September 17, 2021
When I first handled the new Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0 Ti Carbon rifle, my initial thought was: “Man, this thing is light.”
My second thought was: “This thing is way too light for the magnum cartridge it’s chambered for. I’m not sure I want to shoot this thing.”
Topped with a Zeiss Conquest V4 scope, the rifle tipped the scales somewhere south of 8 lbs. Weatherby lists the rifle’s weight from 5.3-6.6 lbs. without optics or mounts, depending on standard or magnum chambering. That’s an ideal weight for hiking the backcountry in search of elk, mule deer or, as I was planning, black bears. But what about the recoil? Turns out, Weatherby had already solved that problem.
When Weatherby announced the original Backcountry rifle, one of its unique features was a hex 3D-printed recoil pad. And while that pad worked as advertised, it did have a few flaws. So Weatherby re-engineered the design and introduced the new 3DHex pad with an interior honeycomb structure that lengthens the duration of the rifle’s recoil. This spreads the kick out over what amounts to milliseconds, but it’s enough to reduce what should be sharp, painful crack into a subtle push that is more than tolerable and, dare I say, comfortable.
The rifle is also fitted with a recoil-reducing muzzlebrake, which the company calls the Accubrake ST. Milled with 30 ports, the Accubrake ST effectively distributes the gasses as the bullet exits the muzzle to reduce felt recoil and allow the hunter to better stay on target for faster follow-up shots.
Adam Weatherby is a serious backcountry hunter, as is much of the leadership at the storied gunmaker. So, the team there understands ounces make pounds, and to make a true lightweight backcountry rifle means shaving ounces wherever they can. And the best place to start trimming is in the stock design.
The Backcountry 2.0 is fitted with a stock from Peak 44, a newcomer into the hunting accessory market. So new, in fact, that the Blacktooth carbon fiber stock is the company’s first product, which stakes the claim that the Blacktooth is the lightest production carbon fiber stock currently available. Bare bones, the stock weighs just 20 ounces, so their claim is one that’s hard to argue against.
The Peak 44 Blacktooth also incorporates an innovative bedding system called the Rock Solid Carbon Link, which ties the two sides of the stock together with a pair of aluminum pillars to provide a solid platform to mount the rifle’s action. This carbon fiber shelf mates to the recoil lug and transfers energy across the platform upon firing. The design of the carbon fiber weave enhances the stock’s rigidity and strength without the added weight of a traditional aluminum bedding block.
One Gun, Four Options
The Weatherby Backcountry 2.0 comes in four different versions. The heart of the rifle, Weatherby’s legendary Mark V action, is available in a steel version, or a lightweight titanium model. Similarly, Weatherby is offering the choice carbon steel barrels (in #1 or #2 MOD contours) or a #4 stainless steel barrel jacketed by tensioned carbon-fiber from BSF Barrels. All exposed metal has been Cerakoted (except the titanium action, which is left raw for effect), and the rifles are set off by a fluted bolt and skeletonized bolt knob. The trigger is a single-stage TriggerTech model, with a crisp engagement that’s user-adjustable.
- Backcountry 2.0 - $2,499
- Backcountry 2.0 Ti – $3,349
- Backcountry 2.0 Carbon – $2,999
- Backcountry 2.0 Ti Carbon - $3,379
The Backcountry and Bears
My initial trepidation about the rifle’s recoil was quickly squashed with one pull of the trigger. I was lying prone with the Backcountry 2.0 Ti Carbon slung over a pack, settling the crosshairs on a steel target a little more than 300 yards away. Not the ideal position to mitigate recoil, but when the shot broke, I was more than surprised about how little I felt. True to the marketing hype, the combination of 3DHex recoil pad and Accubrake ST gave me what amounted to an easy shove to the shoulder.
Over the course of a week in May, I carried the Backcountry 2.0 Ti Carbon around Wyoming’s Bighorn mountains in search of a black bear. The rifle was pulled in and out of a saddle-mounted scabbard several times a day and slung over my shoulder as I bucked brush and scrambled up loose shale and scree. Much of the time, it sat in the fork of my shooting sticks, with rain, snow, and sleet pelting us as we sat over a bait, waiting for a bear to come in. The rifle’s Cerakote finish and carbon-fiber stock shrugged off all wear and tear, and the rifle came home no worse for wear.
For the first few days of the hunt, we watched a parade of smaller bears hit our bait, and on two separate evenings, stalked after one truly big bear that was living on a steep-pitched mountainside. Finally, on the fourth evening, a mature boar approached the bait, albeit very cautiously. As the bear disappeared behind a large pine, I shouldered the Weatherby Backcountry 2.0 and waited for it reappear. After a few seconds that felt like minutes, the bear stepped out, but instead of stopping at the bait, he ambled toward the cover of the tree line. Luckily, he stopped for just a brief second, giving me time to settle the Zeiss Conquest’s crosshairs.
The shot broke and, thanks to that reduced recoil, I was able to stay on the scope and watch as the bear tumbled downhill into the brush. Just in case, I worked the bolt, which it’s worth noting features a 54-degree throw that is incredibly fast to cycle versus the industry-standard 90-degree bolt throw. As it turns out, a second shot wasn’t needed, and the boar was dead within a few feet of where it stood.