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Explain the Scout rifle to me

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Vern Humphrey, Apr 8, 2006.

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  1. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I see a lot of people talking about the Scout rifle, and I have to admit, I see no advantage in it. I do see disadvantages:

    1. The long eye relief scope limits you in power.
    2. The forward mounted scope seems to make the rifle somewhat clumsy to carry.
    3. The concept seems to be a compromise, and compromises are fine if you have no other choice.

    Tell me what the Scout rifle is, and what it does better than other configurations
     
  2. rbernie
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    rbernie Member

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    For me, a scout rifle:

    • balances better for offhand shooting
    • is easy to load and carry, since the scope is usually forward of the balance point of the rifle
    • is faster in finding and engaging close-in targets, since the magnified field of view is small compared to the non-magnified field of view
    • is harder to track distant targets, since the magnified field of view is so small
    • is limiting in the scope options; right now, only Leupold and Burris make true scout-style (IER) scopes
    In other words, my scout rifles are also my brush guns, and my long-range hunting rifles are not scout rifles.
     
  3. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Member

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    Not a whole lot, IME. I like the concept of a light, compact, handy, major-caliber rifle. The IER scope mounted forward of the action, however, provides no advantages and numerous disadvantages. To wit - inferior field of view and poor light gathering.

    A 6.5lb., 37" OAL bolt gun feeding from detachable box magazines, fitted with a 1-4x illuminated-reticle telescope in the conventional position, seems to be a better solution to Col. Cooper's general-purpose 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.)

    - Chris
     
  4. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Now here's a point I don't understand.

    One claim is that the Scout balances better for off-hand shooting. But the key to a well-balanced rifle for off-hand is to make it muzzle-heavy (which explains why the M1 Garand is so easy to shoot off-hand.) If we shorten the rifle, much of the shortening comes from the barrel, making it muzzle-light. And while mounting the scope forward will change the balance, the lever arm is short, so we barely compensate for the shortened barrel.

    I don't personally find long-eye relief scopes any faster than a good, low-power conventional scope -- and both are slower than some other sighting devices, such as "ghost rings" and red dots.

    A point that really puzzles me is how a smaller magnified field of view is faster -- I like a wide magnified field of view so that when I throw up the rifle, the target will be somewhere inside the field of view.
     
  5. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

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    Now I got one I are a "Scout".
     
  6. chuckles

    chuckles Member

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    To me, it's having a high mag capacity with a rifle sized like the M-4, in a caliber with more "damage potential" than the .223. Short and easy to handle in .308.:cool:
     
  7. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    So if we start with the concept -- and no specific configuration in mind:

    At least some of us come up with something that isn't a bolt action rifle with a forward-mounted scope.

     
  8. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The forward mounted scope actually changes the entire ergonomics of the rifle, giving you vastly improved rate of fire and target acquisition. A traditional scope force you to hold the rifle at an acute angle and bend your head and neck into the scope. This in turn forces you to brek the weld and the sight alignment EVERY SINGLE TIME you want to cycle the action. If you use a scout scope properly (not everyone does) you should treat it like traditional iron sights. Hold the rifle at closer to a 90 degree angle, which will in turn increase the distance between your face and the bolt. With a short action this will allow you to cycle without breaking the weld and while maintaining sights on the target. You can also fire with both eyes open, giving yourself a field of view orders of magnitude better than the narrow little window you get through a traditional high-powered scope.
     
  9. colt.45

    colt.45 Member

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    +1 cosmoline

    the human eye doesnt like to focus on things that are close to you, it may not feel like it, but it is easier, faster and more comfortable to look through a forward mounted scope. the forward mounted scope is also much more forgiving on how you line it up. on a standard scope and mount, if you move your head just a little bit from shot to shot your groups will open up drastically. with a scout scope, you rifle instantly becomes less picky on how you position your head. this does not make it more accurate but it does make it easier to make an accurate shot, faster.

    you said the key to a well balanced rifle for off-hand shooting is for it to be muzzle heavy. this is not necessarily true. in theory you want to be able to balance the rifle on your triger hand, this will put less stress on the hand with the most leverage and the one you aim with making it easier to move it and line up the shot. it will also make the trigger feel lighter. on the other hand, a muzzle light rifle is more susceptible to your heart beat and muscle twitch. and it is also usually just a shorter rifle, this means a tighter turn radius and it will fit into tighter places.

    it is a trade off of sorts, in that you can't make the longer shots. and you get a small field of view through the scope. but with a conventional scope mount you are limited to what you can see through the scope and you are forced to use one eye. the scout allows you to use both of your eyes thus, giving you a higher level of awareness that is need in some situations (bear hunting) my brain hurts now so ill let you think out the rest:D
     
  10. Tokugawa

    Tokugawa Member

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    I never got the reasoning behind it at all. In a military application, it seems stupid to use a bolt rifle except in a sniping application. Why have to cycle a bolt? We have spent the last hundred years trying to perfect the selfloading rifle. The bolt action "scout rifle" is an answer in search of a question.

    Ya'all want a scout rifle? Take a good AK with a PKAS black/red dot sight. 2" group at 100yds, 30 rounds available on the gun, dead reliable, decent power and cheap to boot.
     
  11. colt.45

    colt.45 Member

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    who said anything about military aplications only? and a scout rifle isnt always a bolt action. it just means any fast handling rifle with a forward optic mount. people use scout bolt buns for hunting fastmooving or dangerous game because people trust themselves more than they trust their rifle.
     
  12. rbernie
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    rbernie Member

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    I've seen about a baker's dozen or so of these 'what is a scout rifle and why is it good' threads in the last year or so. In every case it's started by someone who's primarily trying to logic out the rationale for a IER forward-mounted scope (which, while being only one of the criteria for a 'scout rifle', is certainly the most distinctive one).

    Having watched and participated in the back and forth in most of these threads, I have concluded that logic and reason cannot accurately convey the upsides and downsides to the IER scope mounting. It's simply too hard to capture the essense of why it works, and frankly most of us simply don't have the vocabulary or Human Factors training to begin to unserstand half of the nuances.

    It's just something that you have to try in the field for a while to understand. For me, I've set up my leverguns in scout configuratoin but not my long range bolties and semiautos and such. That's what works for me. Each of y'all will have to try it and decide what works for you.
     
  13. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Actually, a properly fitted stock will cure those problems -- and if anything makes you break spotweld in cycling a bolt-action rifle, it's the bolt, not the scope.

    That's why I asked the question -- is the forward scope mount essential? Does it stop being a Scout rifle if you have a more conventionally-mounted scope, or iron sights?

    It seems to me there's something there in the concept, but I can't figure out what it is. A short, light rifle suitable for big game? How about a Winchester Model 94 Big Bore or a Marlin Guide gun?
     
  14. rbernie
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    rbernie Member

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    I would imagine that depends on who you ask. I am of the impression that The Good Colonel feels that virtually all aspects of the design, IER scope included, are pretty essential.

    Frankly, I don't care for labels one way or another. I need no stripper clip feed capability, I don't much use a forearm-cum-bipod, most of my rifles get by happily without a detachable box magazine, and I enjoy and use lots of calibers other than 308 or 376 Steyr. On the other hand, I prefer IER scopes mounted with QRD rings on brush rifles or rifles suited (if not used) for dangerous game, I always have irons on those rifles, and those rifles also tend to be leverguns chambered in everything from 30-30 and 35 Remington to 308, with the occasional cock-on-close boltie thrown in the mix.

    In my eyes, a Savage 99 in 308 or 358 or a Marlin of virtually any chambering with a Lyman peep and a XS scout setup is the perfect all-around rifle for much of anything inside of 250 yards, and THAT is my definition of a scout rifle.
     
  15. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    COL Cooper never said that the long eye relief scope was necessary to match his idea of a scout rifle. His first scout prototype sported iron sights only.

    The LER scope is handy if you like such things, but the overall concept behind the scout rifle is a short, light, handy rifle capable of taking men and many game animals alike. It is a compromise weapon of sorts, but not of the worse sort.

    If a low-magnification, standard scope works better for you, go for it! I think the idea is to avoid large, heavy, long rifles with long, heavy scopes featuring excessive magnification (no 4-14x optics on a scout rifle).

    Personally? I'd prefer a semiauto to a bolt gun, and would willingly take the extra weight. Others might not. MY own light, handy, do-all rifle will be a sixteen inch FAL carbine with a 4x Valdada scope.

    COL Cooper has said in The Art of the Rifle that the Winchester 94 .30-30 was the ancestor of his concept of the scout rifle. He suggested elsewhere that for us lefties, the Savage 99 might make an excellent scout rifle.

    I think he prefers the .308 cartridge do to its widespread availability and versatility. .30-06, .303, and similar cartridges would work just as well if you had the ammo.
     
  16. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    So basically I have Scout rifles:

    1. A Model 94 Winchester with aperture sights.

    2. A pre-'64 Model 70 Winchester with a variable scope, and a peep sight mounted under the ocular lens (it even has a clip slot.)

    3. A couple of M1903A3 Springfields.
     
  17. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    COL Cooper's idea involved the rifle weighing no more than seven or eight pounds, loaded, I believe, with an OAL of no more than one meter (about 39"). The Springfields might be too heavy, but if they work for you, then yes, they'll suffice for a "scout rifle". Lightweight and handiness are relative.

    Examples of things that AREN'T scout rifles by any definition:

    -Remington 700 PSS with 2-10X scope
    -16" AR-15 carbine .223
    -Browning BAR in .338 Win Mag
    -AKM and clones

    These rifles either don't have enough power for game taking, are too long or heavy, or feature excessively powerful cartridges. They're all more speicalized arms than a good "general purpose" rifle.
     
  18. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Member

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    Not in my experience. I notice no difference in either RoF or speed of target acquisition between an IER scope and a conventional scope of identical magnification.

    If you have this problem, it's because your stock does not fit or you're not mounting your rifle corectly, or both. I have no problem at all cycling the action without breaking my cheekweld, with a conventional scope.

    One thing that does help with cycling the action on a bolt gun is the shooting sling. Having the rifle rigidly tied into your weak-side arm helps hold it steady while working the action.

    Nothing about a conventional scope precludes shooting with both eyes open. That's strictly a problem of magnification.

    - Chris
     
  19. KadicDeshi

    KadicDeshi Member

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    Okay, I told myself I wasn't going to reply, but since it was asked...

    An excellent summary of the scout rifle concept: http://www.gunsmokeguns.com/gssteyrscout.html

    (A qualifier here as I don't recall the Col. ever stating that this was optional. I do however recall him stating stripper clip or box magazine for speed of reloading.)

    As you can see, this is a pretty specific set of instructions. And while I'll be the first to say that I wouldn't use them for my own general purpose rifle, this is what is set forth for the "Scout Rifle".

    I personally have a Marlin 336 with XS ghost ring sights and forward mounted scope. But I don't call it a scout rifle because it doesn't use .308 Win., it isn't magazine or stripper charged, and I'm not certain that it makes weight.

    I have a non-matching yugo mauser that I am sportering. It will have a forward mounted scope and ghost ring sights (again, XS) but it will not be called a scout. It will remain in 8mm caliber. It will not make length as it has too long of a receiver and I will cut the barrel to 20" or 21", not 19", to make better use of the 8mm cartridge. It will not make weight, being too heavy.

    I, personally, consider it disrespectful of Col. Cooper, who has put much effort into the concept of the scout rifle, to throw the term around so loosely. If others wish to do so, I'm not so uptight that I feel the need to correct them unless they ask. But it irks me, just like folks calling cartridges "bullets", magazines "clips", and semi-auto military-style rifles "machine guns".

    Okay, rant off. Sorry 'bout that. I'll go take my meds now. :neener:

    Barrett
     
  20. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    That's an excellent post -- thanks for the effort.

    It seems to me that the definition of a Scout rifle is more formulaic than functional -- we are told more about how to make one than about what it should do and why.

    Now if someone were to say, "A Scout rifle is one you can carry all day at 11,000 feet above sea level, up and down slopes as steep as a barn roof and kill an elk out to 300 yards" I could understand that.

    But if I started with that functional statement, I wouldn't wind up with a forward mounted scope, a Ching sling or a 19" barrel.
     
  21. KadicDeshi

    KadicDeshi Member

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    You're absolutely welcome. This is something that I've looked into quite a bit. I, too, believe that this is more formulaic than perhaps it should be. After all, this is one man's idea (with others' input included as well, granted) and it is what works for that man. As I said before, it's not what I would do either.

    It actually reminds me somewhat of an explaination I heard (unsubstantiated hearsay alert) about the martial arts form Bruce Lee devised (Jiu Jitsu?). He was looking for a fluid fighting style that did not rely on stylized, ingrained maneuvers. He ended up with Jiu Jitsu(again, ?) and said that he had done exactly what he had intended not to do.

    That said, there actually is quite a bit of thought put into each of these requirements. The thought process leading up to them is chronicled in Col. Cooper's Commentaries as well as his books (of which I only own one, Art of the Rifle). If you are interested, his commentaries have been published online at http://users2.ev1.net/~mkreynolds/jeff/index.html

    Hope this has helped.

    Barrett
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2006
  22. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Thanks again.

    I always wondered why the Steyer Scout looked that way.
     
  23. roscoe

    roscoe Member

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    Vern, you sure are just kicking at the hornets nest calling this topic up. Next thing you know people will be insulting Cooper, and saying he is really not a colonel!
     
  24. robertbank

    robertbank Member

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    Seems to me a Win Model 94 in 30-30 or a .303 Lee Enfield Jungle Carbine fit the bill without the scope. Cooper is a Colonel alright but other than coming up with a definition for a certain size of rifle whose use is yet to be determined, then naming it a "Scout" rifle I don't quite see the point of it all.

    Take Care
     
  25. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    And why does the bolt make you break the weld? Because your face is too close to cycle it without moving out of the way. And why is your face that close? Because you have such limited eye relief. Maybe there's a way to mount it so you don't have to move out of the way of the bolt, but it's not a method I've seen employed.

    The bottom line is you just have to shoot one. You'll either see the point or you won't. Personally I cannot tolerate traditional scoped Remchesters. They're constraining, ill-balanced and useless for close range predator defense or hunting.
     
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