Long Range Rifles/Optics for Backpacking hunts

Timber338

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2011
Messages
1,818
Location
Colorado
Obsessing about this year upcoming hunts again ... applications are due for Colorado draw tags in about a month... so starting this thread to talk about rifles and optics you guys use for backpacking specific hunts.

Do any of you guys have backpacking specific favorite rifles/optics? Do you change your hunting style on backpack hunts?

Since I typically only backpack hunt, my rifles never tend to be 'heavy'. I've settled for a mid-weight rifle that's capable at long range but still light and fast enough for close work. It's a 338 RUM with a 27" #4 contour barrel plus a brake on a Borden action bedded in a McMillan Game Scout edge fill stock. Complete rifle (no scope) weighs 8 lbs.

For the life of me I cannot make up my mind on optics. Comes down to how much performance am I willing to sacrifice for light weight... or don't sacrifice at all ... Every day I come up with a new idea.

How about you guys? What rifles and optics will you be carrying in to the mountains this year?
 

lilharcher

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2014
Messages
973
Location
So Cal
I will be carrying a custom 300WM Rem 700 (blue printed) with #4 26" Benchmark fluted barrel plus break in a McM Game Scout stock......still being built but should come in around 8lbs too. As for optics, a Swarovski Z6 2.5x15x44mm with 4W reticle and Ballistic Turret, sitting in a NEAR alpha mount w/ 10 MOA cant. Should hopefully be a 10lb rig all in.
 

Timber338

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2011
Messages
1,818
Location
Colorado
Sounds like a sweet setup. One thing I've never taken the time to learn, is how the Swarovski turrets work. What kind of ranges do they get you to?
 

scf

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2013
Messages
171
Location
Western Kentucky
I usually take a light weight rifle as a backup to my 338LM. Whatever it turns out to be this year it will be carrying a Z5 3.5-18 in Talley one piece mounts. Scope weighs less than a pound.
 

lilharcher

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2014
Messages
973
Location
So Cal
I think the Swaro Z6 has 65 MOA elevation, so you figure cut it in half (32 MOA) and add 10 MOA due to my mount, I should have ~42MOA of upward elevation, which should easily get me out to 1,000 yrds. For me, that is more than plenty.

I am probably going to get a custom turret made for it based on my specified ammo.....Swaro makes them for like $99.
 

HARPERC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
Messages
6,698
Location
Spokane, WA
Not necessarily hunting, or backpacking. I'm attending the Non Typical Outfitters shooting school in August, as a dry run to see how much back country I have left in me.

9lbs has always been where my limit is. I'll be taking my .338 RUM, Model 70 pre-war action, Krieger barrel, Mcmillan Lazzeroni Thumbhole stock. Its taken other forms and used other optics successfully. The Leupold Mark 4 3.5-10x has been good to me on a variety of hunts, but lacks a bit with my older eyes. The ATACR 5-25 lacks a bit in profile and weight. This year I'm moving the current ATACR to a 14lb Win Mag for a committed long range set up, and hopefully put the new 4-16x F1 ATACR in play.

All tradeoffs, but that's my current thinking. I'll let you know how it works out.
 

Timber338

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2011
Messages
1,818
Location
Colorado
I think the Swaro Z6 has 65 MOA elevation, so you figure cut it in half (32 MOA) and add 10 MOA due to my mount, I should have ~42MOA of upward elevation, which should easily get me out to 1,000 yrds. For me, that is more than plenty.

I am probably going to get a custom turret made for it based on my specified ammo.....Swaro makes them for like $99.

That will definitely get you out there, overall that's a great setup.
 

Timber338

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2011
Messages
1,818
Location
Colorado
Not necessarily hunting, or backpacking. I'm attending the Non Typical Outfitters shooting school in August, as a dry run to see how much back country I have left in me.

9lbs has always been where my limit is. I'll be taking my .338 RUM, Model 70 pre-war action, Krieger barrel, Mcmillan Lazzeroni Thumbhole stock. Its taken other forms and used other optics successfully. The Leupold Mark 4 3.5-10x has been good to me on a variety of hunts, but lacks a bit with my older eyes. The ATACR 5-25 lacks a bit in profile and weight. This year I'm moving the current ATACR to a 14lb Win Mag for a committed long range set up, and hopefully put the new 4-16x F1 ATACR in play.

All tradeoffs, but that's my current thinking. I'll let you know how it works out.

That shooting school is going to be awesome, really interested to hear your thoughts on the experience.

Also sounds like we've got similar tastes in rifles. I have an ATACR, but I think it is too heavy for my 338 RUM so I'm putting it back onto my 300 win mag as my dedicated long range practice rifle. I would love to get the 4-16 ATACR, but will probably settle for the 5-20 SHV for my 338 RUM because of the lower cost. Still undecided on that, but that's where I'm leaning right now.
 

HARPERC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
Messages
6,698
Location
Spokane, WA
That shooting school is going to be awesome, really interested to hear your thoughts on the experience.

I'm really excited at the prospect. I'm the most limiting factor, had training setback this week-took too big a step forward and slid back.

From reading a bit of their post their "long range" isn't quite as long as some here consider it. I'm kind of setting the rifle up for 200-600 yards with not a lot of time for twisting knobs. Never had an FFP scope, but I think it will earn its keep in this setting. Just being in the Wyoming high country again will be a thrill.
 

Timber338

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2011
Messages
1,818
Location
Colorado
From reading a bit of their post their "long range" isn't quite as long as some here consider it. I'm kind of setting the rifle up for 200-600 yards with not a lot of time for twisting knobs. Never had an FFP scope, but I think it will earn its keep in this setting. Just being in the Wyoming high country again will be a thrill.

Will I don't know much about them other than what I read in Andy's writeup of his elk hunt last year ... it looks like they are in some amazing elk country and really know how to hunt it. They are going to set up the shooting school around how they hunt elk. Where I hunt is very rugged and overgrown... my experience has most elk opportunities between 30 and 700 yards. And the sweet spots are about either less than 75 and then between about 300 - 500 for the longer shots. I think you're going to learn some great techniques for how to shoot accurately in non-traditional positions. I'm jealous, that's going to be a blast!
 

phorwath

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2005
Messages
7,157
Location
Alaska
I didn't care for 2 lb scopes on my backpacking rifles. I've used Zeiss 4.5-14x44mm and Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm scopes for about 6 years now. The Zeiss is ~19oz and the Sightron's weigh 24oz. My Sightron SIIIs have great resolution and light transmission, and accurate turrets. Better resolution and light transmission than the Zeiss Conquest.

In the quest for lighter weight and a wider field of view at a lower power magnification setting, I'm going to try a Swaro Z5 3.5-18x44mm with the BRH reticle. Wish it had a 50mm objective, but the available option is 44mm. As mentioned, this scope has an advertised weight of 15.9 oz. It's a 1" diameter scope tube. Seekins 7075 aluminum rings on a 20moa rail. Bruce / High Power Optics, sells aftermarket turrets that maintain warranty and allow for full use of the elevation turret. Those turrets look to be a worthwhile improvement/upgrade for Swaro turret twisters. http://www.highpoweroptics.com/
 

Timber338

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2011
Messages
1,818
Location
Colorado
I didn't care for 2 lb scopes on my backpacking rifles. I've used Zeiss 4.5-14x44mm and Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm scopes for about 6 years now. The Zeiss is ~19oz and the Sightron's weigh 24oz. My Sightron SIIIs have great resolution and light transmission, and accurate turrets. Better resolution and light transmission than the Zeiss Conquest.

In the quest for lighter weight and a wider field of view at a lower power magnification setting, I'm going to try a Swaro Z5 3.5-18x44mm with the BRH reticle. Wish it had a 50mm objective, but the available option is 44mm. As mentioned, this scope has an advertised weight of 15.9 oz. It's a 1" diameter scope tube. Seekins 7075 aluminum rings on a 20moa rail. Bruce / High Power Optics, sells aftermarket turrets that maintain warranty and allow for full use of the elevation turret. Those turrets look to be a worthwhile improvement/upgrade for Swaro turret twisters. High Power Optics

I totally agree that a 2 lb scope on a backpacking rifle sucks... I just have not found a scope that has the requirements I am looking for.

Maybe I'm being too picky, but my ideal packpacking scope would weigh 20 ounces or less, great optics, good repeatable turrets, MOA reticle, a magnification range of 4-20 with a 50mm objective and cost less than $2k. I still have not found a scope like this. So then I have to start figuring out which scope is the best compromise.

The low end magnification could be 3 but not higher than 5. On the high end, I would want 16x minimum. I could go up to 25 ounces... but I still want good optics.

I have a 4-16x50 Vortex PST and probably the closest I'm going to find based on all of my requirements, but the quality of the optics is just not there for me.

The VX6 3-18x50 has a great magnification range, good optics, but the TMOA reticle is awful and the turrets are not to my liking. But I think this is my best light weight option for the price.

I have also looked at the Zeiss HD5, but I really don't like the reticle options. 1000 reticle might be OK, but then they don't offer that reticle in their model with turrets. And I would have to always be calculating exactly where on the reticle I need to hold rather than just having an straight MOA callout.

I kind of refuse to buy a scope that has a sub-par reticle because then I'm giving my money to support a product I don't like ... but you could say that about any scope that doesn't meet what I'm looking for. So where do I draw the line?

Right now the SHV at 5-20x56 seems to be an OK compromise... but I'm still giving quite a bit of weight and bulk with the 56mm bell.
 

phorwath

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2005
Messages
7,157
Location
Alaska
My move to the Swaro Z5 was driven by several objectives. Less weight than my 6-24x50mm SIIIs, wider low power field of view, equivalent glass quality, ability to dial elevation out to 1000yds, repeatable/reliable turret adjustments. Installing the HighPowerOptics aftermarket elevation turret will accomplish dialing to 1000yds.

Also, if you turn the scope power down to 16X, the 1/2 mil-radian hash marks on the BRH reticle become 2moa, in case you like to use reticle holdovers, or need to extend your range out past the distance turret twisting allows. I plan to twist turrets, so the reticle selection wasn't as important to me as it seems to be for you.

I've been completely happy with the quality of my SIIIs, but always desired a power lower than 6X. I want greater field of view in brown bear/grizzly country, which in Alaska, begins in my back yard. I had been hoping for a 4-16 power range Sightron offering for the past 6 years, in an SIII that weighed < 24oz. They came out with a 2-17x tactical scope, but it's way too heavy. I finally gave up on Sightron, researched more, and headed toward the Swaro Z5. I've been continually researching optics for the past 8 years, in the quest for "my" perfect backpacking rifle scope.

In fact, what finally really prompted my new scope purchase was a new rifle build that used a slightly heavier contour barrel than I would normally select for my backpack hunting. The weight I took off this build by using the 15.9oz Z5 was added in barrel contour. The Swaro was approaching the limit of my self-imposed purchase price. All things considered, all compromises evaluated, I'm pretty happy with this Z5.
 

lilharcher

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2014
Messages
973
Location
So Cal
Take a look at the Swarovski Z6 BT 3x18x50mm.......Ballistic Turret, 30mm tube, 21 oz., with 65 MOA elevation. I think you could get this scope for $2k from Cameralandny.com. They get Grade A open box units direct from Swarovski that are in perfect condition and come with a full warranty. Tons of people buy optics from them, including me. Even if they don't currently have this "open box" unit in stock, call them and they can likely get you one quickly. Just a suggestion.
 
Top