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Bullshooters: Lightweight Rifle Project

Keith Wood tackles the often-perpetuated myth that lightweight rifles aren't accurate in this 10-part Bullshooters blog series.

10/11/2011

The Myth: Lightweight rifles aren’t accurate

The goal: Build a rifle on a budget (under $2,000) that weighs less than 6 pounds with a mounted scope and will shoot 3-shot 1/2 MOA groups or better.

The Test: In this ongoing project, we will put a hunting rifle on a crash diet—cutting every ounce of weight that we can spare using the lightest components on the market. But will it shoot? We’ll find out.

Check out each installment of this 10-part series:

Part 1: The Biggest Loser, Rifle Edition

Part 2: Saving Weight on a Budget
: Most of the ultralight components we’ll use on this project won’t come cheap, but this is an exception to that rule. The PT&G aluminum triggerguard weighs only 0.6 ounces and retails for only $25. The factory 700 guard weighs 4.6 ounces, which tells us that we saved nearly as much weight with this $25 part as we did with lots of work on the milling machine...

Part 3:
Some assembly required: With a box of parts that were light enough to carry in my pocket, I loaded up and headed to the machine shop. The goal was to assemble the barrel and action with everything square and concentric. Tight tolerances require hand machine work and lots of time, but the payoff comes in the shape of tiny little groups on the range and confidence in the field...

Part 4:
Let’s see how our girl looks on the scale...

Part 5:
Now that the metal work is complete, it’s time to give us something to hold onto. I love great walnut, but synthetic is the only way to go when you’re looking for the maximum strength-to-weight ratio. There are a few companies that make great synthetics in this category, but Lone Wolf appears to be the lightest on the market. Their Summit XL II is constructed using carbon fiber and weights under a pound bedded to your action...

Part 6:
Lightweight Scope Rings/Mounts: Scope rings may not sound like a big component of a rifle’s construction, but that mode of thinking will cause you problems...

Part 7: Lightweight Optics: Choosing a scope for this rifle was a bit agonizing (in a good way, like deciding between the Porterhouse and the Filet). I like the simplicity and durability of fixed-power models like the Leupold FX-11 6x36mm but, at 10 ounces, we could do a bit better when it came down to weight...

Part 8: Final Weigh-in:
The rifle is back from Lone Wolf and their friends at Falcon Gun Finishing, I can’t tell you how happy I am with the way it turned out...

Part 9: Let's Talk Dollars:
We had three goals in this project: weight under 6 pounds scoped, accuracy of 1/2 MOA for three shots and a budget of $2,000.00...

Part 10: The Moment of Truth:
The rifle is built, the money is spent and the scope is mounted: It’s time to know whether this thing shoots...

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3 Responses to Bullshooters: Lightweight Rifle Project

KW wrote:
November 27, 2011

Ray, thanks for the comments. I neglected to mention that we added a Timney trigger in place of the factory unit.

dusanmal wrote:
November 22, 2011

Great test and project. May I suggest you test existing sub-6 lbs rifle Kimber 84M as a ready available alternative to building your own. I own it in .308 Win and with ammunition it likes (Hornady Superformance 165 and Federal Fusion 165) it regularly satisfies precision criteria of your build.

Ray Kliebert wrote:
November 21, 2011

Nice project! I bought a 700 Titanium in .308 when they were first introduced. I also selected the Talley rings and the Leopold Ultralight VX-II in 3x9x33. I also added an aluminum bolt shroud, Speed Lock firing pin, and a Jewel Trigger. I absolutely love this rifle and purchased it for stalking the Swamps of Louisiana for Whitetails. I haven't spent much effort measuring groups and have only used factory ammo but I am confident it could group sub MOA with the right loads. I didn't see any mention in your writeup about the trigger...did you do anything to it? With a rifle at 6lb the trigger pull is perhaps one of the most critical components for accuracy. I chose the Jewel and love it. Happy Shooting!