The Best Scout Rifles for, You Know, Scouting

The concept of the scout rifle was created to satisfy the need for a rifle that could be used for tactical shooting, long range precision, and even hunting. The best scout rifles are do-it-all rifles.

That’s kind of a tall order. And even the very best scout rifles don’t perfectly fill every potential role for a rifle. But there are many rifles that do everything pretty well, even if they’re best for one thing or another.

To help you choose the best scout rifle for your needs, we dug up all the best scout rifles on the market.

WHY YOU SHOULD BY THIS

This rifle is excellent at long range, but maneuverable enough for tactical shooting.

BENEFITS

  • Capable of getting hits at incredibly long range, with the right optic and ammo.
  • Picatinny rail for adding an optic.
  • Super reliable semi-automatic action.
  • Polymer stock keeps the weight down and gives you excellent weather resistance.
  • Short enough for fast, tactical shooting.
  • SPOILERthe Springfield Armory M1A Socom 16 Semi-Auto Rifle is the overall best scout rifle. This is one of the original scout rifles. It’s remarkably capable at long ranges. And it’s easy enough to handle in short-range tactical environments.

    If you’re looking for something easier to handle or more capable at long range, we’ve got those for you. Keep reading to get the full scoop on all the best scout rifles.

    Top Scout Rifles on the Market Today

    The Best Scout Rifles Reviews: Versatile Long Range Rifles

    The overall best scout rifle gets reviewed first. The other best scout rifles will be inspected in order of price.

    Most affordable scout rifles are up first.

    Rifles that give you the absolute most scouting are near the end.

    Read the reviews that do the most good for your budget.

    • Model: Springfield Armory M1A Socom 16 Semi-Auto Rifle
    • Caliber: .308 WIN
    • Barrel length: 16.25 inches
    • Action: Semi-automatic
    • Magazine capacity: 10 rounds

    The Springfield Armory M1A Socom 16 Semi-Auto Rifle is one of the original scout rifles. It’s a short version of a great American battle rifle that gives you the best of both worlds.

    7.62mm NATO/.308 Winchester is kind of the standard for scout rifles because it’s got decent long range performance. But it’s light enough that you can also use it in a tactical rifle.

    This rifle fires a .308 round from a 16.25 inch barrel. The barrel is long enough to give you the velocity you need for acceptable terminal ballistics at maximum range.

    This is a semi-automatic rifle. The semi-automatic action and the relatively short barrel delivers limited long range performance. But it’s good enough for hitting man-sized targets at several hundred yards.

    And there’s a picatinny rail up front for mounting an optic, which can help you get the hits you need at long range. If you don’t have an optic, the attached iron sights are actually pretty solid for precision shooting.

    Overall, this rifle is great for engaging targets at medium to long ranges.

    Where this rifle struggles is in CQC. The safety is a bit clunky. This rifle is rather heavy. And the sights can be tough to use quickly.

    However, you can make this rifle work for just about every type of shooting. It’s a super capable scout rifle that gives you a definite edge at medium to long range.


    • Model: Savage 110 Tactical Bolt-Action Centerfire Rifle
    • Caliber: .308 WIN
    • Barrel length: 20 inch carbon steel
    • Action: Bolt action
    • Magazine capacity: 10 rounds

    Savage 110 Tactical Bolt-Action Centerfire Rifle - Budget scout rifle

    A bolt action rifle isn’t the absolute best rifle to use as a scout rifle. However, the Savage 110 Tactical Bolt-Action Centerfire Rifle is a bolt action rifle that makes a decent scout rifle, if you’re primarily using your scout rifle for medium and long range precision.

    I’ve already covered the action. So let’s talk about the other parts.

    First, the barrel is 20 inches long. It’s enough barrel to give you lethal ballistics at long range. But it’s short enough that this rifle is relatively easy to handle in tight spaces.

    Additionally, this rifle is equipped with an adjustable AccuTriggerIt’s an excellent trigger for precision shooting. And you can set the pull weight as low as you want without compromising the drop safety on your rifle.

    Lastly, this rifle comes with a 10-round magazine. This is really what makes this a viable scout rifle, even though it’s a bolt action rifle.

    Most bolt action rifles come with a 3 or 4 round magazine. This rifle has enough rounds in the magazine to keep you going through most situations.

    Unfortunately, since this is a bolt action rifle, it comes without sights. You’ll have to add your own optic. But that just makes the rifle more customized to your needs.

    Obviously, this is not the best rifle for CQB. But it’s more than precise enough for medium and long range engagementsThis Savage Arms rifle will do what you need at most battle rifle distances.


    • Model: Henry Long Ranger Lever-Action Rifle
    • Caliber: .308 WIN
    • Barrel length: 20 inches
    • Action: Lever action
    • Magazine capacity: 4 rounds

    The Henry Long Ranger Lever-Action Rifle is a great alternative to a semi-automatic rifle that’s quicker and easier to handle than a bolt action rifle.

    This rifle is fitted with a 20 inch barrel. That’s long enough that you get lethal terminal ballistics at maximum range.

    Then, this is a lever action rifle. It’s not as fast as a semi-automatic rifle. But it’s faster than a bolt action rifle. So it’s more viable for close quarters engagements than a bolt action rifle.

    Also, there’s no manual safety on this rifle, which simplifies the operation and makes it easy to get going in high stress situations.

    There are two downsides to this rifle:

    First, it doesn’t come with any sights. You’ll have to add your own sighting system.

    Then, it also only holds 4 rounds in the magazine. That’s the same as most bolt action rifles. However, this model takes detachable magazines. So you could probably get larger magazines if you need them.

    Semi-automatic scout rifles can be a little bit pricey. This Henry rifle gives those of you with limited budgets a legitimate alternative to a bolt action rifle, without downsizing to a smaller caliber.


    • Model: Tikka T3x Compact Tactical Bolt-Action Rifle
    • Caliber: .308 WIN
    • Barrel length: 20 inches
    • Action: Bolt action
    • Magazine capacity: 10 rounds

    The Tikka T3x Compact Tactical Bolt-Action Rifle is another bolt action rifle that makes a pretty solid scout rifle. It’s even better than some bolt action rifles that claim to be dedicated scout rifles.

    There are a few specifications that make this a legitimate scout rifle.

    The barrel is 20 inches long. It’s long enough to give you the terminal ballistics you need, even at maximum range.

    But, the 20 inch barrel keeps this rifle compact. That way you can handle it in tight spaces, if you need.

    Additionally, the barrel is threaded to give you compatibility with suppressors and other muzzle devices that can make your rifle more tactically viable.

    Moving back, this rifle takes detachable box magazines. And it comes with a 10-round magazine. You may not be able to fire super fast with this rifle. But you’ll be able to shoot quite a bit before you need to reload.

    Since this Tikka model is a bolt action rifle, no sights are included. But there’s a picatinny rail on top. That way you can easily add any optic you want.

    It’s not the fastest handling rifle for short range engagements. But it gives you excellent precision and ballistics at medium and long ranges, where a scout rifle should really shine.


    5. Smith & Wesson M&P10 Sport Semi-Auto Rifle - Budget Semi-Auto Scout Rifle

    • Model: Smith & Wesson M&P10 Sport Semi-Auto Rifle
    • Caliber: 7.62mm NATO
    • Barrel length: 16 inches
    • Action: Semi-auto
    • Magazine capacity: 20 rounds

    The Smith & Wesson M&P line of rifles has been a solid option for shooters who need a budget AR pattern rifle. The Smith & Wesson M&P10 Sport Semi-Auto Rifle is an AR pattern rifle that makes an excellent scout rifle.

    This model is fitted with a 16 inch barrel. The barrel gives you enough muzzle velocity for good terminal ballistics at all but the absolute maximum effective range of the .308 cartridge.

    However, the 16 inch barrel is still relatively easy to handle in tight spaces.

    Additionally, this is an AR pattern rifle. It’s one of the easiest firearms to operate efficiently under stress. This model is one of the best rifles to have if you need your scout rifle for some sort of CQB.

    Also, the magazine holds 20 rounds, which gives you more gas in the tank than most other scout rifles. And the magazines are very affordableYou can get more magazines for less money than almost any other scout rifle on the market.

    This rifle comes without sights. And the furniture is standard mil-spec furniture. But everything can be upgraded, since this is an AR pattern rifle.

    My only word of caution with this rifle is that occasionally an M&P rifle will ship with gas system issues. The issue can be fairly easily corrected with a replacement part or adjustment.

    Ultimately, this S&W rifle gives you the most performance and versatility for the money. If you need an affordable scout rifle that performs well in just about every context, this is the rifle for you.


    6. Savage MSR 10 Hunter Semi-Auto Rifle - Value Semi-Auto Scout Rifle

    • Model: Savage MSR 10 Hunter Semi-Auto Rifle
    • Caliber: .308 WIN
    • Barrel length: 16.12 inches
    • Action: Semi-auto
    • Magazine capacity: 20 rounds

    Savage makes excellent rifles of all sorts. And the Savage MSR 10 Hunter Semi-Auto Rifle is an excellent semi-auto rifle.

    This rifle has a 16.12 inch barrel. It’s long enough for solid terminal ballistics. But it’s short enough to be easy to handle in tight spaces and CQB environments.

    Side note: the barrel is finished in melonite QPQ, which is an outstanding finish that looks awesome and gives you solid corrosion resistance.

    The barrel is also capped with a 2-port muzzle brake that makes it much more comfortable to shoot .308.

    Then, all the hardware on this rifle has excellent tactical viability.

    The handguard has M-LOK slots all over the place. So you can add any forend accessories that you need.

    Further back, the furniture is very similar to Magpul MOE furnitureIt’s comfortable and makes this rifle super easy to handle in almost any context.

    Lastly, this rifle comes with a 20-round magazine. And you can get more magazines for a relatively low price.

    This rifle might not be super low-priced. But the performance, versatility, and ergonomics are better than you’d get from almost any other scout rifle.


    7. CMMG Mk3 T Semi-Auto Rifle - Tactical Scout Rifle

    • Model: CMMG Mk3 T Semi-Auto Rifle
    • Caliber: .308 WIN
    • Barrel length: 16.1 inches
    • Action: Semi-auto
    • Magazine capacity: 20 rounds

    The CMMG Mk3 T Semi-Auto Rifle is an exceptionally modular rifle. And it’s got all the specs and dimensions that you need for a proper scout rifle.

    The barrel is 16.1 inches long. As you’ve probably figured out at this point, this barrel is long enough for terminal ballistics at long range. But it’s short enough that you can still get after it with this rifle in tight spaces.

    Also, the barrel is machined from stainless steel. Stainless steel is exceptionally precise. And it wears evenly throughout its lifetime. That way you get predictable performance for as long as your barrel lives.

    Additionally, the handguard has plenty of KeyMod slots for adding a light or any other accessories that you need.

    The magazine holds 20 rounds. And AR-10 magazines are affordable. That way you can build a complete scout rifle kit for a relatively small investment.

    My main complaint is that this rifle comes with basic mil-spec furniture. It’s not all that comfortable. But it works. And there are plenty of upgrade options, since this CMMG rifle takes AR-15 furniture.

    The price might be on the higher end. But the performance, construction, and FDE cerakote make this rifle easily worth the money.


    • Model: HK MR 762 A1 Semi-Automatic 7.62x51 AR-10 Rifle
    • Caliber: 7.62x51 NATO
    • Barrel length: 16.5 inches
    • Action: Gas piston semi-auto
    • Magazine capacity: 20 rounds

    The HK MR 762 A1 Semi-Automatic 7.62x51 AR-10 Rifle is built around the HK417 rifle. It uses the signature HK closed piston system. The piston system is kind of the star of the show.

    As far as the specs and dimensions go, this rifle is built like a high-end AR-10:

    It’s got a 16.5 inch, cold hammer forged barrel.

    The furniture is a pistol grip and an adjustable stock.

    And this rifle accepts 20 round AR-10 magazines.

    Now, about the gas system.

    The gas piston system on this rifle keeps exhaust gases from the burning powder from ever entering the upper receiver.

    This system reduces carbon fouling and corrosion on the bolt and bolt carrier. So your rifle runs cleaner, more reliably, and lasts longer.

    The gas piston system is a great innovation for AR pattern rifles. However, it does come with tradeoffs.

    Gas piston systems tend to be a bit violent. So the recoil impulse can be a bit sharper than a DI gun. And the action can cause a slight degradation in precision, since it causes the barrel to flex more.

    But the tradeoffs are actually very minor. Most shooters don’t even notice.

    You may notice the price. But, if you want an AR pattern rifle that’s incredibly well made and exceptionally reliable, this HK model is the rifle to get.


    Scouting Things Out

    A good scout rifle is a hard long gun to beat. Scout rifles are superbly versatile and easy to handle. It’s obviously impossible to find a rifle that does absolutely everything perfectly. But a good scout rifle comes close to achieving that.

    Springfield Armory M1A Socom 16 Semi-Auto Rifle

    The Springfield Armory M1A Socom 16 Semi-Auto Rifle is a scout rifle that comes very close to doing almost everything perfectly. It might be a bit heavy. But it performs amazingly at long ranges. And you can make it work in a CQB pinch.

    A scout rifle is an outstanding rifle for just about everything. It makes sense that you’d be looking for one. Well, now you’ve found all the best scout rifles. So pick one up. And get after it.