Steyr Scout Review

Steyr Scout

And now, for something completely different. While I have been doing a lot of reviews on budget bolt action rifles, here’s a decidedly non-budget, yet still utilitarian bolt action rifle. Here in Canada, the Steyr Mannlicher Scout clocks in at around $2,500 while in the US, it goes for around $2,000. And while I’m not qualified to spout on about the scout rifle concept vs other military rifles, I can handily compare them for the purposes of hunting and on overall features. While this particular version is in .223, the Scout also comes in 243, 7mm-08, and most commonly, 308. Some Steyr Scouts come as package rifles with the Leupold M8 2.5X Intermediate Eye Relief (IER) scope.

The Scout Rifle Concept for Hunting

The Scout Rifle in concept is a lightweight rifle, usually mounted with forward-optics to give better view and awareness than a traditionally mounted scope would give, with a short-ish barrel (19″). Other features that were desirable to the concept were:

  • Built in bipod
  • Detachable magazine
  • 2 MOA or better
  • 6.6 lbs or lighter

This style of rifle matches well for hunting where you expect a lot of stalking or short range snap-shooting.


Wonder why the Steyr Scout is so damn expensive?

  1. It’s made by Steyr and is complex compared to most bolt action rifles
  2. It is CHOCK full of features
steyr scout 223 magazines

steyr scout 223 magazines

The magazine is a polymer affair that takes 5 rounds. In 223, the mag has a bulbous nose to share stocks with the 308-family versions. The magazine features 2 latch positions, where the first *click* in does not feed rounds, but offers up a spot to hand feed rounds into the action. Position 2 feeds rounds as normal. This 2 position system would be useful when first loading the chamber and then pushing up the mag for a total of 6 rounds. Should anyone need 6 rounds when hunting? Normally not, but maybe if you’re on a cull or if you’ve got a damn good spot varmint hunting it’d be nice. The Steyr Scout’s double stack magazines are very easy to load, but I somewhat dislike the 2 position mags. Whether you’re in position 2 or if you forgot is just one more thing to worry about when hunting, and I like to keep things simple.

One magazine feature that I really like about this rifle is the capability to house a second mag in the buttstock. 2 mags covers your butt if one gets lost or damaged and in this rifle, helps bring the balance a bit more rearward.

While there are 10 round mags available for 308-family cartridges, I wouldn’t bother. The thin barrel heats up so quickly that the extra capacity isn’t super usable and the (2) 5 round mags are fine.

Sling Mount and stock spacer detail

Sling Mount and stock spacer detail

Rather than using standard sling studs, the Steyr uses push in, “hammer head” sling attachment points. Several of these attachment points are available and they’re mostly focused on supporting a Ching Sling. I found I couldn’t get any of them to allow for a 2 point “diagonal ready-down” sling carry with a regular sling without having the rifle want to turn over. The sling attachment points would have to be higher up on the rifle to support this style of carry. I think this sling attachment system would have been really wicked when the Scout first came out, but these days there are plenty of fast disconnect options that work with standard sling studs and the hammer head sling swivels are kind of hard to find.

The trigger itself was pretty good on this rifle. Very crisp with about a 1/2″ of clean takeup.

The stock also has adjustable length of pull achieved through spacers at the rear of the stock. Unlike some of the newer stocks, the adjustable spacers are OK to look at. I find most of the newer stock spacer systems look a bit ugly.

bipod out

bipod out

The built-in bipod is a decent backup unit if you really need to use it. Is it as good as an inexpensive bipod? Of course not. But the bipod you have (built into your rifle) is better than the one you left at home because you didn’t think you’d need to make a long shot from prone that day. The height is a little bit high, but that’s OK because it gives some flexibility in being able to shoot a bit higher than a really low mounted bipod. I wouldn’t put the built-in bipod through a lot of abuse, as it seems to have too many little parts that may break and ruin your day. It’s also too high to use from a bench, but that’s a necessary evil considering its field-usable height.

The plastic and style used in the Scout is starting to show its age. In parts like the trigger guard, the plastic looks like it belongs on a $300 rifle, not a $2000+ rifle.

top rail

top rail

The Manlicher Scout features a very long rail along the top with lots of mounting options. You can do the forward optic thing if that’s your game, or mount it over the action like every other bolt action rifle. It’s not a big, mean picatinny rail (and may not work with your picatinny accessories) like on a lot of tactical rifles, but offers sensible mounting options. On the underside of the rifle, there’s a UIT-rail.

rear sight

rear sight

Along the rail are flip up iron sights. The rear is a rather large ghost ring, while the front sight is an inclined post. Cool idea that would do the trick for a close shot if you were in an emergency survival situation.

The thin barrel is fluted for additional weight savings and is a very handy length. You won’t be catching this rifle on branches, doorways, or getting in or out of vehicles. The profile of the barrel makes it a poor choice for dedicated varmint blasting or work at the range, but is light and really pushes the center of gravity towards the rear on this rifle.

Video Review


Usability in the Scout is generally good, with a few idiosyncrasies that you can quickly learn.

safety off

safety off

The tang mounted safety is a rotating dial thing instead of a plain, sliding style safety, but in use is the same. It offers 3 positions: fire, safe, and safe with bolt lock. The bolt lock position is also the bolt release position. Simply have the bolt unlocked, and then switch it to that position and the bolt comes sliding out back. That bolt lock position also allows you to lock the bolt just a little bit tighter to the rifle where it’ll be even less likely to snag on things.The safety does have a bit of a muffled *click* when moved to fire, and it makes that sound no matter how carefully you ease it down.

bolt out

bolt out

The bolt. . .oh man. ..the bolt. It’s pretty complicated looking, but ultimately works like every other bolt out there. I found that it needed more force to turn the bolt than most of the other bolt action rifles I’ve handled, but still not terrible. The bolt is also starting to wear into the receiver where it is interfering. For a rifle at this price point, I’d really like to see smooth operation right from the factory.

The bipod clicks into place quite loudly, and isn’t something you’d want to be deploying unless you’re sure no game are around to hear the loud *click. . . click* of the two sides deploying.


Using an intermediate or long eye relief scope on the rifle comes with pros and cons. Yes, it makes for a quick, 2 eyes open shot. Yes, it makes it easier to see other game coming in. But it also is less precise to use for longer range shots and offers less utility as a magnified view to watch game before firing. It’s more difficult to compare two game animals side by side in an forward mounted scope.

If you’re a deep bush hunter, you might consider mounting a red dot. They’re somewhat faster to use compared with a 2X optic and there’s something confidence inspiring about placing a glowing red dot on the vitals of a deer before pulling the trigger that you don’t get with crosshairs.

Of course, you also have the option to mount your optic in the traditional, over-action spot and use this rifle like any other standard rifle. Seems like it defeats the purpose though.


I think that people looking to buy this rifle are really buying into the scout rifle concept and for that concept, this is still the best rifle. It is not, however, the best scout rifle for the money. That’d likely be the Savage Scout. It comes in a LOT cheaper, comes with Savage’s famous accuracy, and much better aftermarket support. For the rest, who want the features and focus of the scout platform, the Steyr Manlicher Scout is still likely the way to go.

For more great information on the Steyr Mannlicher Scout Rifle, see

  • Massive

    Where did you find it, rare as hen’s teeth in Canada. Epps has one every now and again. It is the only real scout rifle out there, I have the Ruger which is an aberration (though a good enough rifle).

    Jeff Cooper is the guy who came up with the scout rifle concept which he used in his latter life as a hunting rifle. He did believe it had military applications, but it seems to have mainly become a black rifle, particularly since Ruger issues the widely missed the mark but excellent enough version under the Gunsite brand.

    The real point of the Scout was a light and handy rifle that would allow one to quickly engage targets of opportunity, while still allowing longer range shots. Originally it was intended to be 6.6 pounds all up, and that drifted to 6.6 pounds plus optics. At Whitington where they have the space, one could skeet shoot with the rifle in 308.

    The 223 version drove Cooper nuts. He hated the cartridge and it completely violated the concept. He was an advocate of a big bore version for African game. Other than that, while there are many short action cartridges, his insistence on the rifle being for a 30 cal that would have worldwide ammo availability meant one cartridge only, the 308.

    Cooper had a history of odd collaborations with gun companies. The Steyr version of his concept is simultaneously the only faithful one, while full of shark jumping gimmicks like the bipod. That was nowhere on the original brief, and is sorta a double slap in the face to the concept, which was sensible, and lightweight oriented while supporting shooting from positions and with a sling.

    Until the Ruger Scout, the Cooper concept was fading away. In many ways he ultimately won, with the widespread adoption of guns that use red dots and such, at reasonable ranges and in calibers larger than ,223. If he was a product of a more modern time, he would see the potential in systems like AR based 300 blk, with optics, full legth rails, etc….

    One of the things that has held the concept back is the extreme difficulty of getting optics low enough. Steyr came up with the obvious solution which is to make the optics low in relation to the stock cheek piece, while dropping the barrel. A bit like a gas carbine layout. One sees this approach on a lot of modern semis and sniper systems (though entirely different reasons are driving that). The ease of slapping a red dot or scope anywhere along a full length rail compares very well to melting rings onto a tapered barrel. Ruger took the approach of using a bull barrel until they escaped the areas for the forward scope mounts. But it is one of several weight killers on their rifle. Savage just ignored the whole thing and ran their mounts high.

    Another difficulty is the prevalence of modern ecomomy rifles, many of which are very cool for a scout, but that use the barrel and retaining ring format as on the Savage and Ruger American. Not an easy system to rail out close to the bore.

  • Massive

    The 2moa thing is interesting, a really bad level of advertised accuracy, particularly these days. I exchanged one letter with Jeff back in the 90’s where I asked him about his idea that some level of accuracy, was “better than a shooter could hold”. A gun writer fall back when discussing bad accuracy. This is nonsense as accuracy of shooter and rifle are in series not parallel. A three minute rifle and a 2 minute shooter are a 5 minute platform. I had read Jeff over the years make this statement, but I picked an article where he mentioned it in connection with pistols, and he wrote back accordingly. With pistols 2 inches at 25 yards is actually OK, and probably while cumulative, if a man sized defensive target is missed entirely, it will be because of shooter error, for the most part. 2 moa on a rifle at max range of 400 yards is 8 inches before all the other degrading to accuracy factors are taken into consideration. If one takes the 10″ pie plate as the bucket one has to drop a bullet into, that is almost entirely used up by the rifle, and the other factors are at least 2 moa (wind, mirage, target movement, ranging errors, hold, etc… So a 2 inch rifle has the makings of a miss built in, though 400 yards is a long shot.

  • Commenter

    I’m definitely a supporter of the scout rifle concept, and I think the Steyr version has the most potential for greatness. However, the execution – and I mean all scout rifles – are coming up short.

    Some of it is as was mentioned – what was light weight, and cutting edge tech in the nineties is just middle of the road now, and Steyr is still (even with the recent drop) pricing this thing as if Zytel and hammer forged barrels are as rare as jewels. Similarly, some of Cooper’s once progressive ideas are no longer front line thinking.

    For example, a forward mounted scope – really just a pistol scope from an earlier time – which is only really useful out to maybe 200 yds, is pretty pointless in a era when Trijicon (and others) are making 1-4 or 6 adjustables that reach out further, work like a decent red dot (at 1x magnification), and are war time rugged. And a bolt action – only an average one in the accuracy department at that – is just not an advantage anymore. Semi-autos may have been less than reliable when Cooper was originally dreaming the scout concept up (that’s what I heard was his main reason for insisting on a bolt gun), but that’s not true today. And since tack-driving accuracy was clearly not of top importance in the scout platform, you’re asking a lot from a generation of new shooters to pay top dollar for something that isn’t ‘AR-like’ in function, nor particularly deadly at distance compared to less expensive bolt action offerings. Either of those are default expectations these days.

    Finally, I have to say that I think some of Steyr’s choices hurt the Scout’s market potential too. The worst, IMO, is they claim to offer us a ‘one to replace them all – nearly’ type rifle that you can get as either a .243 or 7mm-08 or .308, and yet cannot easily replace/swap the barrel for those other calibers, or for other .308 family cartridges that may suit your needs (or local ammo availability) better. That seems distinctly non-scout-like to me. If you like 5.56/.223, no problem, but their barrel’s rate of twist is so slow that it’s best not to be interested in taking anything bigger than prairie dogs home for dinner. And, no matter what caliber you decide on, when the barrel is shot out make sure your little corner of armageddon or off the grid living has a local UPS drop box, cause only a trip back to the factory is likely to help you. I mean, the image/concept when compared to the basic execution is more schizophrenic than it should be.

    My solution? The AUG. Take the guts of that, beef it up for .308, and put it in a non-bullpup config stock that is EXACTLY like the current Scout’s dimensions (cause it is handy, and maybe the most comfortable to shoot rifle I’ve handled). AR-10/M-14 mag compatibility, ala Mossberg’s MVP line, should be a given. And with the AUG already being a quick-change barrel design, the biggest weakness of the current Scout is solved.

  • Max Chase

    This is on of the finest weapons i own. Originally was chambered in a .376 steyr, for robert hornady as a safari gun. The purpose and usability are endless. It was tractor gun in my life. Shooting quick and relibly, with the ablity of going long distances. Mine was chambered in .308. No longer did i need a varmint, deer, and sport rifle. I ran around 500 rounds the couple years. The bipod is so nice in clutch situation, nothing fragile about it. It was designed to be beaten an used, and still operate the next day. I carried 130 grain in one mag and the 165 in the other. Twelve years later this M8 scope is still spot on. When im buying or shooting any other rifle, im constantly comparing the the 308 scout. I retired it to the collection after finding a suitable less expensive equal. Ruger came out with a .308 Gunsite Scout. I fitted it with the same scope as my steyr and added a small bipod. Same custom reloaded rounds, same scopes, same bipod heights, same 100 yard zero. Same end results dead coyotes. These two rifles are both perfectly designed weapons for the ranch or farm.

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