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Christensen Arms : Now Available in 7MM PRC

By Christensen Arms, Guest Post, Product

Christensen Arms : Now Available in 7MM PRC


Oct 26, 2022 | Christensen Arms

Christensen Arms is proud to offer a wide selection of our firearms in the groundbreaking new cartridge from Hornady – 7mm PRC. Get a look behind the curtain at why 7mm PRC was developed in this Hornady guest blog entry.

“As with any new cartridge development, the fundamental question that must be answered is ‘why’. There are many great cartridges already in existence, so creating a new one must pick up where the others leave off. A new cartridge must solve a problem. The 7mm Precision Rifle Cartridge does just that.

It is the first truly modern cartridge in 7mm that incorporates all the design aspects that make it consistent, balanced, efficient and most of all, accurate. It does this all while having the dimensions, tolerances, and standards SAAMI approved. This is important because now all the rifle builders can manufacture a rifle that interfaces perfectly with factory loaded ammunition, providing accuracy and long-range performance that previously required a custom-built rifle or a special handload.

In developing a cartridge, Hornady take a systematic approach to identify what problems exist and how to solve them. With other 7mm cartridges on the market, they were all plagued by similar problems: too slow of a SAAMI twist rate to appropriately stabilize modern, low drag bullets and a restrictive overall length, which shoved much of the bullet deep into the case. There are a few older designs that also suffered from loose chamber geometry, which can degrade accuracy. Couple this with some case designs that are a bit too overbore, and you have a 7mm cartridge selection that leaves much to be desired.

For the 7mm PRC development, we first selected what bullets we were targeting – our lowest drag, highest BC bullets and selected a twist rate that was commensurate. We then designed a chamber, throat, and freebore around those bullets and identified what muzzle velocity was most appropriate. After selecting a target muzzle velocity, we designed a cartridge case that would achieve that velocity using todays modern, temperature stable, magnum speed powder.

The result is an efficient case design, with proper chamber geometry, that will lend itself to the kind of ‘out of the box accuracy’ that our cartridge designs are known for. It has the correct twist rate for today’s long-range bullets, it offers substantial recoil reduction compared to other, more overbore 7mm cartridges on the market, and it does this without sacrificing any long-range shooting capability.

We are proud to release the 7mm PRC. It really rounds out the family of products that wear the ‘Precision Rifle Cartridge’ name. We truly believe this cartridge will quickly become a customer favorite and is appropriate for all North American big game. Whether you’re hunting whitetails in the east or you’re a western hunter pursuing elk in the mountains or shooting an ELR match – the 7mm PRC provides you confidence and accuracy at all practical ranges.”

Thanks to Hornady for providing this insight into their new cartridge. Check out our 7mm PRC-chambered products here.

Rifle pic

Dolan Geiman Interview

By Christensen Arms



Dolan Geiman Q&A

June 15, 2021 | Christensen Arms

Before you start reading, do you want to see High Country King first? (We get it!)
Meet Dolan Geiman

Among many things, Dolan Geiman is the artist behind our latest Ram head art piece that you might have seen. He is best known as a contemporary collage artist specializing in the reuse of found materials and objects including vintage paper, reclaimed wood, and salvaged metal. These diverse collage materials are carefully curated, cut, and combined with other artistic techniques including painting, screenprinting, and sculpture to create the final modern artworks. Geiman’s original mixed media art collages are highly textured and intricately detailed, inspired by the flora and fauna of the natural world, the rich history of the US, and the influence of classic collage artists that came before.

Dolan with rifle

Interviewing Dolan Geiman

If you had to describe your style of art in one word, what would the word be?

What’s your process of sourcing materials for your projects?
Let me paint a picture for you: an old peasant sits atop a wooden wheeled cart, pulled by bulky oxen who are sweating and farting in the spring heat, pulling a long wagon of sundry materials. The peasant pulls hard on the reins and stops the cart next to a large wooden barn, whose roof has given up and relaxed into a sagging saddle of shingles. The peasant drags a burlap sack through the tall grass and enters the barn, and starts to fill the sack with various musty books, old rusted cans full of dirt and dead moths, piles of rope in varied colors, a leather boot with no sole, and a pitchfork with a broken handle. He returns to the cart and swings the burlap sack up onto the wagon, to rest amongst all of the other old forgotten materials. This is perhaps the best description of what it’s like when I go scavenging for materials. There are no clean white gloves here, no Amazon shopping carts full of crisp new paint, no crystal clean spring breeze whipping through my hair. I crawl through graveyards and climb through briar patches in search of the forgotten brass jacket button, the cracked leather saddle strap, the silverfish-riddled stack of magazines. I do not rub shoulders with pristine materials, my hands wouldn’t recognize their absence of character.

How does your love for nature and wildlife influence your artwork? 
I grew up surrounded by a ripe eastern forest, rolling hills, and blue mountains in Virginia and spent time exploring and developing a deep appreciation for nature in those places. My father worked for the Forest Service in the George Washington National Forest and we lived in a cabin there for years during the summer. Our nights were filled with campfire smoke and whippoorwill whistles, our days full of brook trout, rhododendron, and rattlesnakes. When I got a bit older, I worked as an interpretative naturalist for the Forest Service as well, in that same chunk of forest. Growing up and waking up daily in the woods changes your life, your pace, your outlook.  I am deeply aware that as humans, we’re pretty anthropocentric: we feel like we’re the center of the ecosystem. I believe that we are not. Rather, we are merely a part of it. Through my work,  I’m looking to pay homage to mother nature and the animals that work so hard to co-exist with us. 

As a footnote to this, when it comes to incorporating elements of nature into my work, I’ve always been fascinated by the shapes created in the natural world: shrubs with magnum-sized thorns, thistles sprouting brilliant seed heads, pinecones that unfurl when they hit the earth. Everything has its own texture and seems to – on its own – be sculptural. Once I started seeing pieces of plants and trees as sculptures, it opened my mind to many other layers of inspiration that can be found in the natural world. As an artist, spending time outdoors is equivalent to eating plate after plate of dessert.

Dolan working

What was it like to work with carbon fiber, and how does it compare to other metals you use?
This carbon fiber has been such an inspiring material to work with! It’s incredibly lightweight – I found myself expecting to need to flex hard to pick up the horns on this ram sculpture, but found I could lift them with one hand, which is not normally the case with my carved sculptural pieces. It is surprisingly (almost) weightless. It was also really interesting to see what the carbon fiber could withstand. I melted it, bent it, cut it: it stood up to everything and proved to be a versatile, fluid material to create a very specific shape (you can see that in the ram’s horns). Since carbon fiber is also known for its strength and rigidity, I wanted to explore wrapping it over a form (similar to what Christensen Arms does with its carbon fiber barrels). Compared to other metals I work with – a lot of steel and tin, reclaimed scrap, and the like – the carbon fiber was really agreeable to becoming a new shape. It was a treat to work with something so strong and yet so plastic in its behavior.

How does a carbon fiber rifle barrel make a difference for you outdoors and in your studio?
Carbon fiber might be a new addition to my standard materials in the studio;) It’s a material that has the type of character I look for when I am on the hunt for something different to add to my arsenal of materials. I am inspired by what this stuff can do and would love to explore it more. 

Outdoors, a carbon fiber barrel is an incredible asset. I live in Colorado, and am known for my desire to explore the hardest places to reach on a mountain, which usually means going straight to the top, through canyons, over rocks, and deadfall. A lightweight firearm transforms my time on the mountain from hiking with a rifle to actually hunting.  It’s a huge difference, and now that I’m saving weight in my rifle, I can carry more found materials back to my studio when I’m out on a mountain adventure;)  (pretty much every trip I take into the woods, be it hunting, fishing, hiking…I always seem to fill my pack with materials that will be turned into art. Check out my Instagram Reels for some videos..)

Horns in progress

What’s your favorite Christensen Arms rifle and why?
I really like the Summit TI 7mm. I primarily hunt elk and mule deer, so this one is a great fit for me. It’s lightweight which, as anyone knows who has hunted elk in Colorado, is really nice to have on your back when you’re hiking into Elk country. It’s also deadly accurate and the action is smooth. Aesthetically, I love the look of the natural carbon fiber finish, and the thumbhole stock option. This rifle is slick.

What has been your biggest challenge in creating the Ram piece?
My biggest challenge creating this piece was deciding how to incorporate the carbon fiber: it has so many uses and responds so well to every technique I applied to it, it was challenging to decide how to best use its versatility. Once I decided on the ram’s horns, the challenge was to determine the best treatment to create the most realistic look while still being cool 😉

What’s your biggest motivation for helping conservation efforts?
We are just visitors here. Wildlife and its habitat are central themes in my work: they inspire so much wonder and beg to be explored, studied, and revered. I am passionate about protecting resources, creatures, and the majestic landscape that makes up this country.  I spend every spare minute trying to sprint to the mountains to just be there and take in that vast and beautiful landscape. I feel that living here in this country and getting to explore the wilds of Colorado is a privilege, and I want to make sure my nieces and nephews get that same experience.

How did you choose The Rocky Mountain Elk Donation to receive the donations?
RMEF is one of my favorite organizations. I am a big believer in conservation and RMEF’s efforts to maintain habitat for our native elk are admirable. I love their work to expand access to private land and natural spaces across the USA  – I am an explorer and an adventurer by nature, so this accessibility to dig deeper into the natural world is close to my heart. I want more people to be able to explore and connect with Nature in a wild setting.

Join our conservation efforts and bid on High Country King.

Ram Straight On

Modern Precision Pistol FAQ

By Christensen Arms

Modern Precision Pistol

Modern Precision Pistol

Apr 23, 2021 | Christensen Arms

You had some great questions for us when we announced our MPP last week, so we’re tackling some of the most popular here:

1. What distance are we getting on the MPP in each respective chambering?

The maximum effective ranges of the different calibers in the MPP models will vary based upon the barrel length, and especially the bullet weight/muzzle velocity of the ammunition being used. With the shorter barrel lengths, we are seeing lower muzzle velocities (as expected) than the same ammo shot in a longer barrel. The actual performance will be 15% to over 30% lower in some cases when shot in the MPP when compared to the same ammunition fired in a standard-length rifle barrel.

2. Do we have an accuracy guarantee?

Because the Modern Precision Pistol is classified differently than a standard rifle, the usual sub-moa accuracy guarantee is not extended or offered in the MPP models. The MPP actions are V-block bedded in the chassis, so the platform does lend itself to excellent accuracy. The barrel technology used in the MPP barrels is the same as that of the rifle barrels we use on our rifle models. In our initial testing, the MPP’s performed very well in all calibers.

3. Can it be converted to the regular stock if I want to SBR it?

The action/receiver used in the MPP is a standard Remington 700 footprint. The action and barrel could be transferred to another compatible platform. The legality of such a modification would need to be established by the individual, based on the specific laws and statutes of their jurisdiction.

4. Can this be purchased in California?

Due to the design of the MPP (Modern Precision Pistol), it is considered a pistol, and therefore not able to be shipped to and sold in California.
Note: don’t worry my Californian friends – we have more products coming this year!

5. When can we expect these to start shipping?

Based upon current production schedules, the MPP will begin shipping almost immediately, and ship in larger numbers over the next 4 to 8 weeks. All calibers being offered will be shipping equally, as initial shipments are sent. It will take some time to be available in most areas.

6. Does the OAL stock collapse cause it to be restricted in Canada?

The overall length of the MPP in the folded position does make it a “Restricted” firearm in Canada.
Note: to my Canadian friends, the note for the Californians applies to you as well!

7. What is the length when folded?

The overall length of the MPP when folded is below The overall “legal length” of a firearm usually does not include the removable muzzle device.

Barrel Length      Overall length when folded (including the muzzle device)

7.5 inch                21.5 inches (approx.)
10.5 inch              24.5 inches (approx.)
12.5 inch              26.5 inches (approx.)

That concludes our Modern Precision Rifle FAQ!

If you have another question that we did not cover, feel free to head here to submit a question, or to give us an email at the following address:

Rapid Fire Live Events

By Christensen Arms


Live Events

Mar 23, 2021 | Christensen Arms

Christensen Arms, manufacturer of state-of-the-art precision firearms and custom carbon fiber barrels, is proud to announce their “Rapid Fire” interactive events. Participants will have the unique opportunity to create firearms-related questions to be answered by our resident firearm expert Jeff Bradley.

Bradley, Christensen Arms’ Brand Ambassador, will host live events where he covers firearm topics that you tell us you want to know more about, and then he answers your questions live from the comments section.

“The Rapid Fire interactive events are an excellent way for consumers to interact directly with the manufacturer, getting answers for those more challenging questions,” said Stephen Graham, Senior VP of Marketing, Christensen Arms. “This platform gives consumers access to our experts in all that is Christensen Arms. Jeff Bradley has been with Christensen longer than his beard, and lives to pass this accumulation of knowledge about the brand and products on to others.”

Tune in Thursday, April 1st as Christensen Arms will have pro-shooting team members, Bennie Cooley and KC Pratt, as guests. For access to this live event, go to: to learn everything you want to know about Christensen Arms and their state-of the-art firearms.

Bennie Cooley is a highly competitive shooter that has won numerous world and national 3 Gun championships. He also finds time to teach private groups of competition shooters and law enforcement personnel via his training company. “Christensen firearms give me an advantage in every competition I compete in due to their precision and reliability,” said Cooley.

KC Pratt is an expert in the 3-gun game and built his own private range where he trains daily. KC is currently shooting the Open and 2×4 Open divisions in the ‘top fuel” division where almost anything goes as far as equipment and optics. “Christensen Arms give me all the confidence I need as their firearms function flawlessly,” said Pratt. “Their firearms are a work of art, and the accuracy is easily sub-MOA.”

To learn more about the complete product offerings from Christensen Arms, please visit or follow us on social media @christensensarms.

About Christensen Arms
Established in 1995, Christensen Arms is focused on incorporating top-tier aerospace materials and processes into production – resulting in some of the most lightweight, precise, and accurate firearms in the industry and around the globe. Always made in America, from the first prototype to the state-of-art current production models.

Media Contact:
Joel Harris –

Bennie Cooley NRL

By Christensen Arms

Christensen Arms Pro Shooter Bennie Cooley to Compete in the NRL Hunter Series

NRL Hunter Series

Mar 4, 2021 | Christensen Arms

Gunnison, Utah – Christensen Arms, manufacturer of state-of-the-art precision firearms and custom carbon fiber barrels, is proud to announce that their sponsored pro shooter, Bennie Cooley, will compete in the inaugural season of the National Rifle League (NRL) Hunter Series. The NRL Hunter Series is a set of competitions for hunters by hunters. It brings together ethical hunters and conservationists in an innovative and competitive format.

Cooley is a highly competitive shooter that has won numerous world and national 3 Gun championships. These days, you’ll find Cooley in the precision/long-range shooting game, sitting behind one of Christensen’s premium firearms. He also finds time to teach private groups of competition shooters and law enforcement personnel via his training company.

“We’re excited to have Bennie participating in this new style of rifle competition,” said Stephen Graham, Senior VP of Marketing, Christensen Arms. “Cooley will have an advantage by using our Modern Precision Rifle (MPR) chambered in 6.5 PRC. It’s as if the MPR was built for the NRL Hunter Series and we can’t wait to see what he can do with this amazing rifle.”

The MPR is an ultra-lightweight chassis rifle designed to break with tradition. Beyond the folding stock, the complete package is well-equipped with a target contour Christensen Arms carbon fiber barrel, carbon fiber comb, free-floating carbon fiber handguard and a 20 MOA rail. The action and stainless steel side-baffle muzzle brake are finished in Black Nitride™ for a sleek look. The MPR weighs in starting at 6.9 pounds and is backed by the Christensen Arms Sub-MOA Guarantee.

“I cannot stress enough how well this series matches up for the Christensen Arms MPR,” said Bennie Cooley, Christensen Arms’ professional shooter. “The MPR will be a driving force in this series and is certain to dominate it. I can’t wait to get out there and unleash the precision of this incredible rifle!”

The 2021 season of the NLR Hunter Series will have 9 different hunting style matches with the championship match being held August 2-8, 2021 in Grand Junction, Colorado. To find out more about Cooley and his winning ways, please visit:

Why do you hunt?

By Christensen Arms

Top Reasons People Hunt


Feb 25, 2021 | Christensen Arms

Where do you begin when you talk about the art of hunting? Do you start with the beginning, and focus on the objective of survival? Do you talk about the rise in the production of firearms and focus on the growing popularity in recreational shooting? What about hunting that occurs outside of the human species: a lion stalking an antelope, or a hawk pursuing a rabbit. It’s hard to embody what hunting is, because it is many things. It’s the elk roast on the table you share with your family, and it’s the missed shot from the blind you sat in for 3 hours. Hunting isn’t just embedded in human culture, it IS human culture.
With all that being said, we asked you the huge question of

Why do you hunt?

and we listened. We took notes, and we’re here to share those answers.

A fellow bro, named @bro_c762 hunts to “Provide for my family and friends, giving is a massive part of hunting.” Seth Moore hunts “To be a fellow participant in nature, not just an observer.”

For a lot of you, the thrill of the hunt lies in the challenge. @Emwilson hunts for “the adrenaline rush, the feeling is incredible.” hunts for “the challenge – then rewards” and Chuk hunts for “the good times”, and you know what Chuk? I can’t agree more. For many of you it is the memories – of past, and present. Michael Johnson hunts because “I grew up on it”, just like @b.r.woods hunts because “Hunting connects me with memories of my Dad.” What is it that makes hunting such a powerful experience? I’m not a philosopher or scientist so I’ll leave that question up to you all to decide. There is also great diversity is reasons people hunt – @mobilemonstermechanic hunts because “Yes”. That is a simple enough answer that I can get behind. @Derek_r_75 hunts because “I am part of nature. Hunting resonates from the core of who I am. The wilderness is home.” Two very valid answers that are extremely different.

At the end of the day, you get to choose why you hunt. It can be for whatever you want it to be -maybe you just want to pull a trigger, or maybe you want to connect with your roots. You get to choose, and there is no wrong answer. We’re just excited we get to be a part of your hunt. So get outdoors, grab a friend, and go hunting.

Find your why.


Christensen Arms Holiday Gift Guide

By Christensen Arms

Christensen Arms Holiday Gift Guide


Nov 25 | Christensen Arms

Give yourself a pat on the back; after all that 2020 has had in store, you made it to the season of giving! While the holidays bring plenty of cheer, they also bring a challenge: gift-giving. Picking out gifts for anyone can be difficult and has us asking questions we didn’t know we needed the answer to: How am I supposed to know what gift to get my brother-in-law? Do I really have to get my wife the puppy she has been asking for all quarantine? Do you get your second cousin a gift? What about a third cousin? Where do we draw the line with cousins? Well, fear no more – we have the answer to (most of) those questions: Introducing… the 2020 Christensen Arms Holiday Gift Guide!

Our gift guide is inspired by the power of reloading and reconnecting. We want you to challenge yourself to reconnect this holiday season in a time where many of us have been so isolated. Reconnect with friends and family. Reconnect with nature. Most importantly, reconnect with yourself – preferably in the great outdoors hunting that sought after trophy shot or plinking steel.

In reconnecting you’re giving future you a gift! As a family company that was built by our love of the great outdoors, we find that some of our most cherished memories come from being surrounded by them. So take some time out of your day and get outdoors with friends and family. Go on that hunting trip nearby, or far for that matter: Teach someone you love about the joys of shooting. So that being said, look no further, and quit googling “perfect gift for ____ (insert family member, friend, friend’s friend, pet, boss).” You found it!




We’ve got the necessities for the avid huntsman all in one place for you. Our tried and true backcountry rifles are perfect for anyone looking to get outdoors and shoot, and our accessories allow you to further customize your brand new rig!





AMMO WALLET $34 | CA-15 G2 starting at $1,749 | CA5FIVE6 $1,495 | SIDE-BAFFLE BRAKE starting at $187 | CHRISTENSEN ARMS AICS COMPATIBLE MAGAZINE $34 – $39 | MODERN PRECISION RIFLE CHASSIS starting at $1,094

The art of shooting is best enjoyed when you do it the right way,  and that starts with your equipment! We’ve put a list together of perfects gifts for shooters you know (including yourself of course).





Gear up for the holidays, and give the gift of swag! We have all new apparel for the coming seasons and plenty of logo goods to show off your Christensen pride.



Memorial 3 Gun Competition

By Christensen Arms

Memorial 3 Gun Competition


Oct 16, 2020 | Christensen Arms

Last week we had the privilege of being part of a truly special event created by selfless individuals that honors American heroes: The Memorial 3 Gun Competition. Before we tell you about the fun we had at the competition, first you need to know about the Memorial 3 Gun Foundation, and there is no better way to do that than read their mission statement:

Our mission is to remember, honor, and memorialize fallen Special Operations soldiers through the world of competitive shooting. We want the families to know they are not alone during and after this tragic time. During our competition we share stories and remember who these heroes were and the life they led. Every person who competes walks away with a sense of who each of these men were. All proceeds for our events go directly to the families of the fallen soldiers we are honoring at the event. We will never forget and not let anyone else forget, the ultimate sacrifice these brave men made for this country.

The Memorial 3 Gun Foundation’s annual competition does an incredible job of honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and the families who call that hero a number of things: son, daughter, brother, sister, dad, mom, and so much more. This year was the 3rd annual competition they have hosted and in doing so they gathered some of the best shooters in the country from all over for a weekend of remembrance. The competition consisted of many different stages, each of which were dedicated to a fallen hero. At these stages you competed in honor of the hero it was dedicated to and had an opportunity to earn points through your performance.

When we heard about Memorial 3 Gun’s competition we knew we wanted to do it, and we wanted to do it right. So we became a Gold Tier sponsor, sent 2 of the best shooters we have (pictured above: Bennie Cooley, Christ Hutchinson), and built a side stage for the event’s competition. When we say we built it, we built it- built it. Chris actually built it and competed on it himself. Bennie, Chris, and over 120 other shooters came together to do one of the things they do best while honoring the heroes who make events like this possible. Our shooters performed exceptionally well and even had the chance to use our very own MSR’s to compete with in the rifle-dedicated stages.

We had an incredible weekend shooting for something that is much bigger than any sport. We would like to thank the families of the fallen heroes for allowing us to memorialize them this past weekend, and the Memorial 3 Gun Foundation for making that possible.

A Look Back

By Christensen Arms

A Look Back

Since 1995

Sep 30, 2020 | Christensen Arms

Our story starts in the small town of Fayette, Utah – a neighboring city to our current home: Gunnison, Utah. In 1984 the rural town of Fayette was struggling economically and did not have many options for employment. The Christensen family took notice of this, and having always had a strong connection to the town they decided to move their operations to Fayette. Not only could they foster the growth of their company in this small town, but they could provide the much needed employment to the residents. It was a win-win! Their move to central Utah gave locals a reason to put their roots down and call Fayette home. 

There was always work to be done in Roland Christensen’s eyes: he was and is an innovator at heart, and recognized the usefulness of carbon fiber before just about any other industry you can think of. He decided to test out what all carbon fiber could be used for. No really, he is the Thomas Edison of carbon fiber products. Softball bats? Let’s make it out of carbon fiber. What about knife handles, golf club heads, and maybe arrows too? Done. Tried. Built. There was no shortage of products to experiment with and Roland tried them all, but one really stood out in 1993: the rifle barrel. A carbon fiber rifle barrel seemed crazy at the time, but a shop full of hunting and shooting enthusiasts had no problem pursuing the possibilities it held! Thankfully this lead to a breakout product in 1995 for the Christensen family – 22 LR rifles. In 1995 “Christensen Arms” was born with this product.

Between 1995 and 2003 a lot of growth occurred within the small company. And one huge change: they evolved from building 22 LR rifles to producing the first aerograde carbon fiber stock in the firearms industry in 2003. People were confused, amazed, and most of all – very, very curious. This would be the beginning of Christensen Arms development of handcrafting rifle stocks. The success of the “hunter” rifle Christensen Arms began developing would lead to the company outgrowing their home in Fayette. With the immense recognition received nationally they needed to move into a larger facility that was able to keep up with the always evolving line of firearms and inventions coming from Roland and the team. This would lead the company to moving to its current home in 2009: Gunnison, Utah. This move would also be when the new logo was introduced as seen below.

Following the move to Gunnison, a lot of big steps were made that would further solidify Christensen Arms’ newly found respect and admiration in the firearms industry. There was not a year taken off! In 2009 the first AR platform rifle, the CA-15 would launch. In 2010 the first receivers made in house would go out on Christensen rifles such as the “classic”. In 2013 our first 1911 handgun would release. We were full speed ahead, making huge advancements in firearms every year and becoming more and more known for a variety of high-end and handcrafted products.

2017 would be one of the most significant years in the history of Christensen Arms with the release of the Modern Precision Rifle. It was perfect timing as this would also be the first year that distributors would pick up our products, and when they had the MPR in hand they knew it would change the firearm industry forever. If only they knew that 3 years later it would be the NRA rifle of the year for 2020! And that leads us to today. It marks 25 years of hard work, and a whole lot of fun. Without you we would have nothing to celebrate this month.

“Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for taking us to 25 years and continue to keep building a great American brand.” – Roland, Julia, and Jason Christensen.

Meeting Grizzly

By Christensen Arms

 Meeting Grizzly

Featured Content

Sep 23, 2020 | Christensen Arms

By Christian Schauf

Could I ever shoot a grizzly bear? Tough call. But even as an avid hunter, outdoorsman and conservationist I didn’t think so – until I did.

Let me back up.

Growing up on a farm in Wisconsin I have always considered hunting a part of life. I fondly remember Thanksgiving morning game drives with my brothers, father and Grandpa, and the excitement of a big, opening-morning whitetail buck loaded in the back of a truck. My interest in those late November tree stands waned years ago. In its place, athletic spot and stalk mountain hunts for bigger game have consumed me.

Two years ago I traveled to British Columbia and fought through bitter cold and ungodly mountain miles to harvest a record book moose. Last year I helped my dad harvest a huge bull elk during archery season in Utah. So this summer, with the freezer empty, another adventurous hunt sounded perfect.

How about an ‘exploratory hunt’ in the Brooks Range of The Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Northern Alaska? With only half a dozen non-resident hunters allowed in the huge, 500,000 acre area – half the size of Rhode Island – this promised to be an epic adventure. So a year ago I didn’t hesitate when I could sign the papers for a two-week trip into this remote wilderness in the far-northern tip of the United States.

I logged in to the Alaska Fish and Game website to buy my license and tags. Moose? Definitely. Caribou? Check. Grizzly? I paused. Unable to envision shooting a bear I moved on, buying one anyway and figuring I’d decide later.

The Brooks Range has held reverence to me, and many others, for years. In a state known as the Final Frontier, the Brooks Range may well be the quintessential representation of one of the world’s last truly wild places. Thousands of miles of majestic, unforgiving wilderness, accessible only under heavy loads and with careful planning.

Photographer Micah Berman and I departed Fairbanks in a stuttering, brown-and-white Helio airplane from Wright’s Air Field on the morning of September 1. My friend Reilly had planned to hunt with me, but a last minute change of plans left an open spot – one too valuable not to fill. Micah happily agreed to the adventure.

We flew past the edge of town, followed the Alaskan Pipeline for 30 minutes, then headed towards our remote camp in the Chandalar River Basin. Rolling green hills gave way to foothills, which gave way to mountains. Nearly an hour in to our flight, we crossed over a ridge line and took in our first true views of the Brooks. Red, yellow, brown and green foliage swirled below jagged mountains. Rivers serpentined through willows and small stands of spruce. We spotted the occasional moose and black bear before circling and touching down on a river basin next to camp. Two small yellow tents and one larger green tent welcomed us to home base.

A white wire fence around the green tent, connected to a small battery, signaled the presence of grizzly bears. I wondered why the other tents – including mine – didn’t get a plot inside the protected perimeter.

We quickly unloaded the plane and watched our last connection to the rest of the world bounce down the dry river bed and drone off to the horizon. We wouldn’t see the pilot until 11 days later when he’d pick us up.

Storm clouds were building, so we quickly moved gear inside the tents, and met our guide, Fred Harbison. Standing a lean 6’3” tall, Fred had a mischievous smile and a gait that told me he was going to be hard to keep up with. Born to a CIA agent father, he grew up in Africa, received a biology degree, taught high school and Outward Bound before switching careers to become a paramedic and para-firefighter.

‘My favorite thing? I like to parachute in for sheep hunts and hike out’, he told us. It was not a figure of speech, I later learned. We were in good hands.

With over half a million acres our fingertips, the options and directions were endless for our departure the next morning. But also simple, Fred explained: ‘We can go north or we can go south. I say we go south. That is some awesome country.’

Good enough for me.

I woke to a cool, damp morning and headed to the cook tent to make myself a cup of strong coffee with a few scoops of hot chocolate mix. A large gray wolf silently patrolled the opposite river bank, stopping only to let out a single long, lonely howl. After going over rations which mainly consisted of bricks of cheese, pounds of salami, Snickers, trail mix and Mountain House meals, we gave our packs a final weigh-in; mine was 73 pounds. We departed in southernly direction, planning to return in six days with a caribou in our packs.

We followed the river bed downstream for a few miles, criss-crossing streams, sand bars and river rock before hitting a well-worn game trail going up into the foothills. Footprints, scat and even the occasional spruce covered in grizzly hair – left from a good back scratch – littered the trail to remind us whose home we were traveling through.


Fred carried his rifle in hand. I elected to do the same.

‘Keep your chamber empty, three in the mag and a fourth in your pocket’,’he would say a couple times a day as he patted his front pants pocket. We were traveling safely, but only a second away from action at any point. The backup round lived in the pocket for quick access in case the first three bullets didn’t get the job done.

We moved quietly, hunting as we traveled, and stopped occasionally to shed a layer of clothing, change out our socks or have a quick look through the binoculars. With only a few moose in the far distance, we stayed the course. Curving to the east, we followed a large valley through endless blueberry fields. We climbed steep drainages of soggy tundra, each foot step sinking nearly a foot and sucking the energy from my quads.

Our plan to camp at Low Pass for the night was scrapped once it came into view. Low hanging clouds suggested the pass was drenched, so we cut our hike short at nine miles. Making camp at a lower elevation allowed us to spend the evening looking for animals on the mountain sides.

As we glassed the hillsides, we constantly reviewed our plans and goals. My primary goal, all along, was to fill the freezer. I love moose, but had never had caribou. My preference? ‘Let’s see what we find,’ was my response. I’d hunted enough to know that you can make plans, but in the end you always end up playing the hand mother nature deals.

The contradictions of hunting have inspired countless books, documentaries and podcasts. As a hunter, I understand and respect multiple perspectives on the topic. From my Utah home I’ll watch an elk herd for hours with my camera. I’ll fight to protect their migration paths through my home town. But come September, I won’t hesitate to send an arrow towards a big bull.

Meat that I have personally harvested makes every bite special – to the point of preciousness. My frustration is palpable when someone leaves a half eaten steak at a restaurant. That animal sacrificed its life. The least we can do is honor it by making sure it doesn’t end up in the garbage. I’ve confused more than one restaurant patron, kindly asking whether I might take their meat home if they weren’t going to finish it.

But grizzly? You don’t really eat grizzly. Trichinosis is common in all bears, and it is easily passed to humans. It’s a terrible condition causing nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and more. But such misery aside, the question of flavor must be asked. Depending on what a bear has been eating the taste can go from over-cooked steak – bear meat must be prepared very well-done to kill the trichinosis roundworm – to ‘a combination of dead rotting fish and dog food’ according to Fred. They quite literally are what they eat.

So there I sat on a hillside, the grizzly tag in my pocket, the gun by my side, searching through my binoculars in grizzly country and thinking, ‘why would I shoot a grizzly’?

The months leading up to the hunt I spent educating myself on this ‘charismatic megafauna’, as one book said, learning all I could about bears such as the famous #399 in Wyoming’s Teton National Forest, as notorious and beloved as the park itself. At 24 years of age, #399 has produced 16 cubs and grand cubs, and found accidental fame through her unconventional techniques of protecting her cubs by keeping them close to tourists – much safer than in the wild where the big boars (males) would hunt her young.

She has thrived, as have her fellow bears there. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2018 the Yellowstone bear population had rebounded from a low of only 136 to over 1700 individuals, far exceeding the carrying capacity of the 22,500 square mile Yellowstone area. One immediate effect of this over-population: grizzlies were responsible for killing over 80 cattle and 30 sheep in 2018 alone, forcing the need for bear-proof barns, grain bins and electric fences, causing financial hardships to local ranchers. Yet despite not qualifying as an Endangered Species anymore, they remain protected, thanks to public pressure and a culture in love with the anthropomorphism made popular by the likes of Walt Disney and Hanna Barbera.

Alaska is a different story. There are officially 40,000 grizzlies in the millions of acres that constitute the Brooks Range alone, but experts I’ve spoken with say that the actual number is likely double and approaching 100,000 individuals. Even at official numbers, with less than 400 bears harvested in 2019, that’s less roughly 1% of the population. The responsible guides focus on old male bears, which provides an immense amount of benefit to a population with no natural predator.

Without human involvement the natural cycles of apex predators like bears go something like this. A bear population grows due to the lack of predation and an abundance of food. The population outgrows the environment’s ability to support and sustain it. Disease and starvation create a massive decline in bears. The environment rebuilds and replenishes. Ample food now supports the bear population to grow and the cycle repeats. The length of this cycle is debatable, but 70 years is a good estimate. Which means that for decades bears may be near endangered levels before beginning an upward trend. A few extreme winters or fire seasons could decimate the population.

Enter hunting. Selectively hunting older male bears greatly reduces the impact on the environment, for a mature male grizzly will have up to a 600-mile range. In addition, a mature boar will often kill cubs up to two years of age. This helps them kill off future competition before they become competition, and also puts the sows back into estrus, allowing the male to mate with her and pass along his genetics.

With human involvement, the 70-year cycle becomes much shorter. And the extremes are being mitigated. ’It’s like Prozac,’ Fred said. ‘You just kinda stay right down the middle. No high highs. No low lows.’

The next morning we woke up to a solid rain shower, which would soon reveal to be the theme of the week, adding one more layer of complexity to our mission. Any experienced outdoorsman knows that keeping dry can mean the difference between life and death. We’d dress for the day and fill our packs strategically for the multiple changes of socks, base layer and rain gear dependent on weather and effort. We ate, packed up camp and continued on our journey.

As an avid shed hunter I found myself wanting to pick up every moose and caribou antler we passed, but given our heavy loads there wasn’t room – or the strength in my legs. So we stuck them high in trees, announcing ‘I already found this one’ in the unlikely case someone came wandering through after us. We all grabbed for the occasional handful of blueberries as we pushed up and over what felt like endless drainages, scanning the horizon for big game.

Just past a hilltop we found a family of three musk ox. The largest, a male, was simply huge. Enormous horns bonded together in the middle of his head to form a battle-worthy helmet, or boss. His long coat hung to the ground and swayed as he walked, like the pieces of fabric that sway back and forth at an automatic car wash. With him was his lady friend and a young calf. This was an extremely rare sighting.  ‘I think they’re lost. They’re not supposed to be here…’ Fred commented. We sat and watched for 15 minutes as they meandered around the hillside, selectively grazing from the salad bar.

A few hours later we found a flat spot at camp among some small willows on a river’s edge. Once again, we set up camp and headed up on to a hillside to glass the valley  through our binoculars. We truly were in the North American Serengeti. A mother grizzly led her two cubs up a rocky drainage behind us. Dall sheep watched from the highest peaks off to the west, while wolves and caribou worked their way across the opposite hillside. One bull caribou looked especially large as he silhouetted against the setting sun, only to dip down the backside of the range never to be seen again. ‘There’s a reason the big ones get big,’ Fred commented to no one in particular.

The next morning came full of anticipation. Confident in our plan we headed up the same hillside the caribou had passed the night before and found a high glassing spot. We spent the day traversing ridge lines and finding different vantage points, even fitting in an hour long power nap under a rocky outcropping during a snow storm. But a few distant herds of caribou and one lone wolf were our only excitement for the day. That said, it was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. We absorbed the hundreds of miles of untouched wilderness and Micah constantly worked to capture the moments, his camera covered in homemade duct tape and a ziplock bag for weatherproofing.

We headed back to camp along a river in a building rainstorm, getting into our tent around 10 pm, soaking wet. We began making ourselves dinner and drying out as best we could. I shed my outer pants and light jacket and crawled into my sleeping bag, still fairly wet, with a bottle of hot water. As the sleeping bag heated up, I would get out of it and steam would billow off of my legs and shoulders as a massive evaporation cycle took over. Once the steam stopped, I repeated the process. After about a dozen cycles, I had shed most of the moisture and knew that the rest would be gone by morning. I put down as much food as I could stomach and passed out hard.

We woke the next morning to the sound of someone throwing up.  Fred had come down with something. With the serious meds back at base camp, we quickly decided to slow hunt back. We started a big fire, spent an hour drying out our gear and headed back.

Hunting this way is 95% hiking and glassing under heavy packs, and 5% action. The next several days were more of the same. My quads screamed and sweat poured off the end of my hat. My watch let me know I’d passed my step goal in the first few hours of each day, closing out with about 30,000 steps. I wished there was an ‘I also carried a 70-pound pack up a mountain through the tundra’ credit to select.

As we approached one deep drainage, we spotted a large female grizzly and her two cubs about 70 yards in front of us. Micah paused to shoot photos and Fred continued forward. Knowing Micah’s only protection was a 9mm, I stopped somewhere in the middle as to not abandon him. Suddenly things got interesting. The bear led her cubs up the hill, directly towards a wildly yelling Fred. Keeping my eyes on the increasingly concerned mother grizzly as she and her cubs stood up on their hind legs to assess Fred, I reached in to my front pocket and put my ‘fourth’ in the chamber. I wanted all the shots I could take if things escalated. I paused at an elevated position on the opposite side of the drainage to wait for Micah, and waited for things to unfold.

The bear decided angry Fred wasn’t worth getting closer to and headed my way, not knowing I was there. She was about 70 feet away when I let out a ‘’Hey!” The bear suddenly realized there were not one but three predators, surrounding her from elevated positions.

In what can be best described as a grizzly’s version of a kung fu fighter cracking their neck left to right and cycling their hands up in a fighting position, this mother decided it was go time. Her hair bristled. She began woofing, sounding almost ape-like. Then she spun a few tight circles before deciding Micah seemed like a solid first fight. As soon as she took two steps towards Micah, Fred put a round of .375 in the dirt in front of her, exploding the ground at her feet. I raised my scope and took my safety off, watching as she froze, then spun around and headed the opposite direction out of the drainage, cubs in tow.

The danger averted, I took a deep breath and laughed to myself. I’ll never forget the sight of the two small cubs chasing mom as fast as they could down the valley and out of sight, their rear legs flailing behind them.

I manipulated the action on my gun, extracted my unspent round and put it back in my front pocket. I looked at Micah and gave him a quick ‘wow’ with my eyebrows. We resumed our journey, thankful for the outcome and excitement.

We traveled for another 6 hours and as the rain moved out and the evening sun arrived, we decided to set up camp on a high rock bluff below a small waterfall Fred had named Wolf Camp. After all of the rain and wind, we had a feeling the animals would start to move.

We took our boots off to dry our feet, boiled hot water for coffee, and set up make-shift seats for a long glassing session looking for a sizeable bull moose or caribou.

‘I’ve got a bear,’ Micah whispered, focused on something in his binoculars. About a half mile out, silhouetted on a grassy knoll, was a large male grizzly. We all turned our attention towards the knoll. ‘He’s a shooter,’ Fred said. ‘Let’s slowly get our boots on and get a closer look. The wind is perfect.’

We suited up, pounded our precious coffee and crept in the direction of the bear.


Was this going to happen? We dipped in and out of stands of spruce, spotting the animal, losing him and spotting him again as he meandered through the forest. ‘He’s a big bear. He’s got that Sumo walk,’ Fred said.

We were about 250 yards out when he turned started to walk our way. I found a shooting lane and took my safety off. He came into focus and winded us, realizing we were there for the first time as he looked directly in our direction.

Time stopped. My heart raced. My brain processed in slow motion. Let him go: he now knows of our presence and is just a few hundred yards from our tents, so he’d either leave the area or come in for a closer look. Pull the trigger: a perfect shot ends this, but anything less creates an extremely dangerous situation with an injured predator in his own woods.

I heard Fred whisper, ‘Clear to shoot.’ The words barely left his mouth as the bullet flew down the carbon fiber barrel of my 300 win mag Christensen Arms Ridgeline. Immediately I reloaded as the bear bit behind his front leg. He quickly spun and lunged forward into a dense section of spruce trees. Unable to locate him in my scope, I paused and realized that my ears were ringing. All was now silent. I looked to Fred to follow his gaze.

‘Did he run?  It felt like a good shot.’

‘No, no, the shot was perfect.  Just listen.’

Very slowly we started to step to the side to see if we could see him. Hear him. Anything.  A few seconds later we rounded a large tree and found him, peacefully resting some 30 yards from where he was standing when I pulled the trigger.

Still careful, we approached and confirmed he was dead. Only then did we take the bullets out of our guns, and breathed.

The moment you touch your animal for the first time is strange and deep. Moments before, it was an unpredictable and serious threat. And now, something different. Emotions come in waves. Excitement. Sadness. Thankfulness. Relief. Regret. A Native-American friend once told me that anytime you harvest an animal, the animal has agreed to let you take them. I like to think there’s truth to that.

This magnificent bear spent his life as the king of the valley. Now his time has come to an end. And what a good-looking king he was. I’ve seen dogs leave a groomer dirtier than this old warrior. His coat smelled of lavender and spruce. Each hair stood back up with pride as my hand passed over it. His teeth were perfectly white. We rolled him in to a peaceful position, closed his eyes and decided to come back in the morning to dutifully pack him up.

The bear, now ‘my bear’, a saying I’m never overly comfortable with – was nine foot tall standing up, likely 12 to 15 years old (a tooth was extracted by the Fish and Game Department after our hunt, which will provide valuable information on him and the rest of the population) and in excellent health. He was an example of conservation at work. My bullet had pierced both lungs and his heart, meaning his end was as quick and painless as could be. As perfect of an ending as one can hope.

I returned to camp the next day with a 90-pound pack, insisting I and I alone carry him back. Still focused on filling the freezer, we had quickly taken care of the bear and repacked to head north. With us were now a couple pounds of grizzly meat. I didn’t care if it tasted like a New York City sewer, I was going to honor him the right way.

We fought for four days through wind, snow, sun and rain, but harvestable caribou and moose evaded us. Our hunt eventually came to an end as the sun set on our last day. We reflected together in the main tent until late, then stepped outside to a full display by the Northern Lights. A proper Alaskan send-off.

The next morning I loaded my gear on to the 1958 Beaver airplane, bounced down the riverbed, pulled up and arched over the valley I’d called home for two weeks. I tried to absorb the last few views before returning to civilization.

I thought of the dozen cubs we saw and how their odds of survival had instantly improved. I thought about my bear’s life, and what living for almost two decades in this valley must have been like. And I thought how amazing it would be to bring my own son someday, knowing the opportunity for him to experience these same emotions would exist because of the efforts of scientists, hunters and conservationists. Hunting provides $1.6 billion a year towards conservation efforts. Those dollars go towards protecting healthy animal populations and habitats, ensuring these opportunities don’t end with our generation.

I’m thankful beyond words for the experience and the opportunity to face tough questions. I’m also anxious to share my story and continue deep conversations about nature, humans, and our part in it all.

Would I shoot a grizzly again? I’m still not sure. But I do not for one moment regret my encounter with the king of that Brooks Range valley.