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Best Rifles: 10 Great Rifles for Mountain Hunting

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July 25, 2013
Best Rifles: 10 Great Rifles for Mountain Hunting - 9

Being an avid sheep and mountain goat hunter here in Alaska, I’ve seen the good, bad, and ugly as far as mountain rifles are concerned. A mountain hunter needs a rifle that is reasonably lightweight, dependable, accurate, and impervious to foul weather. 

Every rifle has its advantages and disadvantages. Some rifles are super light, but not every hunter can shoot them accurately because of the increased recoil. Some great shooting rifles are just too heavy to pack up the mountain. In my experience, a rifle that is light as possible and still allows a hunter to consistently shoot 1 ½ MOA groups is adequate for normal ranges. Not every rifle is up for the job, but here are 10 that I would not hesitate to take on a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. 

Although these selections are made with sheep, goats, mule deer, and elk in mind, no game, from Dall sheep to mountain grizzlies are safe with these rifles on the mountain.

1) Remington model 700 XCR II

A variation of the classic model 700, the XCR II is built for exactly what is says, extreme conditions. The stainless steel with TriNyte coating provides superb scratch and weather resistance. Although on the heavier side of the mountain rifle spectrum (7.3 pounds), the ruggedness of this rifle is well worth the weight. With a wide variety of calibers available in a dependable package, and Remington’s trademark out of the box accuracy, this rifle is an excellent choice for the mountain hunter. MSRP: $1,005.

2) Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent

Kimber has built a great reputation for mountain rifles, but took it to another level with its Mountain Ascent model. Weighing in at 4 pounds, 13 ounces, it is the lightest production rifle on the market. The rifle is not only light, but attractive and it fits the shoulder as well as it carries. To top it off, the all weather construction is able to withstand the nastiest mountain goat hunt. The mountain ascent is a great rifle, and will run around $2,040.

3) Winchester Model 70 Extreme Weather SS

Another variation of a classic sporting rifle, the Model 70 Extreme Weather SS holds its own on the mountain. At about 6.5 pounds, it weighs just about the same as a featherweight gun, but with a floated barrel, Bell & Carlson stock, and controlled feed pre-64 style action, it is far from delicate. This rifle runs around $1,200 depending on caliber.

4) Double Broom mountain rifles

Although there are a lot of great custom rifles available, my longtime hunting partner Steve Hallenbeck (pictured) builds some of the best I have held. His guns, Double Broom Mountain Rifles, are lightweight and rugged. They are also accurate and beautiful. He uses several actions depending on taste, including Remington, Kimber, Bansner, and HS Precision, with fluted Lilja barrels, custom triggers, color choice of cerakote finishes and custom bedded synthetic stocks, as well as spiral cut bolts to reduce weight, all at around $3,500. The guns require about a 5-month lead-time before showing up at your door. These are fully custom rifles, in both standard and custom cartridges.

5) Savage model 16/116 FCSS

Although some turn up their noses at Savage guns, the accuracy these rifles offer is impossible to argue with. This model would be ideal for mountain hunts, weighing in at under 7 pounds, and featuring Savage’s Accutrigger. This is a rugged rifle that can shoot with the best, but at around $850, the budget minded hunter will have no problem affording it.

6) HS precision 2000 PHL

The HS precision 2000 PHL is another top-of-the-line custom rifle, and the serious mountain hunter couldn’t go wrong with it. At 5.75 pounds, it is one of the lightest available, and HS guarantees ½ MOA accuracy. The rifle can be fully customized to a hunter’s needs, whether for the hunt of a lifetime or a lifetime of many hunts. You’ll pay for the quality though. The rifle runs $3,705 with a 6-month lead time.

7) Thompson Center Venture Composite SS

Many of us have already dumped enough money in to preference points to pay for the finest custom rifle, so when you finally get that tag, it’s nice to know you can get a dependable rifle without taking out another mortgage. The TC Venture fits the bill. With an externally adjustable trigger, good caliber variety, match crowned barrel, and guaranteed 1 MOA accuracy, it’s a rifle that will definitely get the job done. The Venture also has a 60-degree bolt throw to provide great scope clearance and fast action working. MSRP: about $600.

8) Ruger M77 Hawkeye All-Weather

For me, ruggedness and dependability trumps a few extra ounces every time. The Ruger M77 Hawkeye All-Weather comes in at 7 pounds, which I consider very manageable in the mountains. The controlled feed action, and good accuracy make it a rifle I wouldn’t hesitate to take with me. It is available in a variety of great calibers including 2 of my favorite sheep rounds: the .25-06 Remington and 6.5 Creedmoor. MSRP: $899

9) Christensen Arms Carbon Custom

For those looking for a super light, accurate custom rifle, Christensen Arms is a surefire way to go. Their carbon-wrapped barrels dissipate heat fast and cut weight better than any fluting. They are available with muzzle breaks, but you are sure to get a crisp trigger and a rifle with a dependable action. MSRP: about $3,000 depending on rifle

10) Nosler M48 Custom

For several years now, Nosler has been chiseling out a spot in the elite rifle market. Their M48 Custom features a tough, cerakote finish, barrel lengths custom to order, and you are sure to get superb accuracy. Depending on the caliber, the rifles weigh 6.5 pounds to 7 pounds. All in all, you get world-class looks, and world class performance for $3,195.

Comments (9)

Top Rated
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from James L. Patterson wrote 30 weeks 4 days ago

What about Steyr Rifles ??? Just a po ole country boy, so never owned a custom gun. But have owned a bunch of different name brands. But when I came across the Steyr line of guns it was over.. They are the most dependable, accurate guns I have ever shot..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckbull wrote 35 weeks 5 days ago

x-bolt stainless stalker, tikka t3 stainless lite are both under 7 pounds and affordable.

I would argue the Weatherby Mark V ultralight should be in the list as well.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from horsethief wrote 37 weeks 5 hours ago

The New Ultra Light Arms rifles made by Melvin Forbes and the lower-priced Forbes Rifles need to be on this list.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pup49 wrote 37 weeks 1 day ago

I would not hesitate to use a Tikka T3 stainless, light, accurate, and dependable, also reasonably priced to boot! Today, we certainly have a wide variety to choose in this type of weapon.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from hmmmAnd wrote 37 weeks 4 days ago

The Browning X-bolt should also be on this list.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 38 weeks 2 days ago

I have Savage 116 in 300 Win Mag I have walked up a mountain with. I would certainly recommend it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tylerfreel85 wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Thanks man! Although I dont' have much experience with them, I know Weatherby makes a nice rifle, From the ones I've used these are my favorites, there's obviously quite a few other excellent choices out there!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tylerfreel85 wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Thanks man! Although I dont' have much experience with them, I know Weatherby makes a nice rifle, From the ones I've used these are my favorites, there's obviously quite a few other excellent choices out there!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from MazPower wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Great stuff as always Tyler. Any experience/opinion on NULA's or Weatherby's Ultra-Light or Back Country Rifle?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from tylerfreel85 wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Thanks man! Although I dont' have much experience with them, I know Weatherby makes a nice rifle, From the ones I've used these are my favorites, there's obviously quite a few other excellent choices out there!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from hmmmAnd wrote 37 weeks 4 days ago

The Browning X-bolt should also be on this list.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pup49 wrote 37 weeks 1 day ago

I would not hesitate to use a Tikka T3 stainless, light, accurate, and dependable, also reasonably priced to boot! Today, we certainly have a wide variety to choose in this type of weapon.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 38 weeks 2 days ago

I have Savage 116 in 300 Win Mag I have walked up a mountain with. I would certainly recommend it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from horsethief wrote 37 weeks 5 hours ago

The New Ultra Light Arms rifles made by Melvin Forbes and the lower-priced Forbes Rifles need to be on this list.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MazPower wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Great stuff as always Tyler. Any experience/opinion on NULA's or Weatherby's Ultra-Light or Back Country Rifle?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tylerfreel85 wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Thanks man! Although I dont' have much experience with them, I know Weatherby makes a nice rifle, From the ones I've used these are my favorites, there's obviously quite a few other excellent choices out there!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from James L. Patterson wrote 30 weeks 4 days ago

What about Steyr Rifles ??? Just a po ole country boy, so never owned a custom gun. But have owned a bunch of different name brands. But when I came across the Steyr line of guns it was over.. They are the most dependable, accurate guns I have ever shot..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckbull wrote 35 weeks 5 days ago

x-bolt stainless stalker, tikka t3 stainless lite are both under 7 pounds and affordable.

I would argue the Weatherby Mark V ultralight should be in the list as well.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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