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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.

#MPRweek Blog Post

By Christensen Arms

#MPRweek

Modern Precision Rifle

Sep 15, 2020 | Christensen Arms

The Modern Precision Rifle has had quite the year – starting off with a bang, it was awarded the 2020 Shooting Illustrated Golden Bullseye “Rifle of the Year”.  It’s fun to get awards, but what is more fun is handcrafting a rifle that is designed to perform for that special moment. You know the one – it can look a few different ways: that gentle pull of the trigger at the range that ends with a beautiful note that only a steel target can make. Or maybe for you it’s that moment you finally spot the animal you have been waiting in the blind for longer than you’d like to admit, and you don’t have to worry about whether or not your rifle is going to perform. All you have to do is breathe-in.. breathe-out.. and squeeze. For many people that special moment with the MPR has been gifting it to someone else. When you get to see the look on your loved one’s face as they open up that case for the first time and see the MPR in all its glory. Don’t you get shivers just thinking about it? No? Just me? Well, anyway..

See what hunters and shooters alike have to say about the MPR!

The MPR is hard not to love with its lightweight frame that maintains its durability all while providing an accurate shot – Sub-MOA accurate that is, and still only weighing in at 6.9 lbs. It’s the perfect companion for any hunting trip, and it is a head-turner at the range. I’m sure we can both go on and on about why we love the MPR, but instead we want to thank you for making the MPR what it is today. Our fan-favorite rifle is loved by many, and that is why we are offering a limited time discount on MPR accessories through Friday! Enjoy 15% off the following accessories and gear when using code “MPR15“:

4″ Bottom Picatinny Rail

One Piece Scope Base  – Std Remington 700 Action (also applies for bronze version)

Green Short Sleeve MPR Tee

Modern Precision Rifle Monopod Rail

Venetian Grey Short Sleeve MPR Logo Tee

The Modern Precision Rifle is offered in Black or Desert Brown anodized finishes and is available in barrel lengths ranging from 16 to 27 inches. Chamberings include: 223 Remington, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 6.5 Creedmoor, 308 Winchester, 300 Winchester Magnum, 300 Norma Magnum, 300 PRC, and 338 Lapua Magnum. The Modern Precision Rifle weighs in starting at 6.9 pounds and is backed by the Christensen Arms Sub-MOA Guarantee.

Jim Shockey – Team Christensen Arms

By Christensen Arms

Jim Shockey

A New Partnership

Jan 13, 2020 | Christensen Arms

The people who choose to join you along the way make all the difference. With that in mind—we are excited to announce that Jim Shockey has joined Christensen Arms as a member of our professional hunting team. Jim Shockey is an internationally renowned award-winning outdoor writer, wildlife photographer, videographer, naturalist, wilderness guide, and outfitter with decades of experience in the field. 

According to the man himself: “I started my hunting career as a rifle hunter. Then switched to bowhunting, then to muzzleloader hunting and for the past many years I’ve been doing all three. With 50 years of hunting experience now under my belt, I’m going to use the best bow, best muzzleloader and best rifle for what I do. And when it comes to rifles, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best for me is Christensen Arms!” 

“The people at Christensen are serious riflemen,” Shockey announced last week. “They understand all of the elements that go into making a true precision hunting rifle. It didn’t take me long to appreciate their exacting attention to detail. Do yourself a favor, check out Christensen Arms; don’t wait 50 years like I did!”

In the coming months Jim Shockey will embark on a wide variety of hunts and adventures that will put his Christensen Arms firearms to the test in the environments they were built for. We’re confident that we engineer some of the most advanced firearms on earth. Now—we’re excited to watch him accomplish the rest.

2020 Shooting Illustrated Golden Bullseye “Rifle of the Year” Award

By Christensen Arms

2020 Rifle of the Year

Modern Precision Rifle

Jan 6, 2020 | Christensen Arms

We have always built our guns for performance in the field, never focused on the awards or accolades involved. Still, when you command the best of American engineering and focus on the innovative materials and processes required to build a better firearm that outperforms the rest, it’s hard to go unnoticed. This year we are incredibly proud to announce that our Modern Precision Rifle has been awarded the 2020 Shooting Illustrated Golden Bullseye “Rifle of the Year” Award

The Modern Precision Rifle is an ultra-lightweight chassis rifle that represents the best of our 25 years of carbon fiber and custom firearms experience. 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, side-baffle muzzle brake, and a 20 MOA rail. Each and every element has been redefined down to the smallest components to ensure that the firearm delivers effortless form and function.

Shooting Illustrated Rifles editor Steve Adelmann said it best himself: “The Modern Precision Rifle handled extremely well throughout my test. Its action cycled smoothly, while extraction, ejection and feeding were all flawless. The test gun’s trigger broke cleanly and consistently, shot after shot. Accuracy was excellent and were it not for the fact that I included one factory hunting load that seldom shoots accurately, the sample rifle would have bested all others I have tested in the overall accuracy department. 

Of the three good loads I used, the worst group fired measured .72 MOA in extreme spread. The best group of the day was just .19 MOA. That is fantastic performance from a factory rifle that weighs in at less than 8 pounds. This rifle would be an excellent choice for back-country hunting over long distances or for other situations where shedding weight without sacrificing accuracy or velocity is most important.” 

The Modern Precision Rifle is offered in Black or Desert Brown anodized finishes and is available in barrel lengths ranging from 16 to 27 inches. Chamberings include: 223 Remington, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 6.5 Creedmoor, 308 Winchester, 300 Winchester Magnum, 300 Norma Magnum, 300 PRC, and 338 Lapua Magnum. The Modern Precision Rifle weighs in starting at 6.9 pounds and is backed by the Christensen Arms Sub-MOA Guarantee.

2019 in Review: Most Popular Chamberings

By Christensen Arms

Most Popular Chamberings

2019 in Review

Dec 23, 2019 | Christensen Arms

We did not take 2019 lightly. This year we challenged ourselves to push harder, build bigger, and continue to redefine American-made firearms. We achieved all of those goals and more not only with hard work—but also thanks to our employees, our friends, and Christensen Arms owners. Now, we look back on the most popular chamberings that dominated the year. Here’s the breakdown of everything we built in 2019:

Just as it has in previous years 6.5 Creedmoor (6.5 CRDMR) leads the list for bolt-action rifles. This highly versatile do-anything cartridge has a well-deserved reputation for long-range accuracy on the range and a broad array of hunting applications. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a lightweight short-action round that produces less recoil than other popular chamberings. Shooters can generally expect a relatively long barrel life and common availability of ammunition. For hunting, 6.5 Creedmoor is suitable for most game smaller than elk or moose.

Plenty of our owners favor the classic .300 Winchester Magnum (300 WIN MAG) as an all-around hunting and target shooting cartridge. It certainly isn’t a new long-action chambering, but has earned its keep with serious long-range performance that delivers hard hitting shots without the recoil of larger rounds. If you’re only going to ever hunt with one rifle this might be the caliber for you. This cartridge is powerful enough to hunt nearly any animal found in North America, but it is particularly popular for elk, moose, and bighorn sheep.

The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge (6.5 PRC) is a relatively new long-range offering developed by Hornady®. The use of moderate powder charges creates a cartridge that is accurate and enjoys a reasonable barrel life without heavy recoil. Often represented as an attempt to improve on the wildly popular 6.5 Creedmoor, those who choose 6.5 PRC should enjoy the high velocities and long-range potential possible with the short-action round. Although primarily designed for competition, hunters will find the chambering suitable for most game.

Another Hornady invention, the .300 Precision Rifle Cartridge (300 PRC) was first introduced late last year and has quickly grown a sizable following as a powerful long-range option. The round is a .30 caliber non-belted magnum originally developed for precision shooting applications. Popular with bench and tactical shooters, it has also won over hunters and has the capacity to handle the majority of large game.

A more traditional cartridge—the .308 Winchester (308 WIN) has achieved notable recognition as a highly versatile short-action chambering. A firearm chambered in .308 Winchester will not consistently achieve the same long-range performance as 6.5 Creedmoor, but will likely experience a longer barrel life. As one of the most popular hunting cartridges of all time, ammunition is widely available for this chambering. A larger round, the .308 Winchester is well suited for most medium to large sized game including elk and moose.

Our most popular Modern Sporting Rifle offering .223 Wylde (223 WYLDE) allows a firearm to utilize either .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition. The chambering is a top choice for everything from competition shooters to varmint hunters. Ammunition is widely available and responsible users can expect an ample barrel life. Very comfortable on the range, .223 Wylde is also ideal for small predators and small game.

Universally popular, 6.5 Creedmoor (6.5 CRDMR) and .308 Winchester (308 WIN) also dominated our Modern Sporting Rifle category.

Both 9x19mm Parabellum (9MM) and .45 ACP (45 ACP) are well suited for a 1911 platform—and available in all of our pistol offerings. Those who choose 9mm likely do so because it’s fast and light, leading to lesser recoil and extra magazine capacity. Ammunition also tends to be cheaper and more plentiful in contrast. Less popular with Christensen Arms owners this year, 45 ACP is a larger and heavier caliber prefered by those who seek additional stopping power and are willing to tolerate the recoil.

If your chambering didn’t make the list don’t fret—whether you choose to follow the crowd or opt for something less conventional you’re still shooting a Christensen Arms firearm.

Want to see the changes for yourself? View our 2018 report here. 

Celebrating 24 Years

By Christensen Arms

Celebrating 24 Years

Since 1995

Oct 30, 2019 | Christensen Arms

In the fall of 1995, a few great ideas converged in a small Utah town and it began like all great American origin stories do—in a garage. The space was common but the technology was not, a group of inspired minds straying far from the way things had always been done: utilizing the same materials and processes they had mastered during aircraft production to forge something no one could call traditional. Christensen Arms developed and patented the first carbon fiber rifle barrel soon after, and never looked back.

From the very first prototype to our current models, Christensen Arms firearms have always been the product of American engineering and the best of American manufacturing. We look forward to many more years of refusing to settle for anything less.

Competitive Shooting with Christensen Arms

By Christensen Arms

Shooting with Christensen Arms

3-Gun / Multi-Gun

Aug 12, 2019 | Christensen Arms

Multi-Gun competitive shooting encourages competitors to push the limits of their skills in a challenging environment. Equipment makes all the difference too—with many passionate 3-Gun and Multi-Gun participants choosing to carry our CA-15 and other Modern Sporting Rifle platforms into the field. Here are a few of the talented men and women who shoot Christensen Arms: 

Josh Wakamatsu

“I have always set my sights on being the best shooter I can be. Where does that put me compared to the tops guys in the country? I don’t know, but it keeps me motivated trying to improve and get better. 

I’ve been fortunate to have several shooting clubs that have helped me grow and progress as a shooter. Starting out is hard and there is so much to figure out.  Not only the shooting aspect, but gear as well. As I’ve progressed and gotten better, I’ve found it rewarding to be able to help shooters old and new and teach them what I’ve learned. This is a sport about progression and perfection. Always striving to get better and better. Being able to bring new people into the sport and help it grow gives me enjoyment.

I started competing in 3-Gun / Multi -Gun competitions at the beginning of 2013.  I shoot about 5-7 major matches a year. I consistently place in the top 5 and have won my division several times. I was able to win a National title at the United Multi-Gun League National Championships earlier this year.” – Josh Wakamatsu

Casey Pratt

“I am still technically a rookie and shot my first major match in October 2015. I’m pretty new to the game but have been lucky to surround myself with veteran shooters who are among the best. My life in the 3-Gun game started when I happened onto a 3-Gun match while rodeoing in southern Utah. I was instantly HOOKED! Shortly there after I built my own private range where I try and shoot everyday. 

It’s a huge honor to represent Christensen Arms and shoot their rifles. They have a long legacy in the shooting and hunting world and to be a part of that is something I do not take for granted. Their rifles are outstanding and the people behind them are even better! I’ve gotten to know the Christensen Arms team and watching and learning from them has been priceless. Shooting for Christensen Arms gives me a lot of confidence as their guns function flawlessly, are a work of art, and the accuracy is easily sub-MOA. 

I am currently shooting Open and 2×4 Open divisions in 3-Gun competitions. It is the ‘top fuel” division where almost anything goes as far as equipment and optics. This is where the CA-15 thrives.” – Casey Pratt

Bennie Cooley

Bennie Cooley has extensive experience in Counter Terrorism and SWAT training and has cross-trained and trained with various tactical organizations to include specialized units within our military, federal, state and county law enforcement organizations. Bennie has served on the board of directors for the Mountain States Tactical Officers Association, and received their Excellence Award in recognition for winning back-to-back National SWAT Team Championship in Gainesville Georgia. Bennie has also received two World Class Quality Improvement Awards for his leadership and training of personnel where he is recognized for his outstanding ability to instruct and develop individuals in CQB Shooting, Long Range Engagements, Active Shooter and Hostage Rescue Operations. 

7-time Winner – International Tactical Long-Range Rifle Championships, Gillette, Wyoming
5-time Winner – USPSA Multi-Gun Nationals, Las Vegas, Nevada
4-time Winner – SOF 3-Gun World Championships Law Enforcement Team Champions
4-time Winner – MGM Multigun Ironman Match, Parma, Idaho
3-time Winner – SOF 3-Gun World Championships, Las Vegas, Nevada
2-time Winner – Team Leader National Championship of SWAT, Gainesville, Georgia
2-time Winner – Secretaries Trophy First Place Team, Central Training Academy
2-time Winner – North Carolina Tactical 3-Gun Championships, Fayetteville
2-time Winner – Mystery Mountain 3-Gun Championships, Phoenix, Arizona
1-time Winner – World Sniper Championships, Camp Atterbury, Indiana
1-time Winner – Sniper Challenge, Stephenville, Texas, Match Winner
1-time Winner – Department of Energy (DOE) Small Arms Tournament, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tim Panic

“I started my Multi-Gun career two years ago in April 2017 and I was hooked. I was fortunate to go to a local club that has some top-level shooters, and I saw what real speed and accuracy looked like. I loved the camaraderie within the sport and the drive of other competitors to help new shooters succeed. I dove headfirst into learning about the best equipment, my Christensen Arms CA-15 being one of my first rifle purchases specifically for 3-Gun. I loved the unique look of the carbon fiber barrel, and that it was a locally owned company. 

Because of the support from fellow shooters I was able to learn so much, and I wanted to push myself until I found my limit. Throughout the last few years I have met so many awesome people and have been lucky enough to train with the best. This has pushed my abilities farther than I could have alone. This year, I was thrilled to finish First in 2×4 Open at the 2019 Limcat custom UML District 1 Championship, and Second in 2×4 Open for the 2019 Cedar Valley Multi-Gun Championship, and the 2019 Sig Sauer UML Multi-Gun Championship.” – Tim Panic

Ed Espinoza

Ed Espinoza is currently a law enforcement officer in California. Ed has experience as a SWAT team leader and sniper. Ed is retire from the United States Marine Corps Reserve where he served numerous tours in Iraq as well as being a team member where he competed in both service rifle and pistol. Ed had earned both the Distinguished Marksman and Distinguished Pistol Shot Badges and was a member of the President’s 100 for both rifle and pistol. Ed currently competes in USPSA pistol, pistol caliber carbine, Multi-Gun and UML Multi-Gun.

1st Place 2019 Limcat United Multi-Gun 2×4 Tactical Division
2nd Place 2016 SafariLand Expedition 2×4 Multi-Gun
1st Place 2008 Pacific Navy Rifle Match

Christensen Arms Owners

By Christensen Arms

Christensen Arms Owners

Featured Content

Jul 22, 2019 | Christensen Arms

Few things inspire us quite like exceptional firearms—the passion of our team, our friends, and Christensen Arms owners. Do you have an experience you’d like to share? Visit our Content Upload page to submit images and tell your story. While we receive far too many submissions to showcase them all, here are a handful of recent uploads:

Montana Mountain Goat & Pronghorn

Mesa Long Range

“Nothing like using a great rifle to teach your nephew the finer points of long range shooting on a Saturday afternoon!” – Tom

Kaibab Buck

Share Your Experience

By Christensen Arms

Share Your Experience

Featured Content

Mar 25, 2019 | Christensen Arms

Our greatest successes are not just the products we build everyday, but the accomplishments of those who choose to carry our firearms. Do you have a Christensen Arms experience you’d like to share? Visit our Content Upload page to submit images and tell your story. While we receive far too many submissions to showcase them all—here are a handful of recent uploads:

Barbary Sheep in New Mexico

This is a picture of my Christensen Arms Ridgeline .300 win mag in front of a Barbary Sheep from New Mexico. These sheep live in some of the roughest terrain and mountains that New Mexico has to offer and my Christensen Arms has played a huge role in my success of hunting these sheep and all the other species that I hunt every year, I am very pleased with the way my Christensen Arms has performed and can definitely say that it is by far the best gun that I have ever owned.” – Noah

CA-10 in 6.5 Creedmoor

“My son Griffin harvested this buck this year from 320 yards with a CA-10 Chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. We love Christensen rifles!! The whole family uses them!” – Jake

Mesa in Left-Hand

“Just received my Mesa in 6.5 creed a week before Christmas and I finally got a chance to head to the range today. Wow! The accuracy of this rifle is unmatched. Super tight groups immediately out of the box. With just factory loads it is a hole cutter. I am so jacked up about this gun! It was well worth wait being left handed for a quality rifle that is unmatched by any other manufacturer out there!! I am a guide out of Montana and I can’t wait to put it to use on some of my own tags next fall!!! Thanks for making such an awesome rifle!!!” – Keith

2018 in Review: Most Popular Chamberings

By Christensen Arms

Most Popular Chamberings

2018 in Review

Dec 19, 2018 | Christensen Arms

Perhaps our greatest year yet—2018 brought untold triumphs and new milestones both for Christensen Arms and those who choose to carry our guns. We released new products, celebrated once-in-a-lifetime hunts (ours and yours), and built a long list of great firearms along the way. These are not simply things we achieved by ourselves, but a culmination of the efforts of our employees, our friends, and Christensen Arms owners. Now, we look back on the most popular chamberings that dominated the year. Here’s the breakdown of everything we built in 2018:

Few will be surprised that 6.5 Creedmoor (6.5 CRDMR) leads the list for bolt-action rifles. This highly versatile do-anything cartridge has a well-deserved reputation for long-range accuracy on the range and a broad array of hunting applications. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a lightweight short-action round that produces less recoil than other popular chamberings. Shooters can generally expect a relatively long barrel life and common availability of ammunition. For hunting, 6.5 Creedmoor is suitable for most game smaller than elk or moose.

Generations of Americans have favored the .300 Winchester Magnum (300 WIN MAG) as an all-around hunting and target shooting cartridge. It certainly isn’t a new long-action chambering, but has earned its keep with serious long-range performance that delivers hard hitting shots without the recoil of larger rounds. If you’re only going to ever hunt with one rifle this might be the caliber for you. This cartridge is powerful enough to hunt nearly any animal found in North America, but it is particularly popular for elk, moose, and bighorn sheep.

The 7mm Remington Magnum (7MM REM MAG) is a tried and true round that has stood the test of time. Similar in size to the .300 Winchester Magnum, this long-action chambering is capable of achieving slightly longer distances with less recoil. Barrel life will generally also be comparable to .300 Winchester Magnum. Hunters will find the 7mm Remington Magnum suitable for deer, sheep, elk, and some larger game.

Another traditional cartridge, the .308 Winchester (308 WIN) has achieved notable recognition as a highly versatile short-action chambering. A firearm chambered in .308 Winchester will not consistently achieve the same long-range performance as 6.5 Creedmoor, but will likely experience a longer barrel life. As one of the most popular hunting cartridges of all time, ammunition is widely available for this chambering. A larger round, the .308 Winchester is well suited for most medium to large sized game including elk and moose.

28 Nosler (28 NOSLER) is the newest chambering to make our bolt-action rifle list. A powerful long range cartridge, the round has become a favorite among hunters in the few short years since its introduction. While the long-action round delivers fast and flat performance the velocity can lead to a shorter barrel life than other popular chamberings. Availability of ammunition for this chambering may also be a concern for some shooters. Well suited for bigger game, 28 Nosler is ideal for deer, elk, moose, and more.

For those who favor versatility .223 Wylde (223 WYLDE) allows a Modern Sporting Rifle to safely shoot either .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition. The chambering is a top choice for everything from competition shooters to varmint hunters. Ammunition is widely available and responsible users can expect an ample barrel life. Very comfortable on the range, .223 Wylde is also ideal for small predators and small game.

Universally popular, 6.5 Creedmoor (6.5 CRDMR) and .308 Winchester (308 WIN) also dominated our Modern Sporting Rifle category.

The debate between 9x19mm Parabellum (9MM) and .45 ACP (45 ACP) is certainly not a new one. Both chamberings are well suited for a 1911 platform—and available in all of our pistol offerings. Those who choose 9mm likely do so because it’s fast and light, leading to lesser recoil and extra magazine capacity. Ammunition also tends to be cheaper and more plentiful in contrast. Less popular with Christensen Arms owners this year, 45 ACP is a larger and heavier caliber prefered by those who seek additional stopping power and are willing to tolerate the recoil.

If your chambering didn’t make the list don’t fret—whether you choose to follow the crowd or opt for something less conventional you’re still shooting a Christensen Arms firearm.