On Feb. 2, 2013, freedom lost one of its greatest warriors when former Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were killed trying to help a retired U.S. Marine in their home state of Texas. The families mourned. Texas, America and anyone who knew freedom joined them as news spread around the world that America’s deadliest sniper had fallen. Freedom has a lot of fans, and so did Chris Kyle.
- RELATED: Weatherby Mark V Chris Kyle Limited Edition
- RELATED: Weatherby Mark V Terramark RC & Ultra Lightweight RC
Weatherby was one of those fans. The legendary rifle-builder known for powerful precision rifles and uniquely intimidating calibers was wooing the combat veteran to join its team before he was killed. Then, the match made sense because Kyle made a career out of being better, faster and always deadlier than his targets, and Roy Weatherby built a firearms dynasty with his rifles and Weatherby magnums, which flew projectiles farther and hit harder well after conventional calibers quit. Both Kyle and Weatherby made a living off of being able to do a little more than anyone or anything else, and both men loved hunting. Sadly, Kyle was gone too soon for his family and friends, and the Weatherby family mourned the loss of a great American just like everyone else.
In 2012, Kryptek Outdoor Group, in conjunction with Weatherby, Leupold and MCM Firearms, was in the process of building Chris a custom Weatherby Mark V RC in .338 Lapua Magnum. The striking, one-of-a-kind rifle (shown on page 33 and at right) was to be the then-Kryptek Elite Pro Staff member Chris Kyle’s extreme-range, backcountry hunting rig. Sadly, Chris was never able to get behind the finished masterpiece. But upon completion, the rifle still made an indelible mark on the Kyle family. In early 2014, at the Weatherby Foundation International Hunting and Conservation Award Dinner in Dallas, Texas, Chris Kyle’s Mark V went to auction. All of the proceeds went to Chris Kyle’s wife, Taya.
To further immortalize the greatness of Chris Kyle’s life and to help Taya and the Kyle family, Weatherby followed up with its Limited Edition “Chris Kyle” Tribute rifle. Only 26 of them were made.
Chris Kyle .300 Win Mag
“Chris was originally going to be a part of Team Weatherby,” said Brad Dykhouse, marketing specialist for Weatherby. “When we learned of his passing, we at Weatherby wanted to show our respects as well as support his family through their difficult time. We decided to create the limited-edition Chris Kyle rifle and give the proceeds to the Kyle family.”
“There’s no doubt Roy Weatherby knew how to build a gun, just as there’s no doubt Chris Kyle knew how to use one.”
The California-based gun-builder started with its finest by choosing the Mark V Accumark action. Smooth, reliable and inherently accurate, Weatherby chambered the limited-edition rifles in Kyle’s favorite caliber, the battle-proven .300 Winchester Magnum, installed a 26-inch, fluted, button-rifled, free-floating, stainless steel barrel with a muzzle brake and finished the barreled action in Cerakote. A CNC-machined aluminum bedding plate provides a strong platform for securing the barreled action to the stock.
Every rifle was given a customized floorplate with the incredibly unique Chris Kyle Frog logo laser-etched into the metal. The trigger is fully adjustable and tuned at the factory.
Cradling the metal is a hand-laminated, raised-comb, Monte Carlo composite stock, and the furniture is finished in Kryptek’s Highlander camouflage pattern, Kyle’s favorite. A Pachmayr Decelerator buttpad helps reduce felt recoil. Each rifle came with a certificate of authenticity and a special-edition CD donated by platinum-selling country music artist and Team Weatherby member Darryl Worley. The CD included Worley’s number-one smash hit, “Have You Forgotten?”
“As a tribute to Chris Kyle’s vigorous support of veterans, his own battlefield heroics and his love of hunting, we offer these special commemorative rifles,” said Mike Schwiebert, VP of marketing for Weatherby. “We feel they live up to Chris’ high standards of performance and ‘bad-ass’ looks while reflecting his tremendous spirit and strength.”
We all know Kyle could shoot, but how good are the Weatherby rifles? We wanted to know. Tactical Weapons dared not test such a unique and remarkable rifle as the limited-edition Chris Kyle Weatherby, but we wanted to give Weatherly’s remarkable reputation a test drive, so we asked the good folks at Weatherby for the next best thing, a Mark V Terramark RC. Since Kyle’s favorite chambering, the .300 Winchester Magnum, wasn’t available, we asked for Roy Weatherby’s favorite—the .257 Weatherby Magnum.
Before we even get to the hardware, let’s take a look at one of the most remarkably fast and flat-shooting calibers in history. There’s no doubt Roy Weatherby knew how to build a gun, just as there’s no doubt Chris Kyle knew how to use one. Weatherby also knew how to build a great hunting caliber, and his go-to gun was the quarter-bore rocket. Weatherby designed his .257 Magnum in 1944 and made it available the following year as a wildcat cartridge in his rifles. The .257 Weatherby Magnum’s family tree began with the .375 Holland & Holland, which led to the
.300 H&H Magnum and finally to the .257 Weatherby Magnum’s father, the H&H Super 30, which inspired a shorter, necked-down, .25-caliber flame-thrower pushing lighter 87-grain bullets at over 3,800 fps.
Bullets from the 87-grain flyweight all the way up to the massive 120-grainers are available in the .257 Weatherby Magnum, and even with the 120-grain bullet, muzzle velocities still scream at around 3,300 fps, which is hundreds of fps faster than its conventional cousin, the .25-06 Remington, which seems to be pedestrian at only 2,990 fps with the same 120-grain bullet. Of course, more bite usually means more bark, and the muzzle blast and barrel life of the .257 Weatherby Magnum delivers, as does the premium cost of the specialized Weatherby ammunition. Weatherby isn’t the only place you can get factory-chambered ammunition, however, with Nosler, HSM and Hornady offering choices as well. Still, when you want less than 20 inches of drop at 500 yards from an 87-grain bullet, it’s going to cost you. As a hunting caliber, the .257 Weatherby Magnum is hell on just about anything in the lower 48, with Weatherby recommending its use up to medium-sized game. Roy Weatherby himself took the .257 to Africa and harvested a Cape buffalo just to prove he could, but that’s not a feat Weatherby recommends.
Now let’s get to the hardware, the rifle. The Weatherby Mark V Terramark RC, which stands for Range Certified, is at the top of the quality pyramid in Weatherby’s arsenal, and for good reason. The Mark V action is the heart of the rifle thanks to its unique bolt and receiver. Weatherby said its Mark V action changed the face of American firearms when it broke onto the firearms scene in 1958. Weatherby claims its Mark V action is the world’s strongest bolt action due to its three rings of steel surrounding the casehead, fluted bolt body with three gas ports and nine locking lugs (six on non-magnum models) for a short 54-degree bolt lift. Is it the strongest? Who knows, but it’s certainly strong enough for anything Weatherby’s hot rod engineers have dreamed up so far with the .257 Magnum being the little guy in a room full of massive Weatherby magnums like the .340 Magnum and of course the .460 Magnum.
“This rifle easily met the accuracy challenge, creating groups well under 1 inch at 100 yards with six different kinds of ammunition.”
The Mark V action is paired with a button-rifled, #3-contour, free-floated, fluted, stainless steel barrel with a recessed target crown, which is cradled in a hand-laminated, raised-comb, Monte Carlo composite stock with a matte gel coat finish in desert camo with a Pachmayr Decelerator buttpad.
Weatherby is proud of this rifle because it comes with a factory shot target signed by Ed Weatherby and includes a special RC-engraved floorplate, backed with a sub-MOA claim that reads: “Weatherby Mark V Range Certified rifles are guaranteed to shoot a three-shot group of 0.99 inches or less at 100 yards when used with specified Weatherby factory or premium ammunition.”
This rifle easily met the accuracy challenge, creating groups well under 1 inch at 100 yards with six different kinds of ammunition. The best group came from Weatherby’s own 100-grain spire points, which created a five-shot group measuring 0.45 inches and recorded an average velocity of 3,546 fps. The speed demon never felt uncomfortable to shoot thanks to its 26-inch barrel and well-designed stock, despite the rifle only weighing just a hair over 8.75 pounds. The .257 Weatherby Magnum, while peppy, isn’t a bruiser to its owners, so it’s relatively easy to shoot accurately, which only enhances its reputation as a long-range killing round on wild game.
I found the rifle to be typical of my experience with Weatherby rifles in that it was smooth to feed, shoot and recover and not only shot beautiful little groups but looked just as good as it shot. The trigger is crisp and predictable. The rifle’s length of pull, a reasonable 13.63 inches, was a bit long for my arms. If I owned this rifle, I’d have my local gunsmith adjust the stock.
The tiny groups were easy to see with Meopta’s MeoTac 4-16x44mm Mil-Dot tactical riflescope, which sat atop a Picatinny rail. The Czech-built optic tracked flawlessly and handled a very accurate rifle’s loads in sub-freezing temperatures. Meopta makes a lot of good glass, especially when bang-for-the-buck is a consideration. The optic held its zero over three shooting sessions and gave me simple, reliable adjustments while being lighter than I expected. Meopta claims that its proprietary ion-assisted MeoBright lens multi-coating eliminates glare and reflections and delivers an industry-leading 99.8-percent light transmission per lens surface. I had no scientific way to measure this claim, but the image was sharp and the mechanics of the riflescope worked flawlessly.
The Terramark RC rifle shot well and looks terrific. While the 26 Chris Kyle rifles are long gone, Weatherby knew its best technology, no matter how chest-poundingly intense it was, could never match the soul of a hero like Kyle. “When we announced the limited-edition Chris Kyle rifle, all 26 were sold within 48 hours,” said Dykhouse. “This is the quickest-selling limited-edition rifle Weatherby has ever done.”
Weatherby continues to work with the Chris Kyle family. Taya Kyle recently joined the Weatherby team to further her work with veterans and their spouses. In fact, Taya Kyle recently killed her first antelope on a Weatherby-sponsored hunt. If you would like to help the Chris Kyle family and the causes he sacrificed his life for, visit the Chris Kyle Foundation at chriskylefrog.com.
For more information on Weatherby, visit weatherby.com or call 805-227-2600.