The interest in Scout Rifles continues to elevate and I believe that is a good thing. Given the world we are living in, having one rifle that is capable of handling any task a rifle is suited for is a good idea. What concerns me is that many do not comprehend exactly what a Scout Rifle is. Jeff Cooper set the specifications for a Scout Rifle almost 40 years ago. It was his idea and he alone is/was the one who could alter those specifications. And he did; over time there was some wiggle in his definition, but the wiggle was small. With only a modicum of research anyone should be able to discover what a Scout Rifle is.
Of course, digesting the definition clearly does not lead to understanding, and that is apparent if you spend any time on social media discussing the concept. However, one absolute remains: the definition of the Scout Rifle belongs to Jeff Cooper; a rifle existing outside that definition is something other than a Scout Rifle. That does not mean it is a bad rifle or that it cannot efficiently do the things a Scout Rifle can do; it just means it is not a Scout Rifle. I do not consider myself an expert on the Scout Rifle, but the years of research I put into my book, The Scout Rifle Study, gave me what I would consider a good understanding of Cooper’s concept.
This decision chart should help those who might be confused with regard to determining if a rifle is in fact a Scout Rifle. This is not my opinion; it is the most liberal interpretation of the criteria Jeff Cooper set forth.
Now you might be wondering how a rifle could meet all of the objective criteria and there still be only a 75% probability that it was a Scout Rifle. Well, it’s actually very simple; there are several subjective considerations when it comes to the Scout Rifle. According to Cooper, a Scout Rifle is most importantly a general-purpose rifle. (That does not mean a general-purpose rifle is a Scout Rifle.) It must also be handy, light, compact, and friendly. It should also deliver bullets where you want them from arm’s length out to any sensible range. And, it must have a high degree of shootability, be easy to carry and pack, and be ideally adapted to the snapshot.
If a rifle can survive the decision chart AND meet the additional criteria, then it is indeed – in the opinion of Jeff Cooper – a Scout Rifle. Anything short of that is, well, something else.