Hardy Rifle Engineering’s HYBRID switch barrel rifle was one of the coolest things I saw at SHOT Show, yet somehow it managed to slip through the cracks when it came time to writing up my coverage. Offering end users the ability to quickly switch barrels and bolt heads is slick and handy, but the rifle also includes some basic improvements that should make it a great shooter.
As cool as the switch barrel capability is, I think the bolt lug design is likely the biggest functional improvement on the HYBRID as compared to nearly every other bolt action rifle in the world. Employing a corkscrew-like bolt lug system, all 90 degrees of bolt rotation actively close or unlock the bolt. In a typical rifle, only around 5 degrees of rotation moves the bolt forward or rearward.
What this means is significantly smoother primary extraction — that point where the bolt unsticks the brass from the chamber. Instead of a sudden pop, the force is spread out throughout the entire bolt lift, making for a stronger primary extraction and a smoother, lighter bolt lift. I dig it.
Then, of course, there’s the switch barrel capability. Two lugs accessible through the side of the carbon fiber stock lock or unlock the barrel. A pre-set torque wrench is included with the HYBRID so the end user can’t mess this up and always torques to the same spec every single time.
When unlocked, the barrel simply slides right out the front of the action.
The Hardy HYBRID comes with a tool to make disassembly of the bolt very easy. The bearded hipster rep with the Kiwi accent was able to swap bolt heads in well under a minute at a normal pace. Even with what I assume was copious amounts of beard oil on his hands.
Though we can’t verify this yet, of course, they had a few videos looping on their monitors showing an effectively flawless return-to-zero after removing and re-installing the barrels, and even after swapping to a new cartridge requiring a different bolt head and then returning to the original setup.
The entire process was quick and easy enough that you could do it in the field no problem.
We’ll try our best to get a review loaner, but with Hardy in New Zealand I’m not sure how long it will take before these are available from an importer in the U.S. and whether they’ll have loaner guns. The price point is definitely up there.
I can say, however, that I’ve shot a few rifles with Hardy carbon fiber barrels on them from 100 yards to 1,450 yards and they were absolute tack drivers. Without a doubt they make a nice product. Find out more at: https://www.hardyhybrid.com/ and at https://www.hardyrifle.co.nz/
All photos by the author.