Photo shoot yesterday with Shane Jahn. We were trying to do a modern rendition of the famous photo of African hunter/adventurer Frederick Courteney Selous.
“Photo shoot yesterday with Shane Jahn. We were trying to do a modern rendition of the famous photo of African hunter/adventurer Frederick Courteney Selous.

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Thoughts on the Scout Rifle

scout-rifles-jeff-cooper-styer-sheriff-jim-wilsonCol. Jeff Cooper began to experiment with the concept that would come to be called the Scout Rifle in the 1960’s. Essentially, he wanted a light, powerful rifle that would be equally qualified to handle most hunting chores and also serve as a personal defense weapon. He did not conceive it as a weapon with which to engage in pitched battles but rather as a defensive tool for the individual who needed to keep his attackers at a distance and have time to get away from the confrontation.

Throughout his own research and development, Cooper designed, and had built, several custom rifles that illustrated the evolutionary process of his design. Ultimately, he set the loose parameters as being a .308 bolt-action carbine one meter (just less than 40 inches) in length and weighing about 6.6 pounds when tricked out with sling and optics. It should also have ghost-ring iron sights.

The most notable characteristic of his concept was the fact that the rifle would be fitted with a forward-mounted scope. This allowed for ease of carrying the rifle, easier access to the action for loading and other functions, and improvement of the shooter’s peripheral vision.

Prior to his death, in 2006, Cooper could only get one gun company interested in the Scout Rifle concept and that was Steyr. The rest just weren’t having any of it. The colonel used his Steyr Scout on several successful trips to Africa and on a number of head of North American game animals.

What is interesting is that, all these years after Cooper’s death, gun companies are now realizing that their customers are quite interested in the Scout concept. Currently, in addition to the Steyr, we have Scout Rifles available from Mossberg, Ruger, and Savage. And who knows who else we’ll hear from between now and the 2016 SHOT Show.

I believe that the reason for this interest is the fact that, to begin with, Cooper’s Scout concept is a sound one. Today’s shooters see a value in having a general utility rifle that takes care of both hunting and defensive needs. And, while the AR is currently the American Sweetheart not everyone needs or wants a semi-auto carbine.

To date, I have had the opportunity to spend time afield with the Mossberg, Ruger, and Steyr, Scouts. I suspect that I will soon be able to add the Savage to that list as well. I like the concept of a short, light bolt-action carbine. And the .308 Winchester (7.62 NATO) cartridge is one of the most useful rounds that has ever been conceived.

Personally, however, I have tried the forward-mounted scope and don’t really care for the concept. It inhibits the scopes natural light-gathering qualities and is difficult to use in certain lighting situations. I also will freely admit that I am more used to having the scope mounted in the conventional position as it is on my other rifles. I prefer to use 1-4X scopes that, on the lowest settings, allow me to shoot with both eyes open, thus improving my peripheral vision.

But all of that is okay because the Scout Rifle concept is not written in stone. Col. Cooper’s guidelines are a good place to start in working up your own light utility rifle but you should trick it out to suit your own personal needs. Heck, if you even choose to acquire an AR in .308 and you shoot it well, more power to you. At the end of the day, it is not what you have, but it is all about what you can do with it.

Like the 1911 fighting pistol, the Scout Rifle is part of the legacy that Jeff Cooper bequeathed us.

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Afrikaner Luck


Somewhere south of Kimberley, South Africa… On my recent African hunt I was all set to hunt with the Mossberg Patriot rifle, in .308, and topped off with a really nice 3×9 scope. Trouble was… my scope cratered on me. Now I am not going to name the scope because stuff like that just happens and the scope company is going out of their way to make everything right. If you want to attach blame, you can attach it to me for not taking along an extra scope.

My first thought was to borrow Richard Mann’s extra scope and stick it on the Mossberg. I had been shooting the Mossberg for several months and really liked it… nice rifle… accurate… good price point. It was right about then that some Afrikaner Luck raised its head and that changed the whole program.

My PH was a jolly Afrikaner by the name of Leon DuPlessis. Seeing my scope issues, he quietly asked if I would be willing to hunt with a 7×57. Are you kidding? That is one of my favorite rifle calibers! He then proceeded to uncase an old Mauser-action, Czech-made BRNO rifle. As he handed it to me, he told me that it had been his grandpa’s rifle.

This BRNO 7×57 had a worn blue finish and the European-style oil-finished stock. I would, however, point out that there was no rust or pit marks anywhere on the rifle. It was a man’s tool that had obviously been respected, used, and properly cared for. Had my eyes been 20-plus years younger, I would have loved to have hunted with it using the factory iron sights. Thankfully, Leon had a very nice Leupold 3×9 scope already installed on this old warrior… a fact that I much appreciated.

Now, Imagine if you will, here I am hunting in South Africa, the home of the Afrikaner people, a people whose history and personalities I have admired for years. My PH is a proud Afrikaner. My rifle had belonged to his Afrikaner grandpa. I was quite tempted to take a shot at a bloody Englishman,what?

Linda Powell pointed out to me that this probably would not be appreciated in the same vein as I might have intended it to be. So, relying on her better judgment in this matter, I set out to accomplish the next best thing. The next best thing being the national animal of South Africa, the springbok.

The springbok is a graceful little antelope that can run slightly faster than greased lightning and is quite tasty. I managed to make a neck shot on one at about 100 yards. What is amazing is that this occurred while I was actually aiming at the neck.

Without taking one bit of respect from the fine Mossberg Patriot rifle, I finished my South Africa hunt using Leon’s (and his grandpa’s) rifle .In this amazing age of internet service, Leon and the whole crew at Fort Richmond Safaris are now all Facebook friends of mine .I hope that, when he sees this little write up, he will send me along some more of the history of grandpa’s BRNO and I promise to share it with you when he does.

I have been blessed to be able to hunt in many different places, with many fine people. High on this list are the fine folks in South Africa. Read up on their history, if you haven’t already. The Afrikaner: A Man and his Mauser… you’ve just got to admire folks like that.

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fort-richmond safaris-ph-leon-duplessis-winner-moore-maker-kim-jim-wilson-linda-powell
Fort Richmond Safaris PH Leon DuPlessis, the winner of our Professional Hunter contest, being presented his Moore Maker knife by the winning team… Jim Wilson & Linda Powell.

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