As you may recall from a few weeks ago, in our most recent episode of the intrepid gun writer, the writer (me) flew off into the wild blue yonder again after an exciting two days in the tropics of southern Florida.
I had been there hunting iguanas with Harold Rondan, the iguana removal guy, and Tony Stratis and Lawrence Taylor of Gamo, the air rifle company. We piled up the iguanas (they are a terrible pest there), the hospitality was great and it was a lot of fun. In truth, though, after a couple days in the Florida heat and humidity, I was ready for a cooler clime and I got it.
On Wednesday morning of that week, I flew to Sheridan, Wyoming, the new home of world-famous gun manufacturer Weatherby.
You rifle guys out there already know all about Weatherby. The founder, Roy Weatherby, was a bona fide firearms genius and national treasure. The story goes that Mr. Weatherby's start to firearms fame began with a wounded deer in 1942. Because he never found that deer, he would spend the next 10 years developing rifle cartridges he believed would be more effective for taking game.
Weatherby was a wildcatter — a devoted handloader who delighted in coming up with new and innovative rifle calibers. He believed a fast bullet was essential for ethically taking game, and some of his cartridges, including the .257 and .270 Weatherby Magnums, remain the fastest in their caliber class. While only a few of his creations went on to become commercially available from other brands, his signature line of Weatherby Magnums will forever have their place in the accurate rifle world.
Roy Weatherby would make custom rifles for many years before coming up with what would become his masterpiece, the Mark V rifle action. This rifle was introduced in 1957 by Weatherby and was designed to safely contain the high pressures associated with the Weatherby line of high-performance cartridges. "Tomorrow's Rifles Today" would become Weatherby's motto.
With Roy Weatherby's passing in 1988, his son Ed took over the helm and ran the company for many years. Ed has since retired, and his son Adam has taken the reins of the company.
You will forgive me (I hope) if I tell you I felt like pinching myself when I walked into Weatherby's headquarters in Sheridan, Wyoming. The setting is beautiful with the Bighorn Mountains in the background. This facility was built in 2018 with 60,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 15,000 square feet of office space, so the 125 employees of Weatherby have room to build lovely bolt-action rifles.
The historical displays made me feel as if I had stepped back in time. I could not help but think about that skinny kid I have told you about lying on the floor reading Outdoor Life and soaking up stories from Jack O'Connor. I immediately recognized pictures I had seen back in the day of Roy Weatherby displaying Mark V rifles, along with the likes of John Wayne among others, and different trophies taken by Mr. Weatherby, including some huge bear skulls. I admit I wanted to linger here, but the tour proceeded into the factory itself.
The tour was given by Adam Weatherby, and I don't think I was the only one present who was impressed with the company's new CEO. Adam seemed to have an infinite knowledge of every aspect of the company and every detail on the factory floor. He presented it all with a machine gun-like delivery, and soon I felt a little overwhelmed. I wanted to absorb every bit of it but knew I couldn't all at one time, so I finally decided to just enjoy it and get details later.
This is one boss who knows what's going on down on the factory floor! Every station we stopped at, Adam knew the person's name working there and what they were doing — and in detail. I quickly got the feeling these workers were building rifles by hand, one step at a time. The pride in craftsmanship these men and women felt was obvious from the start.
The real news here, though, is about the new rifles and products coming from Weatherby, including a new Mark V rifle, the Backcountry 2.0.
This an ultralightweight big game rifle that starts at just 4.7 pounds (4.7 pounds!), and much of the credit is owed to the new Blacktooth carbon fiber stock from Peak 44, the lightest version of which tips the scales at less than 20 ounces. This new Blacktooth stock features the Rock Solid Carbon Link bedding system that engages the recoil lug and evenly distributes recoil throughout the stock without the weight of a traditional aluminum bedding block, making the overall stock both lighter and stiffer. Available in four configurations and a multitude of chamberings, the new Backcountry 2.0 comes with a steel receiver, and the new Backcountry 2.0 Ti comes with a strong and lightweight titanium receiver.
To mitigate recoil, years of development have resulted in a new generation of the revolutionary 3DHEX recoil pad. This unique pad is the first in the industry to be 3D printed at a production level. Using a three-dimensional honeycomb pattern of collapsible voids, it draws out the time component of recoil, taking away the sharp kick. With the same amount of recoil spread out over a much greater time period, the recoil a shooter feels is greatly reduced, even with some of the fastest cartridges on the market.
After an excellent long-range course given by Thompson Long Range, we were hitting targets at 1,000 yards with ease with the 6.5X300 Weatherby (my new favorite caliber).
If you are a rifleman, this is huge. Weatherby has a new rifle using a new stock (which I am told Peak 44 will be making for other rifle brands), so stay tuned and visit weatherby.com for more information.
Well, good grief, I forgot to tell you about the new Orion 20-gauge shotguns Weatherby introduced, and I wanted to talk about the wonderful little town of Sheridan. Maybe next time.
When I flew out of town that Friday, it dawned on me Roy Weatherby's old motto of "Tomorrow's Rifles Today" was still in place and perfectly suited for what Weatherby is doing today.
"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at email@example.com.