In Praise of Newer Rifles

Christensen Arms Model 14 MPR, chambered in 6 Creedmoor and fitted with a Sightron S1 4-12x40 scope.

by Terry Wieland

Every so often, I get a letter asking why I never write about newer rifles and cartridges—these being, in some minds, anything made after 1945.  My answer is that I do, when something comes along that is worth writing about.

This is one of those times, and the Christensen Model 14 MPR (Modern Precision Rifle) is one of those guns.  As you can see from the photos, this is a thoroughly modern rifle, built in the tactical taste that has emerged over the last 20 years.

The action is a Model 700 (Remington) clone, the barrel is carbon-fire wrapped, and the stock is mostly carbon fibre.  Like an FN-FAL paratrooper model, it has a stock that folds, rather than telescopes, which I consider to be a huge benefit.

The Christensen’s folding stock reduces the rifle’s length to less than a Mannlicher-Schönauer Model 1903.

Christensen Arms was founded in 1993 by aerospace engineer Roland Christensen, and is located in Utah.  Christensen pioneered the use of carbon fibre for wrapping stainless steel barrels.  I could go into all the technical aspects of this—at least, those I think I understand—but if you’re interested, you can find it on Christensen’s website:

The company began with .22 rifles, then expanded into centerfire, and finally began making carbon-fibre stocks.  The rifles come in various configurations, in different degrees of traditional and radically modern, but all emphasize long-range shooting, especially at targets.

The MPR I got for testing is chambered in 6 Creedmoor, which is the 6.5 Creedmoor necked down.  It is roughly the same power as a .243 Winchester but modernized in the sense that it will accommodate long, heavy-for-caliber bullets, seated well out, and still fit the magazine.

One thing I prize very highly in a rifle is versatility, and versatility is one of the MPR’s selling points.  In a world of arcane specialization, having a rifle billed as “jack of all trades and master of all” is refreshing.

While primarily touted as a long-range target rifle, the MPR also makes a fine mountain rifle.  It is not too heavy (weight beginning at 6.9 pounds) and with its folding stock it can be stowed in an alpine backpack for comfortable carrying up the mountain.  With the stock folded, the rifle is a trifle under 36 inches—three inches shorter than my beloved Mannlicher-Schönauer Model 1903.

With a scope mounted, as seen here, and five rounds of ammunition, the rifle weighs 9.5 pounds, which is light only by the standards of carting a fully loaded AR up a mountan.  But, compared with modern configurations based on sniper rifles, it is light, compact, and handy.

A note on the folding stock.  Most ARs have stocks that telescope, moving in and out at the push of a button, and often spring-loaded.  This is particularly true of the adjustable combs.  In my experience, sugh gadgetry malfunctions all too often, accidentally changing length and height when you least desire it.