I just can't help myself from posting when this topic comes up
. I put in my 2 cents worth a while back when this post first came up...... here is an update.
I just got back from an Elk hunt in the Gila, in southern NM. We were hunting at 5000 to 7500 ft elevation and had a 4+ mile hike gaining 2000+ ft of elevation each morning to get from camp to the area we were hunting.
As usual, I carried my 338Kahn which weighs in at 17 lbs. I am a small guy (142lbs / 5'6") and no youngster at 48 years old. Normally I tend to say to those who complain about heavy rifles to just grow a pair......... but I tell you this year it was tough! I had been sick for 2 weeks right before we left and was run down, and we were hunting in very rugged terrain. For the first time, I was really questioning my sanity for packing such a heavy rifle. I use a Kifaru gun bearer which works well for me, but I was just struggling with packing the weight of the rifle and gear.
In the end I was glad I had my heavy rifle. I shot my elk at (a nice 6X7) at 605 yards, which with that rifle is almost a chip shot. I had him dead to rights the day before at 935 and was totally comfortable taking that shot but he fed over a hill before I could catch him with a good broadside shot opportunity.
I have other rifles in the 10 lb range that have the power and accuracy to shoot to 1000 yards, but I simply cannot shoot them well enough to be comfortable taking a 1000 yard shot in field conditions.
All said, there simply is no answer to suit everyone......... For me, I really want to be able to make a 1000 yard shot. I am willing to endure the extra effort of packing the heavy rifle in order to make such a shot. I just go slower up the mountains....... On my last trip as well as others, if I had packed a lighter weight rifle I may have very well made the drive home eating a tag sandwich rather texting pictures of my bull to all my buddies.
Just remember, in order to make 1000 yard shots on game under field conditions you will need lots of other equipment. That is for another thread........ but it all adds up. Before you really jump off into the question of how much should my rifle weigh, you should really consider the question of "how far do I really want to be able to kill a critter". 300, 500, 800, 1000, 1000+ ?? The requirement is far different for 300 than 1000...........