Firearms come in many forms, with some designed deliberately for distinct undertakings, such as long-range marksmanship with a precision rifle or a micro subcompact built for concealed carry. Others may fill multiple roles, like an AR-15, which can be used for plinking, hunting or competition.

However, there is one type of rifle designed with excruciating detail that fits a spectrum of uses, meant to be “the one rifle you would have if you could only have just one rifle: the scout rifle.

Former Marine lieutenant colonel and firearms instructor Jeff Cooper, the founder of the legendary Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona, is the architect of the versatile scout rifle concept. A leading expert on rifle shooting and marksmanship – he authored the rifleman’s tome “The Art of the Rifle” – Cooper envisioned a general-purpose rifle that could be used for hunting and fighting.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Cooper began prescribing the characteristics of what would constitute the scout rifle, named so as it would befit the lone rifleman –he described the scout as “a man who acted alone, not as a member of a team” –heading into unfamiliar and potentially hostile environments. To meet the demands of the uncertain, Cooper thought the scout rifle should be lightweight and maneuverable, but use a full-power cartridge capable of stopping large game or other threats to the shooter’s person.

While Cooper’s ideas weren’t groundbreaking by any means – the Germans employed forward-mounted scopes on their Mauser K98K rifles in World War II – it did bring together a series of features not before purpose-engineered in one rifle. The characteristics outlined by Cooper included:

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