Exactly what is a scout rifle in terms of its place among other rifle types in use today? For the most part, the design is not new as many would tend to believe and even write.
Back during WWII in the jungles of New Guinea, the Australian Army was carrying these rifles during jungle close quarters warfare. Later in my day after the war, we carried them in the deep black willow swamps of Northern Minnesota for whitetail. The 303 British round was perfect as a meat getting system at the time. Later Mauser’s in 7mm as cavalry rifles began to show up for sale on the open market and like the 303 Enfield jungle carbine these also wee picked up by yours truly and taken into the deer woods as well.
Today the Scout rifle is an offshoot of those early developments. For the most part, all of them look a good deal alike save for the brand and action system tied to barrels that range from 308 Winchester through 450 Bushmaster.
Scout rifles are compact, carry open sights, but are set up with tactical rails (Picatinny) so as to accommodate lights, night vision systems, magnifiers, and anything else the shooters want to haul into the field on the back of his or her rifle.
Bolt actions were selected as the primary operating action option here because the design is fail safe to a greater degree than autoloaders and also stronger, thereby allowing for larger cartridge types to be used. However, that stated, the standard scout rifle is in most cases chambered in 308 Winchester / 7.62 NATO.
The following are some examples of current Scout rifles available on the open market today.
Best Scout Rifles
Top Pick – Steyr Scout Rifle
Coming in as the best overall scout rifle we have the Steyr Arm Scout. The Austrian rifle builder offers a Scout rife model that is a bit different in terms of basic design but meets the original Jeff Cooper ( designers) standards which makes it stand out above the rest.
I shoot Steyer rifles as applied to my 50 BMG fieldwork. I have always found them to be perfection in terms of materials and workmanship.
These rifles weigh in 6.6 pounds with an overall length of 39.4 inches. As a 308 Winchester chambering, the light rifle kicks a bit but it is a joy to carry in timber or rough country back trails.
Steyr actions are top end in precision and quality and this rifle is no exception. The Scout rifle retains a 19 inch fluted hammer forged barrel and as chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor holds 5+1 in a flush magazine.
The rifle carries an adjustable trigger that rages from 2 through 3 pounds regarding let off.
The stock on the rifle is polymer with an integral bipod system, and length of pull spacers.
The rifle comes in a hard side case and muzzle thread protector. Two five-round magazines are also included with the rifle.
Bottom line, this industy leading rifle is a must have for anyone looking for a scout rifle.
Steyr Scout has been out of stock for months everywhere online, but as of September 18, 2023 our certified supplier got a new shipment in.
They’re expected to sell out within a matter of days, so make sure to pick one up now before they’re gone:
2. Savage Scout Rifle
Based on the Savage 110 action the Scout rifle offered by this company is flexible in that it is offered in several different chamber sizes that range from the 308 Winchester 338 Federal, 450 Bushmaster to the .223 Remington round.
The Savage Scout rifle is built on the 110 receiver which is one of the most accurate over the counter rifle actions built today. At one point while covering the late great 600-yard bench rest shoots for The Varmint Hunter Magazine Savage 110 actions were popping up on bench rest rail rifles and drilling almost single holes to some unbelievable ranges.
The bottom line is that these rifles will shoot. I have several Savage rifles in my test inventory here at Ballistics Research & Development that are not going anyplace but downrange.
This rifle has an overall length of 27.5 inches to 38.5 inches, retains a weight of 7.72 pounds dray, uses a barrel with a twist rate of 1-10 inch, and carries a box magazine that holds 10 rounds.
The Accutrigger is adjustable but out of the box they tend to perform well. Currently, it is the most copied trigger in the world by many firearms brand companies. Adjustable trigger pulls from 2 through 6 pounds.
This rifle is stocked on a single unit conventional piece of furniture and points well in terms of balance, then at the same time will hold up under stressed field conditions.
3. CVA Scout
Here we have a branded “ Scout Rifle” that is quite far off the Jeff Cooper design mark.
This rifle is chambered in several offerings that range from 44 Remington Magnum to 450 Bushmaster and point in between.
Side note ~ If you’re curious as to what is a 450 Bushmaster, take a look at our article on the topic.
The rifle is a single-shot rifle which completely departs over 100% from the traditional Scout rifles.
The 20″ barrel ( compact model ) is threaded and capped for a suppressor I would assume.
The open hammer retains an extension so as to be used around a scope sight that stands out over the rear of the receiver.
The rifle is a break open design which makes it very simple to operate and quite safe to use as well. New shooters take note of that last comment.
I will abbreviate this coverage due to the rifle NOT being a Scout rifle, but in name only. In truth, the rifle should have been named “Pathfinder”, or something on that order.
4. Ruger Scout Rifle
Ruger, a leader in all American-built and designed rifles today carries their models of the Scout Rifle. I have indicated plural here because this company offer’s several different models with blued steel, bright stainless steel, composite stocks of several different colors and patterns.
In all cases however, the Ruger Scout rifle retains receiver sights, scope mounts cut into the receiver of the Ruger standard design and also offers the tactical rail for mounting any type of toys the shooter desires.
Ruger makes use of a free-floating barrel with an accurate barrel install that will deliver good accuracy to extended ranges.
The Ruger Scout Rifle uses a front sight blade ( iron sights ) that is protected and a rear sight that is fully adjustable. These are secondary to using glass sights on top of the receiver ( scopes ). The magazine is a box quick release type and will hold 10 rounds. The barrel is 16.10 inches long and the overall length of the rifle is 38.50 “. The real carry weight is 7 pounds ( Dry ).
The barrel retains a flash suppressor and can be switched out with the aid of an adapter for a suppressor system as well. The rate of barrel twist is 1” in 10” RH and this is ideal for use with the 308 Winchester among others.
5. MVP Mossberg Scout
In Scout rifles, Mossberg offers a nice bolt gun that like the design suggests will take on a wide variety of tasks.
I own the Mossberg bolt action Scout rifle and I can say that after running it for about four years to date and using it as a test gun, backup rifle, and pig shooter in night hunting operations that this is a class act gunning system.
Mossberg offers the rifle in a strong no frills polymer stock, makes use of a good workable recoil pad, mounts short weaver style rails right and left on the forward side of the stock, then tacks on the almost standard Picatinny rail system for the heavy hitting night scopes, magnifying units ahead of the primary sight, and a birdcage flash hider, that can be removed so as to add a suppressor by way of an attached adapter ring.
I have screwed down about everything on my Scout rifle as I run special night scopes with massive forward bell systems, and also test red dots as in those produced by TRUGLO, a company that is always willing to put their product up to the test front and center. Currently, my rifle has a rough but effective comb elevation attachment taped to the stock and elevated AR-16 style high increase block locked onto the Picatinny rail. Why? Big glass under test that won’t clear the barrel prior to lick down.
My rifle is short, compact in the pickup truck, easy to haul anyplace in the side-by-side CanAm and uses a dependable 10 round detachable box magazine.
The 308 round I chamber in the Scout has industry tested for articles and my field hunting Federal, Black Hills, Sig, and Winchester 308 cartridges by the number over the past several years. The rifle was used to 400 yards on steel when making a study of wind drift issue with varied bullet shapes and grain weights in the 308 Winchester round. With more space and time this list could go on for a very long time as the little rifle is just that solid a product.
Priced at a retail MSRP of $623.00, this rifle is a darn good deal for your buck. Barrel length is 16.25 inches, mag capacity 10+1, barrel twist rate 1.10 inches, Color Matte Blue, and stock material synthetic Black.
The total carry length of the rifle is 37.5 inches, and caliber as standard 308 Winchester, 7.62 NATO.
Front sight TRUGO protected housing, rear sight receiver type. All rails receiver and barrel elements solid steel CNC constructed to military standards. How do I know this? Because I have visited the place where these rifles are built, some of which are classified at this point in time.
6. Springfield Armory M1A Scout
Other rifles that may not be the original Jeff Cooper design but are real Scout rifle systems include the following.
Springfield Armory M1A Scout Squad rifle in 7.62 Nato, mounting an 18” barrel, MA Grand action ( basic, ) carries an overall barrel length of 40.33 inches ( TANKER MODEL OR APC CUT DOWN ) and stocked in synthetic or walnut.
The sights on the M1A Scout are receiver rear and open post front with a Picatinny rail running full the length of the rifle’s receiver for additional sighting applications.
Action Semi-auto M1 type, magazine capacity 10+1
7. Ruger Mini 14
This rifle is not named “ Scout” but sure meets many of the requirements is the grand old “Ranch Rifle” by Ruger or so named years ago, now being the Mini 14 or Mini 30 carbines.
These short fast handling rifles are lightweight, carry magazine capacities of 10, 15, 20, or 30 rounds, can mount scopes, and retain fast receiver and post open sights.
Action type on the Mini 14 is basically the M1A military rifles design and when in military production Ruger Firearms took a look and decided to downsize that vary action and adapt it to both .223 Remington ( 5.56 MATO) or 7.62X39 Russian Short. Currently, the rifle is also offered in the newer American developed 300 AAC Blackout.
I have owned, shot, and used commercially this rifle in both Russian Short and .223 Rem for over 25 years to date. Pigs, deer, coyote, and anything that gets in its way have come down hard with the Mini 14’s solid delivery system employed afield. This is my favorite Scout rifle in spades.
At this time I’m rebuilding a brand new Mimi 14 into a custom stainless steel and walnut side folder using the same stocks as provided by Sampson Manufacturing under license by Ruger brand. This new build will be the same as the rifles selling on the collector market for $2000. and up.
Current cost complete using a new rifle by Ruger in stainless steel and the custom order Sampson stock About $900.00
The One To Avoid – Howa 1500 Scout
Here we have a Scout rifle based on the solid Howa 1500 action that feeds bullets to accurate barrels in all of the Howa rifle line.
Howa builds Weatherby Back Country rifles or at least has and I own one that is a 500-yard tack driver in 257 Weatherby Magnum.
In terms of using the Howa action on a Scout rifle, you can’t do much better in my opinion. These rifles mount a Williams one piece rail and peep sight ( quality units ) and make use of a Hogue pillar bedded stock with recoil pad.
The rifle has a William fiber optic hooded front sight, A2 flash hider ( birdcage ), and a two-stage HACT trigger. The bolt on this rifle is one piece forged with double locking lugs. These are well made for boxed off the shelf rifles and will shoot sub-MOA all day long according to the several I have tested here at Ballistics Research & Development.
The safety of the rifle is a three-position system and the stock is set with a pair of sling swivel studs.
As a Scout design, this rifle carries a complete Cerakote tactical gray finish on the barrel and action. The floorplate on the rifle is steel.
Where this one loses it for me is way it feels in my hands. (1)
For more reading see our guide on the best rifle to buy.
- Jeff Cooper, Throwback Thursday: The Scout Rifle. Retrieved from https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2014/10/2/throwback-thursday-the-scout-rifle/
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material for over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world, including Russia, and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American West and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Horn Mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems TM.
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