Pronghorn antelope herds grow accustomed to vehicles rolling by the county roads in Central Montana.  The herd usually has a few goats that keep an eye on the passing traffic, but they remain relaxed and feeding … unless that vehicle comes to a stop.  As soon as a pickup comes to a complete stop, I swear it is like the starting gun at the Kentucky Derby, and a cloud of dust replaces the herd.  This calls for some specific hunting tactics … like the “roll-by.”

What’s The Roll-By?

The roll-by is executed by a driver and a shooter.  The driver slows the vehicle to a very slow crawl without stopping.  The shooter carefully steps out the far side and hits the dirt with his weapon while the driver slowly accelerates down the road and out of sight.  When done properly, the shooter is in a good position, and the herd is unaware of their presence.

This past season the roll-by worked to perfection.  My buddy Kurt dropped me off without a hard stop and rolled away with me a mere 285 yards from an antelope herd of 12 animals, including a solid buck.  The only remaining trick was to use a telephone pole for cover and belly crawl across the road, so I could get through the opposite ditch and into the tall grass on the edge of the wheat stubble for a safe and legal shot.

Snowy Mountain Rifles Alpine Hunter

I had plenty of practice with my weapon for this hunt,  the Snowy Mountain Rifles Alpine Hunter, and everything was familiar as I got the Atlas bipod set up, and rear bag situated.  I got a fresh range from this position of 278 yards, dialed my drop, and found the buck in the Zeiss Conquest V6 riflescope.  There were two issues, however.  First, I wasn’t as sneaky as I thought and the buck was looking directly at me.  Second, the slight rise in the field between me and the buck obstructed the lower half of the vitals.  Luckily the rise behind the antelope provided a backstop.  There was no way to get to another position, and I was going to need a precision shot to get vitals without hitting the foreground, even at the moderate range.

Photo by Chris Auch

Having attended the Snowy Mountain Long Range Academy just months before with this very rifle, my confidence in it … and my shooting was pretty high for this situation.  My position was good, and sight picture was steady.  I did my shot routine and at the natural pause in my breathing, broke the shot.  The 156-grain EOL Berger bullet ripped out of the 6.5 PRC case and the buck dropped out of sight.  A second later that familiar WHOP sound made its way back to my ears, and I knew antelope burger was headed to the freezer.

The author’s buck antelope taken with the Snowy Mountain Alpine Hunter in 6.5 PRC.
It was clear the Alpine Hunter was a precision hunting tool.

This rifle was built off a short anTi-X action with a 24-inch 8 Twist Proof Research barrel.  Snowy Mountain screwed on one of their own Snowflake brakes and epoxy bedded it into an AGC Alpine Hunter stock.  A Trigger Tech Special trigger handles firing duties.  The bottom metal was Snowy Mountain.

Snowy Mountain makes their own self-timed “Snowflake” muzzle brakes in both stainless steel and titanium.  The Snowflake brakes are highly functional, easy to install/remove, and look great.

The SMR brake is highly effective.
Build Quality and Function:

Everything about the rifle was done right.  The bedding work was very good. The Trigger Tech Special trigger was clean, crisp, and broke right at 2 lbs.  Feeding and function were hiccup-free.  The plunger ejector and Mini16 extractor did a great job getting the spent cases out of the chamber.  Working the fluted bolt was smooth and fast. I had zero problems at the range or the field.

Scope Issue

The only problem I had with the test rifle ended up being a return-to-zero (RTZ) issue with the Zeiss Scope.  I had great tracking and RTZ performance throughout the Long Range Academy and the hunting season.  After continuing to shoot the rifle after the season, I found the zero would shift vertically after dialing for range.  I swapped out the Zeiss for a Leupold Mark 5HD I had on the shelf, and the zero issue was completely resolved.

The bedding and overall gunsmithing of the Snowy Mountain Alpine Hunter was top notch.

Snowy Mountain guarantees 0.5 MOA three-shot groups for the Alpine Hunter.  I am certain the Alpine Hunter was capable of that, but I generally want to see larger groups to see a rifle’s consistent accuracy.

In my earlier article on the Long Range Academy, I mentioned the ammunition I used was loaded by Snowy Mountain’s custom loading service for my particular rifle.  I spent most of my time with the Alpine Hunter shooting at distance, but I did do some 5-shot groups for zero.  The average group size was .48 MOA with the largest being 0.52.  After shooting 150 rounds or so, I went and shot a couple 10-shot groups to really get a feel for what the Alpine Hunter was capable of.  This was the largest group:

Ten Shot Group.

Very few rifles print 10-shot groups like that.  The combination of great components, great gunsmithing, and precision loading add up to a tight shooting rifle system.

The rifle is also very consistent.  I had no issues with accuracy, even when shooting in rapid succession in near 100-degree heat during the Long Range Academy.


The Alpine Hunter is Snowy Mountain’s lightweight all-rounder hunting rifle.  Snowy Mountain does offer their Full Curl ultralight rifle available that can be built as light as 5 lbs. 5 ounces for hunters looking to save every ounce, but I found the Alpine Hunter to be a good mix of weight, accuracy, and consistency.

My test rifle had the following measured weights:
Rifle/brake only:

Field Ready with the Leupold Mark 5 in ARC M10 rings:


The Snowy Mountain Alpine Hunter is a premium custom hunting rifle.  It does everything well.  It is durably built from great components and shoots terrifically.  Hunters looking for a buy-once-cry-once solution for every Western Hunting task from prairie to mountain will find what they’re looking for in the Alpine Hunter.  This is a rifle for serious hunters looking for a rifle they know will shoot well and last in the field for years to come.  With a starting price tag of $5900, it isn’t a rifle in every hunter’s budget.  This is a premium rifle for the hunter that doesn’t want to play the production rifle lottery.

The Alpine Hunter is an investment but is best when looked at as a total proficiency system.  When combined with SMR’s custom ammunition service AND Long Range Academy, a hunter can really dial in their Maximum Effective Range and be confident in their abilities heading into the hunting season. Available here.

Besides their complete custom rifles, Snowy Mountain offers a full range of accessories like brakes, action screws, bottom metal, and even pre-fit barrels for shooters looking to upgrade their existing rifle.

Comment or ask Matt questions here.

Tony Trietch also reviewed the Alpine Hunter a couple of years back.

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Matt Cashell is a Montana hunter. Matt has traveled to all corners of his home state chasing whatever game he can. Matt has been lucky to take great trophies in Montana’s classic game species: Rocky Mountain Elk, Mule Deer, and Pronghorn. When he isn’t out chasing big game, he might be pointing a shotgun at flushing roosters, casting flies for Montana’s monster trout, or working on shooting precision long range rifles. Matt has spent more time outdoors than in through his formative years, and has deep roots in family hunting traditions garnered from years of following his father and uncle in Montana’s wild places. Family is important to Matt as he works to pass on those traditions to his five kids in the Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana, with the help of his loving wife, Heather.A self-proclaimed gear geek, Matt continues to pursue the ragged edge of hunting technology, and any small advantage or comfort that can increase his chances of backcountry success. Particularly an optics addict, Matt is always trying to see better, and find those wiley critters before they find him. It doesn’t matter what weapon is used, the hunt and wild places draw him to the woods, time after time. Going in deeper, and hunting harder is always the goal with Matt, and the pursuit of that goal never ends.