The Ridgeline FFT is the latest model in Christensen’s Ridgeline series of rifles. The FFT stands for Flash Forged Technology, a new process used to produce its carbon fiber stocks. Christensen claims this new tech further reduces the rifle’s weight for the ultimate lightweight hunting rifle.
Being foremost a hunter, I am always interested in the latest new thing. And with Christensen being located here in my own state of Utah, I was even more excited to see them leading the way with new ideas. While I’m not sure if a lighter rifle will improve my shooting, at least I won’t be as fatigued when I come home empty-handed.
I have been hunting these Rocky Mountains for over a few decades, so I’d like to think this rifle was built for guys like me. As such, I was eager to see how it measured up to the quality customs and other carbon rifles I am used to. My initial thoughts on handling the Ridgeline FFT were that I would be quite pleased with the rifle.
|Barrel||416 Stainless carbon wrapped|
|Barrel length||22 inches|
|Barrel twist||1 in 8”|
|Capacity||3 + 1|
|Muzzle||⅝ inch x 24 threaded with Stainless side-port Brake|
|Stock||Carbon Fiber Sporter|
PROS & CONS
- Very lightweight, starting at 5.3lbs
- Match Grade chamber hand-lapped barrel
- Threaded muzzle with brake
- High-quality Trigger Tech trigger included
- Remington 700 compatible receiver for accessories
- Sub MOA guarantee from factory
- Twenty-two inch barrel makes it very maneuverable
- Action not as smooth as expected
- Twenty-two inch barrel gives up some velocity
I’d anticipated receiving this rifle for some time, I’d even received some ammunition already for it thanks to the good folks at Hornady. Since the action of the Ridgeline is compatible with Remington 700 parts, I grabbed a Leupold scope base I had in my toolbox and tightened it down on the Burnt Bronze action.
For a rifle scope, I decided to install my US Optics TS20X. I had a set of 34mm rings that put the scope just the right height for me, so I adjusted it for proper eye relief and torqued it down properly.
I put a touch of lube on the contact points of the bolt body to slick it up and installed a bipod on the rifle before heading out. I prefer the solitude of the mountains over shooting ranges, so I dressed up for the cold and grabbed the rest of my stuff as I headed up the hills.
In my bag, I had a couple of boxes of ammunition from Hornady, both the Precision Hunter 175 ELDX load and the Match 180 ELDM. I also carried my Desert Tech DTSS suppressor to see how the rifle shot when suppressed and a Magnetospeed chronograph to measure velocity.
The first thing I wanted to get established was a good zero, so after setting my target at one hundred yards, I settled down on my shooting mat to get comfortable with the FFT.
I pushed three cartridges down into the magazine, which had plenty of room. It looked like you could seat the bullets really quite long and still have them fit and feed from the magazine. I ran the bolt forward to chamber the first round, closing the bolt into the battery as I peered through the scope.
I fired the first shot and two more to confirm impact; I was going to need to shift my impact about one MRAD right and up a touch. After doing so, I shot a couple of groups to see how the rifle performed, all while paying attention to the recoil impulse through the stock.
I would only shoot three shots and let the rifle sit for a few minutes. I didn’t really want to get it hot. Being a hunting rifle, I think it’s likely such a rifle would be carried a lot more than shot. After shooting a few groups, I paused to evaluate my findings.
I was surprised by how mild the recoil felt; surely, the muzzle brake was reducing a good portion of the impact. The accuracy was not spectacular, though I think it may need a minute to settle this bore down. I noticed that the three-shot groups would always have two together and the third one off just a bit.
I fired a few more rounds to finish off the two boxes, and I figured it would be good practice to see how the Ridgeline did on the open distances that these Rocky Mountains are famous for.
I picked a few targets, the first one at 530 yards opposite my canyon perch. After entering all the ballistic data into my Trasol Ballistic application, it came back with a firing solution which I dialed into the turret.
As I lay still in the snow, I looked at the snow stacked on top of my target. I held into the wind and pressed the trigger shoe till the shot broke. I could see a very significant impact on the target, knocking the snow off in a powdery cloud.
The Ridgeline FFT was very reliable at feeding and firing the PRC cartridges. I never experienced any issues other than the occasional magazine bind when you put them in poorly. The minimal controls of the rifle all worked fine, and I also noticed that the bolt lift that had seemed a little stiff back at home, didn’t seem to bother me from the shooting position.
At first, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the rifle’s accuracy. I do think that shooting it more has helped; perhaps the bore needs a little break-in before it shoots its best. It did seem to prefer the Precision Hunter 175-grain ammunition over the 180-grain Match ammunition.
The Ridgeline does have an eight-twist barrel, which is the minimum for the 180-grain ELDM, so it’s possible that it could be on the verge of stability.
According to Christensen’s website, there is a 50-round barrel break-in process.
I really like the overall feel of this rifle; it is comfortable, balanced, and of course, very light. I suppose if you twisted my arm for something to change, I wouldn’t mind a more vertical grip area.
But the rifle’s balance is superb; the carbon barrel cut at twenty-two inches makes it very easy to maneuver. And it feels great in the hands. The recoil is very manageable if you don’t mind the noise from the brake. It’s a very shootable rifle.
Probably the defining characteristic of Christensen rifles. Undoubtedly, all the carbon fiber used in this rifle significantly reduces the weight, with scope, rings, base, bipod, and everything but the ammo it comes in at eight-pounds ten-ounces.
TRIGGER TECH TRIGGER
As usual, the Trigger Tech trigger was immaculate, giving a clean and very predictable break every time. A good trigger like this is essential for making good shots on animals, mainly if they are far away.
The Burnt Bronze Cerakoted muzzle brake is very effective at reducing recoil felt by the shooter. It is timed using a crush washer to ensure the brake ports vent pressure to the side of the shooter and not into the ground in front of them. This feature reduces the likelihood of dirt and debris getting sent into the face of the shooter.
The brake is also easily removed, revealing the stainless threads beneath. The thread pitch is ⅝ inch x 24, which is a very common thread pitch for mounting suppressors and other muzzle devices.
The Ridgeline magazine is designed to hold three 7mm PRC cartridges. It does this well, in my experience. It also allows enough room to load three cartridges and still push it down to close the bolt with the full three rounds in the magazine.
The follower is made of polymer, but the floorplate itself is made from carbon fiber yet again.
HOW WE TESTED
For me, the most important performance indicator for any rifle is the ability to accurately hit the point of aim. It has taken a few rounds to get this rifle shooting as tight as I would like it to. But now that it is shooting better, I think it is adequate for the kind of hunting I do here in these same mountains.
To confirm the accuracy of the Ridgeline FFT, I again shot a few three-shot groups at one-hundred yards. The average of those three groups came out to an inch, and with groups like that, I would feel more than confident shooting big game animals out to five-hundred yards in good conditions. That makes this rifle very capable for hunting these steep canyons.
I will say, however, I do wish it shot just a little better accuracy-wise. There is no reason I shouldn’t be able to shoot this rifle accurately to a mile, but for that, I’d prefer it shot half-minute or even better.
The bolt did loosen up a bit after much shooting, though I was a little surprised to see some of the Cerakote rubbed off in the bolt raceway. Not a huge deal to me but not what I’d expect.
The ammo available for the rifle review was from Hornady. I used the Precision Hunter 175 ELDX ammunition, which seemed to be the rifles favorite. The other ammunition tested was the Hornady Match line of ammo that utilizes the 180-grain ELDM bullet.
This is the second Christensen Ridgeline I have had, and while they are definitely nice rifles, I often feel like I am left wanting a little more consistency from them. The rifle feels fantastic, and the function is excellent.
It would be hard to imagine a better rifle to haul all over these mountains. The lightweight and balance make it perfect for a guy who has to claw his way up snowy draws and wade through deep willow thickets.
The hunters I hunt with every year are the kind of guys who would love a rifle like this. But they are also the astute type that will demand exceptional performance; a one MOA accuracy guarantee isn’t exactly exceptional anymore. I’d like to see a ½ MOA guarantee on rifles at this price point, as I’ve seen plenty of far less expensive rifles shoot ½ MOA without much coercion.
Hopefully, I’ve helped inform you enough to make a choice if you are considering the Ridgeline FFT. Everything has pros and cons, so evaluate what’s most important to you and run with it.