How Much Should a Hunting Rifle Weight? 

Whether you’re a hunter who likes to hike the mountains, shoot long-range on the big game, or do it all in one day, the weight of your rifle matters. 

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Getting a rifle that weighs just enough to get the job done can make all the difference between success and failure on your next trip. That’s why many hunters spend a good bit of time and money on quality guns that are built to stand up to the demands of their hunting styles and conditions. 

When it comes to a rifle’s weight, it’s not just about balancing portability with recoil characteristics, as it is also important to consider practical accuracy. Rifles with lighter triggers and longer barrels are easy to shoot accurately, while heavier triggers and thicker barrels can be cumbersome or even impossible to maneuver. 

A hefty trigger can make it difficult to squeeze through and extract a clean shot, especially when the weather or a field is rough. It can also be harder to maintain accurate stances, especially in challenging field positions, such as prone or kneeling. 

Heavy barrels wring more velocity from cartridges, but can also add weight to a rifle. The extra mass and inconvenience can be a significant detriment on the range or in the field, making them unsuitable for mountain hunting. 

In general, rifles should not weigh less than 6.5 to 7.5 pounds for all centerfire cartridges for small game and predator hunting or rifles chambered for light military cartridges such as the.223,.30 Carbine and 7.62×39 used for varmints, as well as revolver cartridges such as the.32-20,.357 Magnum, and.45 Colt, if used for hunting. 

It’s also not a good idea to go too lightweight with any rimfire rifle. Despite their lightweight appearance, ultra-light rimfire rifles are often difficult to hold steady in field positions and can be hard to swing smoothly on the running game, even with no recoil, which makes them a bad choice for most hunters. 

Most hunting-ready bolt-action rifles weigh more or less eight pounds with a scope and everything ready for the field, including a sling. This is a perfectly acceptable amount of weight for most hunters and should give them plenty of confidence that they’re bringing a rifle they can rely on when hunting. 

If you’re looking for a rifle that weighs less than 8 pounds, there are options out there from companies such as New Ultra Light Arms (NULA), Kimber, and Remington that can be very effective in rugged terrain. The NULA’s slim, but very strong bolt actions have long been a popular option for mountain hunters, with some models weighing just 20 ounces. 

The Kimber M84 Mountain Ascent, for example, weighs just 6 pounds scoped and loaded. That’s an extremely accurate rifle that has helped thousands of mountain hunters get a handle on their local game, from sheep and goats to whitetails and coyotes. It’s a great option for hunters who prefer to hunt a variety of terrain with one rifle, but still want the power and accuracy that comes from a longer, heavier barrel.