I was asked before why I bought rifles I own and what criteria used to select them, so I thought I might as well tell you about this one, which was my first Scottish rifle.
I shot and enjoyed older Mannlicher rifles and shot quite a few deer and wild boar using my father-in-law’s old M model rifles in .30-06 and 7×64. I wanted something similar, but decided against wooden stock because of Scottish weather… Also decided to limit myself to most popular cartridges so I could easily pick up factory ammo in any local gun shop. I excluded 7×64. It might be most popular cartridge on the continent, but not in the UK… I also wanted it to be “all deer legal” so it had to be at least .240″ caliber shooting 100gr bullets. I also did not want too spend to much money and was looking for a used rifle. Quick look on the GunTrader showed biggest choice of .243Win and .308Win. Because not all .243 rifles can shoot well 100gr bullets, for my first Scottish rifle I went for .308Win.
So I started looking for a used .308 rifle in synthetic stock, threaded for a sound moderator if possible. I am not a fan of American rifles so excluded all Remingtons, Rugers, etc and was left with a choice of European rifles with CZ at the bottom and Blaser being the most expensive. I limited myself to £500-700 range and my choice was mainly between CZ, Steyr, Tikka and Sako. I had nothing against any of these brands and simply went for something that was best value for money at the time. Soon I spotted a deal on one of the forums for a Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter stainless synthetic in my caliber of choice, with a T8 moderator and Leupold mounts all within my price range. I already had a spare scope ready to go on top of it.
Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter
So, why not a CZ, Sako or Tikka? All CZs I saw were with open sights so I needed to add the cost of threading. Sakos were usually above my price range and it was for older pre-75 models, hardly any 75s or 85s in .308 to be seen and they were too expensive to buy new… Same with Tikkas. New T3s were about £700 and with Optilock mounts and mod, it would have been £1000 at least…
So I drove to the guy who advertised the Pro Hunter rifle. It looked in good condition, the price was good so I bought it.
There were two models of the synthetic stock Steyrs available at the time: Pro Hunter and Pro Mountain. Pro Hunter had 24″ barrel and Pro Mountain with a shorter 20″ barrel. I personally prefer shorter barrels, but could not find a s/h one at the time. The rifle came factory screw cut 1/2″ UNF and this is a popular thread with plenty of moderators available. Mannlicher “candy twist” barrel is very nice blued and not too bad stainless and they are known to be good quality.
Before I decided to go for Steyr, I did my research and one of the comments I often came across was a mk1 stock’s flexibility issue. Many people claimed that with early Pro Hunter stocks the forehand was too flexible and when shooting off bipod with a heavy moderator such as T8, a barrel would made a contact with the stock and rifle would not shoot consistent tight groups. I handled a mk2 stock in one of the shops and did not see the stock any more flexible than Tikka T3 and other makes that were available at the time. Just when I got the rifle I tried testing this with bending the stock and trying different positions off bipod and never managed to see any fliers. The rifle shoots consistently all the time. One issue I have with this stock is… it is extremely ugly . It must have been the ugliest synthetic stock available at the time. Nowadays there are uglier stocks available from the US such as Ruger American or Savage Edge
In my opinion the stock is well made and could be used by right and left-handed shooters, it came with 3 spacers so length of pull could be adjusted to suit anyone.
Safe bolt system is one of the things you either love or hate. I think it is brilliant. Rifle can be loaded and unloaded with safety on, it can still be de-cocked as any other traditional bolt action rifle with the safety off. Third position when a wee button comes up the bolt can be pressed closer to the stock and the bolt is then locked. To unlock it the button has to be pressed and the safety wheel pushed forward.
Magazine holds 4 .308 rounds and feeds well, I never had any problems with it. It also has two positions: first when the bolt slides over the magazine, but is not picking a round and a standard position. I think it is quite handy feature and is easier to do than to press the round with your finger when locking the bolt or closing the bolt with a magazine in hand. I often hear people complain that the magazine is plastic not metal, I dislike metal magazines. Plastic magazines are lighter and more reliable in my opinion. I also think it was a good improvement over rotary magazines from previous models that cracked easily when dropped.
Zeiss Diavari 2.5-10×52 scope
This rifle has had three or four different scopes so far and at the moment it is Zeiss Diavari 2.5-10×52. Why Zeiss? I like them. I used all top three scopes. In my opinion there is not much between Schmidt & Bender, Swarovski and Zeiss. Swarovski seems to be most expensive both new and second hand. S&B is definitely solid built, but not the lightest of the three. Zeiss is good optically and some bargains can be found. The scope I have is typical older European hunting model with 30mm tube and #1 reticule in the first focal plane. It is not brand new latest model but does the just just fine and for the fraction of the new cost and cheaper than some new Burris, Leupold or the like.
Again, why #1 reticule? They are out of fashion at the moment so can be purchased for less. I don’t see anything wrong with this reticule for small targets and they are brilliant at night and low light.
The rifle I bought came with STD Leupold mounts and they are simple and well made mounts.
How does it shoot? Better than I do… It was shooting around 1-1.5″ with factory ammunition and I was convinced to try handloading. It was one of the best things to do and I soon developed a few consistent loads for the rifle and it started shooting below 0.5″ 5-round groups. I never knew I could shoot that well I developed Hornady SST 150gr load and Speer 180gr load and shot a few roe and red deer with it. I also have Nosler Accubond 165gr bullets to test. In theory this should be a good bullet for my needs, but still have to go through the whole process of load development.
Please have a look at this short review showing main features of the rifle. If you have Google account, please subscribe to my YouTube channel to receive info on my videos and give me “thumbs up” if you like them.