Lightweight Rifle Project (Part 10 of 10)

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posted on October 7, 2011
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The Moment of Truth: Part 10 of 10

The rifle is built, the money is spent and the scope is mounted: It’s time to know whether this thing shoots.

I ordered 100 rounds of Lapua brass and a variety of component bullets from Sinclair International and assembled a few handloads. After breaking in the barrel per Krieger’s instructions, I shot several groups for accuracy.

This rifle was fun to shoot—partially due to the stock design; recoil was light despite the rifle’s low mass. The most promising sign on the range was this rifle’s consistency, even using a variety of bullet weights and powders, nearly every round hit a consistent point of aim.

The Test: Here are the raw accuracy results (3-shot groups at 100 yards):

Berger 140gr. VLD Match handload (Varget)0.36”

Nosler Custom Ammo 125gr. Partition0.45”

Hornady 129gr. SST handload (IMR 4350) 0.48”

Nosler 130gr. Accubond handload (H 4831)0.55”

Berger 104gr. VLD Match handload (H 4831)0.82”

Barnes 130gr. TSX handload (RL 19)1.06”

I had some doubts, but we reached our accuracy goals. The above results are not “developed” loads—I literally loaded some rounds out of the book and headed to the range. I have little doubt that with some tweaking, this rifle will do even better. For those of you who don’t trust 3-shot groups, after every cleaning I fired a “fouler” into the same target: 7 cold barrel shots went into a 0.55” group at 100 yards!

The Conclusion: Though lightweight rifles can be unforgiving (benchrest guns are heavy for a reason), they don’t have to be inaccurate. With excellent components and precision construction, it is clearly possible to build an ultralight rifle that is capable of accuracy far beyond the needs of any typical hunting scenario. We blew our budget, but we built a great rifle and we bustedsome myths: Light rifles can be accurate, as can pencil-thin barrels. Our weight goal could have been met witha shorter barrel, but I feel that 22" was a good compromise length for the .260 Remington cartridge. At the end of the day, a tenth of an ounce isa joke.

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