It’s tough to move the needle making bolt action rifles. Companies make slight modifications to barrels, stocks, and actions, but (generally speaking) the tried-and-true design hasn’t seen any significant improvements in the last 100 years. That might change with the new HYBRID from New Zealand gunmaker Hardy Rifles.
The HYBRID is a carbon-fiber rifle featuring a quick-change barrel and bolt face system that allows users to swap calibers in a matter of minutes. There’s no need to check headspace—users simply swap the bolt head and barrel using the provided tools and get back to shooting.
If that sounds too good to be true, you’re not alone. That’s why we caught up with Hardy Rifles founder Dan Hardy at SHOT Show 2020 to see it for ourselves.
The first thing you notice about the HYBRID is the weight. Carbon fiber isn’t new, but the HYBRID maximizes the material’s potential. The carbon-wrapped barrel reduces the weight from 9.6 pounds for an all-steel barrel of the same profile to only 6.7 pounds. The stock is carbon fiber as well, and it appears to be both lightweight and durable.
Along with the rifle, the HYBRID package comes with two tools that allow users to quickly and safely change calibers. The first, a bolt head changing tools, removes the bolt head to accommodate calibers from .223 Rem all the way up to .338 Lapua.
Once the bolt head has been changed, users swap barrels using the provided torque wrench. The wrench is set to only one weight, so users don’t have to worry about over or under-tightening the two bolts that hold the barrel in place. The package also comes with a shim to help ensure the rifle returns to zero even after the barrel has been removed and replaced.
Why might you need a quick-change barrel system? As Hardy pointed out, it could be useful for hunters wanting to target both predators and large game on the same trip, or competitive shooters who want a fresh barrel on the day of a match. If nothing else, the HYBRID’s modularity means you don’t have to purchase a different rifle for every application—one rifle can accommodate a huge range of calibers for hunting and competition.
Hardy also made improvements to the bolt itself. Rather than the conventional design, which conducts primary extraction in the last five degrees of bolt lift, the HYBRID uses a buttress thread system that spreads that extraction process throughout the 90 degrees of lift. This system both reduces stress on fired brass and the extractor, and makes the system more reliable.
Only a full review can confirm the functionality of the HYBRID, but we’re intrigued. Hardy says users can expect sub-.5” groups at 100 yards with reloads, and he says he’s never seen a group with factory loads that’s exceeded .75”.
It’s not all good news, unfortunately. The HYBRID won’t be available to U.S. customers until September (via Legacy Sports), and it’ll cost you: Hardy plans to sell the HYBRID package for $6,600. The package comes with a bipod, a case, magazines, one barrel, bolt, an extra bolt head, and the tools needed to swap calibers.Click here to learn more about the HYBRID from Hardy Rifles.