The scout rifle, as a concept, came largely from the thinking of Col. Jeff Cooper, a Marine who spent much of his life planning, practicing, and teaching practical shooting.
As part of his work, Cooper wanted to create a generalist rifle that would be useful for the real conditions found in hunting big game, especially in North America. Cooper desired bolt action rifle chambered in .308, kept as light as possible for long treks through rough terrain.
Cooper’s vision for the rifle suggested a sixteen-inch barrel, a forward-mounted scout scope, and a detachable box magazine.
These features, combined with sling attachment points and a synthetic stock, meant that the scout rifle was a capable rifle that you could practically carry for long distances and be able to make accurate shots.
This concept, still a relevant one today, has been modified slightly in some rifles, which prefer a more aggressive muzzle break than some of the original rifles, as well as the adoption of a semi-automatic format. Still, the main idea is for a capable and compact rifle intended for the kind of shooting that a lot of us actually do.