July 15, 2011
By Scott E. Mayer
Most RifleShooter readers have probably heard the story of Col. Jeff Cooper's quest for a "Scout Rifle" as a do-all tool for the lone rifleman. What may have gotten a little lost in the history though, is that as far as factory rifles are concerned, it was the Austrian gunmaker Steyr that Cooper teamed up with to offer the first production rifles. "Steyr has done a remarkable job of bringing my original concept to reality," said Col. Cooper in 1998. "The Steyr Jeff Cooper Scout system is everything you could want in an lightweight, all-purpose rifle that can perform virtually any task!" The concept didn't change rifles as we know them back then, but the concept has recently been gaining more attention to the extent that Steyr recently announced that overwhelming customer demand prompted the Austrian gunmaker to introduce a special Jeff Cooper Steyr Scout in .308 Winchester chambering with the original grey stock.
When the Steyr Scout rifles first came out, I was fortunate to be among a group of writers invited to field trial the new concept. Cooper was not part of that trial, but from his sometimes bombastic writings, I was anxious to see if the Steyr Scout concept was all he claimed it to be, or just a puffed up answer in search of a question.
I was issued a rifle with a forward mounted scope and chambered for the potent .376 Steyr cartridge, and while that's a bit much gun for the Texas whitetail we were after, gave me the opportunity to try the Scout concept under actual field conditions. As radical and unconventional as the rifle looked, it was immediately clear that the features that made the rifle uniquely "Scout" were not only functional, but well thought out.
The Cooper Scout variant proudly displays Col. Cooper's crest-of-arms inlaid in the original gray stock. Other Steyr Scout models are still available in an all-black configuration as well as a Realtree pattern and a Timber woodgrain profile. If you want to go "full-Cooper," Steyr still has limited numbers of the complete Jeff Cooper Commemorative Scout Package that include Leupold 2.5X 28mm Scout Scope, Galco Ching Sling, Boyt soft case, Boyt hard case, Steyr scope mounts, Art Of The Rifle by Col. Jeff Cooper, and one extra magazine.