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Stuff I don’t get: small caliber scout rifles

Now, I know Jeff Cooper was kinda the man when it came to guns and tactics and such. But I never got the concept of the scout rifle. It does every thing OK but nothing great. Seems you would be better served with, say, an AK. Dropping the caliber to 5.56 just screams that you would be better served by an AR-15. But Tam seems to think they’re cool.

41 Responses to “Stuff I don’t get: small caliber scout rifles”

  1. Rustmeister Says:

    I like the idea of the Cooper scout rifle, although I wonder how comfortable they are to shoot.

  2. Tam Says:

    Seems you would be better served with, say, an AK.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

    A lightweight, handy, accurate jack-of-all-trades rifle with enough power to bring down all but the largest game should be replaced with a heavy, awkward club that’s marginal on whitetail and couldn’t hit a barn from the inside with the door closed? 😉

    About the only thing that the AK would be better for would be arming infantry, which perhaps not coincidentally, is its designed purpose. (That, and defending one’s self against multiple attackers.)

    If all you do is shoot at a range, then a lightweight scout-type rifle wouldn’t seem very much use; it’s designed to be carried around all day in one’s hands.

  3. SayUncle Says:

    I never thought of a scout rifle in terms of large game since it’s usually in 308. But I guess that depends on definition of large.

  4. Tam Says:

    I think Cooper’s reasoning was that, push come to shove, there’s nothing on this continent you couldn’t kill with a .308 if you absolutely had to.

    It seems awful marginal for big bear and moose, but then folks were killing them with Krags and Springfields back in the day.

  5. straightarrow Says:

    back in the day folks were killing them with front stuffers and other folks were killing them with long wooden shafts.

  6. Tam Says:

    Yes, but the whole human race was crazy brave back then. I’m a big chicken. :p

  7. Weer'd Beard Says:

    “OK at everything” plus easy to carry around all day, seems like a pretty darn good idea to me.

    Col Cooper knew his shit, and from what I hear he was a wizzard with a bolt-gun.

  8. Anon Reader Dude Says:

    I’m with Tam. Given the portfolio of tasks Coop envisioned for the .308 scout rifle, the notion of trying to do most of them with an AK is pretty dubious. (I’d rather have even an SKS.)

    Unc has a better point about a scout in .223 being superfluous. We live in an age of light, tough, scoped AR-15s that will do <1.5 MOA all day.

  9. Jeff the Baptist Says:

    Cooper himself thought scout rifles in intermediate calibers were missing the point. He wanted full rifle ammunition in easy to find calibers like .308, .30-06, or 8mm Mauser.

    I’ve never really loved the concept either though. Its a jack of all trades rifle that is a master of none.

  10. Rabbit Says:

    My personal Scout is a 6.5×55. Works fine by me. Since building it about 15 years ago, I’ve seen more places carrying ammo in that caliber, including WallyWorld. While the caliber was initially a concern at that time, I haven’t regretted it.

    It also has better s.d. and b.c. than most .308s. Pretty much the same drop at range as a good .270, too, and nobody calls that caliber a mortar round.

    Regards,
    Rabbit.

  11. comatus Says:

    You meant to say “AR,” didn’t you? You could argue that.

    Right on the first page of the merit badge book, it says Scouts can’t use any rifle larger than .22.
    More than that, and you’ll have to join a Venture crew.

  12. Lance Says:

    I love my Scout rifle in .303 British.

    http://totheegress.com/gibbs.jpg

  13. mariner Says:

    I’ve never really loved the concept either though. Its a jack of all trades rifle that is a master of none.


    I believe that was the whole idea — one rifle than a person could carry comfortably all day, that could do just about anything acceptably well.

  14. Tam Says:

    Lance,

    What’s it weigh?

  15. chris Says:

    The Cooper Scout rifle (at least in 308) is extremely cool.

    I would like to have one for the farm one day (bye-bye Mr. Coyote).

  16. Flight-ER-Doc Says:

    I like my scout (FR-8, .308, original everything except the silly cleaning kit compartment). Once I got the sights squared away it will hit whatever I can see through them, with sufficient energy to knock it down.

    Oh, and it cost under $100, back when they were cheap.

    Having a light carbine that can at least make a reasonable attempt at most anything I’d do with it is a fine idea. Coopers various Steyrs, with prices upwards of a couple of kilobucks wasn’t necessary.

  17. PawPaw Says:

    I like the idea of a bolt rifle having a standard magazine. Whether in .308 or .223, doesn’t matter. I can see a use for either or both.

    But, in a pinch, make mine in a .308 bolt head with an M14 magazine, 18″ barrel. I don’t care if it has a forward scope or over the action.

  18. B Woodman Says:

    I have an M-N M44 that I’ve put a “scout” style (forward) scope on. Does that count to making it a scout-type rifle? ;P
    Weighs a ton, though. No light weight, this.

  19. Caleb Says:

    I’d like one in .223, but I’d also like one in 6.8 Remington. I’m a teeny-tiny little guy, and burning up 100 rounds of .308 through a bolt gun makes for an unpleasant practice session.

    I think a lot of my attraction to the platform is that I grew up shooting bolt guns. The only time I ever really shot a lot of ARs was when I was in the Coast Guard, and then once I was done there, I’ve really not picked them up since then, save for the odd three-gun match here and there.

    But bolt guns, I still shoot those. I’ve shot a jillion rounds through my Marlin 25M in .22 Magnum. Actually, that’s the gun that got me thinking about this. I was fooling around with it the other day, and starting thinking to myself how light, comfortable, and easy to handle this rifle was, and how sick it would be if someone made it in .223 so I could have a little more puissance.

  20. Lance Says:

    Tam,

    I only have a floor scale, but weighing me alone and carrying the rifle (unloaded) shows the rifle to be 8.4 lbs so it’s slightly over the accepted maximum weight but still less than the M1A SOCOM 16.

    Stock to flashhider tip is 38″, 16″ actual barrel.

  21. Lance Says:

    Forgot to add: I suppose I could drop more weight by going to something other than wood for the stock, but I’m going to stick with wood for nostalgia’s sake on this rifle.

  22. kaveman Says:

    I guess i’m just a flaming retard.

    My M6 Scout rifle is an over-under bare bones gun in .22 Hornet and .410 shotgun. 100% survival rifle that folds up and fits into a backpack.

    I thought that’s what we were discussing.

    My bad.

  23. Moriarty Says:

    It does every thing OK but nothing great.

    That would depend entirely on your definitions of “OK” and “great.”

    What a Scout does in the words of Cooper is to help the shooter to make “… first-round hits, at unknown distances, from improvised positions, with a cartridge appropriate to the purpose, under time pressure.” A Scout is short enough to be agile and handy and light enough to be carried all day without undue fatigue. For me, that’s “great” enough.

    It’s hard to fully appreciate the Scout concept until you’ve shot one. Mine shoots far better than I can at range and snap shooting using both eyes is something every rifle shooter should experience.

    Try one out sometime.

  24. Overload in CO Says:

    People wonder why the new FNAR wasn’t made to accept AR magazines.
    I believe I saw that one of the new Steyr-AUG rifles will accept AR magazines.

    Mr Bane said on his podcast that someone (CMMG?) was making an AR in 308 that takes cheap HK G3 magazines.

  25. Regolith Says:

    I think Cooper’s reasoning was that, push come to shove, there’s nothing on this continent you couldn’t kill with a .308 if you absolutely had to.

    It seems awful marginal for big bear and moose, but then folks were killing them with Krags and Springfields back in the day.

    My father has killed moose in Alaska with a gun chambered in .308. You just need to use a heavy (around 180 grain), deeply penetrating bullet.

    Though, I’m not sure I’d like to tango with a grizzly with a .308, unless it was a semi-auto like an M1A.

  26. Kim du Toit Says:

    Coop’s Scout Rifle was a great concept for warfare, right up until about 1913.

    Nowadays, however, the “lone scout” concept has been replaced by small Special Forces units, and the “one gun does everything” has been replaced by each individual carrying a special-purpose weapon for specific jobs (M82 sniper rifle, M240 LMG, and sundry assault rifles).

    The Scout Rifle is an excellent concept, however, if one is hunting in heavy brush, but even then, if there’s a chance of dangerous game around, the .308 Win is inadequate. (I’ve shot a lion with a .308, but it’s not something I’d care to repeat — this particualr kitty was lying asleep under a tree; had it been hunting me, I’d have preferred something a little larger.)

    So the Scout isn’t a “do everything” rifle. It’s a “do most things acceptably, as long as it’s not too dangerous.”

    It’s the only serious disagreement I’ve ever had with Coop’s preferences. And let’s face it: without Coop’s recommendation and support, the Scout Rifles would have sold at even lower numbers than they have.

    It’s not a bad answer to the question “If you could only own ONE rifle, whch would you choose?”, but there are better choices even in that scenario.

  27. Dave Says:

    I’ve mentioned it before, here on this blog years back I suspect, that the one rifle concept isn’t new. Folks use to rely on one good rifle to do most everything they needed. A trusty 30-30 was used by many to fill the one gun role that these modern scout rifles are being put in.
    In our case I suspect most gun bloggers, and regular readers of gun blogs probably have an average of ten plus firearms, with at least one appropriate gun for each task. We can’t carry our gunsafes around on our backs out in the woods though.

  28. Model Citizen Says:

    The Steyr scout is the most accurate rifle under $2000, and the most accurate production rifle, unless you count AIs. You cannot get a sub-MOA rifle for under that price, especially in semi-auto. I can hit 9in plates off-hand at 200 yards under time pressure. It’s the true balance between reliability, practicality, and precision. Why do you think M14s are back? Is it worth to have a semi-auto but 4lbs heavier? The scout weighs 7lbs. It is the hits that count.

  29. Model Citizen Says:

    The question isn’t if you could only own one rifle, it’s you can only carry one gun when you leave the house, you don’t know what situation you are going to be in or when you will be back – which gun do you take? It really should be a Steyr Scout.

  30. Homer Says:

    I’m with Uncle; three’s nothing you can do with .223 that you can’t do with .308 250 meters farther out. If it’s a Scout, by definition, it’s a limited magazine capacity bolt rifle, so you can’t easily follow up minor caliber shot with a dozen more if needed.

    And, I concur with Kim – .308 is at the bottom of the “reasonable” power spectrum, at least for something capable of eating you, but for most North American use, save something like grizzlies or long shots at hardy mountain game, it’ll do the job. Plus, Billy Bob’s Kountry Store will probably have a few boxes of .308 something on the shelf.

  31. Kim du Toit Says:

    If I were going to leave the house with only one rifle slung on my shoulder, it would be my Swedish Mauser M96. MOA out to 400 yards (not in my hands, admittedly, but in my Son&Heir’s), a 6.5x55mm cartridge which has the penetration to kill anything on the planet, and all for $450. Yeah, it’s heavier than the Scout. BFD. It also recoils less harshly than a light-framed .308 Win rifle, so target re-acquisition is quicker.

    (Of course, if I were walking out of my suburban house with only one rifle, it would be with the trusty M1 Carbine, but that’s another topic altogether.)

  32. Standard Mischief Says:

    I seem to remember a few “slide action” AR-15 derived rifles right after the “AWB”. It was only a few months and then everyone figured out they could slap on an un-ergonomic stock, leave off the bayonet lug and ship with a reduced-capacity ten-rounder.

  33. Regolith Says:

    The Steyr scout is the most accurate rifle under $2000, and the most accurate production rifle, unless you count AIs. You cannot get a sub-MOA rifle for under that price, especially in semi-auto.

    Eh?

    In semi-auto, maybe, but Remington, Savage, Tikka, and several other gun companies have been putting out sub-MOA bolt action rifles for under $1000 for years now. Hell, some of their sub-MOA rifles come in at under $600.

  34. Rabbit Says:

    OMG, my neighbor KdT is of a similar mind as me.

    I’m marking this day.
    😀

    Rabbit.

  35. Dave Says:

    One attraction those CZ carbines and others have is because I already own guns chambered in those intermediate calibers. The fact that I haven’t purchased one yet shows that I must agree with the .308 or equivalent as the bare minimum caliber.
    On the other hand, I only see grizzlies and such over sized critters on tv where I live, so I could get away with it.

  36. Model Citizen Says:

    From what I’ve read to get similar accuracy to the Steyr Scout out of a R700 you needed to get a custom barrel fitted to a free-floating stock which is over $2000 for that.

    KdT – the Scout is just better than the M96 in every aspect but price. I mean a decent AR15 is $1500, why not own the best scout rifle?

  37. B Smith Says:

    What better way to get that safari-on-a-budget experience than stalking squirrels and rabbits in the backyard with a .17 scout?

  38. Model Citizen Says:

    Woah, I can’t believe I forgot to say this: the Steyr Scout isn’t meant for killing large game, it’s meant to kill humans. So if you don’t ‘get’ combat, then the Scout isn’t for you. Average .308 produces near 3000ft lbs, while the .223 is less than HALF that. You can choose to not take a shot on a wildebeest, that isn’t the case if someone is pursuing you.

  39. Tam Says:

    From what I’ve read to get similar accuracy to the Steyr Scout out of a R700 you needed to get a custom barrel fitted to a free-floating stock which is over $2000 for that.

    From what you’ve read?

    Thank you for playing… :rolleyes:

  40. Dave Says:

    True enough, but those that have scout rifles are 99.99% likely to never have to use it for that purpose. Dangerous or tasty animals and inanimate targets are by far more likely recipients of scout rifle love.

  41. Regolith Says:

    From what I’ve read to get similar accuracy to the Steyr Scout out of a R700 you needed to get a custom barrel fitted to a free-floating stock which is over $2000 for that.

    From what you’ve read?

    Thank you for playing… :rolleyes:

    Not too mention….R700? The only place I’ve seen it called that is Call of Duty 4.

    I actually own a Remington 700. With the right ammo, it will easily shoot .9-1moa groups, at least out to 300 yards. With the wrong ammo (cheap Remington Express Core-Lokt or similar), it will usually do 1.5-2moa. This is actually fairly standard for hunting rifles these days. Upgrade to a varmint or target rifle, which usually come with a heavier bull barrel rather than the lighter medium contour barrel my 700 came with, and you can usually get that down to between .5-.8 moa, usually for under $8-900.

    These rifles will usually be fairly capable of doing this out to between 300-600 yards. You only have to start putting down serious cash if you want similar performance out to 800 or 1000+ yards.