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

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In this episode of Forgotten Weapons, Ian talks about the the Steyr Scout, Jeff Cooper’s modern day Frontier Rifle.

Jeff Cooper was an icon of the American firearms community, being the father of modern practical handgun competition. He is best known for his work with the Southwest Pistol League. Additionally, Cooper was a Marine Corps veteran and avid hunter and in the mid-’80s, he codified the concept for the Scout Rifle.

The Scout Rifle was intended to be a rifle weighing 3kg (6.6lb), no more than 1m in length, and capable of taking game up to 200kg at 400m. The concept called for a rifle that was rugged, versatile, fast, and accurate. It should also 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 necessary.

This led to a number of variations, with guns built on lightweight commercial actions as well as military surplus actions. In the early ’90s, Cooper began working with Steyr Mannlicher to develop the best realization of his Scout Rifle concept. They began with the Steyr SBS action, which allowed an aluminum receiver, and a newly designed polymer stock. Versions were also made in 7mm-08 for European markets where the .308 was not allowed for civilian ownership. Later versions include the .376 Steyr and .243 Winchester.

One of the other iconic characteristics of the Scout Rifle is its 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.

It is a rifle deliberately designed to be good at a wide range of tasks while being excellent at none of them.

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