Shootability vs. Packability. What is the optimal rifle weight?

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by LambornLR, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. LambornLR

    LambornLR Member

    May 22, 2018
    I know there are going to be a lot of varying opinions here, but I'm interested in what the long range hunting community has to say. A few years back, I bought a 7mm WSM with a Manners T4 and M24 Broughton barrel. The rifle's total weight is 14lbs with a bipod. When I got the rifle, I thought to myself, "I'm never going to hunt with this thing. It's way too heavy!" However, I quickly fell in love with the weight and balance which makes it so easy to shoot. Everyone who gets behind it shoots it well. That is how a gun 'I was never going to hunt with' has turned into my go to hunting rifle. My brothers-in-law have killed all their deer with it over the last three years, and last year my wife shot an elk at 585 yards with it. Even though it's 14lbs, I never hesitate to bring it along.

    Most people I speak with who want a long range hunting rifle, but haven't shot a ton, want a sub 10lb rifle. I try to tell them that there are some advantages to weight, but it's hard to change their mind until they shoot a few different rifles--from light to heavy--side by side. Then they start to lean toward the heavy guns. For you long range hunters, what is your perfect balance between shootability and packability?
    Don A Parsons, mfk, xsn10s and 4 others like this.

    HARPERC Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    About 9 lbs is where I top out if I have to carry it much.
  3. jjmp

    jjmp Well-Known Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Great post OP,i'd rather be in shape and carry a heavier rifle then be 50-100 lbs over weight, that's prime Heart Attack weight rite there, but bac to your Q, 7.5-8.5 lbs would be nice , thks
  4. Greyfox

    Greyfox Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2008
    I think a few factors can come into play. Hunting method, physical strength, and choice of cartridge can play a role in an individuals preference in rifle weight. Recoil control, IMO is an important factor for spotting long range impacts. My rifles used for LR hunting, two 6.5x284’s and a 300WM weigh 10.5, 13, and 13.5 pounds respectively. All three are balanced well with med/heavy, breaked barrels (.75”-.81” OD at the muzzle). I have no issue with accurate 1000+ yard shot placement with any of them, but I will say that I prefer the control and stability of the heavier rifles for long range precision shooting and hunting. Since getting involved in PRC competition with 16 pound rifles, my hunters feel light to me, but I almost always find myself with my nicely balanced 10.5 pound Cooper for hunting where I could spend the day sitting, carrying, climbing, or crawling. It is equally at home whether it’s a quick 150 yard shot, or the carefully calculated shot at long range.
  5. shphtr

    shphtr Well-Known Member

    Jul 7, 2006
    6.5 - 7.5 lbs ready for high altitude mountain hunting
  6. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2011
    Depends on where, how long, and how far you have to pack it.

    Most of mine are from 9-12lbs.
    mfk, lancetkenyon and nmbarta like this.
  7. Iron Duke

    Iron Duke New Member

    Jul 29, 2011
    Used to … be weight meant nothing to me. Now, pushing 70 years old, seems each year something else comes out of the backpack or get's replaced with a lighter performance model. My Les Baer Super Match bull barrel got replaced with a Proof Research carbon fiber after I had to haul the anvil around the jungle on a 4 month wildlife biology project. I put together a FALKOR 6.5cm and a Proof Research barrel went on it. Like everything else in life, it's tradeoffs and compromises. In my opinion, in a light recoiling cartridge the lighter the weapon the better. Something like the 7mm & .300 magnums, my guess would be 9lbs would be as light as I'd want so I had a decent chance of squeezing the trigger without cringing. ;)
    WiscGunner, HARPERC and Barrelnut like this.
  8. Alex Wheeler

    Alex Wheeler Well-Known Member

    Jul 5, 2017
    I find that a lot of guys that chase the ultralights end up going back to normal weight rifles. I only elk hunt so that means a 30 caliber. I do not want to shoot a 30 caliber in a 7.5lb rifle. I also expect 3-4" groups at 1k with my rifles and really light rifles take a little more effort to tune sometimes, barrel heat, and recoil. I do have a 280ai thats a little lighter and nice to carry but I will limit the shots I take with it. But to me an elk rifle is one I can take any reasonable shot needed and be confident the bullet will perform at my max range. I also hate cheezy optics. So I am stuck with heavier scopes for now. Most of my rifles will end up 10-12 scoped. I have built and own so many that I have decided the compromises to go lighter are not worth it to me.
  9. Canhunter35

    Canhunter35 Well-Known Member

    Jun 13, 2017
    The rifles I hunt with are around 12-14lbs. I don’t mind carrying them and often use a backpack sling.
    Not only are they more shootable, but a touch heavier barrel lends itself to a wider more forgiving accuracy node.
    les strat and louis f like this.
  10. Defiance7mm

    Defiance7mm Well-Known Member

    Apr 8, 2017
    20180730_214446.jpg I carry a 16 lbs 300NM... Usually hike 6-10 miles a day at 9000-12000 in Colorado. I don't mind the weight, but being in decent shape and training help make it manageable.
    FEENIX, lancetkenyon and L.Sherm like this.
  11. Beardeddeer91

    Beardeddeer91 Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2018
    It’s very dependent on the type of hunt and the ranges I anticipate shooting at. My two go to hunting rifles, a 6.5 CM and 300 WM, are 9 and 11 lbs. Light enough to carry but easy to shoot well and the weight dampens recoil enough to easily spot my shots.
    Shawn.N.S. likes this.
  12. jamiebolseth

    jamiebolseth Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2015
    I have learned where my balance between weight/shootability is the hard way (by buying LOTS of rifles and trying them).

    I've owned a lot of ultralights (7lbs or less with scope), and they are all gone. Sure - I can shoot them fine to 400 yds, but beyond that I'm not confident. Now I'm shooting rifles of the short mag variety in the 9 lb range (with scope,mag, & suppressor) and with the somewhat mild recoil of cartridges like the 7 SAUM (300 WSM is another) I can shoot a 9 lb rifle to the fullest extend of my ability, and have something that's easy to carry. So heavier than 9 lbs. of weight (rifle, rings, scope, suppressor, mag) doesn't give me any more shootability, just adds more weight. Lighter starts to affect my ability to shoot it accurately at medium and long range in a significant way, especially if in an imperfect shooting position.

    As I've alluded to above... The recoil of the cartridge you are shooting has a big effect on shootability too. I had a 8.5 lb 338 Lapua, and it was too light to shoot reliably. Under perfect prone conditions with lots of concentration I could shoot it great, but with any instability in shooting position I couldn't handle it. I also had a 9 lb (all in) 300 RUM, and that one was on the edge. Needed a good stable position for the 300 RUM, but it was a little tough in an unstable position.

    Nine lb. short mags seem to be about the right balance between shoot-ability and carry-ability for me with enough ballistic capability to take game out to 1000 yds.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
  13. nmbarta

    nmbarta Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2014
    10-12 is where most of mine are.
    The problem that I have with rifles is finding a comfortable way to pack them. I can carry 80lbs without problems in a good pack, but hanging a 15 rifle off of one shoulder gets uncomfortable pretty quickly for me.
    I'd like to find a comfortable way to carry a rifle that still allows quick access to it, it's been an ongoing search.
    T3ninja and aebhunter like this.
  14. Weatherby Fan

    Weatherby Fan Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    This totally depends on what kind of hunting your doing, if your back packing for Stone Sheep in Northern BC Im pretty sure you don't want to be packing a 14lb rifle or at least I don't......
    My day to day hunting rifles weigh about 7lbs scoped, a rifle scoped weight between 6.5-7.5 lbs to me is as handy as it gets for what I'm doing, I just find a 7lb scoped rifle is just dam handy for most hunting situations.

    That being said my older brother packs his 10lb Weatherby Mark V SS 300 Wby all over BC hunting anything and everything, I used to hunt with the same rifle and I just don't find it necessary.
    Regardless of the end weight of your setup you must be able to shoot it accurately.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
    jrdp74 likes this.