> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Discussion on Scout Rifles



Discussion on Scout Rifles

Ryan over at TSLRF brought up the question of scout (forward) mounting a scope:

'Scout Mounting' a rifle scope. Presuming we are not talking about a weapon whose unique characteristics (utilizes stripper clips, Bolt gun with strait bolt you do not want to bend, M1 Garand, pre 'AE' Winchester 30-30, etc) what is the train of though behind forward mounting a magnified optic in this fashion? Pro's? Con's? Suitable for some element of precision at intermediate ranges (out to 600m or so)?

For goodness sake do not mention that Jeff Cooper liked it as a reason to do this. Sir Edmund Hillary was a heck of a mountaineer but times have changed and so has equipment. Let's stick to practical reasons and avoid dogmatic circular thinking. 

Now, Cooper popularized a rifle with some specific criteria for the scout rifle. One of his goals (amongst others) was a do-all rifle that could engage targets from 5 yards out to several hundred, rapidly and effectively. He chose a forward mounted, low magnification (2.5x seems standard) scope offered that kind of capability.

Now, you've got to remember that this was in the day before Aimpoints, ACOGs, flip-mounted magnifiers, 1-4x scopes, piggybacked micro red dots, etc. All more modern solutions to similar problems.

Were Cooper alive and pontificating about firearms today, I'd imagine he may very well choose something entirely different than the scout rifle he built back in the day.

Now, that's not to say that scout mounting a scope or the general Cooper-esque scout rifle is without merit. I see them as having value in two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Mounting a scope on a rifle that won't support a conventional scope mount.

There are lots of old surplus bolt guns and lever actions kicking around that were never really intended to have glass on 'em. If you want to put glass on 'em, a scout set up is pretty much your only option.

A low magnification, long eye relief scope often looks more at 'home' on these older guns than a red dot sight, too.

Scenario 2: An all-purpose practical hunting rifle

A bolt or lever gun with a scout scope is most at home on a ranch or roaming the back country in search of big game.

It gets you to a group of attributes that can be very appealing to some:
  • Quick acquisition at varying ranges
  • Both eyes open shooting & better ability to engage moving targets
  • .30 cal or bigger
  • ~7 pounds with optics and handy to carry
  • Sheeple friendly
For just plain combat effectiveness, attributes like semi-auto, mag fed, ability to offer sustained fire become more important. Weight, PC appearance and so on become less important.

And, even if those attributes are appealing, there are other ways to get there. a bolt gun with a traditionally mounted 1-4x or 1-6x can do pretty much the same, plus get you more magnification for longer ranges. Or, you can throw a piggy backed micro red dot on a traditional scope. Or throw an ACOG on the sucker

Anyways, if you're big into something like backpack hunting, a scout-type bolt gun might be your thing. Many find they like the way they look, handle and that the pack enough punch to get things done.

Anyone a huge fan of scout rifles? Hate 'em with an undying passion? Let us know!


  1. AnonymousMay 02, 2014

    I remember what i considered a feigned enthusiasm in many of the gun magazines for Cooper's Scout after the assault weapons ban during the Clinton administration. Putting my 270 WSM on 3x allows me to shoot close or far and a quick adustment bumps my magnification up to 9x. That's as close to a bolt Scout as Ive got. I have shot a custom Remington Cooper Scout and it was slick as snot and really handy. However, it was,overall, inferior in my opinion, to having an Sprinfield SOCOM16 or Scout Squad with a forward mounted scope of your choosing. Now, the advantages to the Bolt Scout concept are weight/ and possibly amuniton conservation, quick topping off of the magazine, reserve iron sights amoung others. Regardless, the bolt gun is inferior over the Springfield. Is the Cooper's Scout rifle effective? Sure. Cooper's criteria for the Scout (didn't need more than 20 rds) would disagree with me and my criteria for my scout ., But given the option I want the reliabile Springfield and the option of increased rate of fire if needed. Because IF NEEDED Coopers Scout does not have the rate of fire. Regardless of anyones opionion one way or the other, I never want to see the Bolt Scout rifle or any Lever Action Scout being promoted as an equally viailable option due to Semi's being banned .A SOCOM with a forward mounted variable, say 1x6 or even an Aimpoint Micro H1 (and if possible a 3x mag tandem mounted which I have not tried it yet) would be my choice Or maybe that Larue lighter weight OBR with dot and crosshairs that would take me forever to save for. I know both the Springfield and the Larue are over the weight limit for Coopers criteria but but not my criteria which ultimatelhy would be staying alive.See I do care about choices,So lets vote, support the NRA, and send lots of emails to our elected reps so we can continue to have choices. Oh.having done all three, pray for this country too because we, it, us need it. Thank you Lord for letting me live in a state where we still have those choices.

  2. AnonymousMay 02, 2014

    Jeff Cooper's idea for the Scout rifle was for a Scout - Observation self protection, not combat. Carried far more than shot, it was for the person who AVOIDED combat more than engaging the enemy. Fast and light, self supporting.

    Bolt gun not suitable for warefare - tell that to the Afghanistan. The switching over to the semi-automatics was not because it was more effective, it became an ammunition availability issue, the lack of .303 British. Afghanistan held their own against the Russians pretty well with the iron sighted bolt gun.

    Its a great hunting rifle. Most big game is killed within 200 yards and a low power scope is more than adequete. Low power view appears much more steady and you are able to fire the shot faster because of that confidence in a good hold. I own several scout scoped carbines and rifles, a Swiss K31 (top eject vintage bolt gun), Marlin 336 30-30 Winchester and a Remington 600 Magnum in .350 Magnum for things that need more killin', lol. Boy, does that last one cost $$$ to feed it.

    One of my gun projects for this year is getting a .357 lever carbine (mine is a Rossi Puma carbine) scout scoped - already have a Redfield FrontIER scope and mount, just needs D&Ting. Finding a local gunsmith to do this is difficult - liability issues.

  3. AnonymousMay 02, 2014

    I really don't think Cooper meant "scout" as in "military." Based on what I saw in articles written during the ban years, it seems he was thinking "scout" as in "Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Louis and Clark, etc."

    I have not read his book, so I could very well be wrong.


  4. AnonymousMay 02, 2014

    I have found scout style rifles/carbines to be very quick to mount to the shoulder and to fire. However, a hunting buddy took his 'scoped scout rifle to the heavily wooded swamps I hunt and complained that he was unable to see anything through his 'scope a full two hours before it became too dark for me to legally hunt. It dawned on me that his forward-mounted 'scope got no light to his eye, unlike the standard mount for my old Redfield Illuminator 'scope (which would have provided enough light to hunt through most of the night). If you hunt in heavy, dark woods or swamps, I suggest you avoid scout mounts.

  5. AnonymousMay 03, 2014

    Cooper had a streak of conceit in him, over the decades he tried to market a quartet of firearms that he wanted to capture the MKT and ensure his immortality with, to do so he also invented new terms to describe the firearms thus creating a new market niche
    Handgun-Bren Ten made from modified Browning HiPowers in Canada suffered from magazine problems, semi-auto
    PCC- an undeveloped prototype SMG/carbine
    Scout Rifle- a rejuvenation of the WW1 Mauser Sniper-rifle
    Main Battle Rifle (the term was stolen from Main Battle Tank) No prototype developed but several Issue rifles were referred to as MBRs to legitimize the term.
    All this to feed Cooper's desire for fortune and fame

  6. But given the option I want the reliabile Springfield and the option of increased rate of fire if needed

  7. AnonymousMay 05, 2014

    this is totally unrelated, but I didn't know where else to post/reach out to Mr. Wolf. Anyway, this editorial in Townhall had me thinking about You Took Away Tomorrow.


  8. The idea of the Scout Rifle is an attempt to design a weapon that is light enough to carry in the field for long periods, be very accurate out to combat distances of about 300-500 yards, and powerful enough to take down bad guys with one solid hit. Cooper was a 5.56 O'phile. He hated the AR as the military procured it and would have been happy as a clam if our forces were still running Garands today. Cooper thought the Winchester Model 94 was a great weapon because it embodied those characteristics while using a .30 caliber bullet.

    I like the idea in general. One that Cooper might not appreciate is the Savage MVP series. The 5.56 version uses AR magazines and can run a fairly conventional scope set up, or other optic system if you prefer.

    1. I think you mean the Mossberg MVP series, which is now offered in .308.

    2. Yep, that's the one. I like it as a simple, good quality rifle.

  9. AnonymousMay 05, 2014

    I have a Steyr Scout in .308. It is a very light and accurate rifle. I have a rear mounted Hensoldt zf24 scope on it which works great. I regularly shoot and hit steel out to 800 yds.
    I load my own ammo using 168gr SMK bullets. I really didn't like the setup with a forward mounted scope.