The first successful extended eye relief optical rifle sight was probably the German World War II-era 1.5 power ZF41. The long eye relief allowed it to be mounted to the rear sight base of K98 Mauser rifles, leaving easy access to the action for faster loading and circumventing an independent mounting system on the receiver. Few noticed this sight, but about 20 years later, Jeff Cooper mounted a Leupold M8 2x pistol scope to the ventilated rib of a Remington model 600 carbine. This became the foundation for Cooper’s Scout Rifle concept and as they say, the rest is history.
The forward mounted, low-magnification riflescope (Scout Scope) permits both-eyes-open shooting, obscures less of the landscape, prevents the scope from whacking you in the head during recoil, and it makes a rifle easier to carry at its balance point. Easier bolt manipulation and action access are other advantages. Over the years, hunters have besmirched the “scout scope,” but the military and law enforcement have fully embraced a similar idea with the modern red dot sight.
We’re seeing a resurgence of the Scout Rifle, partially due to the success of the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle and partially due to the rise of the prepper nation. Shooters are looking for that one-rifle answer. As Cooper intended, Scout Rifles offer general-purpose utility, and those looking to scope one today have a lot more options than were available to Cooper in ‘66. I’ve worked with most of the scout scopes available; here are a few things to consider before you buy.
This article is an excerpt from the August 2016 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.