We serious hunters, from all across the country, tend to be an odd lot, often obsessed with lightweight hunting gear. We’re fascinated by lightweight packs, tipis, stoves, knives, clothing, sleeping bags, spotting scopes, saws and a whole lot more. But in no area are we more fanatical than with our rifles. We often worship light, accurate rifles.
It occurs to me that the posting of the photos and details of specific lightweight hunting rifles would be both fascinating and informative. In a sense, it would provide a baseline for what could be done by any of us.
It’s generally accepted that there are three ways to obtain an especially light hunting rifle.
1. A growing number of standard gun companies now offer exceptional lightweight hunting rifles. Kimber, Weatherby, Remington, Ruger, Browning and Sako, for example, now all feature particularly trim hunting rifles in their factory lineups.
2. A custom lightweight can be ordered from any number of talented gunsmiths. Companies with names like Rifles Inc., New Ultra Light Arms, Bansner Ultimate Rifles, Wild West Guns and others all offer fine hunting rifles that are leaned up considerably.
3. Or, you can assemble your own lightweight rifle, switching stocks, bobbing barrels and installing lighter hardware.
Plenty of the guys on this forum have previously referred to their own pet lightweight hunting rifles. Some are customs rifles. Others are hand-assembled rigs. Many are lightweight factory jobs. Sawtooth, for example, hunts with a Weatherby Ultra Lightweight. Kevin, on the other hand, has a custom .270 that’s seen much service. Huntsman22, CCH, Smokepole, Elmbow, Bushcraft, Brad A and many others tote exceptional, lightweight Kimber Montanas. I’m partial to Remington Titanium Model 700s. A lucky few have early Kifaru Rambling Rifles. Kifaru guru Patrick Smith has more, interesting lightweight rifles in his gun safe than democrates have platitudes in their speeches.
We should be clear, though, that the definition of the word “light” is relative when it comes to hunting rifles. What one hunter considers a fairly light rifle may not be so for the next guy. One hunter may hold that anything below 8 pounds scoped is a comparative lightweight. There are certainly lots of scoped rifles heavier than that. Another hunter may lean toward rifles that weigh in the neighborhood of 7 pounds when scoped. Still others might believe that lightweight rifles begin at 6 pounds scoped and go down from there. In the end, it depends on what you like, will carry and to some degree where and what you hunt.
Here’s what I suggest – we all post the photos (can be hunting photos) AND the basic details of our light hunting rifles, whatever they may be. If your light hunting rifle weighs 8.5 pounds scoped, that’s fine. It may be perfect for you and where you hunt. To participate, simply post a photo of your lightest hunting rifle(s) and be sure to also provide the following:
1. Make and Model
3. Barrel Length
4. Scope-Mount Description
5. Scope Description
6. “Scoped-Weight” in pounds and ounces. To stay on the same page, let’s consider "Scoped-Weight" to be the weight of the unloaded rifle with mounts and scope. It does NOT include slings, scope caps, ammunition or anything else. Just the rifle, mounts and scope, in pounds and ounces.
7. Any additional details you care to include, such as where and what you generally hunt with this rifle.
I’ll kick it off with two of my own favorite lightweights.
The first is a custom Rifles Inc. Lightweight Strata in .270 Winchester. I had it built some years ago with a 23-inch barrel (to ensure a slightly forward balance) and I have it equipped with Talley Lightweight One-Piece Mounts (2 oz.) and a Leupold VX-III 2.5-8 scope (11.5 oz.). The scoped-weight for this rig is 5 lbs. 14 oz. This rifle, my lightest, carries wonderfully, shoots 130-grain Barnes TSX bullets very well and is a joy to hunt with. I’ve used it throughout the West to take antelope, whitetail deer, mule deer, sheep, caribou and elk.
The second is my old and much-traveled Remington Model 700 KS Mountain Rifle chambered in .338 Winchester Magnum. This is the rifle shown in the avatar photo with all my Kifaru posts. It's from the Remington Custom Shop, has a 24-inch barrel and I've set it up with Conetrol mounts and rings (4 oz.) and a Leupold VX-III 2.5-8 scope (11.5 oz.). I’ve recently repainted the stock. The scoped-weight for this setup is 7 lbs. 12 oz., which many might consider light for a .338 Winchester Magnum. Still, this rifle handles and balances very well and, thanks to an excellent stock design and plenty of barrel weight, recoil is surprisingly moderate. It also happens to be one of the most accurate rifles I've ever owned, routinely putting 225-grain Swift A-Frames into tight little groups. I’ve successfully used this compelling setup on all manner of North American big game, including antelope, mule deer, elk, mountain goats, sheep, caribou, moose and grizzly.
Who’s next? We’d love to see your light rifles.
The more rifles we show and list here the more valuable this post will become as a resource for all those thinking about lightweight hunting rifles and their basic components.
P.S. – Relatively inexpensive digital fish-weighing scales work perfectly for weighing rifles. Otherwise, a Pelouze 10 lbs. Digital Postal Scale, which is available at Office Depot ( http://www.officedepot.com/a/product...rpose-Digital/ is the best scale I’ve found for weighing all manner of packable hunting gear.