One truth I always stick to when it comes to hunting equipment is “ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain.” Growing up, especially being of slight build as it is, I was always looking for the lightest rifle I could find. Today, with the ever-developing market of lightweight materials, it seems a rifle with a total weight hovering around 6 pounds is the new benchmark for the ultra-lightweight category. If you’re trying to cut ounces, check out these five contenders for the lightest hunting rifles on the market this year.
1. Remington Model Seven SS HS Precision Weight: 6 lbs. Building a 6-pound rifle typically drives up the cost of production, considering more expensive materials are used in the manufacturing process and more time is taken to finely trim a rifle’s “fat.” The Remington Model Seven SS HS Precision rifle, however, is lightweight without the heavy price tag. While the rifle utilizes a light-contour stainless-steel barreled action, Remington trimmed even more weight by losing a bit of barrel length over standard configurations, coming in at 20 inches. As you probably already guessed, this Model Seven sits in a hand-laid, super-lightweight synthetic stock from H-S Precision to drop weight even further. Only available in short-action calibers (.243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem. and .308 Win.), which trims material from the action to further reduce weight, with all of these weight-saving measures, the Model Seven SS HS Precision rifle still carries a price tag on par with the Remington 700. MSRP: $1,149; remington.com.
2. Browning X-Bolt Pro Tungsten Weight: 6.1 lbs. In non-magnum short-action rifles, the Browning X-Bolt Pro Tungsten weighs 6 pounds, 1.6 ounces, making it the “heaviest” rifle on the list. The stock is made from a compressed foam wrapped entirely in carbon fiber, making it as light and rigid as possible. The barrel is trimmed to a lightweight-sporter contour, which is then fluted to further reduce weight. The bolt body is fluted to match. So what do you gain with the extra 1.6 ounces of weight that puts this rifle over 6 pounds? One component is the muzzle brake, which cuts recoil to almost nothing in even the lightest rifle variants chambered in either 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Win (6.5 PRC, 26 Nosler, .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag., 28 Nosler, .30-06, .300 WSM, .30 Nosler, .300 Win. Mag. and .300 RUM are also available, but weight of the rifle is increased due to longer barrel and action lengths). In the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win., you also get a barrel length of 22 inches that makes optimal use of each cartridge’s powder charge, giving this rifle a ballistic advantage over other lightweight options. MSRP: $2,069.99; browning.com.
3. Nosler M48 Mountain Carbon Weight: 6 lbs. Despite Nosler’s 73-year history, the company wouldn’t begin producing firearms until 2005. Fast forward another twelve years or so, and Nosler now makes one of the lightest-weight yet highest-end, feature-heavy rifles available with the Model 48 Mountain Carbon. Regardless of the rifle’s chambering (.26, .28, .30 and .33 Nosler, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win. Mag.), the rifle’s naked weight doesn’t exceed 6 pounds. What’s more, you won’t see a major velocity drop-off due to a shorter-than-average barrel, as all M48 Mountain Carbon rifles feature a 24-inch barrel. So how did Nosler cut weight? The rifle’s two most notable features largely implement the use of carbon fiber components. A free-floated, carbon-fiber-wrapped, sendero-contoured 24-inch threaded barrel and a pure carbon fiber Aramid reinforced mountain hunter stock are the keys to this featherweight firearm. MSRP: $3,140; nosler.com.
4. Howa Mini Action .300 BLK Weight: 6 lbs. One of the most underutilized ways to shave weight on a rifle is to design the rifle around cartridges optimized to make use of a minimal amount of material. Howa did just that by using an action that’s 12 percent shorter than a true short action as the rifle’s starting point. The Howa Mini Action rifle, previously available in .223 Rem., 7.62X39 and 6.5 Grendel, is now available in .300 AAC Blackout, a cartridge purpose-built to be efficient out of short-barreled rifles and maintain enough punch to drop deer-sized game out to 200 yards. Because the .300 BLK's full potential comes from the use of shorter barrels, anything much longer than the legal bare-minimum barrel length is unnecessary, and Howa went with a barrel length of 16.25-inches on the Mini Action in .300 BLK. By minimizing the use of metal all the way around the rifle and using a synthetic stock, the Howa Mini Action in .300 BLK is the lightest model in Howa’s 1500 heavy-barreled variant of the Mini Action line. MSRP: $589; legacysports.com.
5. Weatherby Mark V Camilla Ultra Lightweight Weight: 5.75 lbs. Perhaps the top contender in the modern field of ultralight rifles, the Weatherby Mark V Camilla Ultra Lightweight is the only rifle on this list designed specifically for women. It is also the lightest rifle on this list, even in standard-length actions, such as Weatherby’s proprietary .240 Wby. Mag. cartridge (rifles chambered in of 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win., .308 Win. and .30-06 Sprg. are also available). Much of the weight savings comes via the minimal amount of steel in the Mark V Camilla Ultra Lightweight’s No.1 contour, stainless steel fluted barrel in either a 22- or 24-inch length. Weatherby also slimmed the synthetic stock’s profile in the forearm and pistol grip and shortened the rifle’s length of pull to 13 inches. Fluting, along with gas vents designed to divert hot gasses away from the shooter’s face, also cut weight from the rifle’s bolt body. For women wanting get the one of the lightest rifles money can buy without waiting on custom work at custom prices, look no further than the Weatherby Mark V Camilla Ultra Lightweight. MSRP: $2,300; weatherby.com.