Sheep/Mountain Rifle Possibilities

nomadicbohunk

Newbie
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
7
Location
Great Plains
I'm late 30's and rounding out my rifles. I will either draw or pay for a bighorn tag and I'm going to go for a dalls in the next 5 years. For what it's worth, I grew up super poor and ate a lot of buttered egg noodle meals for my 15 years worth of points all over. Hunting is my deal. Dual income no kids, graduate degrees, etc. So I'm pretty serious.

I'd rather use just a few rifles than own 100. I view this "sheep" rifle as one of my main ones that I'll use a lot.

What are the custom makers I should look at? I think I'll go 280ai. Any other suggestions are welcome. I do reload pretty seriously.

If I go factory, what are the thoughts on the Weatherby backcountry TI? I live in the north east and would have to fly somewhere to handle one. Any other suggestions on things to look into? I'm familiar with the kimbers, but I had one a while ago that was a real pile of junk.
 

kscowboy01

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Joined
Feb 10, 2015
Messages
137
Location
Gunnison Valley, CO
This custom gunsmith isn't too far from you. I handled one of these at Barney's in Anchorage and was impressed by it. It was a nice gun.


Of course there is also the legendary Mel Forbes who makes a fine rifle.


Gunwerks makes a mountain rifle and their systems are very good. I know a number of satisfied customers.

Here are a few options to start with before others chime-in. I am of the mindset to go up a bit on size on the round you are wanting due to possibly getting into a grizzly or elk hunting down the road. If you were going to say a 6.5, you are limiting yourself on a future grizzly or a mountain goat.

I am of the same mindset as you. I don't want a lot of guns. The ones that I do have, I want them to be the best with superior optics.
 

wildwilderness

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2017
Messages
998
Location
Eagle River, AK
What rifle do you currently have?

I’m going to put together a compact 6.5 Sherman Short for a dedicated mountain rifle on a short action. I have a light rifle in a 7-08 Fieldcraft, and another long range rifle in a custom 7SAUM ti MPA action, manners stock and Christensen CF barrel. Just want something in between the two, plus I have kids so that allows me to have 3x the amount of rifles!
 

Themic86

Member
Joined
May 16, 2021
Messages
53
I would say if you were going for less rifles to stay at 280 or larger for use on bigger game I future. Lots of quality gun makers and customs out there that can build a sheep rifle. I am having a 7-08 built by Alamo Precision with the defiance Atni action and CF barrel. Hoping rifle comes in just a 6# and 7.25 with scope. Then with any gun.... lots of practice.


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Aviator

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
157
Melvin Forbes is always my first choice for a lightweight rifle however I had Alamo Precision build me a 300 Win Mag on a defiance anTi that came in at 6.7 pounds and shoots very well..I’m sure they could build a 280 AI that wouldn’t miss 6 pounds buy much.. Kinda depends on how light you want to go with it.
 

BustedProp

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Joined
Jul 18, 2019
Messages
20
Location
TEXAS
I bought a Cooper Backcounty Mod 92 in 280ai that I used last year on a sheep hunt. Killed sheep @ 625 yards. Tackdriver, amazing trigger (Triggertech), stainless, lightweight (5.75lbs + scope). Fairly custom and a good buy @ $3100. I own several Coopers, only issue I really have is their magazine. Would rather have a blind magazine or a Winchester style with bottom plate.
 

buzzy

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2013
Messages
185
Kirby Allen of Allen Precision Shooting and a 7mm Allen Magnum. Weighing in at a little over 9.5lbs (with scope) is what mine is at and you will not beat the ballistic performance (yes I know these are fighting words :)) but the numbers speak for themselves as described by Kirby using Berger 195 grain bullets and shooting a comfortable 3300FPS.

"Here are some ballistic numbers highlights for this specific rifle. At the muzzle we are packing 4725 ft/lbs of energy!! With a 300 yard zero, the mid range trajectory never goes over 3” above line of sight. Drop at 500 yards is 3.4 moa. At 750 yards drop is 8.4 moa and at a full 1000 yards drop is an even 14 moa!!
retained energy numbers..... 500 yards 3365 ft/lbs, 750 yards 2818 ft/lbs and at a full 1000 yards 2344 ft/lbs.
retained velocity numbers...... 500 yards 2788 fps, 750 yards 2551 fps and at a full 1000 yards 2327 fps.
So with these energy and velocity numbers one can expect full bullet performance on big game well past 1000 yards out of this very standard weight rifle platform. Now perhaps the most important set of numbers, wind drift. With a full value 10 mph wind, here is what the 7mm Allen Mag will produce. 500 yards 1 moa drift, 750 yards 1.5 moa drift, 1000 yards only 1.8 moa drift..... this is what the 7mm Allen Mag was designed for, eating the wind in the western big game states where it always blows."

The rifle has hardly any recoil and little to no muzzle jump. Mine is shooting sub .5MOA at 250 yards. Yes, these puppies are not cheap but if you want a single rifle this is what I would look at. And you won't find a negative word about Kirby and his rifles on the internet that I'm aware of.
 

Slugz

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
162
You are spot with the 280 AI. No brake shooting 175s with a max load is still a lighter recoil than a 30-06. Combined with the .284/7mm numbers its a great option for a 7.5lb or less mountain rifle. Easy to reload and great brass options. I'm not packing any 10lb rifles around up high.

Weaver customs builds rifles for the Wild Sheep Foundation, Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep, RMEF, Mule Deer Foundation etc etc for their raffles. He also is able to get D Arcy Echols Stocks pretty quick. It would be worth to fly into Colorado Springs for a day trip to meet him and do a custom build sheet.

If your a one gun type of guy I'd go full custom. PM me to talk more if you like. All the best.
 

Doc Holliday

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Joined
Jun 15, 2016
Messages
1,076
Another vote for a Cooper. I've never taken the plunge on a 5-7K+ custom rifle so maybe ignorance is bliss in my case, but my favorite rifle is my Cooper M52 Excalibur .300 win mag. Put on some Swaro glass and you are still under $5K for the whole setup. I could afford to spend alot more, but don't see the point...rather put that money towards my next sheep hunt.. I did have an issue with the magazine when I first bought it from a retailer on gunbroker, but I sent it back to Cooper and it was refitted and returned in less than 3 weeks. Most sheep are killed inside of 300 yards, FYI.
 

VernAK

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Joined
Dec 24, 2012
Messages
1,260
Location
Delta Jct, Alaska
Your selection of 280AI is a very good choice for nearly all of North America. I own two Fieldcrafts that I use for predators and caribou but for backcountry trips, I prefer my late model Kimber.
 

homebru.trout

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2016
Messages
683
Location
Conifer, CO
If you wind up looking at factory options (receivers, barrels, stocks have some long wait times right now, but are available if you are flexible), also look at the Sako Finnlight 2. Price range is up there with Mr Weatherby (2200-2300) but fit and finish is excellent and they are very light. It's a pretty compact rifle as well so depending on what you're looking to do with barrel length, it may not be your cup of tea.

I know they are not well loved by everyone, but I actually think Christensen makes a great rifle and has much to recommend it (Rem 700 footprint, trigger tech, good barrels). They offer carbon and fluted steel models and are a good option in the 1500-2300 range depending on specs.

As has been said, plenty of good makers out there. I personally prefer to accumulate parts on my own and give my smith a heads up when I'm getting close to being ready. It gives me a little more control over timing and specs and I can make tradeoffs on the fly. Some smiths will prefer you work through their sourcing. Just determine what works for you as you're looking for a builder.
 

WRO

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2013
Messages
2,023
I'd build a 300 wsm, hardy barrell, defiance ul, ag composite or similar light weight stock, hawkins bottom metal and rings and put a z5 3.5x18 on it..

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Aviator

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
157
The Barrett Fieldcraft would be a good option also. I’ve got one in 6.5 Creed that shoots as well as any NULA I’ve owned...Pick one up in 270 or 30-06 would do what you want..
 

LightFoot

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2016
Messages
891
Location
Texas
I'm late 30's and rounding out my rifles. I will either draw or pay for a bighorn tag and I'm going to go for a dalls in the next 5 years. For what it's worth, I grew up super poor and ate a lot of buttered egg noodle meals for my 15 years worth of points all over. Hunting is my deal. Dual income no kids, graduate degrees, etc. So I'm pretty serious.

I'd rather use just a few rifles than own 100. I view this "sheep" rifle as one of my main ones that I'll use a lot.

What are the custom makers I should look at? I think I'll go 280ai. Any other suggestions are welcome. I do reload pretty seriously.

If I go factory, what are the thoughts on the Weatherby backcountry TI? I live in the north east and would have to fly somewhere to handle one. Any other suggestions on things to look into? I'm familiar with the kimbers, but I had one a while ago that was a real pile of junk.
The Weatherby recoil pad requires the rifle to be stored horizontally or muzzle down to avoid permanent disformation. Other than that, it's a solid choice. I have a Seekins Havak Element that is 5.5lbs bare rifle. Also a great choice.

If you do load development or pay for the service, you can dial in a premium bullet to 1/2 MOA or better.

MG Arms in Spring, Texas did load development for me on my Seekins and this is how it turned out...
9feeb03024351580aa55bee4c81e6eb6.jpg



If I was getting a 280 AI for sheep.... Cooper Backcountry!



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wind gypsy

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Joined
Dec 30, 2014
Messages
4,339
Budget?

If starting from scratch, I'd go defiance anti (honorable mention to lone peak ti or the new BAT alum action), paradigm carbon stock, trigger tech diamond, benchmark/krieger/bartlein of your contour choosing if going bare muzzle. If you want muzzle threads, custom contoured steel barrel (with bigger muzzle) or bartlein carbon #4.
 
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nomadicbohunk

Newbie
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
7
Location
Great Plains
Thanks! This is all super helpful. Someone asked what I already have. I'll just list my whole plan and what I'm building.

I should add, most of these rifles have Meoptas or Swaros on them. My short range AR for deer and bear I have a trijicon on.

What I have now:
300 win mag Remington 700 (my dad has it, but he says I can just have it). It's kind of a fancy one with factory cerracoat, fancy barrel, trigger tech trigger, etc. Cabelas had them a couple years ago for like 1/2 price.

6mm Remington Ruger M77II (first rifle I ever bought at 14)... It's not accurate at all.

Pre 64 model 70 featherweight in 308. Legit sub MOA, but you have to seat the bullets way out.

I started off with rounding out with AR's. For hunting in New England, I put together a 450 bushmaster. I beat the ever living heck out of it because I don't care about it. It's great. Like where I hunt in Maine I cannot see over 30 yards. It's accurate enough for it's purposes.

a 6.5 grendel ar for hog hunting Sub MOA

a 20 practical for predators at home Haven't shot it yet, needs glass. I got a very fancy barrel, so it should be good. Eisenarch side charging, etc. I'll have a lot wrapped up in this one. I'm probably going to put a swaro scope on it.

What I want to still get:

An overbored caliber heavy bolt action for predator hunting at home.

Some sort of mid bore rifle I can take to Canada for bears. I'm thinking about a 358 Winchester Savage 99 or a CZ bolt action 9.3x62. I'll get this one sooner rather than later. I want pretty wood and blueing for this one.

A large stupid flat shooting gun. Like a 30-378 weatherby.

A large caliber gun if I go to Africa.

A 240 Weatherby. I'll get this sooner rather than later. Something bolt action...I'm probably going custom with a maker I know here in VT. It will be my antelope gun.

The sheep rifle I'm discussing here.

Maybe a 6.5. I haven't decided.

One last thing. Budget. I'm super cheap, but whatever. I can afford it and early retirement is probably in the books for us. I wouldn't spend over 10k on this sheep rifle that will be the main one I use. I'll put it that way.
 
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Themic86

Member
Joined
May 16, 2021
Messages
53
One last thing. Budget. I'm super cheap, but whatever. I can afford it and early retirement is probably in the books for us. I wouldn't spend over 10k on this sheep rifle that will be the main one I use. I'll put it that way.

At least your budget is realistic for a quality sheep gun but can probably get something well less then 4K with nice swaro. I see people say they want a sheep rifle and then have a sub 1k budget which makes weight hard to shave.


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idig4au

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2012
Messages
569
Location
Back to Central Asia again...
A sheep gun = mountain rifle = packable and lightweight

I prefer 300 wsm as its built on a short action (weight savings) and performs well with a short barrel (packability, ever try going through alders with a rifle on you backpack and a long barrel??). Also this caliber works well in bear country.

Any titanium action is the foundation for a good rifle. My past three builds have been on Pierce Engineering titanium, Borden Titanium and X-treme titanium actions. With proper crekote, there is no binding and bolts runs silky smooth.

Barrel. I would go with 22 in finish length in either carbon or deep fluted steel as will achieve about same weight. I’m a fan of Hart, Satern and Proof barrels. Lots of good choices these days.

Stock. Get a no frills carbon stock. I’ve used McMillian edge in the past as well custom carbon stocks made my gunsmith. Hydro dip to the pattern you want for a minimal oz weight penalty.

Tally ULW rings/bases and make sure they are pinned to receiver. Or if using a picatinny rail, then look at Seekins Aluminum or Murphy Precision Titanium (they unfortunately quit making titanium rings which is a shame as amazing product)

I’m a big fan of jewel triggers, and PT&G bottom metal as well as Wyatts boxes.

Swarovski Z5 or Z6 2.5-15x44 if want a 30mm tube and HD glass for a couple oz weight penalty.

Tell gunsmith what bullet and grain you want to shoot and have him chamber accordingly around this bullet.

End product will be a well balanced rifle in the 7lb range that you can use on any mountain hunt for any species.
 
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