The Scout Rifle Study: A Book Review and Critique of the Scout Rifle Concept

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Let me preface this by saying that I remain a big fan of the Scout Rifle concept and the Steyr Scout in particular. When I ordered a copy of Richard Mann’s “The Scout Rifle Study”, I was hoping to find a critical assessment of the concept. I was hoping to see pros and cons of the forward-mounted optic in particular, and the inclusion of an AR-10 on the cover made me think that there might be serious discussion of the modern lightweight self loading rifle in the context of the Scout Rifle concept. Basically, I was hoping for a book that would independently critique Cooper’s concept, and bring fact-based conclusions about where it was suitable or unsuitable.

Instead, the book is much more a compilation of the primary source material of the Scout Rifle, as a one-stop-shop for those who are already happily convinced that it is a universal general-purpose rifle needing no defense. If the Scout Rifle is considered a cult, this book would be its Nicene Creed, not its Ninety-Five Theses. Of course, for the person who is a devotee of the concept, this is a great book, compiling all of Cooper’s original definitions and detailing the history of Gunsite and the various Scout Rifle Conferences.

As one might expect, the various pseudo-Scout rifles made by Ruger, Savage, Mossberg, and others are discussed, but ultimately deemed underserving of the title for various violations of Cooper’s standards (ignoring the fact that the Steyr Scout fails to make the required weight, because Cooped deemed it worthy). The entire realm of self-loading platforms are rejected on the basis that they are too heavily regulated in some places (and more importantly, not legal to use on African safari).

I was particularly curious to see discussion of the forward-mounted optic and its characteristics, as this it really the only thing that distinguishes a true Scout Rifle from a light and handy rifle with iron sights. While Cooper’s original reasons for the choice are well explained (balance, situational awareness, and access to reload from the top), they are not challenged but simply accepted as dogma. To my mind, the proliferation of detachable magazines that load from the bottom (including the anointed Steyr Scout) make the access reason moot. I think the balance of low-light performance and magnification against peripheral situational awareness is a discussion worth having as it applies to traditional scopes versus forward mounted ones, but the book does not include this. Mann does include a series of benchmark tests of various essential Scout Rifle shooting tests, though, and of the rifles that come out in the top three by his scores, two had traditional scopes and one had only iron sights.

That all said, the book remains a useful and valuable reference for the dogma of the Scout Rifle, although at $45 I think it is a bit overpriced for what appears to be a print-on-demand paperback.

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Stugbit Fz says:

This is my favorite rifle along with the mountain troop version of the Kar. If one day I have the chance of owning a rifle it would be either this one or the kar. I like the scout concept.

Jason Espinoza says:

Any chance of getting a mud and sand test on the Steyr Scout?

Jaster Mareel says:

I don't mean to be disrespectful to Mr. Mann, but I could smell the unpolished book just by watching his videos. He's very informative, but this book is what you are going to get.

refoilion says:

I'm going to be ordering the Burris ballistic Plex 2-7×32 scope to mount on my Ruger gunsight scout I plan to use see through rings so I can also use the iron sights if I need to I'm looking forward to seeing how it works

James Hill says:

I was so close to going for a scout setup, but consider this…… i went for a practical rifle setup instead:

Hondo Trailside says:

The main reason for the forward mounted scope, apparently not mentioned in the book, is for rapid target acquisition. Cooper made a big deal about the fun he and his pals had breaking clays at Whitington with their 308 scout rifles. The range there is on enough ground that you can actually do that without danger. Snap shooting was key to his needs, both for defense and hunting.

I accept that, and it is part of modern military rifles that they have optics that make it easy to rapidly acquire the target. And with a proper rail, it should be possible to attach other forward optics, and ideally iron sights also, without worrying about custom iron sights.


Cooper lived on to 2006 and saw telescopes that were pretty good. He says they all broke. Seems odd to me. But it is not unlike what you said about the optics on your WWSD guns. You said the irons were redundant because you could carry spare optics. In fact, one could easily actually carry small dot sights to replace a broken scout scope also. That would be an option some would prefer to irons, or even as the primary optics. These are easy options today. And the dots would help make weight.


The access to the action thing does interest me because I mostly use controlled feed rifles. I do think anything that will be used with dangerous game in mind, ought to be as good as military rifles, both in sights and general ruggedness. And men are dangerous game. Topping off is important. There are according to Gunyana two African situation where you can need a ton of ammo. One is encounters with poachers, and the other is animals that need to be driven off with warning shots, but just won't leave. He says of the 416 Rigby that either action can get very expensive if you are burning through 30 rounds of Rigby ammo. Those 2 5 round mags are going to be light for high volume encounters that occur with a steyr in your hands.

The weight thing is extremely important. It is also completely ignored All real scouts should actually weigh 6.6 pounds all up, I suppose not loaded. But in the 80s, they could not do that with rifles that were scoped. Or most who tried to, were not able to do it. So he slid to 6.6+optics. The ideal Cooper stated that he had in mind was that the gun should weigh what a fine English shotgun weighed. What is so annoying is that this weight is completely doable. But most scouts are more like boat anchors than double shotguns.

The Steyr is a nice rifle, but it is also basically a vanity project. Cooper twice got involved with European manufacturers. In both cases he compromised his most fundamental ideas scandalously. And you have reviewed both guns on this channel. The Steyr is nothing like what Cooper though a scout ought to be but he accepted gimmicky change after change, just to see something realized. It is stuffed with garbage. But most people like it quite a lot.

You can come closer to a scout rifle with a Winchester 94, with a red dot, than any of the commercial rifles currently on offer. And Cooper said it was an inspiration, well, without the red dot.

Gregg says:

A case study of contradictions…. Lol.

TarterSauce says:

I love those rifles and find the whole concept very interesting. That being said, Fudds ruin everything when they treat people like messiahs and their lore like gospel. I understand being attached to an idea, but more people need to be capable of thinking independently and not take a difference of opinion so personally.

Tiberius Clausewitz Drusus Nero Germanicus says:

So what was the iron-sight rifle in the top three? I might not be that old but I'm something of a dinosaur and a rifle with open sights that allows fast target acquisition and engagement sounds like something right up my alley.

glen casson says:

Does it mention the Parker-Hale 1300s in the book Ian?

212driller says:

I've been into this subject for years and here is my. 02c.

These rifles are relevent as a multi purpose rifle, and that is their goal. The forward mounted optic is an archaic idea, and is generally not very useful, and as much as I would love a modern bolt action that takes stripper clips its just not in the cards. I have found that for carrying in the bush, a rifle that bare is 6lbs like the gunscout, and has a 16" barrel is ideal. Iron sights are useful for say self defense type situations as well as close range hunting, and keep the rifle light. Having a threaded muzzle has obvious advantages. Without the scout concept the ruger gunsite scout wouldn't exist and its my favorite do all rifle. They are still relevant but not for the same reasons as before, and not for the same uses.

Blackacre says:

Where can we buy that t-shirt?

George Wamser says:

The Scout rifle concept is very sound. Like all firearms it is not perfect. It is a general utility rifle. As such it fills that role pretty well. Personally, if I had to choose one rifle where I live, the Scout could do it. Might you be overthinking it a bit? Or…is their a more modern version of it, with better optics available? A 21st century scout? There’s your next project. Opps, maybe you already did it…..😀

Spencer Burton says:

Kel tech su 16. Any variant. 5.56 though.

Cribbage Patch Kid says:


Scout rifles generally have iron sights too….

Mortablunt says:

Ian, the scout rifle isn't a good idea. It's a fucktarded one imagined by a POG wth an inflated ego.

Buchenrad says:

I believe if cooper was around today he would be completely okay with a "scout" rifle with detachable mags and a LPVO. Whether he would admit that to everyone else is quite questionable.

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