My Norma is 7-2 oz bare. With 6-20x50 Mar 4 ,sling,atlas,loaded,level ACI-9-12 OZ. I am nocking on 50 ,but love the high country. All the gear catches up with you.I built light as a main goal,but top componenets,rifle is a 1/2 moa type.Abs barrel 26'' braked,Lonewolf stock,Defiance .This is the country I hunt,been on every piece you can see and in clouds area where you cant
I'm thinking mine will weigh about 8.75 or so, without optics. I chose a #4 Brux because I have one on another rifle and its about as heavy as I think will handle well. I still want a rifle versatile enough to "point and shoot" if I have too. My gun builder reminded me that its the first cold bore shot that matters, and the Brux #4 is .67 at the muzzle, its not too light.
I ran the 300 Dakota w/ 200 Accubond, 24", and 60K PSI. The following common powders gave between 2930 - 2980 fps: MAGPRO, MRP, RL25, Magnum and Retumbo. 3,000 might be achievable but they will be hot no matter which one you use.
You should take a look at the new McMillans, the A3 Sporter in Edge would shave a little weight and be a more versatile stock.
I've got a 26" barrel and get around 3000 with the 200gr. I can get a bit more, but it's not always my most accurate load, and there again is where lesser brass gives way...it doesn't take too many near-max loads to loosen the primer pockets. I think you can get very close to 3000 with a 24" barrel without much problem, using about 77-78 grains of RL 22 or similar - your brass may not last a long time though. How much powder was the Norma going to use to get that? By the way, Barnes #2 and other sources had better powder numbers for me than Nosler etc...the Nosler #s were wimpy and made it look like the 300 mag had longer legs than the Dakota. Again, I may lean to the Norma. I know some guys with 338 Normas that swear by the thing.
My rifle is 11 lb + scoped (Nesika action, McMillan stock, Swaro 3-12). I go like a mountain goat with it, but I won't lie that 3 lbs lighter wouldn't be nice at times (I'm 6'0, 200, and wrong side of 40). It is also not easy to shoot off-hand. I've had to try learning to wrap the sling around the arm etc. to help stabilize it - if not, it's tough. I missed a monster mulie in MT before learning that trick... I'm a better shot with it at 600 than I am at 100 off-hand without sling assist. The Butler Creek stretchy slings sure make the weight more bearable on the shoulder too. I also think if you decide to go above the 200 gr, the Norma will handle it better as the Dakota starts running out of gas.
I see some others replying have much lighter rifles, which is great too. I think if it's primarily a carry rifle with the ability to make some long pokes when needed, the lighter route may be best. However, if it will primarily be a "ridge sitter" with the ability to hunt there and back and around (secondary) - I think your mention of 10-12# may be a safer bet (my $.02 - even in the steep stuff like sp6x6 shows - I hunt that as well). Even if only for a first cold bore shot, your odds of getting a real good shooter seem to go up by having at least a #4 or heavier. I don't want to start an argument - just sharing what I've learned from many discussions with higher-end long-range gunsmiths and barrel makers. Sure you can get a #2 to give you 1/2 moa - but it's much harder to find that barrel, load, bedding, etc. formula to do it with than if you start with a #4 or larger. As jrsolocam pointed out, using an edge stock is a good way to save some weight - I'd rather cut it there than too much in the barrel. In fact, I just re-investigated all this as I tried to put together a nice custom 260 for my 12-year old (and me - grin) - she needs it light to aim well (hold up), but darn, I want it to shoot good too. Got the edge stock - some guys can bed and finish them for not much more than McMillan asks for them retail btw.
Is your varmint contour going to be 4.5 lb when cut down? If I'm reading their contours right, that's even a fair bit heavier than my #6. Good for a ridge, but bad for that elk that pops up at 50 yards in the timber - yikes. Even knocking some weight off with fluting (I did) - I think you may be too heavy for a reasonable point-n-shoot. I can certainly vouch on that part. My fluted #6 is hard to point and aim, and the weight isn't in that last two inches you're cutting off. I don't think you'll like it for anything off-hand, that's for sure. I'm marginal with my sling tight on my arm...but maybe you have skills I don't or maybe you can be quick with the shooting sticks...
Aspenbugle had some excellent points. Great post. Trying to find the right balance between portability/handling and long range accuracy is more difficult than it sounds. I've have #3,#4, and #5 barrels, and have decided that for myself, #4 with Edge is the best compromise. I try to make up for the lighter barrels with alot of practice and good optics. I have a 300 RUM in an A5 with a 28" Sendero contour, and while its nice to shoot, I don't enjoy carrying that beast around anywhere. I'm on the wrong side of 40 too.
Where I hunt I get plenty of chances for long range shots, but like we all know, the animals don't always co-operate, and sometimes a quick shot is needed.
What I really need to do is carry 2 rifles, maybe I could hire someone...