As we consider the practical rifle, we've got to set limits, as wide as those limits might be. Today we'll consider weight.
Last week, a neighbor came over to show me a rifle he's been working with. The action is from a major manufacturer (think Green) and the stock is some fiberglass-filled wonder with a pistol grip. The barrel has a heavy contour and the scope is a variable with the upper reaches of magnification near 20 power. That neighbor wants a thousand yard rifle, and he might have one.
This is not to beat my neighbor down. Rifles like this seem to be the fashion these days, and it seems that some folks want to replicate the rifles our boys have used in the current conflict, mostly rifles like the Remington Model 24. That's fine, until we understand that the sniping rifles our boys are using are specialized weapons A proper sniper team has two members, the rifleman and a spootter, so the M24 could properly be considered a crew-served weapon. Understand that I have high admiration for those fellows, and would buy any one of them a beer. Also, understand that in our great country, a fellow can have any rifle he chooses to have. I myself have a rifle with a long, heavy barrel, a replica of a rifle from the 19th century. It is very accurate, but it weighs considerably more than I like to carry in the field. Back to my neighbor, we put his rifle on my scale, and it weighed in at 13.75 lbs. He's well oh his way to having a M24 clone.
I have several friends with heavy specialty rifles. These rifles are set up to make long shots across open fields. Hereabouts we call them beanfield rifles, exquisitely crafted, capable of putting a bullet into something in the next grid square, they are very nice rifles and the folks that shoot them are passionate about the care and feeding of those rifles. They are specialty items and we are considering the practical rifle. So, let's not be confused about the topic.
Going to the literature, we find that the US Rifle, Cal 30 M1 weighed in a svelt 9.5 to 11 pounds, depending on the particular model. I've talked to real men who carried those rifles on a walking tour or Europe, and they tell me that those rifles are heavy sonsofbitches after you've been carrying them for a while. Using contemporary standards, we find that 11 pounds is roughly equivalent to 5 kilos, so we'll consider that the upper limit of the weight of a practical rifle.
On the other end of the scale, we find companies making extremely light rifles. Ultra Light Arms comes to mind, a company who I understand makes very fine, accurate rifles for folks to whom every ounce matters. Their Mountain Rifle weighs in at 4.75 lbs, and I'm sure that ourfitted for the field with scope and sling, it's pushing five pounds. Going to a mass manufacturer, we find that Savage Arms makes a rifle called the Lightweight Hunter that weighs 5.5 lbs, and the new Ruger American Compact weighs in at 6 pounds. Converting those weights to the metric standard gives us a convenient 2.5 kilos.
So, we might be able to say that the practical rifle is a
1. Magazine fed repeating rifle
2. that weighs between 2.5 ad 5 kilos, outfitted with sights and sling.
We're starting to narrow this down.