Weatherby’s Vanguard line of rifles are technically considered “budget rifles.” But while other firearm manufacturers have focused on offering bare-bones rifles at rock-bottom prices, Weatherby has done quite the opposite over the course of the last several years. Case in point: The new Vanguard First Lite.
This rifle looks expensive with its Flat Dark Earth Cerakote finish on the metalwork and the characteristic Weatherby Monte Carlo stock, with a First Lite Fusion camo finish. The Fusion camo features a “crackalature” design that, according to First Lite, is “derived through nature-based algorithms and oriented for macro and micro disruption,” a claim to which I cannot attest.
I can, however, attest to the fact that this is a good-looking rifle that, while is not exactly cheap with an MSRP of $1,090, is as cool as anything in that price range. I can also say that the Vanguard rifles I’ve tested in the past have been extremely accurate, and all have lived up to their sub-MOA accuracy promise. The Vanguard First Lite is available in four Weatherby Magnums—.240, .257, 6.5-.300 and .300—as well as .270 Win., .308 Win., .30-06 and .300 Win. Mag.
Aside from its good looks, the Vanguard First Lite has a long list of impressive features, including cold hammer-forged, fluted barrels (24-inches for all non-Weatherby chamberings and .240 Wby. Mag., 26-inches for all other Weatherby Magnums) with a removable Accubrake muzzle brake, a one-piece fluted bolt body, fully-enclosed bolt shroud and a three-position safety.
The adjustable two-stage trigger is one of my favorites, with a light uptake and a crisp, clean break that helps improve accuracy. The Vanguard First Lite blurs the line between sporter and dedicated target rifle—at 7 ½ pounds, it’s light enough to carry all day, yet the long #2 contour fluted barrel make this gun a legitimate long-range weapon, especially when chambered for the hot new 6.5-.300 Wby. Mag.
This gun is certainly a different take on what it means to be a “budget rifle,” and for the money you won’t find a better looking—or more versatile—hunting rifle.