Weatherby Back Country Rifle
by Darren Choate, Editor In Chief
Much has been written about what items you should pack in your backpack when preparing for a hunt in the backcountry. However, on the lists that I have seen, they simply list a line item for a rifle and another for ammo. Are we supposed to believe that any old rifle/ammo combination will suffice? On any hunt, you’ll want to select a rifle that will hold up to the hunting conditions, and will get the job done, when it’s time to pull the trigger. Recently, I had the chance to put Weatherby’s Back Country rifle to the test on the range in preparation for a backcountry hunt. Let me be the first to say, “Trust me, the rifle you carry with you in the backcountry DOES matter.”
In 2013, Weatherby re-released its Back Country model. “We introduced an earlier version of Back Country several years ago and, due to popular demand, have brought it back as a Vanguard Series 2 offering,” said company President Ed Weatherby. “It is an ideal rifle for hardcore hunters on long treks in rugged terrain and nasty weather.” The Back Country rifle is a lightweight rifle, weighing in at a mere 6 3/4 pounds. Its Cerakote® Tactical Grey finish provides “exceptional corrosion resistance.” The Back Country is versatile and comes in several popular calibers including: .240 Weatherby Magnum, .270 Winchester, .257 Weatherby Magnum, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum and .300 Weatherby Magnum. Its unique combination of light weight, corrosion resistance, and versatile calibers make it a great choice for Western Whitetail hunters, whether you are pursuing Coues whitetail in the backcountry of the Desert Southwest or giant-bodied Northwest whitetail in the vast expanses of the Canadian provinces.
The caliber I chose for my Coues whitetail backcountry hunt was the popular .257 Weatherby Magnum. The .257 Weatherby Magnum is an extremely flexible caliber, with bullet weights ranging from 80-grains all the way up to 120-grains, and there are several bullet types available as well. Every available Weatherby ammo in the .257 caliber is ample for the complete lineup of Western Whitetails. For this hunt, I chose the 80-grain Barnes TTSX, which has plenty of speed and energy for downrange targets—Coues whitetail, in this case—out to at least 500-yards, which is the maximum distance I feel comfortable taking shots at a deer-sized animal. To complete the setup, I topped the rifle with a Leupold Mark 4 Long-range 6.5–25x50mm riflescope.
The first test for any hunt is to sight-in your hunting rifle. The Vanguard Series 2 Back Country is guaranteed to shoot SUB-MOA (a three-shot group of 0.99-inch or less) with Weatherby factory or premium ammunition. Weatherby uses its “accuracy-enhancing features which include a pillar-bedded, Monte Carlo composite stock, and a 24-inch fluted barrel. To make the shooter feel more comfortable, Weatherby installs a Pachmayr® Decelerator® pad on the buttstock to help reduce felt recoil. Additionally, all Vanguard Series 2 rifles come standard with a two-stage trigger and a 3-position safety. “The trigger has an auxiliary sear for a “creep free” consistent let-off and pre-set sear engagement at .008–.012. The trigger is adjustable for weight of pull down to 2.5 pounds.” I was able to sight-in the rifle, and then shoot a three-shot group, all in less than 10 shots. Not surprisingly, the Back Country surpassed all of my expectations.
My local gun store, Ruff’s Sporting Goods, received the rifle on my behalf, and also installed and bore-sighted the Leupold scope. Prior to the hunt, I headed out to the range for a little testing. As I expected, my first shot downrange was on paper. From there, I made just a few adjustments to get the rifle/scope combination shooting right where I wanted it to, about 2-inches high at 100-yards, and dead center. Now, I was ready to take a shot at a Coues buck out to 350-yards, without having to make any elevation adjustments. Next, I let the barrel cool off completely, and then I shot a three-shot group at 100-yards. Let me preface this final statement by saying, “I am NOT the greatest shot on the planet, by any stretch of the imagination.” Unfortunately, I don’t get the opportunity to shoot enough to come close to making that claim. That being said, the Weatherby Back Country rifle with the attached Leupold riflescope shot a 3/8-inch group at 100-yards, with me pulling the trigger. This obviously surpasses Weatherby’s claim of SUB-MOA, and is more than ample for taking extremely long-range shots at Western Whitetails. I walked away with the confidence that if and when the opportunity came, I could make the needed shot at a Coues buck.
- Weatherby® Vanguard® Series 2 rifles are guaranteed to shoot a 3-shot group of .99″ or less at 100 yards (SUB-MOA) when used with specified Weatherby factory or premium ammunition.
- Weighs just 6.75 lbs. – ideal for long treks in rugged terrain
- Pillar-bedded, Monte Carlo composite stock with spiderweb accents
- Features chrome moly metalwork with CeraKote® Tactical Grey finish for exceptional weather- and corrosion-resistance
- Fluted 24″ barrel
- Pachmayr® Decelerator® pad
For more information, contact a local Weatherby dealer, call the company at (805) 227-2600 or visit www.weatherby.com.