I was born and raised in the dry desert state of Utah, as such I am no stranger to the fine firearms manufacturers in this state. One of the more famous firearms companies comes from the beautiful little town of Gunnison Utah, Christensen Arms. I have known of the company for some time, but several years ago I was offered tour of their facility. Their famous carbon fiber is just part of the whole Christensen production, titanium, stainless and aerospace technology are all part of Christensen’s multi-faceted production facility. Many manufacturers, particularly those with higher price-points source their barrel blanks from well known barrel producers. Christensen cuts their own barrels, and wraps them in carbon fiber before mounting to their custom actions. They are then married them to a stock or chassis that also might be built from carbon fiber molded right there in the factory.
Things may have changed even more since my visit to the factory, but ever since then I have been wanting to try out one of these rifles. Today is finally my first chance, as I have in my possession a Christensen Ridgeline 300WSM.
The Ridgeline from Christensen is built from a stainless steel action, which shares many dimensions with the Remington 700 pattern. This allows users to utilize the large aftermarket support enjoyed by the 700 series. The action features additional cuts to reduce weight and enhance performance, and things like an enhanced bolt release make it superior to other designs. The Ridgeline comes from the factory with a Trigger Tech trigger, which are very well known for their quality and performance. The fluted bolt uses an M16 like extractor, and a plunger ejector. The threaded bolt handle comes with a petite bolt-knob which you can change out if you desire.
The carbon wrapped barrel on this rifle is chambered in the powerful 300 Winchester Short Magnum, a cartridge I am quite familiar with. The barrel is twenty-four inches long, and features a one-in-ten twist, and threaded 5/8-24 at the muzzle where you will find Christensen’s radially ported muzzle brake.
The stock for the rifle is a composite construction, which uses a pillar-bedded design to improve the accuracy and performance of the rifle. A comfortable recoil pad and sling-studs are of course standard.
In the hands
As I lifted the Ridgeline from its box, the definitive feature of these rifles was immediately evident. This thing is quite light! A rifle this size feels impressively light at under seven pounds, very desirable for a hunting rifle like this. I ran the bolt a few times, and squeezed the trigger to make sure everything looked good. And then It was time to get thing thing ready for the field.
I installed a Nightforce 30 MOA scope base, that made mounting my scope easy. I used one of my favorite scopes, and one that I frequently switch back and forth between a great many rifles. The TS20X from US Optics is an excellent choice for a long range hunting rifle like this. The 2.5X is useful for an up close encounter should you be a stealthy sneaker, and if you get a shot that is way out there, 20X is plenty for making those long shots. I mounted up the scope with a set of 34mm rings, I would have preferred a bit lower set to better fit me but these would do for now.
I also attached a Harris bipod to the front of the stock, a good bipod almost goes without saying on a long-range hunting rifle. The three-round magazine looked rather vacant without anything to fill it, so it was time to find some ammo. As I mentioned I am no stranger to the 300WSM, I’ve probably shot several thousand rounds of it over the many years I’ve spent chasing Utah’s big game, and preparing for the hunt. So I had everything on hand to make my own ammunition for the Ridgeline, but I also wanted to shoot some factory produced ammunition for those that want to know. I had on hand some Federal Fusion 300WSM loaded with 180 grain bullets, a perfect representation of what a Rocky Mountain hunter would want to use for elk or deer. Besides that I loaded up some Norma Brass with my favorite load featuring a Sierra 190 grain Match King, a load responsible for dropping a dozen or so big game animals from my first antelope at 880 yards to big cow elk at 400 yards.
The Ridgeline is a hunting rifle, everything about it is optimized for a hard-core big game hunter. I imagine it in the frigid cold hands of a sheep hunter in the Northwest Territories, or over the shoulder of a backcountry elk hunter leading mules to a distant basecamp. I wanted to see how it would do in exactly that situation, so I took it deep into the high Rocky Mountains. After zeroing the rifle at 100 yards, I wanted to see how accurate the rifle would shoot considering Christensen rifles come with a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. The Federal Fusion 180’s shot a sub-MOA three shot group, but when I fired two more it opened up what I would call considerably. I assume this is likely to do with the barrel heating up from the magnum cartridges and pressure.
I installed a suppressor on the rifle, in my experience most rifles seem to shoot better when suppressed. And besides that, it’s just better. The Desert Tech Sound Suppressor (DTSS) was a perfect match for the lightweight Ridgeline, its titanium construction doesn’t add much to the rifle. And it easily handles the pressure of the 300WSM reducing the noise to a reasonable raucous.
I then stretched out the rifle to some more realistic distances, this open country allows for long shots. It isn’t uncommon to find big game from a mile or two away, and stalking into a closer distance. Its also not uncommon for the terrain to keep you from getting within a certain distance, so being able to make shots at long-range is helpful.
Making hits with this rifle at five and seven hundred yards was not difficult, but I again noticed that after a few shots my hits began to wander despite the nonexistent wind. Continue Reading Here…