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Big Game Rifle
Rifle Magazine
May - June 2001
Volume 33, Number 3
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 195
On the cover...
This issue is only available on CD-ROM.Larry Brace created this custom Winchester Model 70 .270 WCF. Purchase the CD-ROM here
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Weatherby always seems to do it right. Call it pride, call it passion - to proudly make the best around and with a deep devotion to keep it that way. So it was with the annual writers’ seminar on new products held at the Buffalo Horn Ranch in Meeker, Colorado. In the West where the hunting is at its finest and with a location to match, hosts Ed Weatherby, Brad Ruddell and their team went out of their way to provide a beautiful setting for work and play.

Last year the hit of this working seminar was a new rifle called the Super VarmintMaster - a small game rifle complete with a tan colored synthetic stock, Krieger barrel and a factory tuned trigger with a sear engagement preset between .012 and .015 inch. This year a companion to this short-action rifle was brought on line. Called the Super PredatorMaster (SPM), it is lighter in weight and designed for the hunter on the move.

With a weight of 6 1/2 pounds, it features a blackened, stainless steel Krieger Criterion button-rifled, fluted- type barrel profiled in a Weatherby No. 2 contour. It is free floated in the stock, has an 11-degree spherical target crown to enhance accuracy and is 24 inches long to maximize accuracy and velocity from a wide range of cartridges to include the .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington and .308 Winchester. For mobility, all have a five-plus-one round magazine capacity except the .22-250 Remington which is four plus one.

Also interesting is the barrel on the SPM has been cryogenically treated to -300 degrees Fahrenheit to stress relieve the finished product before installation on the receiver. This barrel has six flutes to lighten its entire length and to enhance heat dissipation; the bore is honed to reduce fouling and maintain accuracy over extended varmint shooting sessions.

The SPM features the newer lightweight (read shorter) action that incorporates only six locking lugs instead of the customary nine we usually associate with the larger Mark V action. This newer stock technology, including a hybrid composite stock and a CNC-machined aluminum bedding plate, stiffens the receiver area of the stock. To finish off the SPM, a Pachmayr Decelerator pad is installed on the butt, and the stock color is tan with black spider webbing. Suggested retail will be around $1,400.

During one of our “working” field sessions, fellow staffer and friend Ron Spomer and I put it to the test by ambushing a few ground squirrels here and there from behind an old barn and will both swear to this new varmint rifle’s effectiveness and accuracy. At a later date back home, I compared it to last year’s star performer, the Super VarmintMaster. Both are chambered for the .22-250 Remington, so the comparisons were pretty easy to follow.

Both were tested at 100 yards, three-shot groups with a five-minute pause between groups. With a sampling of five different types of commercial ammunition that proved the most accurate in the SVM, the end results went like this:

Ammunition   (grains)

SVM   (inch)

SPM   (inches)

40 Federal Sierra Varminter HP

40 Hornady Varmint Express (moly)

50 Hornady Varmint Express (moly)

55 Federal Sierra GameKing BTHP

55 Sako softpoint

3/4

3/4

3/4

1/2

3/4

1

7/8

1 1/2

3/4

3/4

Even taking into account that the SPM has a lighter, more tapered barrel, varmint hunting with this rifle would prove to be a joy, especially with the heavier weight bullets in the 55-grain category, which it seems to embrace. Handloads can take the accuracy up to the SVM, but all points considered, this new rifle will indeed make a fine addition to any hunt.

Next up we have the reintroduction of the famed Weatherby FiberMark, a rifle developed by the company in 1983 to include a synthetic stock. At the time it was introduced, Roy Weatherby called his son’s idea nothing but an “ugly stock” (quoted now from the Weatherby book by Grits and Tom Gresham), but upon young Ed’s persistence, the older and wiser father let it go into production. Obviously, the rest is history as synthetic stocks of all types swept the market in the 1990s and into the immediate millennium.

Available in two models, this all-weather rifle is now made in a bead blasted matte blue model and a 410 series stainless steel bead blasted matte finished rifle they will call the FiberMark SS. Sporting a true composite stock, total weight of this reintroduction is around 6 3/4 pounds (sans scope) with a barrel length of 24 inches in standard cartridges. The magnum action checks in at 8 1/2 pounds complete with the longer, more magnum length barrel of 26 inches.

Currently, the cartridge list for the standard action includes the .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, .240 Weatherby, .25-06 Remington, .270 Winchester, .280 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington, .308 Winchester and .30-06. Magnum actions will be available in .257, .270, 7mm, .300, .340 and .30-378 Weatherby Magnums as well as the 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 and .338 Winchester Magnums and .375 Holland & Holland. Right-hand actions only, the retail on the FiberMark will price from about $749 to $1,199 depending upon model and action length.

The new Mark V rifle for dangerous game joins the 2001 product line. Brad Ruddell, vice president of sales and marketing, told us this new rifle “is based on the huge success of the Outfitter model as well as customer demand” for such a no-nonsense hunting rifle aimed at professional hunters and guides of big game hunts in the field.

Main features of this large-caliber-only rifle is the composite stock that consists of a marriage between Kevlar and fiberglass. The stock also has a Weatherby-styled monte carlo profile that is pillar bedded for accuracy. There is a Decelerator pad, the action sports a 24-inch barrel plus an adjustable ramp, shallow V rear sight and a front sight secured by the traditional barrel band. There is also a barrel band front swivel. This hefty rifle checks in between 8 and 9 pounds depending upon caliber. The magazine capacity is three plus one for the .375 H&H, .375 Weatherby, .416 Remington and the .458 Winchester. Larger calibers like the .378, .416 or .460 Weatherbys have a two-plus-one capacity. At press time the retail price was not set.

Finally, in traditional centerfire rifles and for those who might crave something a little different, a Mark V Ultra-Lightweight rifle has been chambered in the .338-06 A-Square cartridge. The rifle has a 24-inch barrel, weighs 6 pounds and includes a chrome moly receiver, weight reducing flutes on the bolt and a “skeletonized” bolt handle and sleeve. Even the follower and floorplate are made from weight reducing lightweight alloy to further reduce weight. The stock has the Weatherby monte-carlo design and is hand laminated for all-weather, all-continent use. Fifty Norma unprimed cases are included in the overall package. For match grade performance, all the primer pockets in this brass have been CNC machined for close tolerances.

Moving on to centerfire ammunition, Weatherby announced that a new 180-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip has been added to the .300 and .30-378 Weatherby Magnum cartridges. Muzzle velocity is quoted at 3,240 fps for the .300 Weatherby, 3,450 fps for the .30-378 Weatherby.


The real surprise came when Ruddell showed us Weatherby’s new C/M.O.A (Carbon/Minute of Angle) rifle. Weatherby is by no means the last to enter the carbon craze, but it will be the first to actually guarantee subminute(less than an inch) accuracy at 100 yards. One important item that should be mentioned is the barrel has a sporting taper to it for a very traditional look. Gone is that heavy, heavy barrel varmint type look as seen on other brands; on this new rifle they have managed to get the taper down by using a 4140 chrome moly steel liner encased by a carbon fiber matrix. Weatherby is using a very experienced outside vendor for this project - so well versed in ballistics, velocities and military operations they have pushed the velocity envelope up to 10,000 fps out of experimental barrels! Not sporting use now, only military.

This rifle will again feature a composite stock, finished in black with tan spider webbing. Even with a full-length magnum action and a barrel length of 26 inches, the total rifle will weigh around 6 1/2 pounds. Right-hand action only, chambered in .257, .270, 7mm and .300 Weatherby Magnums, it will retail for around $1,900. Delivery is slated for the third quarter of 2001, and I already have one on order for some serious testing between it and conventional rifles of the same caliber.

In shotgun news, the popular Athena Grade III Classic over and under will now be available in 28 gauge. The receiver features gold game scenes; the stock is oil-finished, hand-selected Claro walnut with intricate hand checkering. The gun has a rounded pistol grip and a slender forearm for a quicker response in the field. Barrels are limited to either 26 or 28 inches, have a ventilated rib and all come with the Weatherby version of choke tubes called “Integral Multi-Choke” (IMC), supplied by Briley.

As a finale, we learned Weatherby is going into the clothing business, and Wade Krinke of Soft Goods gave us the run down. Designed for big game hunters and waterfowl enthusiasts, this line utilizes a DuPont Hytrel membrane to unite waterproofing and breathability with movement and comfort. Designed as a complete system, Weatherby will use the popular Mossy Oak brand camo pattern on big game outfits and the Mossy Oak Shadow Grass on the waterfowl attire. While there are just too many features to detail here, much more can be gleaned at its web site at www.weatherby.com; or for more information, write to Weatherby, 3100 El Camino Real, Atascadero CA 93422.

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