? Downside to Lightweight Rifle

jrb CO

Nov 21, 2004
Ok guys, I am thinking of a new rifle (having bowhunted only for the last decade). I got great info from a prior post and just scanning through prior threads.

My question is what is the downside of a light weight rifle if its only purpose is "long range" hunting. I know that a heavier rifle offers a more stable platform for benchrest shooting. And, a heavier barrel handles the heat of multiple shots better.

But it would obviously be nicer to carry a lighter rifle over hill and dale. Hopefully, we are only talking about 1 shot
, so we do not need to shoot rapid groups.

So, if 2 rifle both shoot 0.5" groups, why not use the light weight rifle for hunting?
My favorite thing about heavier rifles is the reduction of recoil without a muzzle brake.

I shoot a 7 STW and a 338 Lapua so I like them heavy.

What about a removable muzzle brake? Use it while working up loads, sighting in, etc...., then remove it for hunting. I have not done this, so I certainly cannot speak from experience.
JRB, I have never used a brake so I can not comment. I'm also 6'3" and over 250 so carrying a a 12 lb rifle vs a 8 lb isnt all that much different to me.

Your mileage may vary....
My new rifle is a Savage 110 in 270. This will be my walkabout hunting rifle and will certainly shoot accurately as far as the cartridge is effective.

At 6.5lbs w/o scope, it qualifies as light. Recoil, or rather the speed of the recoil, is much higher. Scope rash is certaily a possibility so I have to adjust. Maybe even looking at a scope with more eye relief.

I believe that if I will be shooting off field rests, the max. distance is much closer then off a bench. Weight will not add more in stability from the rests I use. Neither will a heavier barrel as I don't intend to need more then the number of shots in my mag.

I have had several heavy walkabout rifles and didn't walk as far as I might have given a lighter rifle. This rifle ought to fit that need quite nicely.


PS the rifle shoots 4 into 1/4" so will certainly suit my LR needs. Time to start testing at longer ranges and see how it holds together
Load development with a brake on and zeroing vs taking the brake off to hunt with is a waste. You change vibration patterns, nodes etc..... Do either one or the other. You really can't have it both ways unless you get that one in a thousand barrel combo.

jrb co - I find that for myself, accurately shooting a light rifle at long range is much, much more difficult then it is for a heavier rifle. For example: my AI/AWM with scope and mag, probably weighs in somewhere around 17 - 18 lbs. Just perfect. Sets up real nice for very long shots. I usually like my precision rifles to weight about somewheres in the range of 15 - 25 lbs. Rifles in this weight class I can shoot very sub-MOA.

However, if I take my Win Model 70 in 243 in one of them light McMillian stocks, well I just have a hell of a time holding under 1.5 inch groups at 100 yrds. Additionally one very disturbing thing I've noticed when I shoot light rifles, is there is the occasional highly significant flier; I mean more then 2 inches off from where I was aiming. It's not the gun, it's me. I mean when shooting a light rifle, if you just blink wrong, you're gonna throw your shot.

The down side to heavier rifles for field use is just that; heavier. However if you've put time, money and effort into a hunt, then you just absolutely cannot tolerate poor accuracy; especially for long range shootin. Just my $.02
Obviously, some folks don't hunt in Idaho where gross weight of rifle, scope, & accessories cannot exceed 16lbs. Weight aside, shooting a lightweight rifle vs. heavier type requires doing everything right. Forearm width can get too narrow on some stocks. Balance becomes more critical. Using shooting sticks, slings, etc really helps. But just like shooting single action vs double action pistols at long range, follow thru and trigger control are absolutely necessary. I shoot a custom 284 that tips the scale at 6 lbs. even with rifle and scope. Practice, Practice & Practice are necessary. Recoil is not a real issue with the right caliber, new recoil pad technology & a well designed synthetic stock that fits.
For years my walking, sitting, and everything- in- between, favorite big game rifle has been an 8.75 lb, with scope, .300 Jarrett. It's light enough to carry over hill and dale, day in and day out, but still heavy enough to hold steady. That said I recently started shooting a 6.5 lb, scoped, Kimber .243. At 100 yds it shoots in the .7-.8 range. I've shot enough marmots in the 300 yd range with it to be convinced that light rifles can shoot just fine. I've got another Kimber in .300 WSM on the way.
Kimbers are a class act. If I was getting a new rifle, the Montana Kimber would be hard to beat for the cost. Semi-custom, without a huge price tag. They really do shoot & with the synthetic stock designed by Mervin Forbes for Kimber, their weight,balance, etc. is great.
I'm a firm believer in lightweight rifles. After lugging a heavy 300 Wby. around WY for a few years, I decided to try a lightweight. I bought a 300 Win. Colt Lite and had Lonewolf restock it (stock cost more than rifle!),put an Answer brake on it, and a Leupold Compact 3x9. Entire rig weighs 6 1/2 lbs. This poor man's Ultra Light Arms is a pleasure to carry and shoot (shot my best group ever, 0.24",with it). Later, I bought (2) New Ultra Light Arms rifles used in 270 & 300 WSM with Vari-X III's on them and they weigh about 6 lbs. 12 oz. ea. with no brakes. Have shot 20-30 rounds each at range many times and recoil not a problem. They're both tack drivers! By the way, I'm 65 yrs. old, which is probably the main reason I'm tired of lugging heavies!!!
Testing with 58 gr v-max's and H414 the other day, my first 3-shot group with the Kimber Montana .243 went into .178
I have another dozen rounds of this particular load ready to test, but don't have the time just now.
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