scout rifle
Richard Mann's scout rifle. Richard Mann

My old mom, who was a teacher, wanted me to learn to read at an early age, so when I was two, she gave me a copy of Immanuel Kant’s “A Critique of Pure Reason” and said, “This book. Book good. You learn read book.” And I did.

Today, she would probably have handed me a laptop, because that’s the way books are going, the most recent of which is The Scout Rifle Study, by Richard Mann, which has just been published online, and which you can access by going to and logging on.

Unless you’ve been hiding out in Chappaqua, NY, you’re aware that the Scout rifle is the brainchild of the late Jeff Cooper, a firearms instructor and visionary, and is touted by its believers as the ideal all-around long gun. I own two Scout rifles, have been a lifelong Jeff Cooper reader, and thought I had a pretty thorough knowledge of the subject. I don’t. Richard Mann does. Compared to him, I’ve barely scratched the surface.

The reason Mann chose the free-access web page format is, you can do things with it that are impossible in print or e-book. This 60,000-word study is not the Last Word; it’s considered a work in progress that will be added to, subtracted from, altered, and argued with, as time goes on. It contains 20 chapters, thousands of images, and hundreds of videos. There is material here that I never dreamed existed; I have no idea how and where Mann got it.

Mann himself is an interesting character. A self-described West Virginia hillbilly at heart, he is a former police officer, railroad detective, firearms instructor, Army tank commander, multiple GunSite graduate, worldwide big-game hunter, widely published writer, and the editor of the 13th Edition of Cartridges of the World. He is also the owner of a pickup truck painted in a shade of yellow that I have seen nowhere else, and a Rhodesian ridgeback that has not only killed, but eaten, several people. He is a relentless hunter, and his own Scout rifle is an extremely cool custom version based on a Forbes rifle.

You may or may not be a Scout Rifle Believer (for the record, I am) but there’s so much in here about guns, marksmanship, lack of marksmanship, hunting, shooters, and Jeff Cooper in general that you’ll find it worthwhile and then some. It’s a great read/view, or whatever you call it, and you can’t beat the price. And if you find yourself in West By God Virginia, stay away from the dog.