Colonel Jeff Cooper invented the scout scout rifle in the eighties. Many companies have tried to recreate the carbine, but only a few have succeeded in bringing the concept to life with sufficient authenticity. It is a versatile, reliable and accurate weapon for the hunter, marksman or soldier. The important point here is it’s versatility - the weapon is good for defense, hunting, and sport. Here, versatility can play both to the good and the bad for the shooter. We have collected the arguments, so you can form your own opinion.
What is a Scout Rifle?
This is a general purpose, multi-purpose rifle, designed to perform all the tasks that can be assigned to a modern rifle, except for some special actions, such as formal classical precision shooting competitions. Conceptually, it is intended to replace all the general purpose rifles previously produced.
The rifle was designed and developed by Colonel Jeff Cooper in 1986. He operated alone, not as a member of a group. When given a choice, the scout avoided direct confrontation with the enemy, but was also an expert in the art of solo combat using "Shoot and Run" tactics. For such purposes he needed a reliable and light rifle. The colonel preferred quick shooting, and none of the gun manufactures met his needs. So he created his own modification of the weapon. This is the Scout Rifle.
Cooper's most famous quote about his firearm creation is, "The one rifle to have if you could have only one." And that means that if you could have only one gun, you should get the Scout Rifle.
Speed and reliability, which were two of Cooper's main criteria, were the basis for the development of the carbine. When operating stealthily, a scout tries not to use his weapon, but if he had to shoot, he takes his shots quickly, carefully, making them as small as possible.
Now days the Scout Rifle is still relevant, because it can overlap a lot of different weapon options. If you don't want to buy a whole closet of rifles, carbines, and pistols for different purposes, and you prefer one multi-functional weapon, this is the Scout Rifle.
So what is so unusual about the Scout Rifle that even after all these years it can still be relevant?
It's a bolt-action rifle. It is relatively short (no more than a meter) with a shortened barrel of 18-20 inches. The weapon is light, up to 7.7 pounds with the belt. The caliber of the rifle is preferably .308 Winchester - then the shooter can take down a target weighing up to 1000 pounds in one shot.
The colonel preferred to shoot with two eyes on the target - one to aim at the sight and the other to observe the surrounding terrain. That's why the sight on the scout rifle had to have a large eye relief and be rather low-powered. The sight for such a rifle is a separate chapter of our story, because a lot depends on the sight for Scout Rifle.
Why a Scout Optic?
Let's step back from history a bit and look at the realities of the modern world.
If you prefer to chase game while hunting, hunt fast-moving game such as wild pigs, participate in time shooting competitions or just want a maneuverable lightweight rifle, a scout rifle is perfect for your needs.
The question arises by itself: which modern sights currently available on the market allow installation in front of the loading window and ejection port? That means - they have longer focal length than usual. Exactly what sights are compatible with Jeff Cooper's Scout Rifle. One example is the AGM 2-16X44RS. You can understand that the advantage of scopes for Scout Rifles is exactly in their compactness and maximum low positioning of line of sight, at the level of open sights.
The main features for scout rifle optics are: Magnification, Eye Relief, Lightweight, and Reticle. Let's get this straight.
The scope must have at least 2x magnification and a wide field of view. Sights on a scout rifle are mounted in front of the receiver, which means it must have significant eye relief (at least 9 inches). Rifles are used on the move, which means they must be easy to carry. That means that parameters such as weight is the most important. By attaching the sight to the rifle you make it heavier. So - a sight must be as light as possible. We could discuss reticles in depth, but it is not the reticle itself which is important here - what is important is that it has high visibility for the shooter.
We should not forget that Colonel Cooper emphasized such characteristics because the lack of rifle options at that time, for fast shooting at short distances while retaining the possibility to work at medium ranges. Which means there are more options for optics today.
Looking at these uncomplicated settings and conditions for a scope on the Scout Rifle, you can understand that there are a lot of options for scopes at the moment and you can choose according to your budget and preferences.
Weight Balance & Feel
Weight for the Scout Rifle is almost the main feature. A single-shot rifle should be light, and if you use it with a rifle scope, don't forget that the sight is on the front, so the less it weighs, the less trouble it causes.
So why is weight and balance so important? Let's go back to the principles of the Scout Rifle again. In some cases it really can happen that you don't get to carry several units of very tactical looking guns with picatinny rails, flashlights, collimators. And that's when a small, light and modest .308 caliber rifle with a couple of packs of ammo can be a real treasure. Especially if you love it, understand its features and know how to use it with maximum efficiency.
Hopefully, the Scout rifle philosophy is now a little closer and clearer to those who have read to the end of the article with interest. The concept of the "Scout rifle" has never become obsolete over the years. Yes, there are a lot of good things around us and it is foolish not to use them. The same goes for gun selection. For hunting and at home, a shotgun is still great. It's just as fun to shoot at the range or match with an AR-15-based semi-auto carbine.
But Cooper's idea does not negate other weapons. It merely singled out, based on the experiences of born warriors and hunters, those weapons that can meet the basic challenges of surviving a lone man in a hostile environment.