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Old 01-06-2022, 10:46 AM
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This is a draft of a coming article. As always, I appreciate comments.

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In 1984, in the Gun Digest issue of that year, firearms legend Jeff Cooper penned an article that described his concept of a single firearm that would be incredibly versatile. My wife coined a descriptive name for it – “The Swiss Army knife of rifles.” Cooper called it a Scout Rifle. He was a distinguished firearms expert, an accomplished rifle and pistol shot and a former U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel who had seen combat in both World War II and Korea. A “Scout” to him was an individual who could operate independently in the field, making his way armed with just one firearm that could fulfill many roles – in survival, combat or hunting. He defined a scout rifle first and foremost to be a general-purpose rifle. “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 the vital area of the target.”

After consultation with others, he initially specified seven desirable criteria for such a rifle. It should: 1) measure less than a meter long. 2) weigh under 3 kilos (6.6 pounds) with sling and scope. 3) be capable of 2 minutes of angle accuracy. 4) have a 19-inch barrel. 5) be chambered in .308 Winchester. 6) have a backup “ghost ring” rear and post front sight. 7) have a forward-mounted scope with about 10 inches of eye relief. Although a sniper rifle with a forward-mounted scope had been fielded in a little 6.5 mm Mannlicher carbine prior to WWII by the Germans, that non-traditional scope mounting feature had not been much accepted thereafter. An exception was another German development in WWII, a Model 98k carbine with a Model 41 scope. It actually made some sense, allowing the rifle to be carried in a more natural manner at its central balance point, clip loading of ammo, and less obstruction of the field of view when aiming. The .308 Winchester caliber was specified by Cooper because it was sufficiently powerful and available almost anywhere in the world.

The features recommended by Cooper would provide a light, handy, accurate and terminally effective rifle that could operate with either a scope or, if necessary, flip-up traditional sights. He advocated for a major firearms company to make an off-the-shelf rifle that would satisfy his parameters. To get his project rolling, he crafted two prototype rifles, the second of which was based on a Remington 600 bolt action carbine, both chambered for the .308 Winchester. In the process, he reasoned that such things as an integral bipod, a magazine cut-off to allow single-shot loading, three sling-attachment points and additional ammo storage in the rifle would be desirable but not critical to the concept. He wanted the rifle to have “ruggedness, versatility, speed of operation” and practical accuracy while stressing the need for the shooter to hit quickly on the first shot.

In 1990, the Austrian firearms firm of Steyr Mannlicher showed some interest in Cooper’s ideas, and he met with them to discuss his prototypes. Unfortunately, Steyr was otherwise occupied at that time and could not make a firm commitment. Not to be deterred, Cooper invited Steyr’s primary design engineer Ulrich Zedrosser to visit with him at Cooper’s Gunsite firearms training facility in Arizona. Zedrosser accepted the invitation and was impressed with the performance and characteristics of Cooper’s second prototype that Cooper had dubbed “Scout II” or “Sweetheart.” Zedrosser began sketching out some ideas and he and Cooper put their heads together on a possible production design.

It took a while, but seven years later, in October of 1997, a prototype of the Steyr Scout Rifle was introduced at a gun writer’s conference at the NRA Huntington Center in Raton, New Mexico. Although the gun looked (and was) radical, the response from those in attendance was quite positive. Accordingly, finishing touches were applied to the rifle and it was put into production in 1999. It weighed 6.6 pounds empty (around 7.3 pounds with a scope) and measured 38.6 inches in length. Its suggested introductory retail price was $2,595.

The cold-hammer-forged barrel on the rifle measures 19 inches and is chambered for the .308 Winchester. This rather thin barrel has a one in 12-inch twist, with four grooves. It’s fluted to save weight, dispel heat more efficiently and help with rigidity. The muzzle is match-crowned and recessed. To provide lesser recoil perception, the barrel’s axis is linearly aligned to a point just barely above the heel of the stock. This nearly straight line of recoil also reduces the tendency of the kick to violently disturb the aim of such a lightweight rifle when fired. Another recoil-easing feature is that the comb of the stock slants down somewhat from the rear to the front, pulling the comb back from the shooter’s cheek as the rifle is fired.

The removable polymer magazine holds five rounds. Optional 10-round magazines were available from the start. Magazines have two positioning detents, one over the other. Using the lower detent, the magazine seats higher and feeds normally. Using the higher detent, the magazine seats somewhat lower and becomes inactive, allowing single feeding with the magazine in reserve. It requires only an upward slap of the magazine to position it for normal feeding. The Zytel polymer stock incorporates a cavity forward of the heel which is designed to hold an extra loaded magazine for instant availability. The forward side panels of the stock can be moved forward to create a bipod which can be swiveled a bit to allow for uneven ground. As a tribute to Jeff Cooper, his initials are found in a medallion inlaid in the stock on the right side.

On top, the rifle has an extended Weaver-style rail which is ready to accept a longer-eye-relief low-power scope over the barrel, or a standard scope mounted over the bolt in the normal manner. This rail is incorporated into the receiver. On order, the factory can supply a Leupold M8 2.5X intermediate eye relief scope mounted to the rifle, and sight it in before shipment. The supplied rings are numbered to the rifle. The rifle has built-in conventional sights that can be flipped up for use. The front sight (in a Zytel cap forward of the scope rail) is a post which is adjustable for elevation, and the ghost ring sight in the rear of the receiver is adjustable for windage.

The receiver and its integral scope rail are made of aluminum. The bolt locks into a barrel extension rather than the receiver. This allows for a much lighter receiver, which is subject to minimum stress. Both the barrel extension and its safety bushing are made of steel. The safety bushing completely surrounds the extraction area, giving extra insurance against case failure or a pierced primer. The bolt is full-diameter in that the body and lugs are the same diameter. The bolt head has a recessed face. It incorporates four lugs in two 180-degree opposed rows. This gives the bolt a 90-degree bolt lift. There are lightening channels cut in the side of the bolt to save weight. The heaviest parts of the gun are the barrel and the bolt.

The trigger is a two-stage affair, with slight initial slack and the final pull being very crisp and fairly light at an average 3.5 pounds of pressure at letoff. The safety is a small wheel that rotates fore and aft, and is located centrally in the trigger group directly behind the bolt. When rotated fully forward, the rifle is ready to fire and a red dot shows on the top of the safety. When in the middle or “loading” position, a white dot is visible, the sear is blocked, and the bolt can be operated. In the rear or “safe” position, the sear is disengaged, and the “butter knife” bolt handle will be locked down in position with the white dot still visible. A spring-loaded plastic button will pop up on the wheel and prevent the safety from moving from “fire” to the “safe” or “load” position until it is depressed first. It also acts as a bolt release when depressed as the bolt is withdrawn. An indicator pin sticks out of the bolt shroud when the firing pin is cocked.

The action is secured to the grey-colored stock at the rear by two pillar-bedded stock bolts. The stock’s length of pull can be adjusted from 12.7” to 16” by the use of removable spacers which comprise a very useful recoil pad. There are three T-slot sling swivel mounting points for either a conventional sling or the three-point “Ching sling” that was favored by Cooper for its versatility.

In use, the rifle is very portable, handles nicely, and the action is quite smooth in operation. Repeat shots can be done very quickly. I think Cooper was on target for this to be a fine firearm for someone operating independently in the field and having to rely on only one firearm that can be employed for almost any situation – sniping, hunting, survival or self-defense. As he himself once wrote: “The essential element of the Scout Rifle is handiness. It is a general-purpose arm intended to do all things that a rifle might be called upon to do, with the exception of certain specialties, such as formal target shooting and hunting pachyderms. Conceptually, it renders all extant general-purpose rifles obsolete. The man who owns a Steyr Scout has no need for any other rifle.”

The Steyr Scout rifle has spawned a number of competitors in the years since its introduction, which is a tribute to its general acceptance. The original is still available at a somewhat reduced price from Steyr in various stock colors, albeit with a few later minor changes and a number of options as to calibers, even including .22 rimfires. It’s still more expensive than its imitators, but remains the closest to Cooper’s original specifications, checking almost all of the boxes. It’s radical but useful in many roles and remains a true classic.



Closeup of the action area of the Steyr Scout showing the safety selector wheel, cocking indicator hole, butter knife bolt handle, pop-up rear sight, rear scope mounting slot, ejection port, magazine release and one of the T-lock sling swivel mounting points.

(c) 2022 JLM
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Last edited by PALADIN85020; 01-07-2022 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 01-06-2022, 11:05 AM
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Here’s the Steyr Scout on display at NRA Whittington in the Jeff Cooper Display.
As I posted a while back, there used to be one there with a Red Stock.
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Old 01-06-2022, 11:39 AM
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Cooper's concept works out very well. I have one of the very early Steyr Scouts, it is handy, has as good a factory trigger as I have ever encountered and is more than adequate accuracy wise. Mine has a Kahles Helia S 1.1X4.5x20 (30mm Tube) mounted in the traditional location (not forward).
The Steyr Scout as originally produced did not have a threaded barrel. It is now offered with a bolt handle with a knob.

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Old 01-06-2022, 11:44 AM
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I remember looking at a Styer, the price was outrageous to me.
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Old 01-06-2022, 12:02 PM
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I’ve used my Steyr Scout for years with great results.

Cooper knew his stuff and Steyr produced a fine rifle.
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Old 01-06-2022, 02:46 PM
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I believe there was a companion rifle in 378 Styre. Only one made and presented to Jeff Cooper. It was called "The Dragoon"!

Ivan
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Old 01-06-2022, 06:36 PM
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Excellent info. Remember Col.Cooper's writings well as well as the original Scout rifle and all the "others" that it brought about. Was a "novice gun crank" in 1984 and had subscriptions to both "Shooting Times&Guns and Ammo" to keep up w/Skeeter,Col.Cooper Bill J.,Elmer and theother greats!
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Old 01-06-2022, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan the Butcher View Post
I believe there was a companion rifle in 378 Styre. Only one made and presented to Jeff Cooper. It was called "The Dragoon"!

Ivan
There were many more than one in 378 Styre! I remember pondering whether to buy one in 378 instead of 308 and handling one .
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Old 01-06-2022, 07:09 PM
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Actually 376 not 378 Steyr.
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Old 01-06-2022, 07:13 PM
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Very well remember the rifle. Handled one in a well stocked gun shop. Struck me as about idea for a field/hunting rifle. All one needed for most uses. Just what one needed for 99% of common hunting. Could not justify the price. Sincerely. bruce.
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Old 01-14-2022, 12:02 AM
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Next to the Blaser R93, possibly the best field rifle ever made.
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Old 01-14-2022, 09:38 AM
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Good writeup John.

I figured the Steyr Scout died with Col. Cooper, this is the first I've seen on one in years and am surprised it's still in the product line. Besides, what's the fun in only owning one rifle.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:12 AM
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Excellent article. I could not find one grammatical mistake!

I remember at the introduction of the Steyr Scout, some wag calling it "A pistol expert's concept of a tactical rifle."

... or something like that. I don't agree, but I thought it was an interesting comment nonetheless.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:56 AM
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I've always liked the scout pattern rifle, but the Steyr was more $$$ than I wanted to spend on one. I bought the Ruger GSR in .308 when they first came out, but it was on the heavy side, and mine would never feed reliably, no matter the magazines I tried.

I finally sold it and rolled my own, based on a CZ 527, in 7.62x39, using an XS scout mount. Not quite Col. Cooper's vision of caliber, but cheap to shoot. And very light at just over 6lbs all in.



I still need to pick up a NECG peep sight for the rear. It's reasonably accurate with steel East Euro ammo, and surprisingly it shoots better wiht steel case than the more expensive brass cased ammo I've tried.

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Old 01-14-2022, 11:28 AM
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We saw a new one yesterday at a gun store in Huntsville.

I didn't notice what type of bolt handle that it had, but it was chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor.

Tim
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Old 01-14-2022, 01:01 PM
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I had a non-scout rifle in .308, It was a fine rifle, but didn't do anything any other rifle in .308 except look extremely cool.

Forgive me because I didn't read the article, which from comments here, got a favorable reception. Therefore, I feel comfortable in making remars on the rifle, but not the article.

I cannot understand the concept of a "scout rifle" in the hands of a civilian" Possibly the reason for it to exist is fully explained in the article, but still....it connotes something to do with a military or paramilitary application.

I can't think of a bad reason to own any weapon you want to, but I would like to know if I'm missing out on something. My scouting days are over.
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Old 01-14-2022, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
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I cannot understand the concept of a "scout rifle" in the hands of a civilian" Possibly the reason for it to exist is fully explained in the article, but still....it connotes something to do with a military or paramilitary application.
While Col. Cooper's original treatise may have had a military emphasis, the concept is eminently applicable to a hunting/general purpose rifle.

With a lower powered variable scope (ie, 2-7x) mounted forward, it's very quick on target and can be shot both eyes open. Very useful if you're hunting in brushy or forested areas where you're looking at a shorter shot that may need to be taken quickly.

Turn the power up, and you still have reasonable accuracy for longer shots.

Think of it as a way to combine the handiness of a lever gun with the extend range capability of a bolt gun.

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Old 01-14-2022, 02:38 PM
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Steyr rifles are state of the art. I had a Steyr 243 when I was a teenager and didn’t appreciate it. Having said that Cooper beating drums on concept got Steyr to make it. Having said that there were already Stalking Rifles and economy models like Rem 600/660 years before.
I tried the Extended Eye Relief back in 70s. I didn’t like it, but I was hunting deer & bear not military purposes.
Any of the major manfs. bolt gun in carbine mode will do what a Steyr will do. I wouldn’t make that statement in regards to the rifles. If I was buying a new BA rifle it would be Steyr or Sako, possibly CZ.
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Old 01-14-2022, 02:39 PM
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I have and do own many 308 rifles. There are many jobs 308 will do and I have owned rifles to do most of those jobs. I think trying to "Scout" with the Main Battle Rifle, or a long range sniper rifle would be foolishness! Being in prolonged combat with a Scout rifle would be the same.

We are Americans! We can own as many rifles as we can afford (or at least buy on credit!) We can have a rifle for any and every day of the week. The idea of a rifle the is for walking in rough terrain days in a row and is accurate, is an idea that has been in use for a few hundred years in North America. For civilian/hunting use I prefer a 45-70 Marlin Guide Gun. I have friends that built compact bolt guns in heavy calibers for use wild salmon fishing in Alaska.

The Scout Rifle fills the Deer rifle niche very well. Custom Deer Rifles are higher in price, but pretty much don't do anything more.

This is only the same idea with newer technology being applied to an old concept. Because it was developed by a Handgunner, it was put in the "Not my idea" category!

Ivan
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Old 01-14-2022, 02:47 PM
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Nicely written my friend!

I recall clearly the article wherein the late Col. Cooper commenced his advocacy for the Scout Rifle. If it wasn't for my 2018 fire I might still have that Gun Digest and, who knows, it could even be in my storage building still - no fire there!

My personal affection for the .308 was enhanced by Col. Cooper's advocacy.
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Old 01-14-2022, 05:17 PM
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HK type sights on Steyr. Also, with Sheild bullet drop reticle red dot.
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Old 01-14-2022, 06:17 PM
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Very well written article. I was wondering through gun shops in Tacoma and saw a nice rifle scope. However it was funny we couldn't see through it to well. The light bulb came on, and I straightened my arm it became usable.
I thought back to COL Cooper and how he was talking about extended eye relief 30 something years ago!!
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Old 01-15-2022, 01:36 AM
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Good article.

If you want to find out why the Scout was designed, go to Gunsite for training.
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