The Scout Scope

Springfield M1A rifle and steel plate

The scout scope is a riflescope mounted forward of the receiver on the barrel. While this type of mount has been used for many years, in modern use the arrangement is called a scout scope. The obvious feature of the Scout Rifle is a forward mounted scope. This profile is similar to Colonel Jeff Cooper’s Scout Rifle concept.

Springfield M1A rifle and steel plate
The Springfield M1A is hell on steel plates well past 100 yards.

There is nothing wrong with the original Scout concept and a lot that is right. The relatively light, compact, and accurate bolt action .308 is a neat trick that solves many problems. My personal ‘scout rifle’ is a Springfield M1A Scout Squad. This 18-inch barrel rifle is a first-class self-loader with legendary reliability. The rifle handles well and offers real advantages in personal defense and hunting scenarios.

The Scout Squad is supplied with a mount on the barrel that accepts a riflescope. The scope must be a long eye relief type. For the neophytes, eye relief is a kind of optical stand off distance.

The Leatherwood scope I use features a 13-inch eye relief. There are a number of advantages. With older Mauser-type rifles, the long eye relief allows the mounting of a scope without drilling and tapping the receiver. Low and over the bore is the best spot for mounting a riflescope for hunting, and I own several with standard receiver mounted optics.

Bob Campbell shooting a M1A rifle from a kneeling position
A Scout Scope works well in most firing positions.

Some rifles simply beg for the scout scope. As an example, older lever action rifles, that will not accommodate a low and over the receiver scope, require a side mount. However, I have never found this setup satisfactory, or necessarily a scout-type scope.

On the other hand, the M1A is a rifle that makes the scout scope attractive. Keep in mind, the greater the eye relief the narrower the ‘field of view’ must be. A wide field of view is an advantage in hunting medium game. As a result, scout scopes, in general, offer low magnification. Two power (2x) is common. Limited power scopes are the rule.

If I set the Leatherwood 2×7 power scope to the highest setting, the field of view is so limited it isn’t very useful for practical use, although off of the bench it is interesting. The advantage is that the long eye relief scope may be used with both eyes open at moderate range.

When all things are considered, the Scout Scope works best when the rifle is intended for predator work, taking game at moderate range, personal defense, and when there is no practical means of mounting a low, over-the-bore riflescope. The forward mount moves the scope affecting the usual balance point. I find carrying and handling the rifle with a scout scope is easier. The forward scope allows the shooter to shoot with both eyes open. Peripheral vision is an advantage in personal defense and hunting. It is much easier to see what is around you.

M1A rifle with scout scope
This is a neat setup that works well in practice.

The scout scope allows very fast and accurate shooting. The Leatherwood Hi Lux mounted on my M1A isn’t the most expensive sight, but it works well. Recently, I took the rifle to the range with several hundred rounds of Winchester 7.62×51 mm 147-grain FMJ loads and worked the rifle out from 50 to 100 yards.

The scope allows rapid target engagement. The field of view when set at 2x is ideal. The advantage of binocular vision without distortion is excellent. I burned up several boxes of Winchester ammunition without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. The level of accuracy demonstrated by both rifle and ammunition were excellent. It seems that the Scout Scope makes recovering from recoil easier and gaining the sight picture back isn’t difficult.

Cranking magnification up to 5x makes the scope much less useful firing off hand. Firing from a benchrest is a different tale. Firing from a solid, benchrest-firing position with the Leatherwood scope set at 7x takes some acclimation and 5x is easier. Firing for accuracy, I used the Winchester 168-grain MATCH—a proven loading that has give excellent results in any number of rifles. I also added the Winchester USA loading. The Winchester 147-grain FMJ loading averaged 2.1 MOA at 100 yards. The Winchester MATCH load averaged 1.5 MOA with some groups slightly smaller and some larger. This type of shooting requires control and a practiced trigger press.

I like the M1A scout scope combination. It is unlikely I will be taking a shot over 150 yards when hunting, and the Springfield combination will deliver. In the more likely scenario of a shot at closer range, the rifle offers real speed. It suits my needs. The individual should make a solid appraisal before choosing his own hardware.

Have you shot a scout rifle? What are the advantages or disadvantages as you see it? Share your answers in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (18)

  1. The answer to most magic tricks isn’t that you are free to have difficult trick look simplistic; the key
    is setting up a simple trick appear like it’s really a near impossibility.
    Within the starting, Mike and KITT were underneath the employ of Knight Industries, a law enforcement officials and government
    agency that handled international espionage, spies, and foreign intrigue.
    The final creation that this type of lover of art beholds
    would have greater depth in meaning if one
    is aware from the process which make it so.

  2. The mount is clamped right to the barrel. It is not mounted to “an upper floating, like in not secure hand guard.” It is a very rugged design. The hand guard is cut out and snaps around it. Springfield made a fine piece and would have the forethought to make it as solid as the rest of the platform.

  3. Good information. I prefer all the new ‘true’ 1x-X scopes. Have two or three on different rifles. Faster in target acquisition w/both eyes open, than finding anything much except a BIG game buckhorn sight in CQ/short range stuff. Have a Leupold 2.5-8 on my M1.

    Even at 2.5x it is way faster acquiring the target than finding that peep sight. Before all the M1 purists attack, this is a complete new piece out of the CMP, and the only part possibly seeing ‘action’ would be the receiver. Two other reasons for the scope, other than being faster, my old eyes, and to my surprise, this boy wants to be at least a MOA guy 😉

    1. @FIREWAGON,
      I have the exact same set up on my 43 SA Garand .The MINI SCOUT MOUNT for the Garand and a 2.5 powered LER scope .I am 59 yrs old and just cannot use open sights anymore without aid and magnification .Now i never miss and bust clay pigeons at 200 yards all day long 1 aight after the other .I tried every other M1 mount made for the Garand this is the only one that works perfectly and has never lost zero once doped .And i also mentioned above that my SOCOM 16 CQB MIA has no rail mounted to a flimsy handguard it is part of the rifle and cannot be removed with cutting it off so before people blab BS do some research damn .

    2. brother i got the pic to pop right up i have the same set up but i have a laminated FULTONS stock on my scoped Garand .It works very well .

    3. “59”, lol, what a youngster;) I could actually still ‘run’ at 59! You are absotootly correct about this mount, and it is a plus using a laminated stock. Since, my rig has a new wood stock, it should stay tight for as long as “I” need it;) Mostly built this as an heirloom for my grandkids, to remember what their Papaw had to carry “in the day!” They will have that rear hand guard, in the event they ever want it back original. Part of the stock issue, bak-in-tha-day, letting the action not be in the same place shot to shot – less than MOA for sure, was everybody stripping the old boy down so often to clean it. That created wear about everywhere in the stock, especially the locking of the trigger assembly. Since the barrel has to be cleaned from the muzzle end, outside of using some pull through device, detail stripping is seldom required, a.k.a. removing the stock, or even the trigger assembly – the M1 is nothing close as dirty as an AR in operation. This boy may see a ‘little’ exercise as a hog or deer harvester, but, performing a detailed cleaning after working up that MOA, or less, load, should not require another for several years;) LOL! Appears, like me, you have acquired a couple M1 configurations. Great guns! Never acquired the taste for the new ‘Mattel Toy’ ARs;) My sons have several, so we are prepared in the event of that Zombie Apocalypse;)

    4. yea i have the rear handguard if my son were to ever want to put it back and use the open sights .And not saying i am over the hill old @ 59 but my eyes are damn sure not what they were at 35 lol so i scope everything now i plan to shoot at any thing living like deer i want a clean 1 shot kill and yes i love the M1A and the new SOCOM 16 it is wicked in the archangel stock it came in and i use 30 round CSSPECS mag,s it tears walls down and destryos anything in front of the muzzle i hated my M4 when i was in the ARMY CAV i spent more time keeping it running then actually firing it seemed to me .way too much maintaining for a battle rifle to me.

  4. I watched Michael Bane hunt African big game with a Ruger scout rifle and scope .He was making shots of up to near 500 yards on large game animals in Africa on WED NIGHT AT THE RANGE night, so I disagree it just takes getting used to the scout scope concept and getting proper eye relief. Cheap glass just does cut it in the scout scope class. Spend the extra money, and get high-grade glass.

  5. I own a Scout Remington 660 prototype made at gunsite with eye relief sight made special for the prototype by Burris. Made to order there for Eric Ching, inventor of the three point “Ching Sling”.

  6. @phantom , My M1A rail is attached to the rifle ,not the handguard lol it does not come off the rifle ever .So there is no validation to ya statement on my SOCOM 16

  7. You missed the main point of a scout rifle with classic Mauser actions. You can load the rifle from a stripper clip without the scope interfering with loading.

    A significant disagantage comes with shooting with the sun behind you. The scope, which is the only way to aim the gun becomes almost an anti-sight because it has significant flaring. A standard scope will have your head blocking the sun from shining on your rear glass.

  8. Seems like the now defunct Weaver pivot scope mount witha modest [e.g.2-7x,heavy duplex]variable will serve as well,plus allow u
    sse of iron sights.

  9. Been there done that. The scout mount is what you do when you don’t want to pay for the high priced scope side mount for an M1A. Need to find a scope with enough eye relief is the trick. But it works, if you don’t mind mounting to an upper floating, like in not secure, handguard. Hmmm…

  10. I haVE THE SOCOM 16 CQB model and i use HI-LUX scout scopes on several of my mil-surp rifles .For the money they cannot be beaten and are great glass for scout rifle work .

  11. After trying to get comfortable with cheek pads and craning my neck to get behind a standard scope, I mounted a scout scope on my M1A. I now am able to group better as I am more relaxed and have proper cheek weld.

  12. I have wanted to like the concept for decades. I am one of those old cops/military guys that ate up everything Col Cooper advocated. I built one from a British, 303, cut the barrel to 19 inches, mounted a peep sight, front barrel sight and forward mounted scope. Just never could warm up to it. I do like it just as well with a red dot forward mounted. I own a couple dozen carbines, again a red dot is ok, the scout scope does not work for me. Also, I have never seen one in the hunting fields from Texas to Wyoming, not once, nor have I ever seen one used in the 4 different law enforcement agencies I worked in. I also own a couple of those Leatherwood Hi Luxe scopes and like em pretty well. I wonder If there are any dedicated shooting competitions with them?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading