Ideal rifle weight - Long range backpack rifle

brisket

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Long time lurker... first ever post. Sorry if it’s a little long.

This year I walked into CO with an 18lbs PRS rifle, and I’ve got no intention of doing that again without an absolute need to. With that said, I’m planning on having a custom rifle built, and I’m working on the specs for it.

So, what is the ideal weight for a long range backpack hunt? I know several companies that will build one at sub 6 lbs, but I’m concerned that the rifle won’t stabilize at that weight for really long shots. Where is the middle ground for y’all? Or is distance rated somewhat by weight (6lbs for 400 and under, 8 is good to 800yds, and 10-12 for further)?

My experience is all very heavy rifles (12lbs+) so any help would be appreciated.
 
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teamkabob

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What Cal you looking at? I’m in the same boat to build one.


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micus

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In the world of TI actions, carbon wrapped barrels, Kevlar/carbon stocks etc you can build a wicked accurate light rifle. I think a lot has to do with how much of a pig your optic and mounting system works out to. Talleys and leupold or NF and SPUHR?

I don't necessarily think you can equate heavier weight with more distance either. There are lots of inaccurate boat anchors out there!

I have a 6lb gun that I shoot @ 800yds and would take much further if I could get the space.

I guess to answer your question, the ideal backpack gun weight is as little as humanly possible / budget allows. If you have good hands and practice regularly I don't see a need to lug around anything much over 8lbs.

Just my .02
 

rfurman24

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Obviously the lighter it is and the larger the cartridge the more difficult it is to be consistent with from field positions. Everyone will be different on what they can handle. I would say 8lbs scoped is about as light as most will be able to handle with your average 7mm with 180s. The stock itself plays a large role in how the gun recoils as far as maintaining sight picture and follow through.
 

elkguide

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My first question would be, brake or no brake. With a brake, I might go a little bit lighter if recoil is any issue for you.

I shoot .300 Win Mag's as my caliber of choice and am from the "only accurate rifles are interesting" school. If it won't shoot accurately, down the road they go. I carry a rifle, that has a carrying weight of right around 8.5 pounds. I have several that are 7 pounds or a little less that off the bench or out of a fixed position blind are great but as this years elk hunt went, after a hurried mile and a half stalk and only having a 3 foot pine tree to grab on to for some stability, to shoot off my knees to see over the sage brush, I needed the 8.5 pound rifle's weight to stabilize and make the shot.
 
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brisket

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Probably looking at a 300 Win with a brake, topped with leupold in talleys.

I’m more concerned with stabilizing the shot before the trigger is pulled. I’m sure there are lots of builders that can build a mechanically accurate rifle at 6lbs. I’m just not so sure I can accurately shoot that rifle at that weight on extended range targets.

I got a chance to shoot a buddy’s rifle (5.5ish all up) this morning, and it seemed like I couldn’t get the crosshairs to settle in on the target.
 

mtnwrunner

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Well, you'll get a shitload of opinions and responses on this topic. Just boils down to how far you want to shoot accurately and how much you want to carry. Finding the "balance" is the million dollar question.........
I mainly backpack hunt and I've had a heavier rifle and a pencil thin 6 pound setup........hated it. And the older I get, the more attention my back pays to weight.
So..............in my "expert" opinion:rolleyes:, I carry a setup that weighs about 8.5 pounds all ready to go. Easy to carry, accurate, can spot my own shots and I LIKE it.
You can obviously go lighter if your range is shorter but I think a 8 to 10 pound setup is max for what I want to do out to 1200 yards or so.

Randy
 

ckleeves

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I think weight is directly related to how far you want to shoot. A rifle can certainly be built to light imo.

For a 1000 yard capable rifle I personally don’t like anything under about 10.5 lbs all up.

I have one really light rifle (shade under 7 lbs with a Huskemaw 4-16, rings, etc) and while it’s a very accurate rifle I have a hard time shooting it well past about 500 yards.

Shoot a 12lb rifle and a 7 lb rifle side by side at long range and look at the groups. You have to be a pretty skilled shooter to shoot the same groups even if the rifles are equally accurate.

The one big advantage of building a really light rifle is being able to use a heavier scope without turning it into a boat anchor.


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HellsCanyon

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From all the rifles I’ve built and the customers I’ve dealt with, I believe the perfect long range backpack rifle is going to be in the 9-11 lb range. Depending on caliber. I pack a 10.5 lb 338 and it’s stupidly easy to shoot. I can consistently throw down groups in the .2’s with it where as with other rifles I have to be very much on my A game to do that. Weight is part of it, stock design is more so, and the rifle is scary accurate.

My average custom carbon killer build weighs 7 lbs naked with a carbon barrel and ergonomically friendly stock. I put a ton of emphasis on stock design nowadays, more so than I ever did in the past. There are certain stock designs that actually encourage NPA and a consistent grip without forcing the shooter to form their trigger hand into an unnatural position. Most of these stocks are going to push that 28-34 oz range. My carbon barrels run anywhere from 2 lbs 14 oz to 4 lbs for a 26” finished length depending on caliber and contour used.


Your average long range hunter (someone that’s mildly proficient and educated on the trade) needs an 9-10lb scopes rifle to make 750-1000 yard shots in my opinion. Ive made some kills over 800 with a sub 9 lb scoped rifle but it’s gotta be perfect.

I personally don’t understand the “need” for a sub 7 lb rifle to make long range shots. We often pack 6-10+ lbs of spotters and tripods to increase our ability as hunters. I think an extra 1-2 lbs of weapon weight is worth the added effective range for the same reason.

Mike


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outdoorsman12b

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I agree with Randy. You should be perfect with any setup you choose in the 8-10 pound range. Just balance out your rifle and optic weight with your budget and shooting preferences. Just my experience but when you get up to 9-10 lbs offhand shots start to be a struggle. If your only concerned with long range then you will be shooting from supported positions and that won't matter.
 

elkguide

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Thanks for the responses everybody!

Before I forget...…. Welcome to the forum.

Now, don't forget to keep us in on your build. I'm rooting for an 7.25 pound rifle in .300 Win Mag. That will give you room to put good glass on it and then end up with an 8.5 pound rifle, that will be easily carried and controllable while shooting in the field.

But remember, I am a very opinionated and biased hunter.
 

mtmuley

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I'm biased too. I have an 8.5 pound Remington 700 in .300 Ultra that I have been hunting with for 18 years. Not for everyone, but it is easy to carry, and deadly to shoot. mtmuley
 

ckleeves

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Before I forget...…. Welcome to the forum.

Now, don't forget to keep us in on your build. I'm rooting for an 7.25 pound rifle in .300 Win Mag. That will give you room to put good glass on it and then end up with an 8.5 pound rifle, that will be easily carried and controllable while shooting in the field.

But remember, I am a very opinionated and biased hunter.
7.25 naked ending up at 8.5? What scope, rings/base, that’s long range capable are you planning on using to hit those weighs?


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RockChucker30

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Being able to see your own bullet trace and impact is important to me. I can't do that on a 9lb 7 mag without a brake. With a 300 class you probably need to be a 9.5 to 10 with a good brake.

An 8.5-10 lb rifle I think is in the sweet spot of being light enough to backpack, but heavy enough to shoot well and see bullet trace and impact.
 

Wrench

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Being a prs guy you know that bullet choice is a huge part of the deal. I am lucky enough to have a full on gunsmith shop right here with everything to build accurate rifles.

I tend to end up around 8# finished. The weight allows me 1.5# of optics and mounting. I prefer edge filled stocks and light contour barrels.

I just took a factory remember ti in 270 win with a 150 LRAB to 950 with sub MOA results with a 3-9HD swfa in Hawkins rings. It's FL bedded so add a couple ounces there. ...but about 7# ready to shoot.

I like to carry my rifle with a tight sling on the typical sling studs and slide my hand through the sling/stock gap and fingers between the scope and stock....it's way fast and handy. I find anything over 8.5ish pounds is too much for very long....but 7# is good all day.
 
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brisket

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Looks like the consensus is 8-10lbs scoped and loaded is where I want to be, which I'm excited about. It looks like hitting that target weight is much easier than 6-7 (not to mention less expensive)
 
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