When someone mentions the words "Scout Rifle" we immediately think of Jeff Cooper who developed the concept in the 1970s. At a time when international arms’ makers were putting more and more sophisticated weapons on the market, this rifle was a return to the idea of a “general purpose rifle”.
In an article entitled “The Scout Rifle Idea” published in The Gun Digest, this charismatic American gun maker shared a series of reflections with readers about a method of construction that, although not exactly innovative, made good use of the latest technologies to produce “compact, lightweight, powerful and precise guns that were quick and easy to use”.
Sabatti Rover Compact Scout rifle: an unusual design with meticulous attention to detail
These adjectives describe precise design solutions that suit the techniques with which the gun would be used, giving the finished product its much-appreciated, exceptional versatility.
Cooper’s was the adaptation of certain gun makers’ archetypes to schemes that were considered on the decline at the time in terms of sales, with the focus on an increase in performance compared to classic “lever action” 30-30 guns. Cooper’s proposals were soon acknowledged by major industrialists both in Europe and the US.
In theory, the range of use of this type of gun is vast, but as rifles are used in different ways in Europe and America, it’s never been a best-seller in Italy.
Things seem to have changed in recent times: to meet the requirements of the growing number of people hunting certain species in specific areas, Sabatti has developed its existing rifles to offer them a product well-suited for driven hunting and more.
The result is quite an unusual design, with meticulous attention to detail in terms of ergonomics and muzzle profile.
Sabatti Rover Compact Scout rifle: technical specifications
In general, the Compact Scout is a bolt-action rifle chambered for .308 Winchester (available also for .30-06) with a removable 5-shot clip; the overall length is 105 cm and it weighs 3.3 kg.
The mechanism is similar to the Rover Scout, Traqueur and Battue models and is based on the classic Sabatti action with a short 50 cm-long barrel and a 16.5 mm diameter muzzle, and traditional 1:8” cold hammer forged rifling.
This makes the gun not only versatile by virtue of its compatibility with bullets of various sizes and weights (as a general rule 130 - 240 grain), but it’s also particularly well-suited to the subsonic ammo that’s recently become so popular.
In some European countries, you can even use guns with silencers (but not in Italy). The threaded muzzle comes with a muzzle brake as standard.
This accessory reduces recoil and muzzle rise, making it easier to take shots in quick succession.
Sabatti Rover Compact Scout rifle: a lightweight gun easy to use and carry
In Cooper’s concept, the Scout Rifle was a lightweight gun, easy to use and carry.
Decades later the gun weighs even less, something that’s much appreciated for certain types of hunting.
This is particularly useful when hunting certain species in low-light conditions for example, using optoelectronic scopes and accessories that aren’t exactly featherweight.
As well as its standard open metal sights with fibre optic inserts suitable for point shooting, the gun also has a MILSTD1913 accessory rail in front of the chamber, which is compatible with a wide variety of long-range scopes and accessories.
Scopes and "red dot” systems can easily be mounted on the action.
The stock is coated in synthetic material and has quite a deep, non-slip chequered grip.
The size and shape of the gun make it easy to use for people of different builds using a variety of equipment, dressed for winter or wearing less bulky clothing. The distance between the butt pad and the trigger is 37 centimeters.
The grip is a “thumb-hole” design and the stock has an adjustable cheek piece.
A chamfered polymer butt pad helps reduce recoil, and won’t get caught in your clothes when shouldering the gun. The olive green rifle we tested didn’t have an adjustable cheek piece and isn’t listed in the Sabatti catalogue.
Testing the Sabatti Compact Scout at the firing range
We tested the Compact Scout in collaboration with Nunzio Buzzanca, a Tirooperativo.it instructor, at three firing ranges in Lombardy, Italy: the A.S.D. Traversera di Verano Brianza firing range, the Isola del Tiro firing range at the “Cieli Aperti” sports centre in Cologno al Serio and the Orobico firing range in Ubiale di Clanezzo.
First shots were fired to foul the barrel; then the medium range test, and last but not least the rapid fire tests.
Various scopes and sights with different constructional characteristics were used: the standard scopes we used were a Leupold VX3 6-20 x 50 with a Fine Duplex reticle, an old Swarovski – Habicht 3-12 x 50 with a Cross Air reticle, a Zenit Belomo 4 x 24 with a triple hunting reticle and vertical impact indicator; at long ranges we used the Burris Speed Dot 135 and Aimpoint Micro T1 red dot sights.
Various types of ammo were used, including the Freccia Nera with a 180 grain bullet, and the new 150 and 180 grain Fiocchi “EPN” (Expansive Plastic Nose).
In the short-range tests, firing two or more shots in quick succession after shouldering the gun, we also used the standard metal sights, attempting to reproduce the critical situations that might be encountered when hunting in a forest, such as low light.
The modern grip makes the rifle quicker and easier to aim and with a bit of practice you can use the bolt faster too.
These tests, rather than the shots fired after carefully taking aim, gave an idea of what it’s like to shoot the Compact Scout. The gun is ergonomically well-balanced and well-suited to driven hunting or when tracking game.
So it’s true that the archetype “Scout rifle” can be used for a wide range of hunting applications: the new Sabatti rifle, re-interpreting the ergonomics and the design of the muzzle, has some very interesting features.