The Scout Rifle is a class of general-purpose rifles defined and promoted by LtCol Jeff Cooper, USMC.
Jeff Cooper was a lifelong student of small arms and conceptualized a handy, light rifle “that will do a great many things equally well…”
“The general-purpose rifle will do equally well for all but specialized hunting, as well as for fighting; thus it must be powerful enough to kill any living target of reasonable size. If you insist upon a definition of ‘reasonable size,’ let us introduce an arbitrary mass figure of about 1,000 lb (454 kg).”
A Scout Rifle, is a light general-purpose rifle for the trained military scout, as outlined in Jeff Cooper’s High School R.O.T.C. manual, “The scout is a man trained in ground and cover, movement from cover to cover, rifle marksmanship, map reading, observation, and accurately reporting the results of his observation.”
The “Cooper Scout Rifle” is a bolt action carbine typically .308 caliber, less than 1 meter in length, and less than 3 kilograms (6.6 lbs.) in weight, with iron and optical sights and fitted with practical slings (such as Ching slings) for shooting and carrying, and capable of hitting man-sized targets out to 450 meters without scopes.
Typically they employ forward-mounted low-power long eye relief scopes or sights to afford easy access to the top of the rifle action for rapid reloading. Here is the specific criteria:
- 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)
- Nominal barrel length: .48 meter (19 inches)
- Sighting system: Typically a 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. Iron sights of the ghost ring type, without a scope, also qualify, as does a low powered conventional position scope.
- 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). Calibers such as 7 mm – 08 Remington (7 x 51 mm) or .243 Winchester (6 x 51 mm) being considered for frail individuals or where “military” calibers are not allowed.
- Built-in bipod: Desirable but not mandatory.
- Accuracy: Should be capable of shooting into 2 minutes of angle or less (4″) at 200 yards/meters (3 shot groups).
Although, there are several manufacturers like Ruger and Savage making Scout rifles that roughly match Jeff Cooper’s specifications, Jeff Cooper was not involved in their development.
The only Scout Rifles that Jeff Cooper was personally involved with were of course the Steyr Scout Rifle. The first two Scout concept rifles; the second one being built by ROBAR Companies, Inc. President and Owner, Robbie Barrkman in 1983.
What is shown here are Super Scout Rifle 1, “Fireplug,” built on a Remington 660 action by Fred Wells, Scout Rifle 2, “Sweetheart,” built on a Sako action by Robbie Barrkman, and Jeff Cooper’s personal Steyr Scout Rifle manufactured in 1997.
Robbie also built a “pseudo-Scout” rifle from a Springfield 1903 for Lindy Cooper Wisdom, which Jeff spoke about often as she hunted with it extensively in North America and Africa.
By Freddie Blish, LtCol USMC (Ret)