The Lightweight Long Action Centerfire Rifle

By Randy Wakeman

For those interested in a pleasant to carry .270 Winchester (or similar standard length cartridge) rifle weighing under seven pounds, while retaining at least a 22 inch barrel, there are not as many good options out there as you might hope for less than $1000. The Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Sporter (24 inch barrel) is an excellent rifle and an excellent value, but it weighs 7-1/2 pounds sans scope. The Winchester Model 70 Featherweight weighs in at seven pounds and change.

The Savage 11/111 Lightweight Hunter is one of the lightest, at six pounds, but has a 20 inch barrel. I tested a Weatherby Back Country in .30-06, which weighed 6-3/4 pounds, but it did not shoot up to my expectations and the 2017 MSRP is a bit salty at $1429.

There is often discussion about velocity loss in shorter than the 24 inch industry standard barrels. In my Browning X-Bolt Medallion, .270 Win. with a 22 inch barrel, the advertised 2950 fps, 140 grain Accubonds averaged 2878 fps across the sky screens. The 3200 fps, 130 grain Hornady SuperFormance SST loads hit 3125 fps. The velocity loss with these high intensity .270 cartridges is not all that dramatic in my testing, averaging roughly 75 fps (or 37.5 fps per inch) vs. the stated velocities in a 24 inch barrel. That is not very different from the 30 fps per inch Remington testing estimated for 3000 fps cartridges years ago.

In one round of testing with four different .270 rifles, the two most consistent shooters were the Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Sporter and the Browning X-Bolt Medallion. While the Weatherby did far better with 140 grain AccuBonds, the tables were turned with the Browning that consistently grouped inside one inch at 203 yards with the Hornady 130 grain SuperFormance loads. The Browning did not do that well with any other ammo.

There are actually three general models of .270 rifles I have tested that generally sell at retail for under $1000, legitimately weigh under seven pounds bare and deliver better than MOA accuracy with favored loads. They are the Browning X-Bolt Medallion at 6-3/4 pounds, the surprisingly good Mossberg Patriot Walnut at 6 pounds 14 ounces, or 6 pounds 11 ounces with a synthetic stock in Kryptek Highlander camo, and the Remington Stainless Steel Mountain Rifle at 6 pounds 9 ounces. All rifles are different, so your accuracy results may (and probably will) vary.

The Browning X-Bolt Medallion has a 2017 MSRP of $1039.99 with a polished blue finish and $1419.99 in stainless steel, dropping to $899.99 for the Browning X-Bolt Hunter grade, which is essentially the same rifle with a lower grade walnut stock and matte bluing. The X-Bolt Stainless Stalker with a composite stock carries a MSRP of $1139.99. The Remington 700 Mountain Rifle SS with a composite stock carries a 2017 MSRP of $1152.00. The 2017 MSRP of the Mossberg Patriot in walnut is about $500.00.

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Copyright 2017 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.