Scout rifle

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Steyr Scout chambered in .308WIN

The Scout Rifle is a class of general-purpose rifles defined and promoted by Jeff Cooper in the early 1980s.

These bolt action carbines are typically .308 caliber (7.62mm), less than 1 meter in length, and less than 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) in weight, with iron and optical sights and fitted with practical slings (such as Ching slings) for shooting and carrying, and capable of hitting man-sized targets out to 450 meters without scopes. Typically they employ forward-mounted low-power long eye relief scopes or sights to afford easy access to the top of the rifle action for rapid reloading. Although the Steyr Scout is the only rifle Jeff Cooper has been personally involved with, Ruger, Savage, and several other gun makers now manufacture Scout rifles that roughly match Cooper's specifications.

A lifelong student of small arms, and recognized expert in the field, Cooper realized that rifles in the late 20th century differed little from those made one hundred years before, and that advances in metallurgy, optics and plastics could make the rifle a handy, light instrument "that will do a great many things equally well..."

"The general-purpose rifle will do equally well for all but specialized hunting, as well as for fighting; thus it must be powerful enough to kill any living target of reasonable size. If you insist upon a definition of 'reasonable size,' let us introduce an arbitrary mass figure of about 1,000 lb (454 kg)."[1]

Defining characteristics[edit]

Drawing inspiration from several sources, specifically the Austrian Mannlicher-Schönauer of 1903 and the Winchester Model 1894, Cooper defined several distinguishing characteristics of a scout rifle:

  • An unloaded weight, with accessories, of 3 kg (6.6 lb); with 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds) the maximum acceptable.
  • An overall length of 1 meter (39 inches) or less. These two characteristics place scout rifles into the general class of carbines.
  • A forward-mounted telescopic sight of low magnification, typically 2 to 3 power. This preserves the shooter's peripheral vision, keeps the ejection port open to allow the use of stripper clips to reload the rifle, and eliminates any chance of the scope striking one's brow during recoil. Cooper has stated that a telescopic sight is not mandatory.
  • Ghost ring auxiliary iron sights: a rear sight consisting of a receiver-mounted large-aperture thin ring, and typically a square post front sight. This allows the rifle to be accurately aimed at short to medium ranges even if the scope becomes damaged.
  • A "Ching" or "CW" sling. Against common practice, Cooper advocated the use of a sling as a shooting aid. The Ching sling offers the convenience of a carrying strap and the steadiness of a target shooter's sling with the speed of a biathlete's sling. (The CW sling is a simpler version of a Ching sling, consisting of a single strap.)
  • A standard chambering of .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO or 7mm-08 Remington for locales that forbid civilian ownership of cartridges in chamberings adopted by military forces or for its "slightly better ballistics."[2] As Cooper wrote, "A true Scout comes in .308 or 7mm-08."[3] The .243 Winchester is an alternative for young, small-framed, or recoil-shy people, but needs a 22" barrel. Cooper also commissioned "Lion Scout," chambered for the .350 Remington Magnum cartridge.
  • Accuracy: Should be capable of shooting into 2 minutes of angle or less (4") at 200 meters/yards (3 shot groups).

These features dictated short, thin barrels, synthetic stocks, and bolt actions. Other optional features included a retractable bipod, detachable magazines, a butt magazine, and an accessory rail for lights and other attachments. The addition of some of these features often render the rifle technically not a scout as originally defined, but this has come to be accepted by many as still conforming to the spirit if not the letter of the concept.

Shooting and usage[edit]

Originally an experiment, the Scout Rifle configuration has proven its value.[How?] Although it is unusual in appearance and design when compared to traditional rifles, the features which set the Scout Rifle apart were selected for utility rather than appearance. The scope sight is mounted on the barrel both for stability and to allow a faster acquisition of the sighting line when the rifle is brought to the shoulder. It also keeps the breech and ejection port of the weapon clear of obstruction, allowing rapid top-loading of cartridges and clearance of jams or other obstructions.

Being slightly shorter than most full-caliber rifles increases the muzzle blast from a Scout Rifle, and being lightweight increases the felt recoil (to a significant level in the Steyr Dragoon Scout due to its .376 Steyr cartridge). Even the recoil of the .308 Win. in a scout was described as feeling like a .300 Win. Mag. by Gun Tests.[4] Because of this, the 7mm-08 Remington is a popular, Cooper-approved alternative for scout rifles.[3] "For hunters the 7mm-08 is a great medium-range cartridge that is capable – with the correct bullet – of taking big game up to elk with no problem. It is a great cartridge for women, young shooters or anyone who is sensitive to recoil. Even in the lighter rifles the recoil is very tolerable... The 7mm-08 is a great choice for a lightweight mountain rifle that will get the job done admirably at any reasonable range" (italics added).[5]

Should the scope be damaged, it can be rapidly removed and the ghost ring sight used.

Commercial variants[edit]

Steyr Scout[edit]

Main article: Steyr Scout

The version considered by many to be the benchmark is the Steyr Scout.[6]

For many years scout rifles were only available from custom gunsmiths. However, in the late 1990s, Steyr-Mannlicher of Austria began series production of the Steyr Scout, which is also known as the Mannlicher Scout. Jeff Cooper spent many years of reflection and working with Steyr before they began production built to the specifications developed. A heavy-caliber version, unofficially known as the "Dragoon Scout" (a designation which was seen on a prototype), is chambered for the proprietary .376 Steyr cartridge, but exceeds (by approximately one inch) the overall length limit of the Scout Rifle specification. This version carries four rounds in the magazine, compared to five in the standard Steyr Scout. A version is also produced in the 5.56x45/.223 round used in various current military carbines. This is below the Scout Rifle caliber standard, so this version of the rifle has become (somewhat derisively) known as the "Cub Scout."

The Steyr Scout features an integral bipod, as well as storage for a spare, loaded magazine. The rifle is also designed to allow either single-shot, manually loaded fire or normal magazine feeding. This is accomplished by simply including a second notch in the magazine catch, which permits the magazine to ride in the weapon slightly too low for the bolt to engage the top cartridge. The shooter may immediately switch to magazine feeding by driving the magazine all the way into the well. Single-round feeding is aided by the mounting position of the scope.

The length of the buttstock on the Steyr Scout is easily adjusted, through the use of detachable sections, though Cooper promotes the practice of removing all of the sections to allow bringing the rifle to the shoulder faster.

There are very few options and accessories for the Steyr Scout because the necessary and desirable features are designed into the standard configuration. The primary choices are caliber, color of stock (grey or black), and type of bolt handle (flat or ball-end). Some owners opt for aftermarket or custom slings, which are easily removed and adjusted. Most owners will also purchase extra magazines and an ammunition holder which mounts to the stock.

Savage Scout[edit]

Savage Arms offered the Model 10FCM Scout with their adjustable AccuTrigger (allowing the owner to safely adjust trigger pull weight to anywhere between 2.5 and 6.0 lbs without the need of a gunsmith), black synthetic AccuStock with aluminum spine and three-dimensional bedding cradle, a 20.5" free-floating button-rifled barrel, oversized bolt knob for rapid manipulation of the bolt, ghost ring rear sight, forward scope mount, and detachable 4-round box magazine in either .308 or 7.62x39 with a total weight of 6.75 lbs and an over-all length of 39.75" Price was $839USD January 2012.[7] The Scout was discontinued in late 2013, but Savage's "Special Orders" department will still build one to a customer's specifications from parts they normally use in various other Savage models, including such options as different calibers (e.g., 7mm-08); different barrel lengths; stainless steel; add a 3rd sling swivel; and left-handed versions.

Significantly, in late 2008, after-market 9-round box magazines for the .308 family of cartridges (i.e., .243 Win., .260 Rem., 7mm-08 Rem., .308 Win., .338 Fed., and .358 Win.), became available for the Savage Scout.[8]

In April 2009, Layne Simpson of Shooting Times compared a .243 Win. barreled action in the old Savage synthetic stock and the new AccuStock and found an improvement in accuracy with four of five different loads. The improvement ranged from 0.1" to 0.5" with an average of just under 0.2" at 100 yards. He speculated that the accuracy improvement would be even greater with cartridges that recoiled more. He wrote that with the AccuStock, Savage has "elevated the performance capability of an inexpensive injection-molded stock beyond that of the most expensive synthetic stock containing either a conventional bedding block or pillar bedding." Mr. Simpson concluded, "it really works." Additionally, he noted that "since the front sling-swivel stud is attached to the end of the rail, the stock is ideally suited for use with a bipod." The aluminum "AccuRail" within the AccuStock prevents pressure from the bipod from causing the forearm to contact the barrel.[9]

In a 2002 head-to-head comparison of the Steyr and Savage scout rifles, Gun Tests concluded: "Bottom line: Save your money and buy the utilitarian Savage unless you’re bound and determined to own the very nice Steyr."[4]

In the Guns Magazine 2001 Annual, Barrett Tillman opened his review of the Savage Scout with: "Well designed and well built, this general purpose rifle has everything you need and nothing you don't!" He ended his review with: "In the 22 years I've been writing about firearms, I've been offered a few 'deals,' but I've never accepted one. So, if you want to know what works, ask gun writers which firearms they buy on their own --- and which ones they keep. I bought my Savage Scout and I may buy another, because this little rifle is a keeper" ("Savage Scout Rifle").[10]

Both of these articles were before Savage upgraded their Scout with a more reliable box magazine design, improved safety design, AccuTrigger (2003), Personal Anti-recoil Device (P.A.D.) advanced recoil pad (2008), and AccuStock (2009). Guns & Ammo (2013 July 29), tested and compared the Steyr Scout, the Savage Scout and the Ruger Gunsight Scout Rifle (GSR) and declared the Savage "the best buy of the lineup."[11]

Ruger Frontier[edit]

Sturm, Ruger offered several M77 Mark II Frontier rifles in stainless steel in various chamberings from varmint to heavy game all featuring a non-rotating, Mauser-type controlled-feed extractor and a fixed blade-type ejector.[12]

In a review of a 7mm-08 Frontier Model 77, John Taffin, wrote, "If it is possible to love an inanimate object such as a rifle, I am definitely in love. This Model 77 Mk II Frontier is everything I had been looking for in a lightweight, compact, easy-to-carry 7-08mm bolt-action rifle and more."[13] Since the Ruger allows the mounting of a scope in either the forward or traditional rear position, Mr. Taffin compared a forward mounted low-powered Scout scope and a rear mounted high powered one for accuracy. His conclusion: "Is there any practical difference in group size using a 2.5X scope or a 8X scope? The answer was not what I expected. For all practical hunting purposes at ranges of 100 to 150 yards neither the hunter nor the animal would see any difference in the scope being used." He found target acquisition to be particularly fast with a forward mounted scout scope and he appreciated that it gave the hunter an especially large "natural field of view" with both eyes open. He decided to keep a scout scope mounted in the forward position and to keep the rifle.

Ruger Gunsite Scout[edit]

In 2011, Ruger introduced the Ruger Gunsite Scout, a re-designed scout rifle based on their Model 77 action and developed with Gunsite Training Center. The new rifle debuted at the 2011 SHOT show bearing the adopted name "Gunsite Scout Rifle" mounted on the grip cap.[6] The rifle features a matte black receiver, a 16.5" cold-hammer forged alloy steel barrel, a forward mounted picatinny rail, a 3, 5 or 10-round detachable box magazine, a flash suppressor, an adjustable ghost-ring rear iron sight, a polymer trigger guard, and a black laminate wood stock with length-of-pull spacers. The rifle is chambered in 7.62x51mm and weighs in at 7 pounds (3.2 kg).[14] Ruger has also introduced an "export" version of the Gunsite Scout Rifle for sale outside of the United States since the US State Department won't allow the rifle to be exported with the flash hider (however, the original US model of the Ruger Gunsite Scount Rifle is now available for export and sale outside of the US as of 2013). The 'export" model of the rifle comes with an 18 inch stainless steel barrel with no flash hider and without the "Gunsite Scout Rifle" name and logo on the grip cap.

Springfield Armory's Scouts[edit]

Springfield Armory, Inc., offers three semiautomatic rifles that, while significantly overweight (and thus are at best Pseudo Scouts), are chambered for .308 Win., utilize short barrels, and have forward scope mounts. These are the Scout Squad, the SOCOM 16, and the SOCOM II variants of the M1A rifle.[15] Of the three, the SOCOM 16 probably comes the closest to a true Scout since it is only 37.25" long, features a ghost ring rear sight, and weighs the least (9.3 lbs).[16]

Parts for DIY Scout Rifles[edit]

Some individuals choose to build their own Scout or "Pseudo Scout" rifle (a rifle that does not meet one or more of Cooper's criteria) based on a wide variety of brands and action types. An example is what Colonel Cooper called the "Brooklyn Scout" (in honor of the location where the combination was first developed). It is a Winchester Model 94 with a forward-mounted long-eye-relief telescopic sight. Although the original Brooklyn Scout was in .30-30, the 7-30 Waters (having energy equivalent to the .30-30), would be a flatter shooting and lower recoil alternative. Hornady's LEVERevolution ammo and FTX and MonoFlex bullets, allowing the safe use of higher ballistic coefficient spitzer bullets in lever action rifles, significantly improves the performance of a Brooklyn Scout, bringing it closer to the Scout ideal.[17]

A semiautomatic Pseudo Scout rifle could easily be based upon the Ruger Mini platform, either the Mini-14 (.223 Remington or 6.8 mm Remington SPC) or the Mini-30 (7.62x39mm). Although all three calibers are underpowered for a true Scout, the 6.8 SPC version would come closest to the ideal. All three are already available with stainless steel short barrels, synthetic stocks, and ghost ring rear sights. All three make the length and weight requirements. After market forward mounts for Scout Scopes are available from UltiMAK (see below). A third sling swivel for a Ching sling is as easily added as for any other rifle (see below).

Another possibility for a Pseudo Scout rifle is the Mosin Nagant M38. Although near the high end of Cooper's maximum weight, and about a centimeter longer, these rifles otherwise largely fit his requirements.

Below are some of the parts and suppliers needed to convert various rifles to the Scout format. Note that often, given the time, expense, and effort of a DIY Scout, a Savage Scout ends up closer to the ideal and costing less.

Scout scope forward mounts[edit]

XS Sight Systems offers forward scope mounts for building Scouts based on the SMLE, Mauser and other bolt-action rifles (XS/Clifton Scout Scope Mount), as well as the Marlin 1895 (XS Lever Rail) other lever-action rifles (XS Lever Scout Mount).[18]

B-Square offers forward scope mounts for building Scouts based upon the Remington 700,[19] the Mauser,[20] and the Mosin-Nagant.[21]

UltiMAK offers forward scope mounts for a variety of semiautomatic weapons (e.g., AK and variants, M-14/M1A, AR-15/M-16, .30 M1 Carbine, Mini-14/Mini-30, and Saiga 12 gauge shotguns).[22]

Scout scopes[edit]

Leupold,[23] Burris Optics,[24] Millett Sights,[25] and Leatherwood/Hi-LUX Optics[26] all offer Long Eye Relief (LER) scopes designed specifically for Scout rifles. Cooper long advocated that scopes should have their reticles etched on glass, and their windage and elevation adjustments in the mount.

Ghost-ring rear sights[edit]

XS Sight Systems offers ghost-ring sights for building Scouts based on the SMLE, Mauser, and other bolt-action rifles as well as the Marlin 1895 and other lever-action rifles.[27]

Ching Slings[edit]

Both Pachmayr[28] and Millett Sights[25] offer the flush mount, hammer-head sling swivels Cooper preferred.

Galco offers Ching slings[29] as well as their Safari Ching Sling[30] (8 oz) that requires only two sling swivels.

Bipods[edit]

B-Square offers bipods suitable for a Scout rifle,[31] as does Harris Bipods.[32]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Jeff Cooper, "The Art of the Rifle"
  • Armi E Tiro (Italy), January 1998, Anteprima - Steyr Mannlicher Scout calibro .308 Winchester - L'Esploratore, p. 56
  • Law Enforcement Technology, January 1998, Firearms Column, The Steyr Scout Rifle, by Tom Ellis, p. 27.
  • Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, February 1998, The "Scout Rifle" Arrives, by Gary Paul Johnson, p. 18
  • IWM-Internationales Waffen Magazin (Swiss), January - February 1998, Der neue STEYR-SCOUT- Repetier fur (fast) alle Zwecke, p. 13
  • Petersen's Rifle Shooter, February 1998, Steyr's Scout Rifle, by G. Sitton, p. 30
  • Soldier of Fortune, February 1998, Steyr Scout Rifle - A Gun For All Seasons, by Peter G. Kokalis, p. 48
  • Special Weapons for Military and Police (1998 Annual) - The Steyr Scout, by Chris McLoughlin, p. 10
  • The Mannlicher Collector-No. 51, Cooper and Hambrusch Début The Steyr Scout, by Don L. Henry, p. 2
  • INTERSEC-The Journal of International Security, March 1998, Firepower for Security, by Nick Steadman, p. 89
  • ARMI Magazine (Italy), April 1998, Scout Rifle da Steyr, p. 20
  • Guns & Ammo, April 1998, The Steyr Scout Breaks Out, by George Sitton, p. 52
  • Safari Times Africa, April 1998, Steyr-Mannlicher introduces Jeff Cooper's "Scout Rifle" concept, p. 4
  • Shooting Industry, Steyr Unveils Coop[er's Scout Rifle, April, by Cameron Hopkins, p. 44
  • S.W.A.T., April, Rifle Roll-Out—Steyr Scout, by Michael Harries, p. 46
  • Visier-Das Internationale Waffen-Magazin (Germany), April 1998, Vorschau, Gary Paul Johnston, p. 42
  • Rifle, May 1998, It's a Scout! - Cooper's Dream Rifle, by Don L. Henry, p. 26
  • CIBLES (France), June 1998, Banc d'essai—Le Fusil Steyr Scout, p. 25
  • Deutsches Waffen-Journal (Germany), July, Generalist, by Wolfgang Kräusslich and Walter Schultz, p. 1022
  • Caliber (Germany), July 1998, Attraktive Attacke aus Austria, by Stefan Perey & Michael Fischer, p. 26
  • Guns & Ammo, July 1998, The Scout Rifle: Some Principles, by Jeff Cooper, p. 74
  • Metsästys ja Kalastus 7 (Finland), July 1998, M&K Esttelee-Steyr Scout, Teksti Louhisola & Kuvat Soikkanen, p. 56
  • VISIER (Germany), July 1998, Auf frischer Fährte, by Siegfried Schwarz, p. 110
  • Armas (Spain), August 1998 (#195 issue), Steyr Scout - Capricho Tactico, by Luis Perez de Leon, p. 10
  • Gun Tests, August 1998, New Steyr Scout Rifle! An Interesting Performer, p. 22
  • SA Man/Magnum (South Africa), August 1998, The Steyr Scout, by Koos Barnard, p. 35
  • SAM Wapenmagazine No. 94 (Netherlands), August/September 1998, Het Steyr
  • Scout geweer, by Door B. J. Martens, p. 12
  • Vapentidningen (Sweden), #5,Vol. 5, 1998, Jägarens nyap vapen, by Sverker Ulving, p. 38
  • Våpenjournalen (Norway), #4, 1998, Steyr Scout, by Geir Wollman, p. 8
  • The American Rifleman, September, 1998, The Steyr Scout Rifle Realized, by Mark A. Keffe, IV, p. 34
  • AAK56 Wapenmapenmagazine (Holland), October 1998, Steyr Scout-Millennium Proof, p. 22
  • Der Anblick (Austria), October 1998, Der Steyr Scout—auch ein Jagdgewehr, by Ralph Schober, p. 56
  • IWM-Internationales Waffen Magazin (Swiss), October, 1998, Steyr Scout & Tactical Rifle, by Martin Schober, P. 524
  • Jager Hund & Våpen (Norway), October1998, Våpen Test—Steyr Scout Rifla for alle-til alt, p. 92
  • Deutsches Waffenjournal (Germany), November 1998, Flint 98-Design und besondere Leistungen (Steyr Scout awarded the Flint 98 Award for design)
  • GUNS, November 1998, Scout, by Hold Bodinson, p. 38.
  • St. Hubertus (Austria), November 1998, Steyr's Scout Rifle, by Roland Zeitler, p. 31
  • Small Arms Review, December, 1998, Steyr Scout Factory Modifications, by Nick Steadman, p. 10
  • Waffenwelt (German), Issue 15, 1998, Steyr Scout-Repetierer in .308 Winchester, p. 20
  • Allt om Jakt & Vapen (Sweden), January 1999, Den lille scouten, by Eric Wallin, p. 16
  • Guns & Ammo, January 1999, Afield with the Scout, by Jeff Cooper, p. 72
  • Small Arms Review, January, 1999, The Steyr Scout Rifle, by Charles Q. Cutshaw, p. 23
  • Small Arms Review, January, 1999, Steyr Scout Tactical Rifle, by Nick Steadman, p. 15
  • American Survival Guide, February 1999, Steyr Scout Rifle, by Phil W. Johnston, p. 70
  • Todo Tiro (Spain), February, 1999, Banco de pruebas: Rifle Steyr Scout. Un perfecto to do-terreno", by A. J. Lopez. p. 10
  • Rifle Magazine, March–April 1999, Two Steyr Scout Rifles, by Finn Aagaard, p. 38
  • Jaktmarker & Fiskevatten (Sweden), Nr.4, 1999, Mannlicher Scout - önskevapen för rörlig jakt, by Fredrik Franzén, p. 42
  • Deutsches Waffen Journal (Germany), July, 1999, On Tour Mit der Scout Rifle im Yukon, p. 1148
  • Shooting Sports Magazine (UK), August 1999, The Steyr Mannlicher Scout Rifle, p. 22
  • Shooting Times, January 2000, Shooting Steyr's Scout Bolt-Action Rifle, by Rick Jamison, p. 42
  • Guns Magazine, February 2000, Steyr's Scout Rifle, by Barrett Tilman, p. 70
  • American Rifleman, March 2000, Big Bore Alternative: The .376 Steyr, by Scott E. Mayer
  • SA Man/ Magnum (South Africa), April 2000, New .376 Steyr Blooded on Bison, by Jeff Cooper, p. 27
  • Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, September 2000, New Steyr .308 Tactical Scout, by Al Paulson, p. 40
  • The Tactical Edge (NTOA Journal), Fall 2000, Vol 18, No. 4,
  • Countermeasures Column, Steyr Scout Tactical serves multiple needs, by Robert W. Parker, p. 78
  • African Hunter, Vol 6, Number 6 (Indaba Issue or December 2000) Ingozi -The Accident Rifle, by Jim Dodd, p. 20.
  • The Mannlicher Collector, #62, 2000, Portable Powerhouse the .376 Steyr Scout, by Eric Ching, p. ?
  • African Perspectives, Vol ? Number ?, Current African cartridges: The .376 Steyr, by Eric Ching, page I.
  • List from the Steyr Scout Website www.steyrscout.org

External links[edit]