With the resurgence in excitement around rifles that aren’t an AR-15, and the continued growth of competitive shooting, it is likely that we could soon be seeing an explosion in the popularity of the scout rifle concept. Compact accurate rifles that are excellent for the run-and-gun concept or a long trek through rough terrain can fill the needs for a lot of shooters.
Whether you are preparing for situation where you are forced from your home, you hunt in extreme terrain, you are a competitive shooter, or you can only afford one gun and want it to be capable in many applications, the scout rifle is likely a great fit for you. However, no great scout rifle is complete without the best scout scope; let’s look at the scout rifle concept and how to outfit yours.
If you’re in a hurry and don't have time for the details, here are our best picks for Scout Scopes on the market today:
- 1Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout Scope - Best for Hunting
- 2Aim Sports 2-7x42 Long Eye Relief Scout Scope – Best Budget Scout Scope
- 3Burris 200269 Scout Riflescope – Best Value Scout Scope
- 4Leupold FX-II Scout - Best Fixed Power Scout Scope
- 5Bushnell Trophy Scout Rifle Scope
- 6Nikon 8470 Force XR – Best Nikon Scout Scope
- 7Hi-Lux Optics LER – Best Rated Scout Scope for .308
- 8UTG 2-7X44 30mm Long Eye Relief Scout Scope - Best Illuminated Scout Scope
Table of Contents
- What is a Scout Rifle?
- Where to Start?
- Choosing Scout Scope - Things to Consider
- Best Scout Scope on the Market Review
- 1 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout Scope - Best for Hunting
- 2 Aim Sports 2-7x42 Long Eye Relief Scout Scope – Best Budget Scout Scope
- 3 Burris 200269 Scout Riflescope – Best Value Scout Scope
- 4 Leupold FX-II Scout - Best Fixed Power Scout Scope
- 5 Bushnell Trophy Scout Rifle Scope
- 6 Nikon 8470 Force XR – Best Nikon Scout Scope
- 7 Hi-Lux Optics LER – Best Rated Scout Scope for .308
- 8 UTG 2-7X44 30mm Long Eye Relief Scout Scope - Best Illuminated Scout Scope
- Final Thoughts
What is a Scout Rifle?
In the 1980’s, Marine Colonel Jeff Cooper presented a concept for a rifle that was as capable hunting in the field as it was on the battlefield. He called this style of rifle the scout rifle. The primary requirements of the scout rifle are that the rifle is lightweight and has a forward mounted scope that has low magnification and an extended eye relief. The caliber of the scout rifle must be capable enough to take medium game at 450 yards, and the rifle also wears a practical sling to aid in both carrying and shooting.
The scope on the rifle is moved forward to increase the shooter’s situational awareness, allows the shooter to easily keep both eyes open while shooting, and the low power simplifies the act of shooting a scope with still improving the capabilities of the shooter. The light weight is for extended movement over rough terrain and easily transitioning between multiple targets. All other accessories are moved forward as well to aid in quick reloads, though you traditionally won’t find an abundance of extra parts weighing down a scout rifle.
Where to Start?
The first part of a good scout rifle is, of course, the rifle. There are several rifles that make a great base to build your scout rifle from. Cooper’s original concept called for bolt action rifles, but modern interpretations are not so strict. Even a lever action such as the Marlin Model 1895 SBL makes a great base for your scout rifle with its narrow and portable shape, short overall length, and the quick rate of fire that lever actions provide. Chambered in .45-70, this rifle can take down anything alive in North America.
The Mossberg MVP Scout chambered in .308 fits Cooper’s original concept of the scout rifle. This rifle comes from the factory with a forward mounted rail and has the option to come from the factory with a scope already mounted. One of the benefits of this rifle over others that it accepts both AR and M1A magazines, which should tickle the fancy of preppers or anybody else who is looking to hoard as many magazines as possible for their rifle.
The Springfield M1A Scout Squad chambered in .308 takes what is normally considered a battle rifle and creates a scout rifle on a semi-auto platform. Obviously one of the greatest benefits is the increased rate of fire and the 20-round capacity from the longer magazines, but concessions must be made in the category of weight. One of the reasons this rifle, and its variants, are built into scout rifles is because of the top ejection of spent casings which makes the use of a standard scope not possible. With large aftermarket for M1A platform rifles, there are a lot of very interesting options in building a unique scout rifle on this platform.
For those looking for a less expensive build with the ability to stockpile cheap ammunition, the Mosin Nagant is a popular rifle to convert to a scout rifle, especially the shorter barreled M44 version. While these rifles can’t be had for the sub $100 price tag they held a few years ago, they can often be found at reasonable prices. The benefit to the Mosin platform is that the 7.62x54r cartridge is extremely capable and more accurate than it is sometimes given credit for.
The ammunition for this rifle can also be had for excellent prices when bought in bulk as military surplus. One of the reasons this rifle is often turned into a scout rifle is that while the rifle may be capable already, a traditional scope cannot be added without modifying the bolt on the rifle; many people who choose to sporterize their Mosins will go the route of the scout rifle rather than go through the laborious process of permanently modifying their bolt.
There are many other options, but you should get the idea by now.
Choosing Scout Scope - Things to Consider
Due to the forward mounting of the scope on the rifle, it must have an exceptionally long eye relief so most traditional scopes will not fit the bill for this style of rifle. Other considerations are the weight, magnification, and ability to withstand the recoil of intermediate cartridges.
As part of the concept is that the rifle should be portable, the scope should be lightweight and mounted low and close to the rifle barrel. Maximum magnification of a scout rifle does not have any rules chiseled in stone, but 7x magnification is often considered the most you will want on a scout rifle; keep in mind that the higher magnification used, the shorter the eye relief becomes without expensive innovations built into the scope.
As scout rifles are going to be shooting cartridges capable of taking medium and large game, and potentially used in a force-on-force situation, the scope must also be able to handle the recoil of these cartridges in addition to being rugged enough to be carried for long distances over rough terrain.
Best Scout Scope on the Market Review
While there are many options for a potential scout rifle and scope combination, you should consider your purposes and your rifle when choosing the scope. You might prefer higher magnification, or you might place durability at the top of your list. You also should consider the fact that some scopes will work better with a semi-auto gun than a bolt action rifle. Also, scout rifles look cool and can be a conversation piece at the range so aesthetics might be important to you as well. Follow along as we show you some of our favorite scout scopes.
1 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout Scope - Best for Hunting
The Crossfire II is a great scope at a great value. With almost 10 inches of eye relief, this scope will be comfortable on most scout rifle configurations. The reticle is a simple duplex style that is sitting in the second focal plane, giving the shooter a very precise aiming point at all magnifications. With a variable magnification from 2x-7x, with a 32-millimeter objective lens to help gather light, this scope will easily help the shooter acquire targets from point to well over 500 yards.
As a Vortex product, you can expect excellent glass quality that rivals competitors from high price points. You can also expect rugged construction with water resistance and fog proof coatings. Vortex products do tend to have a very modern aesthetic that could conflict with your scout rifle build; as the scout rifle is often built as a throw-back to the 80’s this scope would miss the look you might be attempting to create, but if you are more concerned with functionality and value this is the scope for you.
2 Aim Sports 2-7x42 Long Eye Relief Scout Scope – Best Budget Scout Scope
If you are looking to complete your budget build, or maybe you’re sporterizing you M91/30, this is the scope for you. This scope offers an eye relief of up to 10.5 inches, which is especially impressive for a scope under $60. The scope also punches above its weight when handling recoil, as it is often spotted on heavy recoiling rifles. The reticle in the scope does have mil dots built in for making adjustments to the point of aim, but they are difficult to see, and the reticle should really be used as a simple duplex.
Another use for this scope, if you are wary of damaging it on a powerful rifle, is to use it with the Ruger 10/22. While this rifle does not meet all the criteria of a true scout rifle, it does fit the spirit of the concept. The price point of the Ruger matches nicely with that of this scope as well, making this the best rated scout scope for the Ruger 10/22.
3 Burris 200269 Scout Riflescope – Best Value Scout Scope
This simple scope from Burris comes with exactly what you need in a good scout scope, and nothing else. The scope is a fixed 2.75x magnification with a simple duplex reticle. The build is both attractive and extremely rugged. With a solid, 1-inch main tube, this scope is designed to take a beating and keep working and give the shooter an excellent field of view in addition to the long eye relief. Many scout scopes will be manufactured with the smaller 30mm main tube, which was the standard for many years, but a larger diameter tube does create a wider field of view which is exactly what Cooper wanted when he conceptualized the scout rifle. As you would expect on a scope at this price point, you can also expect tactile and accurate adjustments from the turrets; while you won’t be working the turrets during normal operation, it does always build confidence in a scope when it tracks well during zeroing.
With the clean, contemporary look of this scope, and the rugged durability that is inherent in fixed power scopes, this could be the best scope for the Springfield M1A or the Springfield SOCOM.
4 Leupold FX-II Scout - Best Fixed Power Scout Scope
For those that prefer a fixed power scope on their scout rifle, this is easily the best option available. The scope is built with Leupold’s sterling reputation behind it. This means you can come to expect professional grade glass, with world-class durability and reliability. The scope features the Twilight light gathering coating to keep you on target during dusk and dawn conditions. The scope features a simple duplex reticle that is well suited to the scout rifle concept.
This is also an extremely attractive scope with clean lines and a simple band bearing Leupold’s branding on the bell of the objective lens. The scope is available in both matte black and matte silver finishes. With the excellent aesthetics of the scope, and the color options, this is the best scope to pair with your Marlin 336, especially if you get the stainless steel option. Due to rugged construction from any Leupold product, this is probably the best for and 45-70 rifle as the long eye relief will keep the scope away from your forehead and the scope won’t self-destruct under the high recoil of this cartridge.
5 Bushnell Trophy Scout Rifle Scope
This scope is an excellent value for those looking to build their scout scope. Even though the scope is right around $100 out the door, it comes with many features you might expect from a more expensive product. The scope is a variable power optic that gives you the options from 2x-7x. The reticle has a proprietary name from Bushnell but is an enhanced duplex reticle. Multiple coatings on the lenses assist in the fog proof design of the scope, as does the nitrogen purged, 1-inch main tube.
Users report the glass clarity on this scope to be extremely impressive for a product at this price point, which is something that is good to see from Bushnell as they are beginning to compete with brands that have been considered higher grade for some time now. Even at the modest price point, this scope will work well with any scout rifle.
6 Nikon 8470 Force XR – Best Nikon Scout Scope
This scope is actually created as a pistol scope, but that is the basis that many scout scopes evolved from. The pistol scope has the advantage of extremely long eye relief which makes it appropriate for the scout rifle build. The scope has a modest 2x fixed magnification but does offer several other benefits. A specific benefit from most pistol scopes on a scout rifle is that they are built to be very compact and lightweight, and this one comes in at only 7.4 ounces with an overall length of just over 8 inches. If you are a fan of Nikon products, you won’t be let down as the scope is designed with Nikon’s lens coating that improve contrast, clarity, and repel fog while increasing light transmission.
Nikon is extremely confident in this product’s durability and has tested it with some of the most powerful handgun loads available, so you can feel confident whether you are shooting 45-70 or 450 Bushmaster.
7 Hi-Lux Optics LER – Best Rated Scout Scope for .308
This is one of the best rated scout scopes for under $200, and it has some benefits to the .308 shooter that most other scout scopes don’t offer. This scope has the long eye relief and a variable zoom from 2x-7x like many of the other competitors. What this scope has that others don’t is a bullet drop compensator built into the reticle. The BDC is designed for .308 so it will work well with many bolt action rifles and some of the modern M1A variants that are available. Another additional feature that this scope has is a built-in throw lever on the power ring. This isn’t something that should be a game changer, but it’s a nice addition.
Due to the addition of the BDC in the reticle, this gives the shooter an edge that might also make this the best rated scout scope for hunting when shot placement is important for a humane kill in the field.
8 UTG 2-7X44 30mm Long Eye Relief Scout Scope - Best Illuminated Scout Scope
At a fair price, and with more features than most scout scopes available we couldn’t leave this scope off the list. This scope features a mil dot reticle, a sunshade, rain proof construction, variable zoom from 2x-7x, and an illuminated reticle. This scope does also come with exposed target turrets, so you can make adjustments on the fly if you choose to.
While this scope is from a budget manufacture, there are some excellent features built into this scope that shooters will find beneficial. Because of the excellent value, and the popularity of sporterizing Mosin Nagants, this is likely the best rated scout scope for the Mosin Nagant.
Scout rifles are both fun and practical guns that can find themselves at home in the hands of the hunter, the prepper, or the competitor. Having the right scope on the rifle is important to give you all the benefits that magnified optics offer, while maintaining the versatility and benefits of the scout rifle concept. Hopefully this guide helps you to understand what the scout rifle is, and how to make sure you choose the best scout scope and set yours up to maximize your benefit from the system.