October 10, 2012
Maybe it is lazy, maybe it is just smart, but the older I get, the less I like carrying weight up a mountain. Hence lighter rifles have started to have more appeal. Five-pound offerings like the Kimber Mountain Ascent and the MG Arms Ultra-Light tend to take up most of my fantasy time these days. Knowing this affinity for featherweights, David Faubion, Petersen's Hunting Associate Editor, popped into my office the other afternoon and exclaimed, "I found your dream rifle: a full-size .22 LR that weighs only 15 ounces!"
"Fifteen ounces? A full ounce under a pound? You have to be kidding me," I replied. Then he sent me the link to the website. To say I was intrigued is an understatement.
Ruta Locura, a company specializing in ultra-light mountaineering gear, offers a Pack Rifle Kit (PRK) that essentially replaces the stock and barrel of a standard Crickett .22 youth rifle with a carbon fiber wrapped barrel and carbon fiber tubular stock. Amazed, I ordered one immediately, but I had to find a Crickett rifle to salvage the action from before beginning. Luckily, since Savage introduced the Rascal (a much safer and better-designed youth rifle), a used Crickett can be found gathering dust in nearly any gun shop in America for not a lot of coin. I found one at Pekin Gun Shop right down the road from our office. It sported a horrific hot pink stock and a scratched-up barrel, but since I would be tossing both, I didn't mind. A hundred dollars later, I walked out of the store with pink rifle in hand, head bowed to avoid running into anyone I might know.
When the kit arrived, I pulled off the existing stock and barrel — one bolt for the stock, one screw and a pin for the barrel — and slipped in the new carbon barrel. One wing bolt later, and the stock was installed. All told, the conversion took less than 10 minutes. Completed, I set the gun on our postage scale and watched as the magical 15.0 ounces appeared.
At the range, I fired a selection of ammo from Federal, CCI, Eley, and Winchester. At 25 yards, using the existing rear peep and triangle front sight, I was able to keep all of the ammo under half an inch for five-shot groups. This is the practical accuracy of the unit as allowed by the sights.
I thought the rifle might be uncomfortable due to its unconventional stock design, but a half-dozen men shot it and were amazed at how comfortable it was.
If you really wanted to test the accuracy of the gun, Crickett does make a scope base, and the receiver is drilled and tapped. My guess is the accuracy would be far better with a scope, but for what I intend to use the rifle for — namely keeping it in my pack on backcountry hunts to shoot grouse, rabbits, and squirrels — the factory sights are lightweight and plenty accurate. However, If your eyesight is failing, it would add less than an ounce to the package to install a Trijicon RMR or a EOTech MRDS for improved aiming in low-light conditions.
My PRK came with a thin nylon sling and a lightweight, water-resistant nylon case with a compartment for a box of ammo. In addition to the accessories, the hollow-tube buttstock (with a liquid compass in back) has ample room for a small survival kit, making the PRK a grab and go "must-have" for any backcountry adventure.
Fully kitted out with 50 rounds of ammo and a survival kit, the whole package doesn't even break the pound-and-a-half mark. And with CCI's new Quiet-22 frangible ammo, the report is like a BB gun, enabling you to harvest small game without disturbing the area.