The Steyr Scout: Cooper’s Frontier Rifle

Ian McCollum wrote for us a few times, but his schedule precluded that from continuing. So, we’re forced to steal his stuff. We kid! We have his permission and his blessing to syndicate his stuff, and like all of our syndicated material it’s here using a canonical link. Anyway, let’s get on with it: Col. Cooper and the Scout Rifle. This article originally appeared online at Forgotten Weapons.  It appears here in its entirety with their permission.  Mad Duo

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The Steyr Scout: Jeff Cooper’s Modern Day Frontier Rifle

Ian McCollum

Jeff Cooper was an icon of the American firearms community, best known for his work with the Southwest Pistol League and father of modern practical handgun competition. Cooper was a Marine Corps veteran and avid hunter in addition, and in the mid 1980s he began to codify a concept he would call the Scout Rifle.

This was intended to be a rifle weighing 3kg (6.6lb), no more than 1m in length, and capable of ethically taking game up to 200kg out to 400m. The concept called for a rifle that was rugged, versatile, fast, and accurate. In addition to game, it was to be capable of being used in self-defense against multiple humans, as might be required by a military scout operating alone. The sighting system had to be both fast and precise, and rapid reloading was a necessity.

This led to a variety of incarnations, with guns built on lightweight commercial actions as well as military surplus actions. In the early 90s, though, Cooper began working with Steyr Mannlicher to develop the best realization of the concept that could be done from the ground up.

They began with the Steyr SBS action, which allowed an aluminum receiver, and a newly designed polymer stock. The stock included a folding bipod in the handguard and storage for a spare loaded magazine in the back. Removable spacers allowed a shooter to adjust the length of pull, and a lightweight barrel kept the weight down to just 3.2kg (7lb). The primary caliber offered was the .308 Winchester, although a version was also made in 7mm-08 for European markets where the .308 was not allowed for civilian ownership, and later versions would also include the .376 Steyr and .243 Winchester.

One of the other iconic characteristics of the Scout Rifle was the use of a long eye relief, low-power optical sight (specifically on the Steyr rifle, a Leupold M8). Coupled with folding backup aperture sights, this type of optic allowed some magnification to extend the range at which a target could be identified but also allowed rapid snap shooting with both eyes open and did not hinder peripheral vision like a traditional scope.

The concept continues to drive some controversy today as might be expected for a rifle deliberately designed to be good at a wide range of tasks while being excellent at none of them. I think discussion was largely hindered by the fact that most who make judgement of the Scout, for good or ill, are not in a position to really need the set of capabilities it provides.

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About the Author: ian_mccollumIan McCollum looks like someone crossed a beatnik with a Civil War cavalry officer — idiosyncracies, eccentricities and peculiarities are the first requirements to write for us or to earn our admiration; he’s perfect. McCollum is considered a gun nerd even among gun nerds. He’s probably best known for his work as the founder and editor of Forgotten Weapons. McCollum is also a producer and co-host of InRange TV. As if these chops weren’t enough, he’s a technical adviser for the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners and a professional researcher for Armament Research Services. Somehow he manages to balance such academic work with private consultation and practical shooting competition. He’s been published in publications such as Strzał Magazine and Popular Mechanics, and he has excellent taste in rare and obscure camouflage. If you’d like to support Ian’s goal of creating a comprehensive firearms encyclopedia, you should support Forgotten Weapons on Patreon.

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2 thoughts on “The Steyr Scout: Cooper’s Frontier Rifle

  • July 5, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I have owned a Cooper Steyr Scout since they were originally introduced. It is superb rifle. My handloads have afforded me sub-inch groups at 200 yards shooting from a bench using the bipod. If I could only own one rifle, I would have a lot of trouble deciding between my Scout and my BCM Jack. Both were “impulse buys.” I saw them, fell in love, and bought them. I have never had a reason to regret either purchase.

  • July 3, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I got to meet Cooper and handle his personal scout rifle, the action was smooth as glass. The whole gun felt ideally balanced for rapid target acquisition and engagement. I regret I wasn’t able to actually take it to the range.


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