Over many years, gun grandmaster guru Jeff Cooper researched and developed what he called the "scout rifle": an optimal general-purpose gun, described in detail in his book To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth; any study of scout rifles should begin with reading that book. First Cooper addressed the problem:
"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."Only after properly understanding the problem could the solution be reached. After several Scout Rifle Conferences, he defined the parameters of an optimal solution:
An optimized general-purpose rifle designed by Jeff Cooper.
Weight-sighted and slung: 3 kilograms (6.6 lb). This has been set as the ideal weight but the maximum has been stated as being 3.5 kg (7.7 pounds ).
Length: 1 meter (39 inches)
Barrel length: .48 meter (19 inches)
Sighting system: Forward and low mounted (ahead of the action opening) long eye relief telescope of between 2x and 3x. Reserve iron sights desirable but not necessary.
Action: Magazine fed bolt action. Detachable box magazine and/or stripper clip charging is desirable but not necessary.
Sling: Fast loop-up type, i.e. Ching or CW style.
Caliber: Nominally .308 Winchester (7.62 x 51 mm) or 7 mm - 08 Winchester (7 x 51 mm), with .243 Winchester (6 x 51 mm) being considered for frail individuals or where "military" calibers are proscribed.
Built-in bipod: Desirable but not mandatory.
Accuracy: Should be capable of shooting into 2 minutes of angle or less at 200 yards/meters (3 shot groups).
(description flagrantly copied from John Schaffer's Steyr Scout page - it's the most concise description I've seen, and is worthy of frequent quotation)
The only mass-produced true scout rifle, made by Steyr Mannlicher and distributed in the USA by GSI Firearms. Jeff Cooper declares "The Steyr Scout is about 88 percent of ideal." While he frequently promotes it, "I get not one cent in royalties from the Steyr Mannlicher corporation."proskoplopon
Greek for "scout rifle". @@
Cooper refers to several of his scout rifles by name:
Cooper's custom medium scout, described as "The Lion scout previously mentioned takes the 350 Remington short (slightly long-loaded) and delivers its 250-grain bullet at an honest 2500f/s from its 19-inch barrel."Galatea
Steyr Scout number 08124, deemed by Cooper's wife as Jeff's "Linus blanket".Scout I
Prototype, built on the Remington 600 carbine.Sweetheart aka Scout II
Cooper observes that while it was the closest thing to a scout rifle at the time, it "is not quite pure, being about three quarters of a pound overweight and carrying no reserve sights."
Many have talked about this design, and some people have built their own or had one custom made. The first company to actually mass-produce this design is Steyr Mannlicher. Buy one; it may seem expensive, but it does the job right and you only need one.
Unfortunately, many people have taken the name "scout rifle" as a buzzword and, out of emotional warm fuzzies, have applied the name to guns that do not fit the definition. Cooper observes "painting a prancing horse on a red car does not make it a Ferrari." From these perverse applications of the name "scout rifle" have come a variety of other names, enough that documenting them is worthwhile.
"If people are going to imitate your Scout concept, the least they could do is put a bit of effort into getting it at least partially correct. The various imitations I have seen are so poorly done that they are going to prevent people from realizing the superiority of the concept." - Tom Graziano @In no particular order:
"I have yet to see more than half a dozen rifles that have been properly converted into Scouts. However, I have seen in excess of two dozen wannabe-but-have-no-idea-what-a-Scout-really-is rifles. I call these "abortion-Scouts." The several I have seen were cobbled together by people who have no idea of what it is they are trying to emulate. The overall results were so deplorable I was horrified to think that people might actually believe them to be Scouts. Two pet examples are the "Savage Scout" and "Brockman's Scouts." - Thomas K. GrazianoPseudo Scout
Almost a scout rifle, but not quite as it violates some defined parameter, often by being a bit too heavy, too long, or using an inappropriate cartridge. Cooper observes "This is not to say that you cannot make up an excellent "pseudo-scout" from components of your choice. You may create an excellent rifle this way, and I know of several examples personally, but you are skirting the issue, and you are probably spending more money than you should." A pseudo scout is not necessarily bad or inferior, but one should clarify that it is in fact not a scout rifle.Savage Scout
The Savage Model 10FCM is built and sold with the claim that it is a scout rifle. It is considerably cheaper than the Styer Scout, though it apparently requires some custom work (trigger, sling, etc.) to make it a real scout rifle. Cooper deems this "simply an economy version of the general idea".Muscle Scout
Name applied to the Dragoon, implying a scout rifle of considerably larger caliber. Cooper mentioned "I do not see any real reason for a "muscle scout" (as Erwin puts it), but when it appears I will make every effort to take it afield."Dragoon
Cooper's pet name (to the shagrin of Steyr Mannlicher) for the 376 Steyr Scout.376 Steyr Scout
A short-lived version of the Steyr Scout, chambered for Steyr's own .376 Steyr cartridge. The unique cartridge contradicts the intent that a scout rifle use fairly common ammunition. The large caliber, initially causing some problems in the stock (reserve magazines sometimes dropped out upon firing), resulted in design changes that took this gun to just over 8 pounds, to which Cooper observed "Extra weight does not invalidate a Scout, but it does diminish the concept." Often called the "Dragoon". Cooper also says "The 376 is not a deer gun, and it shows off best against targets in the thousand pound range. It will certainly kill a deer, or an impala, or a man, but it is unnecessarily muscular for that task, and I suppose it is going to be hard to feed for some time to come."Medium scout
A scout rifle firing something notably larger than the standard .308 round, particularly "By "medium," in this case, I mean a cartridge of 9mm or 38 bore-size propelling a 250-grain bullet at between 2400 and 2600 f/s." During development of the .376 Steyr, Cooper commented "the new medium scout cartridge may be designated the 376 JCS." Note that Cooper considers 6 x 51 mm the minimum caliber for a scout rifle.Heavy scout
A very large caliber scout rifle, with the observation "A heavy scout will not be a true scout, of course, because it will be overweight and it will take an oddball cartridge in place of the universally available 308."Super scout
"The 350 likewise, with its 250-grain bullet, formed the base for the Super Scout, a medium-bore instrument capable of taking on all heavy game short of buffalo and the pachyderms." @Poodle Scout
Cooper's name for Steyr Mannlicher's small-bore Steyr Scout, "a curious artifact known as the "Poodle Scout" in caliber 223." Elsewhere he says "Steyr Mannlicher is manufacturing and Gun South is distributing the Poodle Scout. This is a scout-type rifle taking the 223 cartridge. One would ask what possible use there might be for that piece. An answer, of course, is "to sell!" I suppose people will buy it, but if anyone shows up here at the Ranch with one, he will be viewed with scorn." Also, "There is no possible reason for a scout-type rifle in that caliber".Luftscout
Commenting on Steyr Mannlicher's .223 Steyr Scout, Cooper said "I now await the Luftscout, which is an airgun riding in a Scout stock."Municipal scout
A scout rifle purchased by a local police force. Cooper tells "I noticed the piece on assembly and asked the presumed owner why he happened to get the item in black. His answer was, his department bought three of them and ordered them all in black for departmental purposes. A departmental Scout! Is that what we are doing with the city tax money? It is not easy to explain why a policeman needs a rifle of any kind, but it can be done. Why he needs an expensive rifle - a radical improvement - is somewhat harder. I did not ask, but I suspect that the squad cars in this friend's town are all Porsches."Lever scout
A scout rifle built on a lever-action receiver. Not a bad concept, but finding an action that will fit caliber, weight and length requirements is difficult.Semiautomatic scout
A scout rifle built on an auto-loader receiver. A fine concept, but so far it seems no such receiver will fit caliber, weight and length requirements.Cub scout
Name often given to a scout rifle chambered for .22LR, with the intent of it being a boy's first rifle.Lil scout
See "cub scout".Muzzleloader Scout
"Not-even-REMOTELY-related-to-a-Scout-but-we'll-insist-on-using-it-anyway" - Geoff BenezeThere may be more. Let me know of other terms in use (please don't just make up a term!).