The number of female hunters has dramatically increased over the last decade. According to the most recent data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, in 2013 women made up roughly one-fifth of the hunting population—an 85 percent increase since 2001. Regardless of gender, all hunters know that selecting the right rifle is key. When it comes to choosing one to hunt with, however, many women feel that their options are fairly limited. With that said, Weatherby’s new Vanguard Camilla will be a more-than-welcome breath of fresh air to female hunters.
With the recent launch of its Women of Weatherby campaign, the company has committed to providing women with essential information, tools and valuable opportunities to maximize their outdoor experience. In addition, Weatherby spent the last two years crafting its first female-specific hunting rifle. Designed by a select team of women hunters and shooters, but using measurements and suggestions from women all over the world, Weatherby was sure to pay close attention to what features were most important to women when choosing a rifle—whether they were a lifelong hunter or just looking to get started. The end result was the Vanguard Camilla, named after the wife of company founder Roy Weatherby.
With an MSRP of $849, the new bolt-action rifle is currently available in .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem. and .308 Win. Built on Weatherby’s best-selling Vanguard platform, it comes with many of that line’s much-loved standard features. The two-stage trigger is adjustable for pull weight down to 2.5 pounds. The trigger in my sample rifle broke at a crisp 3.5 pounds, which felt fine to me. The three-position safety is located on the right side of the action, immediately behind the bolt handle. In its middle position, the safety blocks the sear and unlocks the bolt, allowing the shooter to cycle the action with the safety engaged. The 20-inch blued barrel is cold hammer forged.
The most notable and unique aspect of the Camilla is the buttstock, which has been designed to fit a wide variety of women. In addition to a shorter-than-standard length of pull of 13 inches, other parts of the stock are reduced in size as well. For example, the recoil pad is smaller, and the pistol grip is slim and angled to shorten the reach to the trigger.
But Weatherby did more than just shrink the buttstock. Its shape has an emphasized cast-off, and its toe is canted forward—all to better suit the upper female anatomy. A high comb accommodates women’s proportionally longer necks for more comfort and better eye-to-scope alignment. The pistol grip features a right-side palm swell for confident, consistent trigger contact and control. (Left-handed shooters are currently out of luck.) A slimmer fore-end reduces weight and bulk to allow for quick, easy handling.
These features made the Vanguard Camilla extremely comfortable for me to shoot. I noticed the difference immediately upon shouldering the rifle for the first time, and the buttstock design quickly became my favorite aspect of the rifle. And since we are talking about a rifle built for ladies, it’s also worth noting that while other Vanguard stocks are synthetic, the Camilla stock is an elegant satin-finish grade-A Turkish walnut that features fleur-de-lis checkering with rosewood fore-end and grip caps.
As a young female hunter, I grew up shooting what was handed to me by either my dad or uncle, so I certainly was eager to try out the Camilla. From the bench, I noticed the bolt to be extremely smooth with zero hangups. The effort required to lift the bolt handle and unlock the two-lug bolt was minimal, especially beyond the halfway point. I appreciated the quick, snappy bolt throw at the range and in the field, as it made cycling struggle-free. Recoil wasn’t difficult to control, though I didn’t expect much from a .243.
After sighting in, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to settle for anything ill-fitting from here on out. I am 5 feet 5 inches tall, and therefore the 13-inch length of pull and shorter grip-to-trigger reach felt unusually natural to me. At the beginning of the hunting season in Virginia, I became even more fond of the rifle’s light 6.5-pound weight when I dropped the biggest buck of my life, a 170-pound 8-point, with a single offhand shot at 115 yards.
In a nutshell, the rifle was both accurate and exceedingly comfortable to shoot, which makes all the difference when it comes to confidence in the field. Whether you’re a woman in the market for a hunting rifle or a guy looking to purchase one for a special female hunter in your life, Weatherby’s thoughtful design and classy aesthetics make the Vanguard Camilla an excellent choice.