2023 Editor’s Choice Award – Christensen Modern Hunting Rifle

Christensen Modern Hunting Rifle

The accuracy of a chassis rifle with the ergonomics of a hunting rifle

The main drawback of chassis rifles for hunting is the fact that most are substantially heavier and clunkier than traditional rifles. The On Target Editors’ Choice Award-winning Christensen Arms Modern Hunting Rifle (MHR) changes that equation in a platform that’s light enough for everyday hunting and boasts modularity in spades.

One of the first to use carbon fiber in the barrel-making process — and the longest in the game — is Christensen Arms. The MHR gets a free-floating 22-inch (tested) or 24-inch 416R stainless steel, carbon fiber-wrapped barrel with a match-grade chamber that’s hand-lapped for accuracy. Fitted to the 5/8X24 muzzle threads is a very effective side-baffle muzzle brake.

Designed to combine a chassis rifle’s accuracy with a hunting rifle’s ergonomics, the MHR is built upon an aluminum mini-chassis with V-block bedding. The gun has a lightweight Christensen FFT (flash forged technology) carbon fiber stock with a modular rear stock, modular grip, and modular handguard that can all be tailored to suit the individual shooter. Length of pull is adjustable with spacers, and the stock has a toolless adjustable comb. The FFT stock employs monocoque or “single-shell” construction in which the structure is supported by a thin but strong external skin, saving considerable weight. Combined with a carbon fiber-wrapped barrel, the rifle weighs just 7.4 pounds, which is quite light for a chassis gun.

The stock has numerous options for attaching slings and accessories. There are six QD flush cups in various locations on the stock, a forward Picatinny rail beneath the forend, and two M-LOK attachment points on the sides of the forend. Stocks have a black hardcoat surface, and the anodized receiver is offered in your choice of black, desert brown (shown), or tungsten-protective Cerakote finishes.

The MHR combines an aluminum chassis with lightweight yet incredibly ridged  FFT (flash forged technology) carbon fiber buttstock and forend. The buttstock, forend, and pistol grip are all modular components and can be swapped out for current or soon-to-be-available variations of each. Length out pull is adjustable via spacers, and cheek riser height is adjustable with the push of a button.

The push-feed action has a bolt with two substantial locking lugs, an enlarged ejection port, an improved bolt release, and accepts standard Remington 700 optics base mounts. The bolt handle is skeletonized to reduce weight, and the design of the bolt knob provides a sure grip. The rifle is initially equipped with a hinged floorplate magazine holding four rounds for standard chamberings and three for magnum cartridges. An AICS detachable magazine conversion is in the works. The rifle sent to me for testing, chambered in 308 Win, came with a 20 MOA Picatinny rail installed.

Highlights of the MHR push-feed action include a bolt with two substantial locking lugs, an enlarged ejection port, a skeletonized bolt handle, an FFT bolt knob, an improved bolt release, a clean and crisp Trigger Tech adjustable trigger, and an oversized trigger guard for gloved hands. An internal hinged floorplate magazine is standard, but an AICS detachable magazine conversion is in the works.

The MHR is initially offered in eight chamberings with an emphasis on cartridges that can deliver good performance at distance. Rifles come with 416R stainless steel, button-rifled, carbon fiber-wrapped barrels that dissipate heat quickly. They have match-grade chambers and are free-floated and hand-lapped for accuracy. The business end is threaded 5/8X24 and comes with a side-baffle muzzle brake that does an excellent job of mitigating recoil. Rifles chambered in 7mm Rem Mag and 7mm PRC have 24-inch barrels. All others have 22-inch barrels.

The MHR fed, fired, extracted, and ejected rounds with no issues during testing. The bolt cycled quite smoothly, and the two-position rocker-style safety was in easy reach of the thumb. The rifle’s adjustable Trigger Tech trigger is a good one; it breaks crisply with no hint of creep. The pull weight measured at 3 lbs., 7 oz., and I left it at that setting for testing.

Boiling the MHR down, Christensen has successfully designed a modular chassis gun specifically for hunting that’s actually light enough to hunt with. The author reports that the MHR functioned flawlessly during testing.

The MHR rifle comes with an MOA accuracy guarantee, but I expected range testing to produce mixed results for a couple reasons. First, I deliberately handicapped the rifle by testing it with only factory-hunting ammo. Second, I had to squeeze all testing into a narrow window between Texas storm fronts and contend with full-value wind varying 8-16 mph with gusts to 20 mph. Even so, the rifle produced good groups for the conditions with four tested loads. Top accuracy honors went to a Federal Premium 308 Win. 175 gr. Terminal Ascent load, which produced average groups of 0.90 inches and a best group of 0.79 inches. I consider that excellent accuracy given the shooting conditions.

This group, fired with a Federal Premium 308 Win 175 gr. Terminal Ascent load, was typical of performance on a day when the author had to contend with full-value wind gusting to 20 mph. Horizontal stringing is evident as a result, but the MHR rifle delivered on its sub-MOA accuracy guarantee despite the conditions.

I’ve shot some of the tightest groups I’ve ever shot with Christensen rifles, and I made my best long-range shot ever, at 40 yards beyond one mile with one. The price of entry for that kind of performance isn’t cheap. The MHR has an MSRP of $3,499, but it’s worth it if you aspire to own a relatively lightweight chassis gun with customizable hunting rifle ergonomics. See one in person at your nearest dealer, or for more information, contact Christensen Arms; Tel.: (888) 517-8855; Web: www.christensenarms.comMike Dickerson


Caliber:                      .308 Win.

Action Type:                Bolt

Barrel:                        22-inch stainless, carbon fiber-wrapped

Rate of twist:              1:10”

Finish:                        Anodized, Cerakote

Stock:                        FFT carbon fiber, modular

Capacity:                   4+1

Sights:                      Picatinny rail

Weight:                     7.4 lbs

MSRP:                       $3,499.99