Cooper considered a scout rifle to be, most importantly, a general-purpose rifle; a gun to be used by one man carefully operating alone, whether in the hunting field or in a military scouting capacity.
Over the years the term "scout rifle" has come to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Today, there are a variety of over-the-counter rifles that are called scout rifles, and there are a number of custom jobs that are labeled the same. In his time, Cooper worked with several rifles, which he thought of as scout type rifles. These included a Winchester Model 94 .30-30 and a Steyr Mannlicher 6.5 x 54mm. Ultimately, Cooper's desire for a scout was met through his collaboration with Steyr and culminated in 1997 with their introduction of the Steyr Scout Rifle.
In some ways the Steyr Scout is an ugly rifle. Ugly or not, when you consider all that the rifle offers, you begin to think less about looks and more about how right Cooper might have been. Many have told me that after handling a Steyr Scout for a few moments, they do not like the rifle or the concept. However, for the most part, all of that handling will have occurred not on the range or in the field but at a gun counter. Or at a location somewhere else, where multiple shots were not fired.
To fully appreciate what the Steyr Scout brings to the table, you must experience the rifle in the field. This is where the forward-mounted scope allows you to quickly get on target and keep both eyes open while shooting. It's also where you'll appreciate the extra magazine stored in the stock. And let's not forget the additional sighting options, such as an integral aperture sight, and the ability to mount a standard riflescope. Oh, and what about the integral bipod?
No, the Steyr Scout might be a bit unusual looking, but like Cooper once commented, "So is a Porsche." We all might like classic walnut stocks and high polish bluing on a traditionally shaped rifle, but real riflemen will also appreciate a tool that can be counted on to provide unfailing, world-wide, general-purpose utility. The Steyr Scout very likely does that better than any other rifle.
You might not agree with me or Cooper, but I'm betting if you spent some time afield with a Steyr Scout, while creating about 300 empty cases, you'd very likely change your mind. That's how it happened with me, and I'm a reasonably simple, yet practical hillbilly.
The major downside to the Steyr Scout is its price tag. If you're not willing to shell out about $2,000 for a rifle, I'd suggest you never take a Steyr Scout out for a serious road test. There's only one way that gamble can end, and it has a lot to do with your wallet!