Why does my long range rifle have to weight 12lbs +?

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by coues7, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. coues7

    coues7 Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2006
    I just got back from my Coues deer hunt here in Arizona and I WILL NOT pack a 12.5lb rifle anymore! With my pack (Eberlestock), 80mm spotting scope, Swarovski LRF, carbon tripod and head and a few other miscellaneous items, I am packing around an additional 50lbs.

    I know the forum is very diverse when it comes to location of hunting, but our here in Arizona, you simply cannot kill "good" buck hunting the roads. So when I'm covering 5-7 miles a day packing around 50lbs of gear it gets old real quick.

    So the question is: Why do we, as long range hunters, build rifles that are so heavy? What benefits are there? If we do our homework and practice we shouldn't need to be taking repetitive shots that would heat the barrel up. Do we really gain that much stability and accuracy from having a 12lb + rifle?
  2. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

    May 2, 2001
    I think this is an important discussion question.
  3. Edd

    Edd Well-Known Member

    Jan 26, 2011
    Why are you giving the rifle all the blame for a 50 pound pack? The most you can expect to gain from the rifle is about 4 pounds. That still leaves you packing 46 pounds.
  4. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    We helped a guy put together a rifle that weighed just under 6#'s so he could run with it to his hunting spots. It was a very specific group of components. I would say if you went with an ABS carbon wrapped barrel, a good muzzle break in cromoly steel instead of stainless, aluminum rings, aluminum base (EGW), the titanium Extreme action, and a high carbon fiber content stock, you could have a rifle that weighs half of what you have. But caliber choice is going to be the caveat. You won't a supper heavy caliber. Even with the muzzle break it will still recoil quite a bit. That means for animals such as Elk you will have to close the gap some. Instead of 1200yds, you may have to go to 900yds. I personally would pick a caliber like a WSM that could theoretically get you to 1000 even for elk. A 7SAUM or 270WSM with 175 Matrix bullets, or the 300WSM and the new 215 Berger. However with all this innovation comes cost as well. I would say you would still be looking at a rifle that would easily be $6000 to $8000 dollars with having lighter components. But you would still be able to shoot just as far now that I talked myself into it again!:D

  5. climb-101

    climb-101 Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2011
    i havent been in the long range game too long, but from what i have seen in other things i have done, light weight = more cost and sacrifices some accuracy because it will flex more. Even the titanium flexes a lot more than the steal will if there the same size. It is 45% lighter though.
  6. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    From owning several LR rigs I feel that 12# is about the lightest I want for shots at 800 plus. For one I don't want a barrel lighter than a Sendero type contour. I feel the lighter barrels can suffer from harmonics and barrel whip. Plus I want thet barrel 28 or 30" long. This makes most of them come in at 12 to 12 .5 lbs with bipod and scope. There is no doubt the heavier rifles have less recoil, easier to stabilize solidly on target and keep there durring the recoil. Not to mention the added weight makes spotting shots easier too.

    The difference between the lightest rifles and a 12 lb rig is probably 4 or 5 lbs. I guess before I worry about the extra 5 lbs of the rifle I should worry more about the 15 or 20 lbs I need to loose.:D I know which weight is making me more accurate. There is a reason the competition rifles are heavy and are often classed by weight.


    FEENIX Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2008
    I lug around pretty close to 40 lbs (gear, food, water, extra clothing, etc ...) 5-10 miles going up, down, and round MT wilderness ... and I never blame it on my 12+ lbs rifle. Get into better shape to make the would be challenging hunt more manageable. :cool:
  8. sp6x6

    sp6x6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 8, 2009
    I hunt with your dream rifle if you are after elk, 338 Norma. I have made solid rock hits in the 12-1300 yrd range. I am working on the 1500 type. I think all the short mags are under powered for elkat 1000 +. This is from a life long elk hunter 30+ at it. My rifle is a Defiance action standard, fluted bolt, alum. knob, ABS 26 " Braked barrel, on a Lone wolf kevlar ,glass stock. 7-2 oz. bare. 8-12 oz dressed tokill, sling 6-20 mark 4, ACI ,level, loaded. I have shot 6" @ 1000.I shot a unbraked 340 wm for 20 years, this thing is a kitten:D. My 16 yr. old son took a speed goat @ 800 with it 300 gen 2. I could have saved more weight on rifle going adl, and used a alum, scope rail, barrel @ 24 would have been OK also

    HARPERC Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    For me a 12.5 lb rifle doesn't "work". I tried it, didn't like it. 9 lbs was more achievable. With that decision came the down side of more recoil, less stability, and I don't know if it's fair to say limited range, as I don't consider myself a long range shot. Maybe less consistency within my range limits is what I'm saying. There are folks here that can hunt run and gun style with a heavy rifle, or shoot lightly built rifles to great distance I'm not one.
    I think the type of hunt your describing is a two man hunt, a spotter, and shooter. The weight divides up better, and the quality of the hunt increases. Finding that good partner is very challenging.
    A pack animal can be Ok, but brings baggage with it also.
    I love my Swaro spotter, but if I'm covering mileage by myself it stays home. If you want to keep the rifle sounds like the rest of your pack needs a harsh review.
  10. Browninglover1

    Browninglover1 Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    I feel your pain with the heavy pack! I have a lightweight rifle but my pack still weighs around 45 pounds when it's fully loaded. I could go much lighter if I left some stuff at home but I love having my spotting scope, tripod, coat (I can't hike in it or I overheat, but I freeze my --- off when I sit down if I don't have it on), water, knife, GPS, emergency kit, some snacks, and my rangefinder. Nothing in my pack is heavy, it just all adds up in a hurry.

    If I left my spotting scope, tripod, coat, and some water home my pack feels WAY lighter but then I feel handicapped in certain set ups because I lack my necessary gear. The one thing I refuse to give up is my water. Everywhere I go I need at least 3 liters and have taken up to 6 liters with me on a hot day during the muzzleloader hunt and still ran out of water after a 15 hour day.

    Switching to 15 power binos and leaving my spotting scope home used to help a lot, but I unfortunately had to sell them to get into archery.
  11. coues7

    coues7 Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2006

    I have not taped my buck yet, but he is nearly identical to my 34A buck which scored right at 89". Not a monster, but a nice 3x3 coues buck.

    I'm not blaming the rifle for my 50lb pack, but I'm with Browninglover1. I feel like I pack the essentials, and I don't care who you are or what you do, 50lbs is a good amount of weight to be humping up and down hills in 75+ degree weather. I don't know if other guys can simply drive, glass, shoot from their location, but I'll tell you can't really do that in AZ.

    The only thing I could really get rid of is my 80mm Swarovski Spotter, but then I feel like I don't really have all the tools I need. I personally refuse to pack 10x50 Swaro's and 15x56 Swaros......just doesn't make sense to me. On this very hunt, the spotter helped us identify if bucks were worth going after and which ones we wanted to go after once we found bucks in groups. I was finally able to find a load for my 300WM that shoots lights out......the rifle/scope combo simply weights to much to hunt coues deer in AZ.

    I personally think we attribute accuracy with a heavy weight barrel. I think the only thing weight adds is stability. The rifle I currently has the Sendero contour that Broz described, but it's fluted. I have Seekins Precision aluminum rings and bases and a fiberglass McMillans stock. Unfortunately at the time I had it built I couldn't afford the extra money that came with an "edge" stock so it's just a standard fill.
  12. Daves762

    Daves762 Well-Known Member

    May 7, 2011
    I'm a Wildland Firefighter in CA so I'm used to carrying heavy packs in the mountains.

    My Hunting pack with spot scope, rifle, tent, sleep bag, food, water, and medical kit is near 50+lbs on a typical Mule deer hunt in the sierras and +120 AFTER I kill one.......

    More stairmaster in the offseason is the answer.........honest.

    I put a couple 25lb plates wrapped in towels in a pack and get on a stairmaster at the gym about once per week....

    If an extra 6lb of "gear" is breakin your back, then you need more PT!!!!!Less beer.......

    Relentless 365 magazine has some great articles on off season training thats pretty helpfull.....


  13. pyroducksx3

    pyroducksx3 Well-Known Member

    Sep 27, 2009
    I agree you can cut weight off of all areas. The rifle maybe 8-9lbs but then you are only cutting 3-4 lbs, but it all adds up. Why an 80mm spotter. If you are guiding maybe or scoring but they make compact scopes with 13-30+ power that weigh 21 oz or lighter. Knives I like the havalon piranta, replaceable blades so you don't need more than that. I also found that I carried stuff I never use. Go through your pack and start emtying it. I carry a couple liters of water, cliff bars and candy bars beside my gear (scope, iPod for bc computer, one tripod with interchangeable heads for scope also has a bag for using as shooting sticks, rangefinder and 10 rss of ammo) I just don't eat much while I'm out there. I'm looking into the precision rifle solutions medium tripod, under 2 lbs and made in America
  14. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver Official LRH Sponsor

    Jun 12, 2004
    I hear this question all the time and when I do I ask them what other items they are carrying with them. Everyone wants a 6 lb rifle that will reach out to 1/2 mile but then they pack around a 40 lbs of accessary gear!!!

    Now do we need a good spotting scope, yes, do you need an 80mm Swaro for hicking around the hills, NO. I have heard time and again that you NEED a Swaro if you want to be able to see what your shooting at and tell what it is at long range. BUNK. I know I am going to piss off alot of guys out there but that opinion is untrue. I spent a week hunting mule deer in S. Dakota a week or so ago and the guide had an 80mm Swaro and I had my 66mm Cabelas that has had the hell beaten out of it for the past 7 years. Its even taken a few falls off the truck onto gravel roads, it certainly is time to replace the old girl.

    That said, for some reason I was seeing things on that mule deer hunt that seemed to elude the guide with his $3500 scope. Even out to a couple miles, I could certainly see what I needed to see to determine if the buck we were looking at was work getting a better look at and my scope cost me $700!!! Not only that, it weighs about 40% less then the Swaro.

    Now I understand that Coues are small deer and their antlers are usually pretty small so its smart to have good class but today, there are alot of options to get "GOOD" class in a MUCH lighter package then the Swaro. Such as the Leupold Mk4 tactical spotters.

    I would much rather see a hunter give up a bit of spotting scope size and weight then skimping on rifle weight. Again, many will probably tell me I am crazy for these comments but a Swaro is not needed. Nice at time but certainly not a requirement for long range big game viewing.

    Now to the rifle, you do not NEED 12 lbs for a rifle to shoot well at long range but its a simple fact that a lighter rifle requires a much better quality shooter for it to be accurately shot at long range. I have built several 6.5-7 lb class rifles that would easily take deer size game at 1/2 mile and even have a few customers that can shoot a light rifle well enough to be competent with such a light weapon but the vast majority of hunters out there, even long range hunters, myself included, need some rifle weight to dampen our bad effects on a rifles accuracy potential.

    SO it would greatly depend on your shooting ability to determine how light of a rifle would work for you in the field.

    From a rifle builders stand point, a light rifle will compromise in several areas to cut weight down. Those being barrel mass, which means that because the barrel is lighter in contour, it should be shorter to maintain proper barrel stiffness. A long light barrel is not a good combo for long range precision, especially with a high intensity chambering.

    Also, stocks need to be light weight, which always to some degree effects a stocks stiffness and strength and flexability, all of these things can result in reduced accuracy potential.

    In my opinion, a rifle needs to have a minimum of 9 lbs of bare rifle weight to offer plenty of barrel mass and plenty of stock strength. Put on any of the more popular LR hunting scopes and mounting systems and your into the +11 lb range.

    Just my experience and opinion.