or perhaps still-hunting. All my shooting in those days was either offhand or sitting with the rifle across my knee, and for this the balance of a rifle like the Scout is just perfect.
The addition of the Banish 46 changes the balance, making it more weight-forward, and with the suppressor attached I went with a Bogpod and shot from sitting and kneeling. While the balance was different than unsuppressed, there’s still enough weight back toward the shooter to keep the hold stable. And the can certainly made this well-behaved rifle even more so, thanks to reduced recoil and blast.
I’ve long been a fan of single-shot rifles. In addition to a couple of Ruger No. 1s, I also have a Thompson/Center Encore. While I like the Farquharson hammerless falling block action of the Ruger better than the break-action of the T/C or the CVA, the principle is still the same: You have one shot, so make it count.
It’s a fun way to hunt, and quite a few people believe it’s the gun a beginner should start with. I’ve never quite bought into that, but I understand the sentiment. Regardless, whether you’re a veteran hunter or a novice, the Scout has a lot to offer. It’s as accurate as it needs to be, it’s well designed, and it’s offered in older calibers you don’t see every day—in addition to those of modern design. At a price just over $400, that’s hard to beat.
CVA SCOUT TD COMPACT SPECIFICATIONS
- TYPE: Break-action centerfire
- CALIBER: .243, .300 BLK, . 350 Legend (tested)
- CAPACITY: 1
- BARREL: 20 in. 416 stainless steel, 1:16 twist; fluted, threaded 5/8x24
- OVERALL LENGTH: 35 in.
- WEIGHT: 6.5 lb.
- FINISH: Matte stainless
- STOCK: Ambidextrous-comb butt w/CrushZone recoil pad, molded-in sling swivel hole; fore-end w/takedown latch
- SIGHTS: None; DuraSight optics rail
- SAFETY: Hammer block
- PRICE: $435
- MANUFACTURER: CVA, cva.com