Questioning the Scout Rifle concept.

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Balrog, Sep 2, 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Balrog

    Balrog Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,828
    I am a fan of the late great Jeff Cooper, have no where near the shooting credentials he has, and have the utmost respect for him as a soldier, shooter, American, and warrior-poet. But I have never really been sold on the idea of a scout rifle. As I recall, the Colonel specified this rifle to be light, chambered in a rifle cartridge such as 308 Win, detachable magazine, and forward mounted scope. Although I do not think he would have been necessarily opposed to a semi-auto in this configuration if it met the weight requirements, most of the time the scout rifle is thought of as a bolt action.

    I like the idea of a scout rifle. It sounds cool. But what exactly is the scenario I would find myself in that I would not prefer to have either a regular hunting rifle, an AR with a red dot optic, or maybe even a handgun?

    There are only a few scenarios that I generally find myself in that involve guns. One is at the range of course, where it doesn't matter what gun you might have. You could play with the scout rifle on the range, just as you could any other gun you might own.

    The next is home defense, where a bolt action 308 with a scope would never be my first choice. I would prefer an AR, shotgun, or even a handgun over a scout rifle in the role of home defense.

    The third is hunting, where I would generally rather have a normally configured bolt action rifle, though in the deep south where i live a scout rifle would work as effectively but no better. This is actually probably the most realistic use I would have for a scout rifle.

    Fourth is bumming around in the woods, but I don't see why I would need a 308 or similar caliber to do that. It is unlikely that I am going to walk up on a deer in deep woods. I would rather have a handgun or 22LR rifle if I was just wandering around in the woods.

    Last would be some fantasy end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario, in which case I think I would just rather have my AR.

    Perhaps the scout concept, as a general purpose rifle, is a "jack of all trades, master of none" type weapon. Its cool, its neat, but not really a first choice for anything.

    Is there any scenario you can think of where the scout rifle would be your first choice of weapon?
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017
    Phaedrus/69, everydefense and pauli like this.
  2. stoky

    stoky Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,733
    Location:
    Wyomin!
    The Scout Rifle was a collaborative project with builders and manufacturers to explore what was possible, with an emphasis on ergonomics.
    It was more of a walking and hunting rifle than something for range play. It was to be quick, with ranges limited to about 300 yds. A competent still hunter would value one for "walking up" on a deer in deep woods,
    He eschewed semi-autos for their extra weight and complexity and was focused more on hits than volume of fire.
    There have been various and sundry deviations on the theme, including Gunsite's interpretation, but to handling one conveys what he had in mind.
    Criticizing and nitpicking this or that feature is fashionable, and I think he would be gratified that it's still going on, decades later. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017
  3. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,952
    Location:
    Justin, TX
    There is a style of firearm for every taste and season. I have nothing against scout rifles, but they don't appeal to me. They obviously appeal to others and so there is a market for them.
     
  4. z7

    z7 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Messages:
    1,166
    scout rifles are neat, like the Ruger GSR, but with the fairly recent explosion of AR platforms (including 308 caliber) I think the scout rifle has been replaced. take a savage MSR or daniel defense DD5 that both weigh around 8lbs with a 10rd magazine. add a light weight 1-6 scope and you have all the nice features of a scout rifle in a platform that is reliable enough for the application, is ergonomic, accurate and based on a platform that many new shooters begin with.

    I went to a gun show last weekend, the first in a few years, it is amazing how much the AR15 platform and the spinoffs have taken over the industry. I would argue that for most shooters, the right AR15 would serve 70% of the usage, an AR10 90%

    some target applications, dangerous game, large game at distance (elk at 400yds) and the LR hunters need something different but most white tail within 200yds can be ethically harvested with a 55-65g solid copper bullet like a tsx or gmx. no north american critter out to 300yds is immune to a 308win.\

    I think technology has developed enough that hunters are now learning a lesson the US Army and USMC learned during the M1 vs 1903 debate: semi auto does not mean spray and pray. is means you can stay behind the rifle and take accurate shots without breaking position and is faster and just as accurate when the gun is well made.
    I kind of want a GSR 308 and a GSR in 223, matchin stocks etc, they are cool
     
  5. Balrog

    Balrog Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,828

    Colonel Cooper, per his writings, frequently would ask gun makers what something was for when they would introduce some new item or concept. Many times, there was no real answer. I think the scout rifle is something that beckons the question "what is it for?" or "why is it better?".

    I think the best fantasy scenario I can come up with for when a scout rifle might be preferable to other alternatives is if you plucked my up and dropped me down at some random location in any part of the world, on any continent, with no advanced preparation. Maybe then, a scout rifle would be best choice.
     
    pauli likes this.
  6. stoky

    stoky Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,733
    Location:
    Wyomin!
    https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ammoland.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F09%2F300BLK-AR-15-Ka-boom-600x450.jpg
    Are, indeed, wonders to behold. :neener:
     
    Plainsman likes this.
  7. natman

    natman Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Messages:
    3,947
    And weighs 9 pounds (8+1 for scope and mounts).

    There's a world of difference between a 9 lb rifle and a 7 lb rifle when you're carrying it all day.
     
  8. natman

    natman Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Messages:
    3,947
    That's pretty much the idea, that a scout rifle is good for anything. I can't think of anything better if you are doing the sort of hunting where you only get one quick shot. The Scout rifle configuration allows very fast sight acquisition and is great for snap shots. For woods hunting I use a lever action 30-30 with a scout scope and it's a great rig given the range limitations of the 30-30. Cooper valued this so highly that he was willing to put up with 2x magnification for everything to get it. I'm not so sure about that, but a lightweight 308 carbine with a 2x-7 conventional scope is what I use for the rest of my rifle hunting.

    Whether you agree with him or not, he did two things that are all too rare today: he put some thought into rifle design and then got off his butt and did something about it. That's rare enough he deserves credit just for coming up with a new approach and actually building it.
     
  9. CoalTrain49

    CoalTrain49 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Messages:
    4,636
    Location:
    Somewhere in WA.
    I know who Jeff Cooper is but was never really interested in his writing.

    I did however cut my teeth on a bolt action rifle back a long time ago and still prefer them over AR's today. For utility I think the bolt has a lot going for it. The scout rifle may be poorly named because it implies that it's use is scouting. Having a military background as Cooper did I'm sure he designed his rifle to be used by recon or scouts in a military application. He may have had in mind the same application for civilians in the same endeavor, possibly foraging, I don't know. He probably should have named it a utility rifle because that's more or less what it is.

    I do understand the concept though. For awhile I though it might be a 357 carbine but after shooting one for awhile I found it came up short in the range and accuracy dept. I've decided it needs to be a bottleneck cartridge of some type. The 357 went down the road.

    I now have a Howa Mini I'm playing around with. I bought a 223 because I already load 223 and I have about 20 lbs of brass. I also like the idea that 223 is probably the most popular rifle cartridge here in the US. I have the #1 LW barrel. I bought that because of weight and it's 2" shorter (20") than a std. barrel. I'm still trying to figure out the sight or optic. I have a 2-7 scope on it now but it really needs a compact 1-4 like a Nikon P-223.

    I've thought about 308 some but for a utility (scout) rifle it seems like a lot of overkill.

    Anyway, the concept of a scout rifle is fun to chase around in your head.:D
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017
    chicharrones, cdb1 and adcoch1 like this.
  10. stoky

    stoky Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,733
    Location:
    Wyomin!
    That's one deviation from the Col.'s spec, 3kg (6.6 pounds) ideal, 3.5kg (7.7 lbs.) max.
    If there's a flaw in the original specs., it's that they were expressed in mitwrecks. :p
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017
    CoalTrain49 likes this.
  11. stoky

    stoky Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,733
    Location:
    Wyomin!
    Lakota saying:
    "There's only one dead, but there are all kinds of wounded."
     
  12. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    Messages:
    3,783
    Cooper favored the bolt action over the self loader to keep the Scout from being tempted into engaging in drawn out firefights

    You have to understand the geopolitical landscape of the time and the fact Cooper had a love affair with South Africa. The mission Cooper imagined for a rifle equipped Scout, long term scouting of home territory where one might need defense against wildlife as well as infiltrating terrs, was clearly dictated by conditions in South Africa of the time.

    I have never been a fan of EER scopes as I find them too slow. I think the mission of a Scout rifle as outlined by Cooper would be best filled today by a light weight 308 AR with an Aimpoint Micro and an over the barrel suppressor
     
    adcoch1 likes this.
  13. Blkhrt13

    Blkhrt13 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2017
    Messages:
    1,987
    Location:
    The armpit of Satan (south Louisiana)
    I can't say why a scout is better than any other. But since I was a teen ager I was reading the gun bibles and other things studying the concept. I bought a mini 30 planning to morph it into a hemi scout. It's not a bolt gun. But I think it will serve me well.
     
  14. CoalTrain49

    CoalTrain49 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Messages:
    4,636
    Location:
    Somewhere in WA.
    If you have read the chronicles of scouts in Vietnam they avoided contact at all costs, as you point out. Of course when they relayed the coordinates of the enemy the gig was up. The enemy knew they were in the area and proceeded to track them. The only time they engaged the enemy was when there was no other option and generally that meant disaster for the unit because they were lightly armed.

    Most recon (scout) units never made contact with the enemy. If they did the enemy was never aware of it. They used a lot of scouts in Vietnam. I used to work with one, he had some stories.
     
    Plainsman likes this.
  15. tarosean

    tarosean Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2010
    Messages:
    7,725
    Location:
    TX
    you can pretty much say that about every gun created. there is no perfect gun for every situation.
     
    jimmyraythomason likes this.
  16. CoalTrain49

    CoalTrain49 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Messages:
    4,636
    Location:
    Somewhere in WA.
    My goal is to keep the weight below 7 lbs. with optic. That's not as easy as it sounds. Many AR's with optic are 8 lbs plus. I think that is due to a heavy barrel profile to dissipate the heat of rapid fire. I'm not an AR guy so that could be OTL.
     
  17. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,952
    Location:
    Justin, TX
    I've seen pictures of blown up bolt action rifles too. In fact I've seen a lot more of them than pictures of blown up AR's. I'm not a huge AR maven either, I only have one.
     
  18. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Messages:
    46,725
    Location:
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    As mentioned above, Cooper's idea of a person who is a scout is different from what many people think his scout-type rifle should be or could be. As near as I could tell from reading his comments, any sort of firefight meant that the scout's mission had failed. A semi-auto was far less important than fast feet to escape the area.

    I dunno. In today's world, the "Scout" label seems to be a marketing thing, more than any sort of real need.

    As far as actual utility, Cooper commented that in shoot'n'scoot competitions at Gunsite, those with Steyr Scouts commonly won the events.
     
    Phaedrus/69 and taliv like this.
  19. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
    Messages:
    9,145
    Location:
    Galveston Bay is an Hour Away ©
    That's pretty much why the idea of a Scout Rifle appealed to me so much in my early firearms days. Reading the writings of Cooper in gun mags in the 1990s, and having hardly any money, made the concept of one rifle that could do theoretically anything very appealing.

    The funny thing was that Scout Rifles back then had to be made by the shooter and I never did anything about it. Now you can go buy a Scout Rifle or a Scout Rifle in Name Only easily.

    I still like the idea of a flush magazine scout rifle and I like the pseudo-scouts and rimfire "cub scouts", but I don't think they are the best answer for all shooters that want to put all their rifle money into one gun. For some shooters it may be the best pick, though.
     
    CoalTrain49 likes this.
  20. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
    Messages:
    9,145
    Location:
    Galveston Bay is an Hour Away ©
    Agree.
     
    jimmyraythomason likes this.
  21. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
    Messages:
    9,145
    Location:
    Galveston Bay is an Hour Away ©
    Agree on that, too. :)

    Heavy one on top. Lighter one below.

    View attachment 761624
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017
    Duster340, RPRNY, Plainsman and 3 others like this.
  22. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Messages:
    46,725
    Location:
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    I shot a couple of mag's worth through a friend's Ruger Scout Rifle. As usual, my gripe was the hang-down magazine. Otherwise, it did everything a quality rifle should do. When hunting, I often carry a rifle at the balance point. That's the only reason I prefer a Mini over an AR.

    Back around 1971 I bought a little Sako Forester 19" carbine in .243. Other than the cartridge, it's pretty close to being a Scout rifle in terms of length and weight. Sure, I could change to a forward mount, but that's a case of "why bother?" for my use. (That little doofer is loud, though. And on a coyote at night it's a case of "Pull trigger, read newspaper.")
     
    JeffG likes this.
  23. Sunray

    Sunray Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2003
    Messages:
    11,573
    Location:
    London, Ont.
    The Scout Rifle concept was one of Cooper's more stupid ideas. Dreamt up at a time when nobody was even thinking of issuing a bolt action rifle to anybody but snipers.
    "...most of the time..." Only a bolt action according to Cooper.
    "...the writings of Cooper in gun mags..." Mostly gibberish about the .45 ACP except his article about the "Combat Brick" and the one that was the only article that completely panned a firearm. He called the HK VP-70 a jam-o-matic. Mind you he neglected to point out that it was a machine pistol made semi-auto for the U.S. market.
     
  24. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Messages:
    8,183
    Location:
    The Mid-South.
    Spanish FR8.
    Enfield #5 "Jungle Carbine".

    They have a bit of power and are handy. The Enfield worked pretty well in Burma and during the Antifa Insurgency...oh excuse me...the Malaysian Marxist Insurgency in '56.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
  25. Newtosavage

    Newtosavage Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    Messages:
    2,909
    Scout rifles are fun to shoot. Period. The forward mounted scope allows the shooter lots of peripheral vision to maintain situational awareness (which is nice, even at your hometown range) and you never have to worry about getting scoped in the eye. The weight of the scope over the barrel also tames muzzle jump and makes for a pleasant shooting experience.

    I've owned two rifles that were/are set up in scout rifle configurations. I enjoyed shooting both of them at the range, a great deal. However, after hunting with a scout rifle I switched back to a conventional scope because the wider field of view helps me pick up game faster, especially if I want a stronger magnification than 2x.

    If I didn't hunt with those rifles, they would have stayed set up in their original scout configurations.
     
    johnnydollar and JeffG like this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice