Best Scout Rifles: Our Top Picks

by Travis Pike

January 7, 2022

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Jeff Cooper had an undying influence on the firearm’s world. From the reveal of his modern technique to IPSC, the man had a serious influence on the world of guns. One such concept is the Scout rifle. Jeff Cooper began promoting the Scout rifle in the early 1980s as a concept for a new type of multi-use rifle. Thus the Scout rifle was born. The Scout rifle was not a new type of action but a combination of concepts and accessories that created one rifle. 

The Purpose of the Scout Rifle

Mr. Cooper’s idea was for a rifle that could do it all. Jeff Cooper looked to the past and observed the Scout rifles used by scouts in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Specifically, a man named Major Frederick Russell Burnham, also known as the King of Scouts and He-Who-Sees-in-the-dark. 

Cooper looked at their rifles and realized he could build a modern scout rifle utilizing modern plastics, metals, optics and more. The rifle could be used for anything, including specialized hunting and fighting across the globe. Hunters, fighters and men hired to do dangerous jobs in dangerous places could utilize the Scout rifle for any task or purpose. 

What Is A Scout Rifle?

Cooper clearly defined the rifle and the characteristics in which it would function. The standards seem rigid but there is plenty of room for advancement. Cooper was smart enough to know that shooters, the world, as did firearms had changed. They got better and he had left room for the platform to adapt and evolve over time. Here is what Cooper set forth to make a Scout rifle. 

Action – Most people assume Scout rifles have to be a bolt action because Cooper’s own Scout rifles were bolt actions. However, there was no hard and fast rule saying a bolt action was the only option. Cooper preferred a strong and compact action and preferred a 90-degree rotation and a Mauser claw extractor. 

Caliber – Jeff liked his full-powered cartridges and declared the Scout rifle should be a 308 or a 7mm-08. Both of these short-action cartridges allowed for a more compact action. That being said, any modern cartridge equivalent could work. Something like the 6.5 Creedmoor would certainly be acceptable if it had been around when Jeff designed the Scout rifle. 

Accuracy – Jeff Cooper was a man who loved accurate rifles, but he was also a realist. Jeff declared the Scout rifle should be capable of shooting a 2 MOA group. That’s not a massive demand with modern rifles or calibers and presents a realistic accuracy expectation. 

Trigger – A Scout rifle should have a smooth and clean trigger that breaks at 3 pounds. Pretty stock standard on a quality bolt action rifle, and not super uncommon on modern rifles in general. 

Optics and Sights – An optic was declared optional but was described as being a long eye relief scope that saw forward of the action. This feature is one of the most obvious and defining features of the Scout rifle. The optic would be relatively low-powered at 2 to 3 power. 

Iron sights were to be simple and very robust. They could provide moderate to short-range accuracy. They shouldn’t snag on anything when carried in the bush. They could be open or peep sights. 

Magazine – Magazines could be internal or removable. They needed to be robust and extremely durable. With the optic forward of the action, the magazine could be fed with stripper clips if it’s a fixed magazine. Optionally detachable magazines were permitted. Either way, the magazine needed to be robust enough to protect the soft points of a spitzer bullet. 

Sling – A sling was necessary to both carry the weapon and to provide stability when aiming. A two-point sling was the name of the game, and in the 1980s, Eric Ching’s “Ching Sling” was the choice. However, a more modern sling could be added of course, since it’s 2022. 

Weight and Length – Weight and length required the rifle to be shorter and lighter than most rifles of the day. Cooper advised a maximum unloaded weight of 6.6 pounds and a maximum loaded weight of 7.7 pounds. 

The rifle should be 39 inches or less. To make this a little easier to visualize, the M4 with its stock extended is 33 inches. It’s short for a full-powered rifle, though. 

What About Semi-Autos? 

Jeff Cooper produced a few prototypes of the Scout rifle, and they were all bolt actions. This leads many to believe that a Scout rifle has to be a bolt action rifle which is simply not true. Jeff himself said a semi-auto was acceptable as long as the action was reliable and compact. In the 1980s, it seemed Jeff didn’t fully trust semi-autos. In 2022 though, I think semi-autos have proven themselves reliable. 

A modern scout rifle could be a semi-auto or even a lever action. Jeff was partially inspired by the Winchester 1894 lever-action rifle. As you’ll see through our list of Scout rifles, plenty makes the list. 

Best Scout Rifles

Best Scout Rifles

Steyr Scout
  • Designed With Coopers Input
  • Light and Compact
  • Integrated Bipod and Spare Mag Holder
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Ruger Scout
  • Lightweight and Compact
  • Adjustable Length of Pull
  • Includes Iron Sights and Scout mount
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M1A1 Scout 
  • Semi-Auto Action
  • Detachable Magazines
  • National Match Sights and Trigger
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Browning BLR Takedown 
  • Lever Action Rifle
  • Break Down Design
  • Built-In Iron Sights
Check Price
Mossberg MVP Scout 
  • Affordable American Made Option
  • Plug and Play Option with Included Optic
  • Utilizes AR magazines
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Savage 110 Scout 
  • Accutrigger
  • Detachable Magazines
  • Robust Compensator
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Best Scout Rifles Specs

Before we jump into the individual reviews, lets lines these rifles up side by side and look closely into their specificiations.

RifleWeightLengthCapacityCaliber
Steyr Scout6.6 pounds38.6 inches5 to 10 rounds308 - 7mm-08
Ruger Scout6.2 pounds38.5 inches10308
M1A1 Scout8.5 pounds40.33 inches5 to 20308 Win
Browning BLR Takedown6.5 pounds40 inches4308, 7mm-08, 6.5 Creedmoor
Mossberg MVP Scout7 pounds37.5 inches5 to 20308 Win
Savage 110 Scout7.72 pounds38.5 inches5 or 10308 and 450 Bushmaster

Best Scout Rifles Reviews

We’re going to unpack each of these rifles below, the pros and cons, the price and our take on each rifle.

1. Steyr Scout

Steyr Scout

Steyr Scout

Extraordinarily versatile Scout Rifle. It’s very lightweight, thanks to its aluminum receiver housing, hammer forged fluted barrel and extensive use of polymers.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value C

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Steyr Scout Specs

  • Weight 6.6 pounds
  • Length 38.6 inches
  • Capacity 5 to 10 rounds
  • Caliber 308, 7mm-08

Steyr Scout Review

The Steyr Scout is as close to perfect as you can get with a Scout rifle. It helps that Jeff Cooper worked with Steyr to develop the rifle and brought it to the civilian market, being super lightweight and handy at only 6.6 pounds. The Scout comes in 308 and 7mm-08 as it should and also packs a number of features that make it one of the best Scout rifles out there. 

This includes an integrated handguard that folds down into a bipod for easy resting shots. Instead of having to add weight in the form of adding a bipod the Steyr’s integrated system keeps things nice and light. 

The Steyr Scout utilizes a detachable magazine and comes in 5 and 10 round capacities. The stock has a slot that allows you to hold an extra magazine on the rifle as well. Steyr integrated a rail section forward of the action, and it’s easy to add whatever optic you choose with little effort. This rifle really incorporates the Scout rifle perfectly and is still one of the best choices for a light and handy rifle in general. 

Steyr Scout Pros and Cons

  • Lightweight
  • Useful Integrated Features 
  • Expensive 

Steyr Scout Gun Deals

2. Ruger Scout

Ruger Scout

Ruger Scout

Ruger Scout featuring forward-mounted Picatinny rail, Detachable box magazine and a Free-floating, cold hammer-forged barrel results in ultra-precise rifling that provides exceptional accuracy and longevity.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value B

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Ruger Scout Specs

  • Weight 8.5 pounds
  • Length 40.33 inches
  • Capacity 5 to 20 
  • Caliber 308 Win 

Ruger Scout Review

The Ruger Scout rifle might be my personal favorite Scout rifle. The wood-stocked models, in particular, appeal to my need for American rifles and American walnut. If you want efficiency more than sweet wood stocks, then the polymer models trim a lot of weight, roughly a pound. In fact, the polymer stock models are the only ones that meet the weight requirement at 6.2 pounds. Length hits the sweet spot of 38.5 inches with a 16.5-inch threaded barrel. 

Ruger includes a flash hider, which helps with a short barrel throwing 308 or 350 Legend rounds downrange. This short and handy barrel creates a lot of flash and concussion, so a little help reducing that is nice. The ½ x 28 thread pattern makes it easy to attach a wide variety of muzzle devices, ranging from compensators to suppressors. 

The length of pull is adjustable between 12.75 inches and 14.25 inches, so it can fit a wide variety of shooters. A forward mounted Picatinny rail will fit optics both large and small and keep it in the scout rifle configuration. The magazine is detachable and holds five rounds. I can’t forget to mention you also get a robust set of iron sights that are adjustable and easy to use. They make an optic optional. 

Ruger Scout Pros and Cons

  • Iron sight equipped
  • Threaded Barrel 
  • Out of the Box Ready
  • Only polymer models meet the weight requirement

Ruger Scout Gun Deals

3. Springfield M1A1 Scout

Springfield M1A1 Scout

Springfield M1A1 Scout

The Springfield M1A1 Scout Squad combines legendary M1A1 power and reliability with the quick handling and lightning-fast sight acquisition of a scout-style rifle.

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  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy B
  • Value C

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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Springfield M1A1 Scout

  • Weight 6.2 pounds
  • Length 40.33
  • Capacity 5 to 20 rounds
  • Caliber 308 Win

Springfield M1A1 Scout Review

I’m cheating on this one. Technically it’s both too long at 40.33 inches and too heavy at 8.8 pounds to meet the strict requirements of a Scout rifle. The M1A1 delivers shooters a semi-auto option but does so with more weight and length than we’d require most of the time. It packs a 308 round and does so in detachable magazines, which vary from 5 to 20 rounds. 

The Scout Squad packs the must-have forward optics rail and also comes with a set of National Match iron sights that are robust and quite precise. The duo makes it easy to get on target and stay on target. Springfield trimmed the barrel to a friendly 18 inches and topped it which a compensator to fight muzzle rise. You’ll be able to get plenty of shots on target and do so rapidly. 

The Scout Squad offers a very nice National Match tuned trigger for a sweet and short squeeze. Outside of the weight and length requirement, the Scout Squad checks all the boxes necessary to be an effective Scout rifle. 

Springfield M1A1 Pros and Cons

  • Semi-Auto
  • National Match Trigger
  • Built-in irons
  • Long and Heavy

Springfield M1A1 Scout Gun Deals

4. Browning BLR Takedown

Browning BLR Takedown

Browning BLR Takedown

The design of the BLR features an aircraftgrade alloy receiver glasssmooth rack and pinion system and multilug rotating bolt that handles many of the most popular magnum cartridges.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value C

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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Browning BLR Takedown Specs

  • Weight 6.5 pounds
  • Length 40 inches
  • Capacity 4 rounds
  • Caliber Caliber – 308, 7mm-08, 6.5 Creedmoor

Browning BLR Takedown Review

The Browning BLR Take Down was not an intentional Scout rifle. Browning wanted to create a lever-action rifle that was easily broken down and carried. The downside to that design is the barrel indexing can shift on occasion. As such, a scoped mounted to the barrel ensures accuracy after the gun is taken down and reassembled. The forwarded mounted optic rail revealed an awesome Scout rifle in a lever-action package. 

Unlike other lever guns, the Browning BLR delivers a removable magazine that allows it to utilize spitzer rifle rounds like the 308 Winchester. The BLT Lightweight Stainless Takedown meets the weight requirement but is just an inch longer than the standard 39 inches. 

Built-in peep iron sights allow you to make the most out of a 308 round, and the barrel is tapped for a forward scope mount. As a lever gun, it offers you the reliability of a bolt action with a rapid-fire rate. The BLR is one of the only lever guns that can be called a Scout rifle. 

Browning BLR Takedown Pros and Cons

  • Rapid action lever gun
  • Takedown for compact travel
  • Robust iron sights
  • Expensive
  • A Hair long

Browning BLR Takedown Gun Deals

5. Mossberg MVP Scout

Mossberg MVP Scout Rifle

Mossberg MVP Scout

The MVP series are robust bolt action rifles from an American company we all know and love.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Mossberg MVP Scout Specs

  • Weight 7 pounds
  • Length 37.5 inches
  • Capacity 5 to 20 rounds
  • Caliber 308 Win

Mossberg MVP Scout Review

So far, you’ve likely noticed that Scout rifles tend to be somewhat expensive. Even the Ruger tips the scales a bit on price. However, the Mossberg MVP Scout Rifle gives you the Scout rifle you want without breaking the bank. The MVP series are robust bolt action rifles from an American company we all know and love. 

The MVP Scout meets the length requirement at 37.5 inches but tips the scales ever so slightly at 7 pounds. That little extra weight is due to the bull barrel, which is uncommon on Scout rifles. It does allow for a higher volume of accurate fire though. Mossberg’s Scout utilizes a detachable box magazine, and guess what? They utilized AR 10 magazines, which are cheap, commonly available, and affordable. 

The Scout is complete with a robust set of iron sights and a very long optic rail. Mossberg even offers an optic that comes complete with a Vortex 2-7X long eye relief optic for a little extra scratch. It’s the only plug-and-play option I know of for the Scout rifle concept. 

Mossberg MVP Scout Pros and Cons

  • Affordable
  • Utilizes Common AR type magazines
  • Out of the Box Ready
  • Heavier than Scout rifle requirement

Mossberg MVP Scout Gun Deals

6. Savage 110 Scout

Savage 110 Scout

Savage 110 Scout

When the stakes are high settle for nothing less than the precision and adaptability of the Savage 110. The 110 provides the accuracy and function of a custom rifle-right out of the box.

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  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value B

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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Savage 110 Scout Specs

  • Weight 7.72 pounds
  • Length 38.5 inches
  • Capacity 5 or 10 rounds
  • Caliber 308 and 450 Bushmaster

Savage 110 Scout Review

The Savage 110 Scout is another that doesn’t quite meet the weight and length requirements. It’s a little heavy at 7.72 pounds but does meet the length requirement at 38.5 inches. It’s a good bit heavy, but some of the weight can be blamed on the built-in optic mount, the robust iron sights, and even the big ole compensator that allows for recoil reduction. 

The 110 Scout comes in 308 Winchester as it should, but Savage also offers the 450 Bushmaster as an option if you want a straight line cartridge for hunting in certain states that restrict bottleneck rounds for hunting. The 110 Scout uses a Magpul AICS magazine that holds ten rounds for 308 and 5 for 450 Bushmaster. 

The big compensator helps take some sting out of the gun’s recoil at the cost of some muzzle flash and a little more noise. The forward-mounted scope rail makes adding optics easy, and the built-in iron sights are a very nice touch. It features one of the best stock rifles triggers on the market in the form of the Accu-Trigger. 

Savage 110 Scout Pros and Cons

  • Awesome Trigger
  • Recoil Reducing Compensator
  • Smooth Action
  • A little heavy 

Savage 110 Scout Gun Deals

Best Scout Rifles Buyers Guide – Our Thoughts

Above we had a good look into the six rifles that made our list. Now lets look at some points which I feel is worth discussing which will include the modern purpose of the scout rifle, the optics, slings and accessories.

Modern Purpose of the Scout Rifle 

The Scout rifle was a do-anything rifle, but these days the Scout rifle wouldn’t be found on a battlefield. The modern Recce rifle fills that role, but that doesn’t mean the Scout rifle is a dinosaur. As in extinct. 

The modern Scout rifle can be an outstanding backcountry gun for camping and adventuring. As a lightweight and rather short rifle that’s chambered in a full-powered cartridge, the Scout rifle is rather handy. It’s easy to hike with, to climb with, and to navigate a wide variety of environments. 

The design also allows you to stash the rifle in a boat, airplane, or truck and easy to access in case of emergencies. 

It’s also an awesome idea for a hunting rifle in diverse environments. It translates well for close-range brush hunting or even animal defense. You can get on target quickly if your prey or a predator springs up in dense brush. As a hunter in the southeast, I can tell you now the brush goes from being super thick and dense to wide open fields in tens yards. 

Coming out into an open field makes good use of a low-powered optic. Being able to engage at close and moderate ranges makes the Scout rifle extremely versatile. I also live in the middle of nowhere, and I’m my own 911. Living in the middle of the woods provides you lots of interactions with nature. 99% of them are great, but we get that occasional mean critter that needs dispatching. 

Grabbing a Scout rifle and heading out the door ensures you have a rifle to deal with anything from a fox in the henhouse to a wild cur. I have a rifle that can deal with it all. The Scout rifle is a Swiss Army knife of practical rifle shooting. 

The Scout Rifle Optic 

Mounting an optic that far forward requires a very specific optic. When shopping for a magnified optic for your scout rifle, you’ll want what’s called a long eye relief optic. A normal scope mounted that far forward will be impossible to use. 

A long eye relief optic gives you several inches of eye relief to allow you to see through the scope clearly. Jeff Cooper called for a low-powered 2 to 3 power magnified optic that would keep the rifle light and easy to use at a variety of ranges. That low power of an optic allows for fast snapshots. 

These days finding an optic that matches the low power requirement and low weight is tough. Most Scout rifle scopes deliver 2 to 7 variable magnification to provide you with a little extra oomph at the cost of a lot of extra weight. 

Notable exceptions include the Burris 2.75x20mm optic and the Leupold VX-1 1.5-4 power rifle scope. These are both lightweight and provide roughly the magnification Cooper would have wanted. 

What About Red Dots? 

In the early 1980s, red dots weren’t popular. Aimpoint had only released the modern red dot a few years prior. You might ask, are red dots appropriate for a Scout rifle? I believe they are. Cooper always said the optic was optional in the first place. I think Mr. Cooper would be rather impressed by modern red dots. 

A good red dot provides unlimited eye relief without issue. They provide accurate fire out to 200 yards with ease, and they could even go beyond that with a skilled shooter. A red dot provides a clear and consistent reticle that can vary greatly in size depending on a shooter’s needs. 

A 2 MOA dot provides a very crisp option for target engagement and makes it easy to see and engage with a target at various ranges. The Aimpoint T-2 or even the SIG Romeo5 series for budget-minded shooters is an option. They are not only capable optics but small and lightweight. You can quickly get one on target at a variety of ranges, and it will perform admirably on a scout rifle. 

A Modern Scout Rifle Sling 

The Ching sling might have been the hotness in the early 80s, but these days the Scout rifle needs something a bit more modern. The Blue Force Gear Vickers sling provides you an ultra-modern two-point sling easily adjustable for a multitude of situations. 

A quick tug of a pull tab allows the sling to extend rapidly or to tighten. This design makes it easy to be maneuverable with the firearm or to comfortably carry it. Like the Ching sling, you can use the sling to help support the rifle for accurate shots via tension. The BFG Vickers sling is the choice of the United States Marine Corps and is one of the toughest slings on the market. 

Light It Up 

The Scout rifle’s mission includes being a do it all rifle. However, can it be a do it all rifle if it can’t do it in low light? I don’t think so. I think a good Scout rifle needs to have a light. In the 1980s, weapon-mounted lights were big lights that weren’t very powerful. These days you can get ultra-lightweight lights that are incredibly powerful. 

You can add a light while keeping your Scout rifle quite light. There are tons of different options these days for lights, and my personal suggestion for the Scout rifle would be the Rein Micro. It’s incredibly powerful with one of the longest effective ranges on the market. Alternatively, the Streamlight ProTac HL-X or Surefire M600 are good-to-go lights that are a fair bit cheaper. 

Scouting 

Scout rifles are the concept that won’t go away. I think it’s fair to say we have more Scout rifles now than ever before. This cool, do anything rifle concept provides a versatile platform for the adventurous type, for the rural lifestyle, and for the folks that want to spice up a bolt-action rifle. Scout rifles are all kinds of cool and extremely versatile rifles. To me, they make the plain old bolt action a lot of fun. 

What’s your experience with the Scout rifle? Love it? Hate? Have you read the Art of the Rifle by Jeff Cooper? Let us know what you think below. 

FOR FIRST TIME GUN BUYERS

If this is your first rifle or perhaps just your first Scout Rifle, then there are definitely some things you should also consider so as to not only get the most out of your gun, but keep it safe and those around you.

  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Responsibly owning a rifle also includes knowing how to care for it. And that means breaking it down, cleaning it, and reassembly. You’ll need to ensure you pick up a top notch cleaning kit so you can ensure you get all the gunk out of places gunk doesn’t need to be. We recommend the Gloryfire Universal Cleaning Kit.
  • Shooting Glasses: If you’ve never shot a gun before, then you may not be aware of reasons why you’d need safety glasses. But all it takes is one piece of hot brass in your eye and you could be looking at serious injury. Check out our article on the Best Shooting Glasses to determine the right fit for you.
  • Hearing Protection: It’s pretty obvious, but…guns go bang. And it doesn’t take much to start causing hearing damage. Protect your ears and hearing by picking up some premium ear pro. There’s many different great options available too. Find out the best for you in our Best Shooting Hearing Protection review.
  • Storage: Finally, if you’re going to be a safe gun owner, you’re going to want to properly store your rifle. Head over to our review on the Barska Biometric Rifle Cabinet for a great storage option.

Accessories and Upgrades

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling
  • Molded Acetal Adjuster
  • Attached with TriGlide
  • Made in the US
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REIN Micro Weapon Light
  • Powerful and Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Shockproof
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SureFire M600DF Scout LED Light
  • Budget Option
  • TIR lens shapes versatile beam
  • Tough
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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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