Gun Digest

5 Best Scout Rifles To Seriously Consider For Survival (2024)

The scout rifle needs to be short, lightweight, handy and chambered in .308 Win./7.62 NATO — a rifle to do just about anything needed from hunting to self-defense.

What are five great do-all scout rifles?:

What Are Scout Rifles?

The concept of the scout rifle was developed by recognized gun expert, the late Lt. Col Jeff Cooper. The rifle needed to be accurate with iron sights to 500 yards and powerful enough to take down large game animals for hunting or self-defense. For this, Cooper selected a bolt-action rifle (as these are far less restricted than semi-auto rifles) less than 40 inches long and weighing under 6.5 pounds.

He also chose the .308/7.62 caliber as an ideal all-purpose round and, as it is common with many militaries around the globe, easy to find.

There are many rifles that fit Cooper’s criteria but then he added one very distinctive feature — a forward-mounted magnified optic with extended eye relief. Extended eye relief scopes are more commonly seen on handguns but there was method to Cooper’s madness.

Speed and reliability were two of his concerns (another reason to opt for a bolt action) and he wanted to keep the area above the action free of any obstruction (like a scope). This allowed for scout rifles to be reloaded faster with stripper clips and ensured that ejection of empty cases was not engendered in any way.

Precision Shooting: Savage's Accuracy Enhancing AccuFit System

Lastly, Cooper felt that having an extended eye relief scope prevented the development of tunnel vision and allowed the operator full peripheral vision and situational awareness. One drawback of extended eye relief scopes is that they lack the full magnification of larger rearward-mounted optics. Cooper felt that 2-3x magnification was sufficient.

There were some other less distinct features that Cooper insisted on, but they are not necessary to the core concept of the scout rifle. After all, he was building the rifle in his mind from scratch, so anything is possible. Only one company built Cooper his scout rifle while he was alive, the Steyr Scout. Since then, several more companies have come forward with their own Cooper-inspired scout rifles. Here, we're going to go over what we think are the five best scout rifles currently on the market.

Steyr Scout Rifle

The Steyr Scout gives you the option of mounting an extended eye relief scope, and even has a built-in bipod that tucks up into the stock.

The original Scout Rifle, the Steyr Scout has all the features Cooper wanted. It’s a lightweight rifle with backup ghost ring iron sights mounted on the receiver and not the barrel, a magazine cutoff device to be able to fire one shot only or with a 5-round detachable magazine. The polymer stock has a backup 5-round magazine in the buttstock. The fore-end of the stock sports an integral bipod that folds up completely into the stock, an accessory rail and five sling attachment points, another Cooper notion.

The Steyr Scout has a three-position safety with a fire option and two levels of safety, one locks the bolt and one does not. Of course, the rifle is available in different colors and calibers, as Cooper recognized that in some countries civilians are not allowed to own firearms that can function using military calibers. Extended capacity magazines (up to 20 rounds) are also available.

Steyr Scout Specs:


  • The most true to form scout rifle based on Cooper's concept
  • Lightweight
  • Holds spare mag in stock
  • Integrated bipod


  • Bipod known to be fragile
  • Non-standard magazines
  • Expensive

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle

The Ruger “Gunsite Scout Rifle” was developed in conjunction with the staff at the world famous shooting facility.

Ruger developed their own scout concept and dubbed it appropriately the “Gunsite Scout Rifle.” Gunsite is, of course, the training facility established by Jeff Cooper.

These scout rifles feature a forward-mounted Picatinny rail for optics, ghost ring backup iron sights, a detachable 10-round box magazine (5 rounders are available), and a traditional scope mounting option. They are available in several different calibers.

The rifle was developed in conjunction with the Gunsite Academy and features their name engraved on the receiver. Interestingly, this rifle features a grey laminated wood stock that is weather resistant and includes rubber spacers that can be used to adjust the length of pull at the buttpad.

A synthetic stock model is also available, and in both stock types the barrel remains free floated. The barrel, available in two different lengths and in either stainless steel or blued, is cold hammer forged for improved accuracy and longer life. The barrel is topped off with a choice of different muzzle devices, a flash hider being the most common.

Ruger Gunsite Scout Specs:


  • Durable and attractive wood stock
  • Compact overall length
  • AICS-pattern magazines
  • Included muzzle brake


  • Heavier than some others on the list
  • Relatively expensive

Savage 110 Scout

The Savage Scout rifle is built on Savage’s legendary action and has the company’s excellent AccuTrigger.

Savage is known for making very accurate rifles at reasonable prices, and the Model 110 Scout is no exception.

They key to any modern Savage rifle is the AccuTrigger, which allows you to adjust the trigger pull for increased comfort and accuracy.

The Savage AccuStock provides a rigid interface between stock, action and barrel, and supports parts along the entire length rather than at just two points. This diminishes pressure on the barrel and improves accuracy.

Like other scout rifles, the Savage 110 Scout is a bolt action with a forward-mounted optics rail, backup iron ghost ring sights, and a synthetic stock. It also features a detachable box magazine with 10-round capacity, a muzzle brake and an adjustable stock.

Savage 110 Scout Specs:


  • Ships with AccuTrigger
  • Stock is adjustable for both LOP and comb height
  • AICS-style magazines
  • Ships with muzzle brake


  • Users seem to dislike its iron sights
  • On the heavier side

Mossberg MVP Scout

The handy little Mossberg MVP Scout can accept both M1A and AR-10 mags.

Mossberg seems to be mostly known for its Model 500 shotgun, but the company makes plenty of popular rifles as well, including the Mossberg MVP Scout. One thing that sets the MVP Scout apart from other scout rifles is that it can accept both M1A and AR-10 magazines.

The longer length top Picatinny rail allows for more expansive options for optics while the backup iron ghost ring sights include a front fiber optic for improved visibility.

The short barrel is threaded so it can accept standard AR muzzle devices (Standard A2 flash hider is included) as well as a suppressor if so desired. The trigger pull is user adjustable from 3 to 7 pounds, the bolt handle is oversized for easier use, and the synthetic stock includes side rails for mounting accessories.

The rifle can be purchased with a Vortex scope and comes with a sling as well. It is only available in one size and caliber.

Mossberg MVP Scout Specs:


  • Very affordable
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Adjustable trigger
  • Uses AR-style mags


  • Some users reported issues with bolt smoothness and finish quality

Springfield M1A Scout Squad

The Springfield Armory Scout Squad is a hard-hitting .308 semi-auto that accepts a forward-mounted optic.

Jeff Cooper was asked about the possibility of scout rifles being semi-automatic and he was certainly not opposed but insisted on reliability.

There is hardly a more battle proven and reliable semi-auto rifle than the M1 Garand and the M1A. Springfield Armory has been churning out M1A rifles for some time and has developed a scout version as well.

The Springfield Armory M1A-A1 Scout Squad takes the standard M1A concept and turns it into a much smaller and handier rifle with forward-mounted Picatinny rail, synthetic stock, and a recoil-reducing muzzle brake.

The rifle sports an 18-inch barrel, two-stage trigger, aperture adjustable iron sights, a standard box magazine, and gas piston-operated reliability in 7.62 NATO.

Springfield M1A Scout Squad Specs:


  • Semi-auto
  • Included muzzle brake


  • Heavy compared to most bolt-actions
  • More expensive than most others on list

Editor’s Note: This excerpt is from Modern Survival Guns: The Complete Preppers' Guide to Dealing with Everyday Threats, available now at

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