September 06, 2019
Weatherby is just full of big news lately. In August the company had its grand opening at its new Sheridan, Wyoming, headquarters, and about that same time several lucky editors and writers were treated to a closed-door meeting where Adam Weatherby and his staff unveiled several new rifles and a new cartridge.
Weatherby Backcountry and Backcountry Ti Rifles
The two new rifles we’re going to talk about here — the Backcountry and the Backcountry Ti — are based on the renowned Mark V, and both Backcountry guns employ the Mark V six-lug action. Weatherby, a company known throughout its history for innovation, has incorporated a number of new features into these rifles. Stocks are carbon fiber and come with the firm’s new 3D Hex recoil pad, which Weatherby claims outperforms other recoil pads while weighing half as much.
The fire control system incorporates a new TriggerTech Mark V trigger. I got to dry-fire it, and it’s excellent. Both rifles also sport a new slim-line Accubrake ST muzzle brake, and the barrels are threaded 1/2x28.
As the name Backcountry suggests, these are lightweight hunting rifles. To that end, besides the carbon-fiber stock the Backcountry rifles have spiral-fluted bolts (a first for Weatherby), scalloped bolt sleeve and hollowed-out handle. The Backcountry (suggested retail, $2,499) weighs 5.3 pounds in standard calibers and 6.3 pounds in magnums. Courtesy of its titanium action, the Backcountry Ti ($3,349) is a svelte 4.9 pounds in standard calibers and 5.9 in magnums. I hefted them both, and they’re dreamy-light and well-balanced.
The rifles are chambered to 6mm Creedmoor, .240 Weatherby, .257 Weatherby (one of my favorites), 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5-300 Weatherby, .270 Weatherby, .280 Ackley Improved, 7mm Weatherby, .300 Weatherby and the brand-spanking-new 6.5 RPM.
Weatherby 6.5 RPM
RPM stands for Rebated Precision Magnum, and it’s Weatherby’s first non-venturi cartridge design. It’s non-belted and was purpose built for the Mark V six-lug action. You can think of it as essentially a longer 6.5-.284 Norma. It has little body taper and a 35-degree shoulder, and with its rebated rim it is compatible with standard .30-06 bolt faces. Ideal twist rate is 1:8.
Weatherby is offering three loads out of the gate: 127-grain Barnes LRX (muzzle velocity 3,225 fps), 140-grain Nosler AccuBond (3,075) and 140-grain Hornady InterLock (2,975). Feel free to run the numbers yourself, but we’re talking nearly 2,000 ft.-lbs. of energy at 300 yards for the LRX and the AccuBond and nearly 1,800 ft.-lbs. at 300 for the InterLock load. Weatherby’s trajectory figures are based on a 300-yard zero and have 500-yard drops of 23.5, 25.3 and 28.3 inches for, respectively, the LRX, AccuBond and InterLock.
Yes, the 6.5 field is a crowded one, but with the Weatherby name behind it I’d say it stands a good chance of success. And while the Backcountry rifles are on the expensive side, you’ve always paid more for Weatherby rifles, and I think these are real standouts due to all the design features. Put the two together, and I believe Weatherby has accomplished its goal of creating an excellent mountain hunting rifle/cartridge combo.