Bullshooters: Lightweight Rifle Project

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posted on October 11, 2011
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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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