I’ve always said shopping for a gun is like shopping for a pair of shoes. There is no such thing as “one size fits all.” So I paid close attention in 2015 when Brenda Weatherby, ever-gracious corporate director of people and culture, and Mike Schweibert, vice president of marketing, shared the company’s plans to design a rifle specifically for women. While entering the women’s market after 70 years would be big news, more importantly, Weatherby, being Weatherby, would never unveil a product that was not exceptional—good news for us women. So after consulting with a network of seasoned female hunters, Weatherby turned heads at the 2016 SHOT Show as it unveiled of its first-ever women’s rifle: the Camilla Vanguard. Showcasing graceful lines and the fit of a glove at an impressive $849 price point, Weatherby indeed had arrived in catering to the women’s market. And today—Oct. 1, 2017—it takes the next step, offering the Camilla in its flagship line as it launches the Camilla Mark V Deluxe.
“With the popularity of the Camilla in the Vanguard action, Weatherby could not resist making it available in the Mark V,” said Brenda Weatherby. “The ergonomics of the stock design are specifically designed for a lady, the craftsmanship of the Camilla Deluxe is over the top beautiful and having it available in larger calibers gives hunters more options. It is truly a firearm to use in the field and a masterpiece to pass down as well.”
I can sing the new rifle’s praises and attest to its form and function firsthand as Brenda and I worked with corporate engineers at the company’s Paso Robles, Calif., headquarters in August to build the first-ever Camilla Mark V Deluxe rifles. And, of course, the field-testing included some hunting as we helped to address the state’s overpopulation of wild pigs. The hunt left no doubt: True to its Mark V predecessors, this rifle sports Weatherby’s top technological advancements famous for putting holes through dimes and knocking down large animals fast. But what about the specific attributes for female hunters, you ask?
In step with the women’s Camilla Vanguard, first up is the stock. If you’ve been around the block enough through the years, then you know that in the past, some gun manufacturers attempting to deliver a women’s rifle merely trimmed an inch or two from the buttstock and called it good. But while Weatherby’s Mark V Camilla Deluxe specifically has a shorter 13-inch length of pull to make for a more compact, easier-handling rifle, Weatherby understands that women also proportionally have longer necks than men. To aid comfort and cheek weld, the new Mark V sports a higher comb—critical considering that a rifle that does not fit properly cannot be mounted or fired accurately. As hunters, we know that when that big buck finally steps into view, seconds count as we go to align our eyes with the scope’s crosshairs and acquire the target.
For more on how the Mark V Camilla Deluxe fits the female hunter, the buttstock sports a trimmer distance from heel to toe with the toe designed to angle away from the body to account for a women’s physique. While the new Mark V’s slim forearm trims weight and aids balance, which we women can appreciate since a heavy rifle is tough to keep steady, this also aids gun fit. The rifle design provides for a short reach to the trigger for uniform trigger pressure and a consistent trigger pull, further aiding accuracy. (For more on the trigger, after building one of these Mark V beauties firsthand, I have an increased appreciation for any firearm factory employee who conquers trigger assembly as I worked to figure out which ultra-tiny screw went where.) I have to say that while I’m 5 feet 11 inches and can shoot some long guns right out of the factory box, the sheer joy of shooting this rifle comes down to the fact it is extremely comfortable to shoot.
For more in refinements, the latest version of the Weatherby flagship features the sophisticated and classic fleur-de-lis, the same stylized-lily checkering pattern that adorns the Camilla Vanguard. Its AA fancy-grade claro walnut stock looks elegant, and what is not to admire about the exotic forend and grip cap?
Currently available only in a right-hand version, the rifle sports a slender pistol grip that features a trigger-finger groove and right-side palmswell. While I’m a leftie, I fortunately grew up in a right-handed family where there was no such thing as a left-hand option so in this case, right is … right. Initial caliber offerings include .240 Wby., . 270 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 308 and 30-06. Regardless of the chosen caliber, I’m betting the first thing women note is how great it feels to fire a high-performance rifle that fits. And then there are the sheer cosmetics that make this rifle a welcome sight with an MSRP of $2,700.
Now for a word on why Weatherby’s new Mark V Camilla Deluxe is so important. This women’s masterpiece debuts at a time when the number of hunters who happen to be female continues to spike. In 2011, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey revealed women comprised 11 percent of the hunting population. By 2013, the National Sporting Goods Association reported that the number had risen to 19 percent, or 3.34 million. So in celebrating and welcoming women into the hunting ranks, Weatherby is here to put the right tool for the job in our hands.
From my decades-long perspective, and after spending time not just with the Weatherby family but at the factory where I met employees whose families have worked for the all-American company for generations, it is no wonder Weatherby is always on the mark. In 1945, company founder Roy Weatherby’s passion was to “make tomorrow’s firearms today.” Three generations later, the family prides itself on the fact it has been inspiring the dreams of hunters and shooters ever since. So as we head toward the 2018 SHOT Show in January where the latest edition of the Camilla will take center stage, the fact that it is named for Roy Weatherby’s wife, Camilla, seems quite fitting. No doubt, the first lady of Weatherby would be proud.
Note to Brenda’s husband, Adam: Congratulations on that nice sheep you just dropped. Of course, you’ll need to keep hunting hard just to keep up with Brenda now that she has a flagship of her own!