CHAPTER 5: THE DEFINITIONS
It is the definition or specifications of the Scout Rifle that causes so much contention. If we take the position that the Scout Rifle was Cooper’s to define, then we must also accept, not just bits and pieces of what he wrote, but all of it. The problem is that Cooper’s definition of the Scout Rifle varied from time to time. Before we get into this conundrum of minutia, lets make it a point to understand some things. First is that the Scout Rifle was a concept; it was not a mathematical equation with only one answer. This means there was not a one-rifle answer to the question. (However in 1997 you could argue this changed.)
Secondly, I think we must also accept a certain level of tolerance. In other words, if we look at a Cooper reference that stipulates 19 inches, does that mean that 19.25 inches is outside of spec? Does a reference of seven pounds mean exactly seven pounds? Or does it mean a nominal weight of seven pounds. I ask this because with regard to the weight of a firearm, slight variations will exist from gun to gun of the same model.
Finally, we need to understand the purpose of the definition. It was Cooper’s hope that you could one day walk into a gun store and purchase a Scout Rifle. Not just a rifle that was named a Scout Rifle, but a rifle representing his concept. The specifications he put forward were partly to help manufactures build the rifle of his dreams. However, we must also acknowledge that if we follow Cooper’s elemental definition alone, we could build a rifle meeting the criteria that would not be all that handy in the field.
I’m of the opinion that to preclude this from occurring, Cooper frequently offered not only an elemental definition but one of application as well. If you read his 1984 Gun Digest article – reprinted in Chapter 3 – this is clear. Not only did Cooper’s Scout Rifle need to meet an elemental requirement, it also had to pass a practical muster. While Cooper was serious about the elements of the definition, he was also just as serious about how the rifle must interface with the shooter and perform the conceived tasks at hand. You simply cannot singularly look at the elements of the definition, disregard the intended application and interface, and end up with a Scout Rifle true to what Cooper envisioned.
So, what you have here are six definitions of the Scout Rifle written by Jeff Cooper. The first five are elemental in nature. The last definition lacks the elemental stipulations but for all practical purposes it may be the best definition of a Scout Rifle we have to go on. This is because it specifically details the advantages of the piece as it might be used. Of course the problem with the last definition is that many rifles and carbines could arguably fit into this mold. That would be in stark contrast to what Cooper intended, as can clearly be seen by the application of any of his elemental definitions.
Finally, I would also note that at times Cooper made singular stipulations about one or more of the elements of a Scout Rifle that were in direct contradiction to the full elemental definitions he offered. But those, along with a precise discussion of each element will be dealt with in Chapter 6.
As you will see in a later chapter, the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle was never intended to be an exact rendition of Cooper’s Scout Rifle definition. It was intended to be a rifle based on the Scout Rifle concept, but configured for modern appeal. The mistake often made is to assume it is a true Scout Rifle, when in fact it is a Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle (RGSR.) This is particularly true of Ruger’s latest Gunsite Scout Rifle chambered for the 450 Bushmaster. You could say all of the RGSRs are renegade Scout Rifles. Getting your panties in a wad because the words “scout rifle” are used in the description is senseless. The rifles are based on the Scout Rifle concept, they’re just not Scout Rifles as defined by Jeff Cooper – they are Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifles. The same could be said for the Mossberg MVP Scout. It’s not a Scout Rifle it is a Mossberb MVP Scout.hectogram. And too, the renegade in you might start to leak out just a little bit.
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