What’s A Scout Rifle and Do I Need One?

If you’re a firearm lover who’s always on the lookout for great guns, which sometimes could be in the category of limited editions and iconic weapons, or maybe someone who uses a gun that would meet the application they intend to use it for, you’ve probably heard about the legendary scout rifle and perhaps have come to a point when you started asking yourself if you need it?

What’s A Scout Rifle and Do I Need One?

The Lone Rifleman’s Friend: What Is the Scout Rifle?

In 1986, Jeff Cooper, author of “The Art of Rifle” prescribed what would make up an “ideal rifle” for a lot of uses.

He was a marine lieutenant colonel, who founded the “Gunsite Academy” (Paulden, Arizona), and is the designer/architect behind the concept of the scout rifle that he envisioned as the perfect rifle for both self-defense and hunting.

Cooper envisioned and created the criteria of what a scout rifle “one that would fit a lone rifleman” would be constituted of.

He thought that the rifle would serve a lone rifleman pretty well in the uncertainties of the woods and outdoors in general.

Thus, he prescribed that it must be easy to operate, highly maneuverable, and lightweight to carry for indefinite hours, while also packing a load of power to stop a threat, be it a person or a large/small game, in a cinch.

At the very least, this firearm is chambered in a large caliber round, which would be enough to take down a game up to 1000 pounds at a distance of 450 yards.

It has this power contained in a lightweight, short barreled, short length bolt action rifle that provides users with a comfortable, quick, and easy shooting.

Cooper’s Dream Characteristics of the Scout Rifle

This rifle was meant to replace “other general purpose rifles” that were produced. It’s a multi-purpose rifle whose primary purpose is to work in every assigned task that a modern rifle can do, except for precision shooting competition.

Its architect, Cooper, has his criteria for a rifle to be considered a scout rifle.

Accuracy and reliability

Cooper noted that a scout rifle should have an accuracy at 2 minutes of angle (2 MOA) in that the user would have the capability of shooting 3-round groups at 4 inches and at 200 yards.

Smooth action

One of Cooper’s criteria of a firearm to be considered as a scout rifle – it should have a smooth and reliable bolt action, although he didn’t pinpointed exactly the type of action it should have.

Weight and size

As the rifle would be carried for many hours and potentially in remote places, he envisioned a weapon that was to be at most seven pounds in weight.

Cooper’s design required a size of 19 inches at most for the rifle’s barrel and 39 inches or less for its overall length.

However, during the time when he’s building the overall vision for this rifle, carbines weren’t so common, although the short barrels on many bolt guns of today are well received.


Cooper preferred shooting with both his eyes on the target, with one to aim at the sight while the other observing the terrain. This was why he preferred a sight with large eye relief and low power.

Scout rifles would use a forward installed or mounted low power variable scope and should have an iron sight that has a front sight that wouldn’t snag on the shooter’s clothing or in thick brush outdoors. He also identified that the user should be able to aim and shoot using both eyes open.


Cooper determined the .308 round to be fed by stripper clip or box magazine because he envisioned that the scout rifle would be able to kill or neutralize a threat weighing up to 1000 pounds using a commonly available caliber.

Quick loop sling

Cooper has chosen the Ching Sling for some sort of a sling in the rifle to provide shooting and carrying support.

He’d also prescribe integrated bipods, but these could be adding much heft considering one of his criterions was a lightweight rifle.

Do You Need a Scout Rifle?

You probably do if you’re an outdoor enthusiast who would want to prepare yourself for the “unknown” that you might face out there – in uncharted territories.

For the man behind the scout rifle, the scout rifle should be able to help the gun owner who would want to have a lightweight gun while exploring the outdoors in unpredictable number of hours, a gun that could quickly take down small or big game, and one that could work to protect the gun owner against any attacker fast.

The scout rifle, nevertheless, is a rifle that works excellently for firearm owners who want a ‘general purpose’ rifle for hunting, scouting, and navigating the unknown outdoors.

The Scout Rifle’s Designer: Who is Colonel Jeff Cooper?

“The one rifle to have if you could have only one” was his most famous quote about the rifle, advocating that the scout rifle is the only firearm you would need if you would ever have one gun.

In a nutshell, the scout rifle is ‘a class of general purpose rifles’ that he promoted in the 1980s.

It possesses the same characteristics in terms of function as well as design of other guns like mountain rifles and guide guns that were portable, comfortable, and accurate.

Former Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper conceived the idea about the scout rifle, and in “his book “To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth,” he described this gun to be a comfortable, portable firearm that can strike on a live target up to 200 kilograms in weight and at any distance wherein the shooter can target and shoot accurately within the target’s vital area.

Jeff Cooper used to operate alone, and thus, he needed a lightweight and reliable rifle for solo combat tactics, like “shoot and run.”

As a scout who operated stealthily, he avoided using his weapon, but not when the situation called for it. If he needed to take his shots, he had to do it really carefully and quickly.

He wanted quick shooting, but no rifle manufacturer for him could meet this need. And so the scout rifle was born and the rest is history.

Why scout rifle sights?

The primary features to look for scout rifle sights are eye relief, magnification, and lightweight. It must have enough eye relief of at least nine inches, is easy to carry, and should have a wide field of view and at least two times power or magnification.

A long eye relief is vital because the optics system would be mounted on the receiver’s front. You’d also need a lightweight scope because a hefty one could make your rifle heavier.

Examples of Scout Rifles

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle: This rifle uses a Mauser-type action, feeds from a 10-round steel and detachable box magazine, and has a 16” free floating barrel. Users can use spacers if they need to adjust the pull’s length. Today, there are several Ruger scout rifle models, each can be coming with different accessories and stocks.

Savage Model 11 Scout: This rifle is built on the trusted and proven Model 11 and offers comfort for shooters who may be engaged in an all-day of training. Savage Arms designed and manufactured a rifle featuring a stock that’s adjustable for pull’s length and cheek weld, a flash suppressor, forward mounted optics, and iron sights.

Mossberg MVP Scout: Having a 16.25” barrel and a long Picatinny rail for multiple scope mounting options, front fiber optics mated, and a rail-mounted ghost ring, it features a drop-push bolt design, which works well with either an AR10 magazine or M1A magazine.

Do You Need a Scout Rifle? Closing Thoughts

Do you want to chase and hunt fast moving animals like wild boar? Do you need a lightweight, portable, and highly maneuverable rifle?

Or maybe you want an all purpose rifle, which is reliable while out in the woods and facing the unknown?

Then, you probably need a scout rifle.

But if you don’t fit in any of these categories regarding the purpose you intend to use this rifle for, then you might not need one.

Hoping you learned a thing or two about the iconic scout rifle and are able to make a decision whether you really need one or not.

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