The millions of American riflemen smitten with the Mauser 98/Winchester M70-platform bolt-action have a new suitor in Montana Rifle Company (MRC). The family-owned and operated company out of Kalispell, Montana, initially earned its spurs supplying barreled actions for the custom-gunsmithing trade and then progressed to making its own custom rifles. MRC’s Model 1999 action closely resembles the M70’s footprint and controls, but relies on the Mauser’s cone-breech C-ring design for greater strength, and features five-point gas venting system that gives shooters superior protection from case failure. MRC now offers numerous model variations in both fine walnut and synthetic stocks, as well as different action and barrel lengths. The really exciting news is that MRC is getting close to introducing a production model that will be very close in quality and features to its custom rifles, but at a much lower price, reportedly in the $1,000 range.
Last week I joined MRC’s Jeff Sipe for a Texas nilgai hunt and enjoyed my first opportunity to shoot one of his rifles (the company was actually founded by Jeff’s dad). Using a long-range model chambered in .338 Lapua Mag., we both did something pretty unusual—drop a nilgai bull in its tracks—one shot and down for the count. These 600-700-lb. antelope, successfully introduced to the south Texas brush country several decades back and widespread now, have a big reputation for toughness. For years, hunting writers have reported just how difficult to drop a nilgai cleanly, almost equating them to Cape buffalo-level toughness. So call it the exception to the rule, dumb luck or whatever, when we came equipped with a really accurate rifle in a really hard-hitting caliber and put our shots where it really counted—BAM! Check it out below.