As you gain experience as a shooter, you no longer see rifles as finished objects but as works in progress. A perfect example of this is a .22/250 that Melvin Forbes of New Ultra Light Arms built for me in 1988. I intended it to be what’s known as a “walking around” varmint rifle—something you sling o’er your shoulder to hike the hills and dales looking for woodchucks (if you do this in the South, you’re looking for groundhogs).
This rifle was based on a NULA single-shot bolt action and had a 24-inch medium-heavy Douglas barrel, a sporter stock, and a Timney trigger. First to go was the trigger. There’s nothing wrong with Timneys, but this one could not be set below 3 pounds, and I wanted something much lighter, so we replaced it with a Shilen trigger that’s set at 6 ounces.
Then I realized that those hills and dales were getting a hell of a lot steeper, and that the coyotes had pretty well done for the woodchucks, so I decided to convert the rifle to a prairie dog gun. Back to Melvin it went, and the nice sporter stock was replaced with a target-style stock with a broad, flat fore-end that sits on sandbags with greater stability.
I also asked Melvin to fill the stock (which is pretty much hollow) with all the lead shot it would hold. And he did, and the rifle now weighs 12 pounds and is the heaviest NULA ever built. But if you want a rifle on which you can mount a 30X scope and then set it on sandbags and shoot at a prairie dog and see where the bullet hits, 12 pounds is getting there.
If I ever burn out the barrel, I’ll have it replaced with a really heavy one and hopefully bring the weight up to 15 pounds or so. That is a prairie dog gun.