The (Revised) Scout Rifle Archive

A Compendium of Information about Jeff Cooper's Scout Rifle Concept


"A general purpose rifle is a conveniently portable, individually operated firearm, capable of striking a single decisive blow, on a live target of up to 200 kilos in weight, at any distance at which the operator can shoot with the precision necessary to place a shot in a vital area of the target."
-- Jeff Cooper, To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth

Cooper's Principles of Practical Riflery:
Make first-round hits, at unknown distances, from improvised positions, with a cartridge appropriate to the purpose, under time pressure.


Last updated May 5, 2009


Jeff Cooper on Scout Rifles

Manufacturers of Scout Rifles

Who is Jeff Cooper?

Manufacturers of Scout Rifle Components

Early Influence: McBride on Battle Rifles Steyr Scout Rifle
Proceedings of the First Scout Rifle Conference More Photos and Specifications of the Steyr Scout Rifle



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JEFF COOPER ON SCOUT RIFLES

Excerpts from Jeff Cooper's "The General Purpose Rifle,"
To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth,
Gunsite Press, Paulden, AZ, 1988

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The Concept

The idea behind the scout rifle is not new. The famous old Mannlicher 6.5 carbine was a step in this direction, as was the equally famous Winchester Model 94 30-30 carbine. The British "Jungle Carbine" of World War II was another example of the breed, and finally there came the ill-fated Remington 600 carbines of a decade ago--excellent guns in most ways but ahead of their time. I acquired a 600 in 308 and fitted it with a Leupold 2X intermediate-eye-relief telescope. This laid the groundwork of the scout concept...

...modern technology enables us to produce a rifle which need not sacrifice either power or accuracy to convenience. The new-wave rifle is neither more powerful nor intrinsically more accurate than the rifles of the past, but it is much, much handier, shorter, lighter and quicker to operate. The current guideline is a length limit of one meter and a weight limit of three kilos. (This weight is measured with all accessories in place but with the weapon unloaded.) Immediately these limitations point us toward short actions, short barrels, compact sights, and synthetic stocks. A further feature which distinguishes the modern scout rifle from its predecessors is the telescope sight, but that in a certain particular mode. The modern scout uses a low-power telescope mounted just forward of the magazine well. In recent decades, progress in the development of telescope sights has been to a certain extent negative in that telescopes, instead of becoming stronger, smaller and faster to use have become larger, more cumbersome, more fragile and almost necessarily mounted too high above the bore...

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The Forward Telescope

For those who have not tried it, an explanation of the advantages of the forward telescope is in order. First, and most important, the forward glass does not obscure the landscape. With both eyes open the shooter sees the entire countryside as well as the crosswire printed on his target. For this reason it is important that the magnification of the telescope be no greater than 3X (some hold that 2X is maximum) in order to avoid excessive disparity between the vision of the two eyes. This forward mount, properly used and understood, is the fastest sighting arrangement available to the rifleman...There are those who think that a glass of low power is necessarily less precise for long-range precision work, but we have not found this to be the case in any sort of realistic test.

There are many additional advantages to the forward telescope mount. It is out of the way when the rifle is carried at the balance. It may be mounted as low over the bore as the diameter of the bell permits. It avoids pinching between thumb and bolt handle when the bolt is operated. It permits stripper loading if desired. It greatly facilitates single-loading with eyes on target. It completely eliminates "telescope eye." Without exception, those who have tried the forward mounted glass in a full course of rifle training are unanimous in their conviction of its superiority...

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Mounting

The problem of mounting a telescope properly in its forward position is severe...Since scout barrels are as thin as compatible with safety there is no way to screw anything onto the barrel at the forward telescope mount ring. Therefore some sort of extrusion must be applied to the barrel in order to provide a proper base for the front mount. On Scout I this was the plastic rib that came on the Remington 600. On Scout II a machined steel ring was slid over the barrel and sweated into place to offer foothold. On Scout III the standard Ruger quarter rib of the single shot rifle was affixed to the Ruger Ultralight to provide a forward footing. On all subsequent scouts the barrel is machined with intrinsic rings in place. (NOTE: For a quasi-scout setup, you might want to try: XS Sight Systems's Scout Scope Mount, and Medesha Firearms' M1A clamp-on Scout scope mount.)

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Metallic Sights

Reserve iron sights are held to be desirable for a proper scout rifle. The forward mounted telescope allows the positioning of an aperture sight on the receiver bridge, and the barrel extrusion which constitutes the forward telescope mount offers a proper base for a front sight. An aperture sight on the receiver bridge, in combination with a front sight at the forward telescope mount, offers a sight radius of about 11 inches--quite sufficient for reserve use. This system avoids the necessity of hanging the front sight out on the end of the barrel, where it catches on things, breaks, snags and muddies up...

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Stocks

Light weight is important in a scout, and therefore [we have] settled upon synthetic rather than wood stocks...a good piece of wood is frighteningly expensive...wood is also somewhat fragile, subject to thermal deformation, ambient moisture and staining. Synthetics--when properly constructed--are better in every way except one. They look cheap...It is possible, on the other hand, to make a modern synthetic stock look very handsome to the eye. A synthetic stock need not be checkered, since its whole finish may be made "crinkly" and thus non-skid...And a high grade fiberglass, Kevlar, or graphite stock is stronger, lighter and much cheaper than good grade wood, in addition to being inert and unaffected by moisture or heat.

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Barrels

The barrels of the scouts are short and light. A short barrel does sacrifice something in velocity but not enough to balance considerations of handiness. All scouts up to now have been in caliber 308, and the chronograph insists that proper loading can start the 150-grain bullet from a 19-inch barrel at a couple of clicks over 2700 f/s. These ballistics served Theodore Roosevelt and Stewart Edward White very well in Africa, and they still can. The 7-08 offers slightly better ballistics, if that matters, and one can go to the now defunct 6.5 and 350 Remington Magnums while still using a short action. For targets of greater weight than 700 pounds a standard-length action will be necessary, adding about an inch and perhaps 3/4 pound to the whole assembly. (Medium caliber scouts have been built up now on the 350 Remington cartridge.)

...stainless [is] the proper material for barrels, not so much because it is resistant to corrosion but because it offers a better coefficient of friction...Whether a barrel is cut, buttoned, or hammer-forged does not seem to be as important as some maintain...The heavy barrels so popular on target guns have no place on the general-purpose rifle. Barrel diameter adds weight without any appreciable increase in accuracy, and serves mainly to delay heating. This is desirable on the range but not in the field, and the natural habitat of the scout is the field rather than the bench.

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Self-Loading

...If a semi-automatic action were made which was sufficiently compact and otherwise acceptable, it should certainly be considered, but at this time there is no such action available. The whole concept of great rapidity of fire in a rifle has been weighed and found, not exactly wanting, but somewhat inconsequential...The primary purpose of a rifle is a first shot hit, whether the target is game or a human antagonist. Semi-automatic fire does not assure this. As a matter of fact it sometimes detracts from it by letting the shooter believe that if he misses with his first shot he can always make up with a second. This is a bad attitude for a rifleman. As a result of these deliberations all prototype scouts will be bolt action unless and until something new in the way of the semi-automatic action appears.

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Actions

...Actions considered have been the domestic Remington, Winchester and Ruger, plus the '03 Springfield, and the foreign ZKK, Sako and Mannlicher. All have drawbacks, though the ZKK601 is the closest to the guidelines. [The new Winchester Model 70 Classic short action is also a suitable candidate--Ed.]

...certain things are desirable in a proper bolt action. Two-lug, ninety-degree rotation [is] favored, as [is] the traditional Mauser claw extractor and positive ejector. Smoothness and reliability were found wanting in most modern commercial actions, and these things should be given attention. The bolt knob should be smooth and round--not checkered--and positioned far enough forward of the trigger to avoid pounding of the index finger during firing. The safety should disconnect the trigger mechanism rather than blocking it. It should be strong and positive and work from front to rear. The magazine should be so constructed as to protect the points of soft-point spitzer bullets as they ride in the magazine. The action should offer a built-in aperture sight on the receiver bridge, and some sort of magazine cutoff permitting the weapon to be used in the single-shot mode with the magazine in reserve. The trigger system should be smooth and clean, and provide a three-pound "glass rod" release. No rifle action now in production offers all these features, though some come reasonably close...

As an alternative to the magazine cutoff, thought has been given to the fitting of a detachable box magazine with a double detent. Such a magazine could be inserted to its first stop, which would not allow the bolt to feed it. When desired, the magazine could be pressed into its second stop, permitting the bolt to pick up the top cartridge.

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Accessories

The CW sling, discovered in Guatemala and described in the American Rifleman for June '84, is now standard [the Ching Sling replaced the CW sling as the standard in 1993; the CW remains as the alternate standard--Ed.] It is most efficiently installed with Pachmayr flush sockets--three on each stock, permitting two modes of attachment [ Millet also makes a similar product--Ed.].

On all forthcoming prototypes the heel of the butt will be rounded to avoid snagging on the shirt in quick mounting.

In 1983 the leather butt-cuff was used to provide ready ammunition for shoot-one-load-one situations. The butt magazine neatly carries ready ammunition out of the way and instantly available at the fingertips as needed. This not only facilitates instantaneous one-round loading in the single-shot mode with eyes on the target, but it offers a most convenient way of carrying ready ammunition when the rifle is unloaded in camp.

...a form of retractable bipod should be perfected which would not be offensive to the eye nor extrude from the stock. The Clifton system holds the most promise [Clifton Arms is out of business, and no one currently makes a disappearing bipod stock.] There are those who claim that any sort of bipod is somewhat "cheating," but the purpose of shooting is hitting, and if a bipod increases the certainty of hitting it should not be scorned.

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MANUFACTURERS OF SCOUT RIFLES

Factory Production Scouts Custom & Semi-Custom Scouts
Steyr Mannlicher
Importer: Dynamit Nobel - RWS
81 Ruckman Road
Closter, NJ 07624
201-767-1995
Custom Scout Rifles

Grizzly Custom Guns, LLC
325 Patterson Ranch Lane
Columbia Falls, Montana 59912
406.892.4570 tel
406.892.2433 fax

info@GrizzlyCustom.com

Savage Arms, Inc.
100 Springdale Road
Westfield, Massachusetts 01085
413.568.7001 tel
413.568.8386 fax


Brockman's Custom Gunsmithing
P.O. Box 347
445 Idaho Street
Gooding, Idaho 83330
208.934.5050 tel
208.934.5284 fax
brockman@brockmanrifles.com
 
 

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SCOUT RIFLE COMPONENTS

Ching Sling:

Levergun Leather
P.O. Box 33
Athol, Idaho 83801
208.683.9150
levergun@levergunleather.com

 

Galco International, Inc.
2019 W. Quail Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027
602-258-8295

Langlois Rifleleather
P.O. Box 141
Windsor, VT 05089
andy@shottist.com

For nylon slings:
Wilderness Tactical Products
5130 North 19th Avenue, Suite 7
Phoenix, AZ 85015
Email: sales@thewilderness.com

Scout Scope Forward Mount:

Burris Company
331 East 8th Street
Greeley, CO 80631
970-356-1670

Express Sight Systems
2401 Ludelle
Fort Worth, TX 76105
1-888-744-4880
Fax: 1-800-734-7939

Ghost Ring Rear Sights:

Express Sight Systems
2401 Ludelle
Fort Worth, TX 76105
1-888-744-4880
Fax: 1-800-734-7939

Brockman's Custom Gunsmithing
P.O. Box 347
445 Idaho Street
Gooding, ID 83330
208-934-5050
Fax: 208-934-5284
Email: brockman@brockmansrifles.com

Wild West Guns
7521 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, AK 99518
800-992-4570

Scout Scope:

Leupold & Stevens, Inc.
P.O. Box 688
Beaverton, OR 97075
503-526-5195

Burris Company
331 East 8th Street
Greeley, CO 80631
970-356-1670

Flush Sling Sockets:

Pachmayr
Lyman Products Corp
475 Smith Street
Middletown, CT 06457
800-225-9626

Millet Sights
16131 Gothard Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
714-842-5575

 


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