STEYR HALF STOCK MOUNTAIN CLASSIC TEST by Mike Powell
Mike Powell is a regular contributor to Sporting Rifle Magazine.
I have personally owned two Steyr rifles, the original Steyr Pro Hunter and then a Steyr Pro Hunter Mountain. These were both synthetic models and very good they were too. When the opportunity cropped up thanks to the Sportsman Gun Centre to try one of the latest half stocked models I jumped at it. To make it even more interesting they would supply it with a Swarovski Z6i scope at to finish off a Roedale sound mod: both of the latter were items I had looked forward to testing.
The rifle was a really good looking piece of kit with the nowadays almost obligatory low hogs back stock. In European walnut with its slender Schnabel forend tipped with rosewood it looked light and attractive and the chequering was very sharp and well placed.
The Steyr rifle I was testing was in .223, but as is normal with this manufacturer there is a very wide range of calibres to choose from.
The round hammer forged barrel shows the characteristic external spirals and is free floated. The Steyr’s barrel and action are finished in a dark grey matt finish which is highly resistant to wear and abrasion and it blends in perfectly with the matt finished woodwork.
The receiver is sleek and fully enclosed except for the ejector port and the cutaway for the usual Steyr Mannlicher “butter knife” bolt handle, this, like the spiral on the barrel has become a trademark of Steyr. The polished bolt body has two gas escape ports preventing gas blowback towards the shooter in the unlikely event of a case bursting.
There is a claw type extractor with a plunger type ejector; this was to prove a very effective system during the test. There are four lugs to lock the bolt arranged in two pairs.
At the end of the bolt sleeve is a hole which allows the end of the firing pin to protrude which acts as a cocking indicator.
The three stage safety located behind the bolt came to the thumb easily, in normal Steyr style, the three settings were 1 safe, bolt locked, 2 safe, bolt operational, 3 fire.Turning the rifle over shows the almost flush fitting four round plastic magazine and the plated, single stage trigger, on this particular Steyr rifle the trigger broke at about 3 pounds which was fine. The magazine itself was removed easily by compressing the two catches situated either side of it.
Overall this is a very nice looking rifle; very pointable and weighing in at just over 7 pounds is certainly no heavy weight. This top quality weapon oozes class and is certainly one of the best in the market place today. At well under £1400 it is excellent value for money, the next and probably the most important thing to test was how it performs in the field.
This particular Steyr rifle was set up for use with one of Swarovski’s Z6i scopes. The one on test was the 2-12 x 50 models, but possibly the most popular model in the range is the 21/2-15x56. I have always thought that most modern scopes whatever the price range will do the job required of them. I have some nice scopes on my own rifles most of them being in the middle to lower price range.
The test scope retailing at £1780 is certainly a step up in price range for me, so what were my first impressions? I have to say I was a bit taken aback! The clarity was amazing but the thing that struck me was the field of view it was stunning, I have to say this is one of the best scopes I have used. This model has an illuminated reticule, a cross hair with centre illuminated dot. As with everything else about this scope the attention to detail was top class, the control for the illuminated reticule was seated at the rear of the scope and was sculpted into the overall shape; a centre switch moved to right or left for daylight or night illumination with tiny control pads for varying the intensity, a memory retains the illumination setting and returns to it each time. A feature that I would find more than useful is the automatic shut down facility to save the battery.
The scope I used had Swarovski’s Optic ballistic turret fitted, this can be used to not only zero but to set various range settings, detailed set up instructions are supplied along with a turret key. This is an extremely high quality scope that although not cheap would last a shooting lifetime.
The rifle came fitted with a Roedale sound moderator, made in Germany and distributed in England by the Sportsman Gun Centre the model supplied was the Delta Ultralight. Theses moderators are very well made, modular, strippable for cleaning and repair and are extremely light.
The model I used weighed in at a modest 200grm which is light by any standard. Performance wise it proved more than adequate on the 223. Sound moderators all do the job they are intended to do, comparisons between makes is at best an imprecise science. I thought the Roedale was up with the majority of mods I have used but above all it really was light. It certainly finished off the Steyr set up perfectly. The next item on the agenda was to try the Steyr rifle in the field.
The Steyr rifle handled well and was well balanced as you would expect. Filling the magazine was easy as it is a straight push down design. Feed into the chamber was positive and even though this was a brand new weapon everything worked smoothly. Extraction and ejection also were perfect.
After half a dozen sighting shots a couple of patches were used to clean the bore and the next five shots produced a sub one inch group, well four actually, as I pulled the last shot rather badly!
I had really hoped to take the rifle out and try for a fox that had been causing problems locally but the weather broke and the rains came. I didn’t really feel I could get all the beautiful new equipment wet and as the Steyr rifle was to be returned the next day I left it at that.
What was my overall opinion of this outfit? Well, the moderator was efficient and as a large plus was very light. The scope is a beauty; you would be hard pressed to find a better one, right up there with the best. I have to say I was very impressed with it. Finally the rifle, this is a very high quality weapon, Steyr, renowned for high quality products have one again hit the jackpot. Attractive to the eye, well balanced, very accurate it is a rifle that would give the owner many, many years of pleasure and use.
The biggest problem I have in reviewing the items I do is that from time to time I happen across something that really is exceptionally nice. This rifle in this format with a top grade scope is just such an item. I must get it back as soon as possible before I get the urge to get it in my cabinet!
Steyr Classic Half Stock .223 rifle. £1379. Up there with the best. Swarovski Z6i 2-12x50. £1780. Same scope 21/2-15x56 £1915 Ballistic turret £100 extra. Top quality scope. Roedale Delta sound moderator £250. Extremely light.