Rifle weight
Nick’s rifles have a nice heft. From top: 3.4kg Kimber .25-06; 3.8kg X- Bolt 26 Nosler; and 4.3kg Whitworth Mauser .338 Win Mag

How light is too light for a rifle?

Q: Today, there seems to be a trend toward making rifles as light as possible, with some barely weighing 2.5kg. This means that some outfits will be no more than 3kg field ready.

My rifles all tip the scales at 4-4.5kg. While they are more of a burden to carry in the bush, I believe the extra heft makes them easier to hold steady and shoot more accurately.

What’s your opinion about this?

– Bill Leonard

A: When I was young and a lot fitter, a rifle outfit weighing 4.5kg was pretty normal and not a problem, but now I really need something lighter.

I would not, however, go to the other extreme, because I think there’s a happy medium.

My Kimber .25-06 weighs 3.4kg with 3-9×36 Swarovski scope in Leupold mounts and I’ve found it to be an ideal combination of portability, shootability and power.

Comparing  my two magnums, the Browning X-Bolt Hells Canyon in 26 Nosler is half a kilo heavier. And my ‘big rifle’, a Mauser .338 Win Mag, weighs 4.3kg field ready.

It is necessary to balance all-up weight against the calibre. The more powerful the cartridge, the heavier the rifle should be, within reason of course. I think I have a nice balance with my hunting guns.

They all have stocks with high combs that bring recoil back in a straight line, and they all have a soft butt pad which makes them pleasant to shoot.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.