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Christensen Model 14: Style And Performance

By Terry Wieland 

Originally published in the June 2024 edition of Safari Times.

Taste in rifles can be compared to taste in fine automobiles. Mine run to a W.J. Jeffery double, on the one hand, and a Hispano-Suiza J12, on the other, both from 1936. It gets no better.

Having said that, however, does not mean I can’t admire a glittering Lamborghini Countach. One passed me the other day, and I almost went off the road. At least, I think that’s what it was — I only caught a glimpse.

If there is a modern rifle equivalent to that ephemeral vision, the Christensen Arms Model 14 MPR (Modern Precision Rifle) comes pretty close, both in styling and performance. It makes heavy use of carbon fiber, in both barrel and stock, to give the rifle a reptilian, yet strangely attractive, appearance while also enhancing performance.

The one I’ve been shooting is chambered for the 6 Creedmoor, a necked-down 6.5 Creedmoor. It’s not the speed king of the 6 millimeters by any means, being outdistanced in that regard by any number of wildcats and more than a couple of factory cartridges. But sheer speed is not the only measurement, just as it isn’t with a Lamborghini, which hugs the road and takes the turns, while making you feel you’re in some sort of other-worldly spacecraft.

Perhaps I’m overstating for the rifle. How could any bolt action achieve such heights, especially one that, like the Christensen, is based on the Remington Model 700 action, now 62 years old and counting? Well, the Christensen Model 14 resembles a Remington 700 in the way the 700 itself compares to an early Mauser. The lineage is there, and there’s a faint family resemblance, but that’s where it ends.

Roland Christensen is an aerospace engineer who founded Christensen Arms in Utah in 1993. His first work with carbon fiber was wrapping stainless steel barrels. He began with .22s, expanded into centerfires, and finally began making stocks as well.

For those interested in all the arcane technical details, Christensen’s website is christensenarms.com. You can also check out a hands-on report about Christensen Arms, written by Editor-In-Chief Steve Comus, in the July/August issue of SAFARI Magazine. 

For my part, I am more interested in how versatile and user-friendly a rifle is and, in this sense, the Model 14 is a revelation.

First, it comes with all the usual accuracy guarantees, which are effectively meaningless, larded as they are with caveats, conditions and escape clauses. Suffice to say, I took the rifle to the range with several brands of top-notch ammunition, and it reliably planted five bullets into an inch or under with all of them.

Good enough for you? It is for me.

It comes with a folding stock, similar in form to the old FN-FAL paratrooper model, which shortens instantly to carrying size and opens instantly to exactly the right settings, which are firmly locked in place. No fumbling or accidental changes as with the usual telescoping stock.

The stock itself is comfortable in a modified-military sort of way. The all-important trigger pull is exceptional — just under 3 pounds and as crisp as the legendary Sako. Depending on specifications, weights begin at 6.9 pounds. Mine, fitted with a scope, sling and ammunition, weighs 9.5 pounds.

Most military-style rifles are uncomfortable to carry on a sling. With its folding stock, the Christensen can be carried in a small backpack, Alpine style. With the stock folded, it measures just shy of 36 inches—3 inches shorter than the revered Mannlicher-Schönauer Model 1903, the legend against which mountain rifles are traditionally measured.

It’s been more than 30 years since composite-stock rifles really began making an impact, first as fiberglass, later as Kevlar—all loosely termed “plastic”—with many variations in between until we got to carbon fiber. Frankly, I never liked any of them until now. Not just Christensen but Blaser, J.P. Sauer and Springfield Armory are also names that spring to mind when I think of new, modern rifles I’ve found interesting.

And that, right there, is the issue: A rifle can be devastatingly powerful or razor-accurate yet not be particularly interesting. These rifles are interesting — just like, say, a 1936 Hispano-Suiza J12. Style andperformance.

Terry Wieland is a writer specializing in fine firearms. He has hunted on four continents, including 14 trips to Africa, and has written for Safari Times for 27 years. 

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