Best Lightweight Hunting Rifles

Gear We Use
Best Lightweight Hunting Rifles
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There's a saying among special forces soldiers that, according to the Internet, goes something like, "Ounces equal pounds. Pounds equal pain."

While the exact formulation of the saying (or its source) is debatable, no one can deny its wisdom. If you’re trying to pack ultra-light–whether for a once-in-a-lifetime sheep hunt or an incursion into enemy territory–it pays to count your ounces. Three or four ounces isn’t much by itself, but cutting that weight from each piece of gear can lighten your kit by several pounds.

A lightweight rifle isn’t likely to mean the difference between a successful hunt and tag soup, but as one of many gear choices geared toward weight reduction, it’s a no-brainer. The good news is that you have options. Big-name rifle makers and boutique outfits all offer lightweight rifles perfect for high mountain hunts. Here are a few of our favorites.

What We Look for in a Lightweight Rifle

A lightweight rifle should be light. That’s obvious. But how light?

That depends on who you are. I’ve known hunters who lug ten-pound rifles up and down the mountains. For them, an eight-pound rifle might feel like a luxury. For someone smaller in stature, on the other hand, a rifle might need to be closer to five pounds to seem truly lightweight.

To make things simple, here’s a gross generalization. The average hunting rifle weighs something on the order of 7.5 pounds (without ammo, scope, etc.). I’d consider a rifle over 8.5 pounds to be heavy while anything less than 6.5 pounds is light. That’s not based on what I personally feel is heavy or light–that’s just a description of what you’ll most commonly find on the market.

Along with the overall weight of the rifle, you should consider how the gun maker cut those ounces. It’s easy to lighten a rifle by shortening a barrel or cutting down a stock, but these choices come with drawbacks. A short barrel reduces the velocity of the bullet, which may reduce your maximum range, and a shortened stock can impact comfort when shooting.

It’s better to find a rifle that reduces weight by using lighter materials or a slim-profile barrel. Carbon fiber is all the rage these days, and there’s a reason: it offers rigidity and strength while reducing weight. In a similar fashion, slim-profile barrels can significantly reduce weight without negative drawbacks, namely, a reduction in muzzle velocity. These skinny barrels can shift point-of-impact at high temperatures, but that’s unlikely to be a major concern in a one- or two-shot hunting scenario.

As with any long gun, a lightweight rifle should also have everything you’d expect from a high-quality firearm: a crisp trigger, good accuracy, and a smooth action. All of these rifles fit that bill.

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Lightweight Rifles We Recommend

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