We all have our multiple interests, even passions, about firearms, but the Scout Rifle concept grabbed my attention shortly after Jeff Cooper developed it and it is almost an obsession with me.
In the mid-80’s, I came across a cobbled-together Winchester 94 “Scout” sporting a Bushnell Phantom pistol scope. While an interesting idea, this didn’t work for me. In about 1995, I came across a Marlin 1894, 44 Magnum in Scout form replete with Talley bases and rings, Leupold 2.5 scout scope, and backup iron sights. It was made by Jim Brockman in Idaho and the customer had backed out on his order. It was light, fast-handling, and reasonably powerful. I still have it and it has taken deer in WV and Ohio, black bear in Quebec, and wild boar in TN. While it is “Scout-like” it is not truly a Scout Rifle.
In 2011 I was in my buddy’s gun shop when opened a Ruger box to find their new Scout Rifle offering. I didn’t ask any questions, merely pulled the box toward me and said, “It’s mine!” I mounted a Leupold 1.5-4X scout scope on it, sighted it in and while pleased with it, I felt I needed to really test my new rifle and, more importantly, myself. I decided that there was only one place for Scout Rifle instruction, its birthplace, Gunsite.
Under the expert tutelage of Il Ling New, Rangemaster, I burned up hundreds of rounds at a variety of venues, from snap shooting at 25 yards, moving targets out to fifty yards, and on a simulated hunting environment called the Vlei. But what truly amazed me was the rifle’s accuracy at extended ranges. I could consistently hit steel pepper poppers at 400 yards.
I took the basic Scout Rifle Class two more times and my then my wife and I were invited to take part in a private, pilot Advanced Scout Rifle class. This went way beyond our previous classes and we even did some house clearing exercises using frangible ammo. Yes, house clearing with bolt guns! Needless to say, our gun handling and bolt worked improved greatly! The class was an epiphany.
However, earlier this year I found my Holy Grail of Scout rifles, the Steyr Scout Rifle. I’d seen them before, but found them kinda goofy looking, definitely non-traditional. I decided to try one and mounted a Leupold 1.5-4X. I was impressed by its accuracy, its light weight, its handiness, and its integral bipod and spare mag in the stock. The true test came a couple months later.
I was honored to have been invited to attend the 2016 Gunsite Scout Rifle Conference in July of 2016, the first conference in thirty years. The attendees consisted of media, industry, and selected Scout aficionados, with many excellent shooters in attendance. We pushed our Scout Rifles to the limit and leaned more about our rifles and our abilities. There was also a field exercise/competition that pushed us to our limits.
But perhaps the best part was the camaraderie that developed between the shooters and instructors. It was a great culmination to my Scout experience and it was great to see the platform finally come into acceptance after forty years of growing pains.