The ultralight craze has been going on for years now, ounces turn into pounds as they say! Much of the advancement in technology that saves us weight is and has been a good thing. That said, there is a fine line between counting ounces, and maintaining performance and comfort. Take backpacks for example, I’d definitely go 1-1.5 pounds heavier to have a pack that feels good on my back and will reward me when I turn my 35-50 pound load into an 80-100 pound load. Food, cut ounces where you can but if you don’t get the nutrition and calories you need your physical performance will suffer. A sleeping pad/sleeping bag, lots of weight can be cut here on many guys setups but at the end of the day I pick a pad that gives me the best sleep even if it does weigh an extra 8-16 ounces. All that said I believe the same theory applies with rifles. For the past 6 years or so I’ve been hunting with a 300WSM built by Snowy Mountain Rifles. We picked components that would yield a durable and extremely accurate hunting rifle. It weighs 12lbs 1oz without ammo so add in bullets and a sling and we’re right around 13lbs. Not light by any means but a tack driver and something that once you lay down behind it it’s not going to move on you. The past few years I’ve done more backcountry hunts for multiple days and although I can handle the weight I’d be happy to shave 2-4 pounds off my setup if possible. This year I decided to build a new Mountain Hunting Rifle, one that would fall more in the middle of too light and too heavy.
Already having a custom rifle I wanted to get my hands on a gun you could purchase over a store counter and see how I liked working with a factory gun. After some research I finally decided on the Weatherby Mark V Ultra Lightweight in 300 Weatherby Magnum. This caliber requires a 9 lug bolt and comes in weighing just 6 3/4 pounds. A few things that attracted me to the rifle were weight, the sub-MOA guarantee, a 54 degree bolt lift, and a hand lapped and fluted barrel. The rifle also looks great and with a muzzle brake should be a great shooting gun.
COMPONENTS AND SETUP
Getting the rifle is one thing, but setting up the gun to shoot is another. First was the scope. I wanted a few things in my scope: durability, high quality glass, and precise and repeatable elevation and windage adjustment. I decided on going with the Vortex Razor HD AMG 6-24×50. This scope is made in the USA and is an amazing scope especially with a weight of only 28.8 ounces.
To mount the scope I decided on an EGW 20MOA Picatinny Rail as my starting point and then Vortex Precision Matched Rings would hold the scope firmly in place. I also had purchased a Timney trigger in hopes of getting my trigger weight down close to the 1 pound threshold that I’m accustom to. To finish it off I’d be putting a Triad Tactical check piece on the stock to help get a better cheek weld and still be able to comfortably see through the scope.
To install the optics and trigger I dropped into the Snowy Mountain Rifles Custom Shop and had old friends Greg and Jim help me out. First things first we tried to install the new Timney trigger and set it to the 1.5 pounds that they advertised.
Jim installed the trigger but anytime the trigger was set to less than two pounds the firing pin would go off as the bolt was racked forward. Not good. After working with it we decided to see what we could get out of the stock LXX Trigger which was advertised as being able to go to 2.5 pounds. It had felt great initially and the only reason I wanted a different trigger was that I’m used to shooting a 15oz Jewell trigger and am a big proponent of a light trigger. Jim worked on re-installing the factory trigger and after some work and testing it was safely pulling right around 2 pounds. Sweet!
Greg then threw the rifle in the vice and began the process of mounting up the scope.
After the rail went on the rings were mounted. We adjusted the scope to fit my eye relief and then began leveling and tightening the rings. Each ring was tightened accordingly with a torque wrench and soon we were in business. At this point we added a Flatline Ops 30mm Sniper Accu/Level and called it good. We took it over to the scale to see what our weight was.
The final measure: 9 pounds 9 ounces without ammo and before we added the cheek piece. The hunting weight should fall just over 10 pounds. Now by industry standards this is not an ultra light rifle but in my opinion it’s a lightweight rifle ready for multi-day backpacking trips in the mountains of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
At the start of this process I was shooting for a build that would be in the 9 pound range so I went a little over my goal, but after shooting it I think it will be the perfect blend of weight, accuracy, and durability. I’ve shot guns in the 8 pound range and to be honest they are hard to keep on target from hunting positions if you don’t have a lot of practice with them. My 300WSM is on the heavier side of the spectrum but when you lay down on either bipods or a backpack, it’s rock solid and all you need to worry about is leveling the rifle and a smooth squeeze. That has made for lots of perfect one shot kills over the years. I’m hoping this new rifle will do the same while shaving about three precious pounds. On my way home from Missoula I decided to get out and put a few rounds through the gun to start getting acquainted with the rifle and my new setup. One thing that I quickly noticed after shooting a few rounds was the 54 degree bolt action.
This made for quick and easy reloading while staying on target.
The Flatline Ops bubble level was great as flipping it out made it easily visible while prone and shooting. Being able to flip it back behind the turret means less pieces of the gun to catch on clothing and brush when in the field.
So far I’m excited about this rifle and will be working on breaking in the barrel a bit more and finding out which bullet and grain combination work best in the rifle. As I continue on the process I’ll post up further blog posts.