In the late 1960s, Gunsite Academy founder Jeff Cooper began codifying what he considered the ultimate general-purpose rifle.
Throughout the next 30 years he worked with various custom rifles in an effort to bring his idea to reality.
Ultimately, working with Steyr, Cooper was able to engineer the personification of the one rifle for the world theory: the Steyr Arms Scout Rifle.
A scout rifle by Cooper’s definition is a lightweight, carbine length, bolt-action rifle chambered for the .308 Winchester with an 18 or 20 inch barrel.
The rifle also should have a rugged synthetic stock, iron ghost ring sights, and a fixed 2X to 4X riflescope with 10 inches of eye relief, mounted just ahead of the action as low as possible.
A traditional riflescope of the same magnification could suffice, but was not considered ideal.
Introduced in the late 1990s, the Steyr Scout ended Cooper’s quest, but due to its high price, others interested in the concept continued to build their own.
By 2010 the scout rifle had seemed to fall from grace, but in 2011 Ruger introduced the Gunsite Scout Rifle (GSR), which was based on their model 77 action.
It took the shooting world by a storm.
In fact, it has become so popular Ruger now lists 12 variations of the GSR in its catalog.
Other companies followed suit.
In 2015, Mossberg introduced a scout rifle based on its MVP action, and Savage reintroduced an updated version of its discontinued scout rifle.
With the still available and now more affordable Steyr Scout and the Ruger GSR, shooters now have four factory scouts to choose from in a variety of configurations.
Why the resurgence?
We can only speculate, but scout rifles seem to be very popular with preppers who are looking for one rifle that can be used for protection or hunting.
The trend might also be due to an overdose of the AR style rifle, which is arguably a better general-purpose platform.
However, an AR chambered for the .308 Winchester is noticeably heavier and has a lot more moving parts to break.
I’ve spent the last two years working with all of the current commercial scout rifles and several custom creations.
If you’re looking for a rifle that will be shot away from a bench and from field shooting positions, scout rifles have a lot to offer.
They are handy and fast to manipulate.
They provide plenty of accuracy out beyond 300 yards.
They are conducive to extended time in the field due to their lightweight and ease of carry.
And finally, as Cooper postulated, scout rifles are adapt at hunting and for protection from bad critters or bad men.