View Full Version : What is the ultimate mountain rifle and caliber

November 27, 2002, 06:42 PM
I'm talking something you'd take up after Stone Sheep in the high country or some such critter.

Art Eatman
November 27, 2002, 07:05 PM
If I'm correct that the Rem700Ti has the longest barrel (22"), that would be my choice.

I have one in 7mm08. From what I know of the cartridge from the ballistics charts, I think it would suffice. In the relatively short barrel, I'd choose the .308 over the '06.


November 27, 2002, 07:46 PM
They all work, I like the looks of the Featherweight so I'll go with that.

Oddly. I know several serious Stone Sheep hunters and not one carries a 'mountain rifle'. They all shoot full sized rifles, usually in a flat shooting cartridge. I know of two 7mm STW's, 1 264win, 300 H&H, 300Wby, 338win. There's lots of uneducated grizzlies in Stone country.

When your panting hard and the mountain wind is bucking you, or your just plain excited, the ultra lightweight is just a little harder to steady.

November 27, 2002, 07:48 PM
Art, that is the direction in which I think I am about to go. In .308 for other reasons, but I think that the 7-08 would be fine for sheep.

However, when in grizzly country, I'm with eroyd. Make mine a .338.

November 27, 2002, 10:15 PM
Kimber 84M. Same weight and size as the Remington titanium, but used traditional materials, better fit and more attention given to final product. It's less expensive too.

November 27, 2002, 11:20 PM
Steyr Scout rifle in .308 Winchester.

Art Eatman
November 27, 2002, 11:54 PM
Preacherman, your idea ain't bad, but the 700Ti is 6-1/4 pounds fully dressed, if that's a factor.

Howsomever, I've covered a good bit of country in the 4,000 to 6,000 elevation range with my 9.5 pound rig. I'll admit that a couple of miles of heavy brush and timber at 10,500 seemed a bit of a chore, even at age 50. :)


November 28, 2002, 07:37 PM
Right now I would have to say my custom built 96 Mauser tipping the scales at about 7.5 fully loaded. In 6.5x55 of course.

Of course I am toying with the idea of a Contender Carbine in .338 JDJ. Package could be done right around 6 lbs and still put up some impressive knock down power.

November 29, 2002, 12:12 PM
Maybe not everyone's choice, but my Custom Mauser in 7 X 57Ackley Improved, with lightweight Synthetic stock fills the bill for me. Weight is about 7 pounds with Compact Leupold scope and 4 rounds in the magazine.

November 29, 2002, 12:45 PM
Had some of these same thoughts, about a month ago. Sitting on the edge of a saddle, right at timberline (11000+). Decided that my kit and rifle needed a little lightening. (decided that the JohnDog needed a little "lightening" too :rolleyes: )

So I've got a good workout program going, and when I meet my goal next spring one of those Remington 700 Ti in .270 will probably show up in the safe. I figured that shaving 3 pounds of weight off the rifle was kinda dumb, when i'm carrying around 15-20 pounds of spare tire. And .270 Win - it's the ultimate sheep/mountain caliber! (I guess I read too many O'Connor stories in my mis-spent youth).


November 29, 2002, 01:39 PM
Buy one of those little 7mm-08 compacts and have it reamed for 284 Winchester. With a 20" barrel and weight around 7 pounds flat with a full magazine, sling, and compact Leupold 2-7. 270/280/30-06 ballistics in a compact lightweight rifle.

November 29, 2002, 02:32 PM
I'll second the vote for 84M in .308.

Great gun!

November 29, 2002, 03:48 PM
what about the SAKO FINNLIGHT? It is definitely an excellent little rifle and it is really light... Really accurate too. Top it off with a nice German scope or Leupold and that would be a really nice setup.

November 30, 2002, 01:09 PM
I agree with you on the Styer except for one thing. Been there done that and the rifle is fine but the thick reticled scout scope is far from ideal in sheep country. It is severly limiting as far as being able to pick a gray sheep out of of a gray scree field at any kind of range. It would be a great platform with a conventional scope however.

Two years ago I took mine sheep hunting in the guadalupes and after picking out a nice barbary cross canyon with my binos and raninging him at a scosh over 400 yards I was unable to shoot with the scout because I couldn't get a clear sight picture in the lower light against the rock jumbles and shadows. A guy really needs good glass in sheep country! I wound up carrying my .375H&H topped with a 1.75X6.

I am still in search of the perfect sheep/light weight mountain rifle. It should be stainless and synthetic. And it should be light,compact, accurate and flat shooting. I'm really thinking a stainless winchester in .300wsm may just be the ticket after a little customizing and weight reduction. Just by the way I had to send mine back to USRAC because of several defects from the factory. The quality control is really getting dismal on the Model 70 line...Such a shame.

November 30, 2002, 01:56 PM
Agree with eroyd's post.

Tain't the rifle, 'tis the rifleman. And a good rifleman is likely to choose darn near anything. But it will be something he is used to and does well with.


November 30, 2002, 06:35 PM
You speak the truth sir. No argument from this corner.

December 1, 2002, 12:56 AM
Anything that you can shoot well, that has a relatively flat trajectory & a decent enough scope/reticle so you can accurately transfix the target.

I'm not all that hip on stainless & synthetic stocks - just never seen the need as a decently free-floated barrel & sealed wood stock isn't going anywhere in my experience. Alaska weather could likely change my mind. ;)

I've used a Rem ADL .243 to take a few deer at fairly long range & think it would probably do quite well for sheep. Same-same for a stock Win 70 .270, although I'd rather carry something a bit lighter.

Using a fairly stock Rem M7 in .308 currently for elk (it does get mountainous at times) & the light weight's a good thing. Could use a bit longer barrel though for the longer shots - the velocity's just not up there with an 18.5" barrel. 21" or could help.

In reality though, if one had a range finder (never even used one) the trajectory issue doesn't become so much of one ....

December 1, 2002, 08:37 AM
What becomes a HUGE issue even when the range is known to the inch is WIND. 308 is one that can get blown around quite a bit. A 7mm with a good bullet can cut the drift by a full third at 500 yards, 270 will be a lot better too.

There is good reason sheep rifles are traditionally pretty fast and flat.

December 2, 2002, 12:58 PM
I can assure that Alaska weather may in fact change your mind about wood. Lots of moisture combined with drastic temperature changes that occur in most sheep country test even the best wood stocks.

December 2, 2002, 02:03 PM
I wonder what the light rifles do when your heartrate goes up to 120 after you've climbed up on the mountain? It would seem something heavier would be worth the bother.

December 3, 2002, 11:49 PM
Shooting with a high heart rate doesn't require a heavy rifle, just lots of practice (note name). ;)

Heck I can't shoot without a heart rate of at least 160!!! :) :)

December 4, 2002, 12:23 AM
Savage 110 in .270 Winchester/.30-06/7MM Remington Magnum.

Pick any one of the three.

December 4, 2002, 12:48 AM

You're obviously ke-rect about the wind.

& H&H,

Can't wait till I can get to AK where my Gore-Tex fails, my stock warps & steel rusts. :p

Seriously & do b'lieve I'd have to break down for a bit more all-weather rifle than I use.

Spoiled by CO weather all-in-all. We do get some nasty stuff here, but not the humidity.

December 4, 2002, 09:27 AM
I've got to the point over the years that if it ain't stainless or at least coated and synthetic I don't carry it for a serious hunting rifle.

I have just had to much hell with wood stocks in wet cold/ dry hot/ hot humid/ back to dry cold weather. My .375 has not shifted zero ever in it's life and it goes from arctic hell to S.E moisture to texas heat to Africa and back to Elk country in Co nearly every year.

And yes Gore-Tex will become about as water proof as a cotton sock after about 10 days in serious rain and mud.

December 4, 2002, 05:05 PM

Your skill and experiance are a great factor. But you are shooting paper targets competing against other guys who have been jacking up theri heartrates so its all relative. Here we're talking about somebody who is trying to humanely put a live hoofed critter out of its misery, an absolute either/or proposition.

Plus there is the curiosity of wondering how a 50 or 60 year old who just shot a lightweight magnum rifle is going to go through six weeks of shoulder rehab before he can safely climb down off the mountain. :p

So regardless of the common sense of multiplying the last ounce by 20,000 steps if you ever see Meek out hunting mountain goats he will be carrying a regular weight rifle. :rolleyes:

Art Eatman
December 4, 2002, 09:33 PM
Gosh! Wish I wuz 50 or 60!

:D, Art

December 4, 2002, 10:33 PM
I would assume that your posterior would need more reheab than your shoulder. Of all the above mentioned caliber/rifle choices mentioned not one delivers more than a mild love tap and that is before we introduce adrenaline. Recoil starts at the .400 mag level, anything else is an angel fart.

I assure you in sheep country your posterior, legs, heart and lungs take a heck of alot more of a beating than your shoulder.

That's my hairy chested testosterone soaked message for the day and I'm sticking with it by golly.:cool:

December 7, 2002, 06:33 PM
Remington Model Seven in .308

December 8, 2002, 01:01 AM
No one has mentioned the .270 WSM? Ballistics equal the .270 Wbthy, but in a short action.

Art Eatman
December 8, 2002, 09:18 AM
Hokay. Here's the scenario: You're way up and way out in the huff'n'puff country. You see your sheep/goat/elk/yeti and take aim.

You find your oh-so-light rifle has a severe case of wobble-about. What to do?

In our minds, let us return to the gunstore, okay?

Which of those rifles has the most weight forward of the receiver? (Assume they're rigged to roughly equal weight, within a few ounces.) A bit muzzle-heavy becomes a highly desirable condition.

Weight bias to the front--and I'm not talking extremism, here--helps you steady the rifle a bit when you take aim, offhand. I don't know about any of you, but I've been in many situations where it was either shoot offhand or forget the whole deal and go home.

This is one reason I like the Ti. Mr. Rem "made weight" by having a very light receiver with a fairly standard 22" barrel.

I'm ignorant as to the comparative handling of the others.


December 8, 2002, 11:33 AM
That is actually a really good setup for mountain. Longer barrel than most other rifles of the same weight - good velocity for longer shots and extremely lightweight! <drool> now if only I can convince the wife that I "need" one.

December 8, 2002, 04:05 PM
Savage 116 weather warrior. Its got a compact (almost a bull) barrel, its light, its weather proof.

Oh and its the rifle I use for just about everything.

December 8, 2002, 05:13 PM
Generally speaking we do not wind up "jump shooting" sheep or goats. There tends to be a severe lack of brush/cover in sheep country. Usually it's one of those long drawn out spot, hike, spot some more, hike up hill for all of it, get as close as you can set up wait for the right shot situations. And many times the terrain forces us to reach out a bit on the shot.

While your point may have some validity I think it should cheek up properly as well which also helps with the wobbles. Your going to carry that rifle a heck of a lot more than your going to shoot it and in some steep country at high altitude. So the light part is a neccsesity in my opinon.

I think that a rifle in the 6-7lb range is plenty light enough. it's the 9 or 10 pounders that get cumbersome in my opinon.

And of course you never know when your going to have to snap shoot that goat of a life time so obviously your gun should point and shoot.

December 8, 2002, 09:27 PM
I assure you in sheep country your posterior, legs, heart and lungs take a heck of alot more of a beating than your shoulder. You'd be surprised how slow and careful I walk. :D

A standard weight Ruger Model 77 in nonmagnum sizes weighs about 7 pounds plus the scope as does a Savage Model 110. Ultra light knocks off about a pound. I'll just walk a little slower and not worry about that pound and go with Jack O'Conner's .270 Win rather than a magnum. Plus I'd carry a walking stick to use as a prop if need be, another 8 ounces.

Normal gym workout on the weight machines is 20,000 to 30,000 pounds so 24 ounces won't kill me. ;)

December 9, 2002, 07:57 AM
I recently handled the Remington Model 7 in Short Mag. It felt very good in my hands. Though I have never and probably never will hunt mountian sheep, it struck my mind this rifle would be a perfect match.

December 9, 2002, 08:59 AM
AS did the model 70 in .300wsm the first time I picked it up. I believe that these new Short mags may have a real nich in this application.

December 9, 2002, 06:11 PM
I believe there is a need for 'jump shooting' in mountain hunting.
True, you may spot your Ram from a great distance but during a stalk, which could take several hours, you might be (an should be) out of sight of the sheep and they do move. I'm sure not the first hunter to come over a rise and find the sheep where they weren't supposed to be fleeing in every which direction.
Yike's!, Which one? SHOOT NOW! Shooooot!

Having hunted sheep and goats, I can surely write that they are not always in those open ground Jack O'Connor type hunts. At the first sign of hunting season they often descend into the sub-alpine thickets and burns. There they are as uncanny as whitetails.

I'll be packing my full size 300 thanks.

Art Eatman
December 9, 2002, 10:10 PM
Most of my hunting career has been below 7,000 feet; the vast majority below 4,000.

I went on an elk hunt in Colorado some 18 years ago. We camped at 10,500; I hunted over a "hill" top to 11,000. (Well, only 500 feet above camp ain't more than a hill.) "There ain't any air in the air, up there!"

A couple of miles with Ol' Pet up there seemed as long as a dozen or so, down below.

:D, Art

December 10, 2002, 12:12 AM
It is, Art, it is.

Getting the rear portion of my M7 stock hollowed out for a helium balloon. That'll cut down on weight & with the back section cut out to allow the balloon to "free-float," it'll be one great recoil pad too.


December 10, 2002, 11:29 AM
Here's one for my practical side:

Tikka T3 Lite Stainless Synthetic, 270WSM, topped by a Leupold Vari-XIII Silver locked on 7 or 8X. The rifle is only 6lbs, 3oz. unloaded and unscoped - once fully dressed, it should be just right at around 8lbs. A tack-driver, I would not worry about it letting me down at the moment of truth.

Here's one for my old-fashioned side:

Pre-64 Model 70 in 300 H&H, fitted with a fixed 6X optical device. I would load it with 165-grainers sizzling out of the barrel at a hair over 3,000f/s. I don't think any sheep would scoff at this little setup.

Here's one for my NEXT HUNT!:

Vintage 1920's Jeffery Mauser in .333 Nitro Express, fitted with a nostalgic 2.5X Lyman "Alaskan". In the sleek 3-round magazine, 250-gr jacketed semi-spitzers from Hawk would be waiting to be propelled sheepbound at a good 2,600f/s.

December 10, 2002, 12:19 PM
Your tastes in rifles are truely suave and deboner. I salute you sir.

April 29, 2008, 12:52 AM
yea, for workout music, you basically need hard-hitting euro-dance music.... nothing else does the job

really. Search around on iTunes for "euro club hits" or check this link:


April 29, 2008, 10:43 AM
This is why I only hunt at sea-level...:D

April 29, 2008, 10:46 AM
Just a quick question. Why the hell would you need to kill a sheep or a goat?

April 29, 2008, 12:05 PM
I wasn't going to post on this topic but I got to thinking about light weight rifles and all that were mentioned so far have been good rifles. For me I would prefer just about any mentioned in a standard caliber like .270, .280, or .30-06. The reason I like these calibers is that with lighter rifles comes increased recoil and these calibers will be very managable with the killing power I would want. Just about any rifle metioned should come in right at 8lbs even the M70 FWT which is the heaviest at 6.75 lbs in a standard caliber. The Weatherby should come in around 7 lbs as it is 5.75 lbs to start.

I wouldn't be afraid to hunt any grizzly country with one of these calibers and a premium bullet. While most of these calibers may not completly stop a charging bear in its tracks they will however kill them with a well placed shot. Another thing you have going for you is mountain bears usually are not as large as bears that reside at lower elevations. If grizzly bears were a big concern for my hunt I would step up to a larger caliber like the .338-06. A 200 grain Accubond or 210 grain Partition at 2800-2900 fps should lay a thump on any bear and still give you enough trajectory for a 3-400 yard shot on sheep and goats.



April 29, 2008, 12:54 PM
i have a browning 1885 low wall in 260 rem that has a long throat with a 24 inch barrel and a compact 2x7 leupold on it. i have not fired it yet but it is very light and i think i can load the 139gr bullet to 28oofps and that should be a good 300yd preformer on deer or elk. eastbank.

JP Sarte
April 29, 2008, 01:40 PM
Pick a .270 Winchester in a lightweight synthetic rifle. Put a good recoil pad on for extra measure. I don't see how you could go wrong.


April 29, 2008, 02:07 PM
I think the Rem 700 titanium in .270 would be just about perfect for a high altitude sheep or goat hunt. it is fairly light and a bit muzzle heavy to settle down easily to shoot it.

April 29, 2008, 02:20 PM
Just a quick question. Why the hell would you need to kill a sheep or a goat?

uh, you do realize we are not talking about Farmer Brown's sheep or goats, right ??

April 29, 2008, 02:31 PM
If I won the lottery a sheep hunt would be the first thing on my agenda! I guess that the late, great, Jack O'Conner has imbedded his influence inside my head!:D A quick trip to my gun safe and I would pull out my Model 70, 7mmWSM, load up some 140 Grain CT Ballistic Tips and off to the mountains I'd go. This rifle shoots like a dream, is pretty light, even with it's 24" barrel, and synthetic stock, and recoil is no worse than my 30-06's (which would also be a good choice with Nosler 150 Grain Ballistic Tips). This would be my idea of the Hunt-Of-A-Lifetime, living a dream. Well, back to reality.....I've got a lot of whitetail activity around my clover and mineral licks!

April 29, 2008, 05:05 PM
I am definitely not a mountain hunter. So a sheep or goat hunt is not in my future. I do alot of hunting, but not in the high country. I have owned some of the best light weight rifles. Including the Melvin Forbes Ultra light rifle.

The UL's are great for carrying, but I just could not shoot them as well in a hunting condition. If I had to hunt with a LW rifle then it would be a fast handling lever in hunting conditions under 150 yards. If the conditions would require accurate shooting at 200,300 or even farther, then I would need a rifle of more substance to reliably make those long shots. The UL's are great, but IMO they just do not stack up for long distance(hunting situation) shooting. This is a true quandry.

I do have some friends who hunt the high country, and after many years of experience they hunt with standard weight-or slightly heavier rifles that can easily make long distance shots. And all the cartridge's are magnum's of 300 and up. But these guy's can shoot their rifles. There are no "want to be's" in these guy's. I have one friend who shot a bull in Arizone last year that went 3 points over 400 inches. His rifle is a 340 WBY, with a custom barrel of slightly heavier contour. His shot was 375 yards. He said the 250 grain pill just chilled the elk. He told me the elk took about three steps. Tom.

April 30, 2008, 01:57 AM
TC encore 15 in ss 260 rem Uncle mikes shoulder holster hiking staff with gun rest yoke.

phil mcwilliam
April 30, 2008, 04:48 AM
I think the ultimate mountain rifle is the one that you're comfortable to carry all day, and can shoot accurately with at long range. I was up at a mates cattle property hunting last weekend. He has a mountain range that runs across the back of his property with a lot of canyons that allow cross gully shots at goats from 200 yards upwards. I've used a variety of rifles in this steep country to take goats at long range including 222, 223, 22-250, 243, 270, 308 & 30-06. All of these calibers performed well. Last weekend I decided to borrow my mates Sako 30-06 finnlight 85 in synthetic stock & stainless barrel topped with Leupold 2.5 -10 x 40 scope. This light weight rifle was a pleasure to carry through the mountains all day, but I did notice an increase in recoil when compared to firing another friends Sauer 30-06 model 202 which is medium in weight. Not enough difference in recoil to complain about but I think I shoot more accurately at longe range with a medium weight rifle than a light weight. About a month ago I was up at the same property & decided to carry my Sako 22-250 that I had recently rebarrelled to heavy barrel. After about 3 hours into the hunt I could definately feel the added weight although I did score a number of long range kills once I made it to the top of the mountains. I think the ultimate mountain rifle is up to the individual but I think a Sauer model s202 in 25-06 topped with a variable Leupold with at least a 9x maximum would have to be up there.

Art Eatman
April 30, 2008, 09:35 AM
"The UL's are great for carrying, but I just could not shoot them as well in a hunting condition."

Not trying to be smartmouth, but how much of the problem is you, yourself? And, how much of that problem might be in the balance of the rifle that you used?

For example, my 700 Ti is somewhat muzzle heavy. They saved most of the weight in the receiver and bolt, but the 22" barrel is pretty much sporter-dimension. To me, it balances well for offhand shooting.

And my own experience through the years with several different rifles is that if I have a hasty rest of any decent sort, a rifle is a rifle is a rifle.

In the FWIW department, I spent some thirty years with 9.5 pounds of '06 hanging off my shoulder on hunt-walks of as many as fifteen miles. Mostly around the 4,000-foot elevation. I went on an elk hunt up at 10,500 feet, up above Gunnison, Colorado, and that thirty-pound rifle was a bitch-kitty! :D:D:D Wish I'd had the Ti, but that was before such was thought of.

April 30, 2008, 09:47 PM
Art no offense taken. There is some truth in what you say. The UL Arms rifle I had was a poor fit for me. But he only made them one way.

I will also admit that I do shoot the heavier rifles better than the lighter rifles. IMO most people do. I probably only shoot 3,000 to 4,000 rounds a year. I consider myself a good shot, but by no means a competition shooter. I will also agree with you about rifle fit. I put together a heavy barrel LH Thumbhole rifle last year in a 300 WSM with a stock that fits me just right. I will admit I shoot it better than any other rifle I have. I also did a LH Thumbhole Encore two years ago in a 30-06 that I do a lot of my deer hunting with. I also shoot it very well. So I guess you are right, stock fit is KING. Tom.


phil mcwilliam
May 1, 2008, 06:15 AM
Thumb-hole stocks, you either love them or hate them. When hunting in the mountains I find myself often with my rifle slung across my back when climbing. Occassionally I suprise game at close range, and require the rifle to be operational quickly. I wouldn't have a thumb-hole stock on my ultimate mountain rifle.

Art Eatman
May 1, 2008, 08:30 AM
I got lucky on the fit of my Ti. The recoil is not at all a problem at the benchrest, which really was a bit surprising when I first started shooting it. But for ten grains of bullet weight, 140 vs. 150, a 7mm08 might as well be a .308 in terms of recoil. And that Ti is only 6.5 pounds, yet balances amazingly well. Sort of an expensive little doofer, but it turned out to be a whole lot of gun for the money.

FWIW, my perception is that it balances as well as my 9.5# Wby with its 26" barrel. But, perception. Maybe it's a Zen thing. Nuthin' like a true believer. :D

I've held a few thumbhole rifles. It seems like maybe one's trigger control might be better than with the conventional, but my reflexes are all wired up for working a bolt in the traditional movements. I really hate to bang my thumb in the process. :) Old dogs & new tricks and all that.


May 4, 2008, 12:28 AM
A TC in .308 with a .22inch barrel is a nice compact package.:cool:

Jack O'Conner
May 7, 2008, 09:37 AM

This muley was taken after a long stalk in rough country. Just behind me a short distance is a steep canyon that I climbed to get within range. The photo was taken by my partner and yes it is sort of staged.

Rifle is my old stand by for long shots at tough game: Savage model 99 in .308 with a 4X compact scope. I zero it for 3 inches high at 100 yards and aim dead on for as far as I care to shoot. The 180 grain bullet has never bounced off a single animal!


phil mcwilliam
May 8, 2008, 05:44 AM
Although I earlier stated that a 25-06 bolt gun was the ultimate mountain rifle(which I don't own), my favorite rifle for hunting in the mountains is also a 308 lever gun(which I do own).