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Thread: The foundation of a Scout Rifle

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master
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    The foundation of a Scout Rifle

    I don't know if this is the right place on the forum but here goes:

    We're all familiar with the late Lt. Colonel Cooper's concept of a Scout Rifle. There are several commercial renditions of that concept, with the Steyr being the most faithful version of Cooper's criteria. (IMO)
    I've toyed with the idea of assembling something close to a Scout Rifle but with some divergence from the true "Scout Rifle" pattern.

    I envision a bolt action built on a short action receiver and a barrel chambered for the 308 Win or 7mm-08. I've also contemplated a medium length action and the 7mm Mauser but that's a whole new set of hurdles to overcome.
    A long action is unacceptable.

    It needs to be weather resistant, so stainless steel or some durable finish that can take abuse.
    A synthetic stock or a well protected laminated stock (laminate may prove to be too heavy, not sure)
    A forward mounted scope but some provision for back-up iron sights.
    A maximum weight of 3.5 kilograms and a max length of 1 meter.
    It needs to have a top notch barrel with a contour and length that allows the rifle to meet the weight and length requirements but not too thin/short. This may be a custom barrel blank cut and contoured to meet the criteria.

    It doesn't need a detachable box magazine and it doesn't need an integral bipod (but a bipod would be nice)
    It doesn't need to accept stripper clips but if it does, that's acceptable.
    It doesn't need a hinged floor plate.

    Years ago Sako made a medium length action that was perfect for the 7mm Mauser (7 x 57) but I haven't seen one in years.
    That leaves us with a short action.

    So forum members: WHAT ACTION WOULD YOU USE FOR THE FOUNDATION MEETING THE ABOVE CRITERIA ?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    .308 Ishapor bolt action. They painted those things and built like a tank. Replace the rear sight with a scope mount for a pistol scope. Cut the barrel and/or stock. Paint it all and bingo, you have a very functional scout rifle.

  3. #3
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    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    I've several, what I call, pseudo "scouts" as I don't necessarily agree with all the criteria the "scout conference" came up with. One of my favorites is my Swede Scout;

    M96 action in 6.5x55 cartridge with original 24" barrel....I've had [still have a couple] shorter barreled scouts and have found the extra barrel length isn't really any handier.
    Converted to cock on opening.
    Commercial trigger breaks clean at 2 1/2 lbs.
    Magazine can be quickly and easily loaded with stripper clips or easily toped off from rounds in stock cartridge carrier.
    Light weight composite stock.
    One piece Redfield style base easily adapted to rear sight base on barrel....rock solid.
    Leupold 2X scout scope mount low with ocular lens over rear receiver ring where intended.
    Flip up aperture rear sight on rear site bae if scope goes TU.

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    Another is my much modified FR8 in .308W. Other than weight (doesn't bother me) it meets the "scout" rifle criteria.

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    Personally, I like the scout concept.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    IMO, rapid stripper clip loading is the ONLY justification for forward-mounting of a scope. If there's no need to load quickly from the top, or you're inserting detachable boxes from the bottom, a low-powered optic mounted over the receiver is a FAR superior option. My Ruger Scout ceased being a Scout five minutes after leaving the box, with removal of the front rail and installation of a Leupold 2.5-8 on the receiver lugs.

    If you want the stripper clip option, the Yugoslav M48 should be about perfect. It's shorter than a true '98, but long enough for 8x57, so long-seated bullets in .308 or 7-08 will have adequate room.
    Last edited by Bigslug; 01-26-2020 at 01:08 AM. Reason: Corrected scope model
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  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Not a scout rifle, but what I prefer to call a "Full Race .303" built on a 1943 Long Branch.

    A bit of history on how I came around to this thing.

    In my NRA tech staff days LTC John George, author of "Shots Fired In Anger" was on the NRA Board. He lived in DC and was a regular around HQ. A real rifle nut in every sense. While I was on active duty I had I had worked with him on a project in which surviving CBI vets were interviewed to glean bits of field and tradecraft related to jungle warfare which might have otherwise been lost. John spent most of his postwar years in East Africa until the late 1960s and had numerous contacts among the Safari Club International and Brits he had served with in the CBI. I traveled to UK to meet with some of those old soldiers as well. One of the gents whom I met was a retired British Army cartographer who was an avid big game hunter who had been an adviser to Wingate's Chindits. Most of his African postwar "expeditions" were under the auspices of the British Museum, though I expect Mi6 may have been discreetly involved.

    He had a "bush rifle" put together by Holland & Holland, which was a scoped, heavy barreled jungle carbine converted to 7.62mm NATO. That rifle appeared in the British magazine Shooting Times and Country. I carried a dog-earred copy around for years in search of a gunsmith to build my "fantasy No.4." In the 1970s I was thinking towards 7.62 NATO, but later would be convinced otherwise and eventually went .303, which has turned out to be the correct decision.

    When I went to Ruger the company had a project making M77 sniper 7.62 rifles for the RCMP to replace their converted 7.62mm No.4s which they were having troubles with, as to durability. The Mounties regretted getting rid of their .303s, but by the 1980s the .303 surplus ammo was all gone and they needed a 7.62 rifle because barracks in the remote territories all drew ammo from Cdn. Forces stores. I spoke with RCMP gunsmiths attending the Ruger armorer's school at GREAT length. To a man they all said that there were always "issues" of one sort or another trying to make a reliable 7.62 rifle on the No.4. While the Mk1* Long Branch and Savage receivers had better steel and heat treatment than UK production and were certainly strong enough, feeding was never very reliable.

    When shot "alot" headspace loosened and it was considered normal to have to refit the next longer bolt head "before the barrel was shot out." I was advised in strongest possible terms to forget about 7.62, but to keep the rifle in its original .303 caliber, that I would be happier. I was told it was completely OK to go ahead and use a match quality .308 groove diameter barrel, of 10-inch twist, using the SAAMI-dimensioned pressure and velocity test barrel chamber (NOT the military "trench" chamber). The SAAMI chamber has adequate neck release clearance to enable use of common .312" diameter .303 bullets, and has a ball seat close to actual bullet diameter (NOT oversized) having a gradual leade angle which together provide good support to the bullet to avoid base upset or spiking pressure in the tighter barrel. They insisted that you could shoot ordinary .303 ammo down the .308 barrel and this was just fine!

    I was skeptical at first of that claim, but Ruger also had an order to build some No.3 single shot carbines chambered in .303 British for commercial sale in Canada. There was ample justification to build pressure barrels with both SAAMI .303 Brit and US cal. .30 rifling dimensions, because Ruger sure wasn't going to tool up to make special .303-dimensioned barrels just for a 1000 gun order. The company bought radial-copper crusher test barrels to fit the Universal Receiver from CIL's contractor. The two pressure-test barrels were fired and compared with everything, Cdn and UK military MkVII, MkVIIIz, US and Cdn. commercial softpoints and handloads with Speer, Sierra and Hornady softpoint bullets of various diameters.

    Bottom line: YES the pressure IS higher, but NO, it is NOT dangerous. The resulting sample averages levels are within design limits of a sound Long Branch, essentially +3500 psi or 48,000 max vs. 44,500 max. and the X-bar+3 Sigma range was less than the 7.62 NATO MAP which gave the problems with bolts compressing, receivers stretching and spotty feeding.

    I was offered a DCRA style No. 4 match rifle built in the 1970s. I got it imported OK on a Form 6 and had the scope mounts made in the experimental shops at Ruger. I removed the fragile A.J. Parker target sight, reinstalled and zeroed a WW2 Mk2 battlesight and swapped front sights until the two flip apertures were regulated at 200 and 500 yards with 180-gr. softpoint ammo. I could use either iron sights or scope at will and reload with "chargers" from the top. The scope detaches or installs quickly without loss of zero. The barrel is a hammer forged 7.62 NATO blank of 4-groove government form, ten-inch twist, chamber cut with the SAAMI pressure-velocity test barrel reamer. This minimum chamber does not blow the shoulder forward like the WW2 Mil chambers do and does not have the huge ball seat which enables the bullet base to upset, so that it must be squeezed down and extruded into the bore, spiking pressure.

    The rifle shoots any factory .303 Brit ammo fine, or handloads with common .308 diameter bullets. Brass life is very good. Yes, I do neck-size. A solid 2 moa rifle with good lots of HXP or WRA ball ammo, and 1.5 moa or better with handloaded Hornadys, Speers, or Sierras.

    Its short-stroke bolt and 10-shot magazine give it a very good rate of fire. I shot it for laughs at Infantry Trophy. Starting with full magazine I can bang them off, reload with two strippers and usually get the second ten rounds off in 50 secs. at 500 and 600 with enough hits on the "E" silhouette to score bonus points. I scored about the same with it as I did my M1 Garand, though I may get off a few more shots with the M1, but the number of hits per string is the about same until you get closer up to 300 yards, where the Garand has the advantage sitting rapid not having to work the bolt. The 4x32mm Weaver scope is zeroed at 250 yards and using the bottom post of the Duplex Reticle provides the correct holdover aiming point for 400 yards. Front sight assembly is from a P.14 Remington. This has been a very useful "Bush Rifle" which has killed truckloads of game over the years.

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    Last edited by Outpost75; 01-25-2020 at 02:02 PM.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    With a forward mounted optic (designed for such use), fast target acquisition with BOTH eyes open is a really BIG plus, as well as fast reload capability, be it stripper clip (to me preferred) or magazine. I helped a friend set up a 98 Mauser (8x57) and it is dandy.
    It ain't rocket science, it's boolit science.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sundog View Post
    With a forward mounted optic (designed for such use), fast target acquisition with BOTH eyes open is a really BIG plus, as well as fast reload capability, be it stripper clip (to me preferred) or magazine. I helped a friend set up a 98 Mauser (8x57) and it is dandy.
    What Sundog said...….
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    I'd start with a Winchester 70 stainless steel short action, claw extractor of course, and stick the old-style trigger on it.
    Remember: Ammo will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no ammo.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I would look at a Savage short action for the build, I think Savage actually made a 308 Scout rifle. IIRC you can buy a bolt on stripper clip adapter uses the rear base screw holes. (maybe Sinclair International)
    Hell, I was there!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I've built a couple of rifles with forward-mounted scopes, and always preferred them with the iron sights. To me, the forward scope is unwieldy, and the balance is awkward, making the rifle uncomfortable to shoot, or at the least, not a pleasure to shoot. After coming to this conclusion, twice, I gave up on forward scopes.

    Far better, in my opinion, is a miniature red dot sight. With an Allen wrench secured under the butt plate, it can be easily removed to gain access to the iron sights. I see no need to mount the red dot forward, as I personally like the sight near the eye.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I think I'd have to start with something like a stainless Ruger 77/44.. Little over 5lbs, already short and handy. In close (as it was intended) the .44 magnum should handle about anything. Cheap to reload from mild to wild. Perfect with cast or jacketed. Carry one kind of ammo that feeds the carbine and your sidearm. Doubt I'd put a scope on it but it surely could be done. Maybe a holographic sight.

    Maybe a 77/357 if I lived down south where the dangerous game is smaller...

    I do have a Danish Krag in 45-70 with a barrel mounted scope on it but at 10 lbs, it's hardly a "scout rifle".. (-:}
    Last edited by arlon; 01-25-2020 at 04:06 PM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master
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    https://www.savagearms.com/content?p...ummary&s=57136

    This looks nice to me, 308 or 338 Federal would be my choice.
    Hell, I was there!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigslug View Post
    IMO, rapid stripper clip loading is the ONLY justification for forward-mounting of a scope. If there's no need to load quickly from the top, or you're inserting detachable boxes from the bottom, a low-powered optic mounted over the receiver is a FAR superior option. My Ruger Scout ceased being a Scout five minutes after leaving the box, with removal of the front rail and installation of a Leupold 1.5-5 on the receiver lugs.
    Exactly what I did with mine!

    My gun was $759.00 I see them on sale all the time for similar amounts. You will be hard pressed to make anything as good for less.

    My .02

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
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  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    While not a scout rifle in any sense. Years ago I used a Bushnell rail scope mount to mount a Bushnell phantom 2.5 x pistol scope on a Thompson Center renegade. I used the rear sight screw to mount it. It saved bending the hammer spur, and allowed a better hand hold for carrying. The scope and mount added very little weight to the rifle was very low mounting and allowed better fit of the existing cheek piece when on the rifle, one of the few scoped rifles I could follow birds in flight with.

    Most rifles are set up with a one height does all cheek piece for both iron sights and scopes. The true long eye relief scope mounting is lower than a regular scope and very solid and stable. It allows most rifles to be carried at the balance point. It would allow for a aperture sight to be mounted for "back up" use, or a stripper clip guide if desired. On a light short barreled bolt action the 308 might not be the best cartridge do to recoil concerns and performance. But a 243, 6.5 mm, or 7 mm. The one cartridge I might really consider is the 284 win.

    If I remember when the Scout council and Cooper decided on 308 partly because of surplus ammo availability.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    I have two rifles I have forward mounted pistol scopes on neither of set up for scopes one is a early Ruger Mini-14 the other is a Remington model 81 in 300 savage . Both have a 2-7 X scope and the idea works well but does effect handling /carrying a bit along with storing in the gun safe .

    Actually there is a third rifle as well I can no longer hunt well with open sights and put a scope forward on my Kodiak muzzle loader two years ago .
    When I think back on all the **** I learned in high school it's a wonder I can think at all ! And then my lack of education hasn't hurt me none I can read the writing on the wall.

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Thanks for all of the responses. Keep them coming!

    To address a few specific responses:
    The Ruger 77/44 would be a great candidate for a suppressor with ammunition downloaded to keep it subsonic but the 44 mag is just not the cartridge I would be looking for in a Scout Rifle configuration. Good rifle, just not for this project.

    The forward mounted scope isn't just for use with stripper clips (although if stripper clips are used the scope cannot be over the action). The forward mounted scope allows for excellent access to the magazine even if stripper clips are not used. I agree that a scope mounted over the receiver is probably better in terms of optical performance. Mounting the scope forward of the receiver is a compromise made to gain better access to the receiver while costing a little bit of optical performance. And I agree that if stripper clips are not being utilized, a forward mounted scope may not be worth that price.

    Someone mentioned a Winchester model 70 Classic, short action in stainless. I actually owned a synthetic stocked, stainless steel, Winchester model 70 classic in .308. That was an awesome rifle. And the reality is that rifle in its stock configuration is very close to the Scout rifle concept in every way except the receiver mounted scope. I think obtaining one of those actions just to build a rifle from would be cost prohibitive but if I had the money, that would be a good place to start.

    Bigslug -the Yugo M48 action is a very real possibility. If it can handle the 7 x 57 (and I think it will) that could be an option.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Interesting concept regarding scout rifles. I was seriously thinking about the Ruger Scout rifle. I had cataract surgery last September and October. Glad I did. Don't need glasses to drive but do need them for reading and close up work. Sad part is there is only one gunshop in town.And he hasn't had a Ruger Scout rifle in his rack for quite sometime. I've a couple ammo cans of some West German MEN 7.62x51 just sitting here doing nothing. But by the same token I have a nice LongBranch #4MKI* and should I wish it would easily be transformed into a quasi scout rifle. Since the forend had been chopped and a 22" barrel might mean a possible canadate for a scout rifle. I'd opt to install a a williams adjustable rear sight and ditch the old military one. Since it had a ramped front sight that may have to go. Only thing about the ramped front sight is that it takes the standard British military sight blades Such as found on the standard #4 series of rifles.And of course Would need a new forend, matching handguard with barrel band with sling swivel the barrel ring I already have.Barrel is the standard 2 groove. Things would have been easier if I had not sold my jungle carbine. Frank

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    I tried the Scout thing twice with a Mosin/Sako 7.62x54 shortened to 18" and a Stevens bolt 30-30. Its just not for me. Just give me a 18" Remington 700 .308 with iron sights and a 4x or less fixed scope, or a Mauser 98 8x57 fixed up the same way. Both would need a good sling for long shots. I've always shot all sights with both eyes open. Blind magazine and a 3# trigger also.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    This again....

    The scout concept is not a bad idea but the inclusion of a scope, wether forward or rearward mounted, is not a good idea from the whole concept of the "Scout Rifle". A scout rifle needs to be rugged and a scope, unless high dollar ruggedized model, isn't. Iron sight, preferably military style peep sights are truly the best for a scout rifle.

    Also, the forward mounted sight is just plain wrong for the balance of the rifle and that's important when carrying for prolonged periods of time.

    I remember back in the '80s Chuck Taylor did a write up in SOF about the No 5 Lee Enfield and stated that, accept for the caliber (a more common cartridge), it was the best rifle to fit the "Scout" concept. He also agreed that the scope was superfluous.

    And of course, this is just my humble opinion... And that's what counts to me!

    And once again here is my Scout Rifle. Ishapour 2A in 7.62 x 51. I have all of $350 in to it.
    (I'd rather have a No.4 in this config but the conversion to .308 would be cost prohibitive.)

    Last edited by tbx-4; 01-26-2020 at 01:11 AM.

  20. #20
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    I converted a Mauser 93 carbine about 35yrs ago. The GunSmith who cut back the bbl to 18 1/2" and mounted a Burris Scout Scope on it, had to jury-rig a long one piece Weaver base to mount the scope to just clear the action opening. Sent it to Fajen for a plane jane stock. Later I Full length glass-bedded it.

    I tried the speed-loading, shooting thing that Outpost75 did.

    Starting with 5+1 and a handful of rounds in the 5rd stripper clips.

    Got off 18rds in 60seconds, all in the 9ring of a small silhouette. Off hand.
    Of course that was 35yrs ago. Not sure I could even see a silhouette at 100yrds these days. With my glasses.
    But I give the rifle all the credit. It is still one of the most accurate guns I've ever fired.
    And that just rigged scope mount ? 500 Jacketed rounds and 2,000+ rds of cast later it's as solid as ever.
    I HATE auto-correct


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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check