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Our first impression of the Blaser R8 Professional Success: Elegant and functional. Blaser sent us the rifle chambered in .30-06 with an athracite colored thumb hole stock.
The stock has leather inserts on the cheek piece, pistol grip and fore end. The R8 is also equipped with the new Atzl trigger for match shooting and hunting. Blaser mounted an allround Swarowski Z6i 1,7-10 x 42 riflescope with an additional illuminated red dot in the reticle.
The R8 has been introduced on the market in 2010 and at the time was thought to be the replacement for the R93.
Blaser in Isny (Allgäu, Germany) still produces both models. Both are straight pull, bolt action repeating rifles with a separate manual cocking device and radial breech lock.
The lock functions with radial blades. When locking the bolt, they straddle, expanding and locking in an annular groove in the barrel extension.
Compared to the Blaser R93 the R8 has a stronger locking system, as the locking surfaces are larger, and there’s also an additional bearer in the radial lock. The bolt can only be opened when totally uncocked or if the shooter pushes the cocking device a few millimeters forward with his thumb. The R8 we checked had a fluted, semi heavy barrel, with a 19 mm diameter. Two screws fasten the cold hammer forged barrel in the stock; apart from that, the barrel is free floated.
The R8 has a different detachable magazine from the R93. Combined with the magazine is a part of the trigger unit. The hunter can choose between two modes: hunting and match. The weight of the trigger in match mode is only 250 grams, in hunting mode its 650 grams.
It’s easy to change the mode without tools when the magazine is detached. To use this switch, the Atzl trigger has to be installed in the firearm. The magazine also fits the normal R8 but switching is impossible then.
There’s only one restriction, the cartridge length. Above 90,5 mm, the Atzl trigger can’t be used.
This only concerns the very long and large .375 caliber and above chamberings of the Blaser R8 Professional Success.
At the range
We checked the Atzl R8 with six different ammo loads. Zeroing in the riflescope was easy, the riflescope features turrets with precisely 1 cm per click. After only a few rounds, the gun was zeroed.
The following groups were shot with a bench rest without giving the rifle a chance to cool down.
Only when the air above the barrel started to jitter we had a short break. We started with the trigger in Hunting mode, with a weight of 650 grams.
By random we’ve chosen the RWS load (180 gr H-Mantel bullet) as the first ammo to try and zeroing, obtaining a 2,4 cm group. All groups were shot with five rounds rapid fire strings. Next load was the Remington UMC with 150 grs MC FMJ bullet, which yielded a 4,1 cm group. The RWS Silver Selection 184 grs Evolution ammo: 3,3 cm. The Sellier & Bellot 168 grs HPBT ammo: 3,8 cm. PPU Partizan Grom 170 grs: 11,8 cm and Federal Premium 165 grs Nosler Ballistic Tip: 6,3 cm.
First we thougt that the hot weapon would bring worse result, after all we had fired 30 rounds. But when we changed into match mode the hot R8 performed extraordinary well with the RWS H-Mantel ammunition: five rounds in 2,2 cm, four of them in only 1,1 cm. Don‘ t forget: the weapon was hot. What a performance!
The Blaser R8 we range tested was an excellent, precise shooting machine.
The Atzl trigger is crisp and allows, in hunting mode with a 650 g pull weight, very precise shooting in every hunting scenario.
Because of the very low trigger weight in match mode, the rifle should not be used for hunting in that mode. The danger of slamfire would be too big. The match mode – nomen est omen – is ideal for target shooting. Practice will show if this filigree trigger will withstand dust and dirt in hard field practice somewhere around the world. The manual says: “The magazine-trigger-unit has always to be kept clean and free of dirt”. Will this be possible when hunting elephants in high, dusty elephant grass?
The thumb hole stock facilitates precise aiming. The right hand sits like “gloved in”. Training is useful to find one’s shooting position after the repeating process again.
In the beginning the thumb searches his inherent position above the hole, but for most shooters it should be no problem to accustom after a while, also under stress like in battue situations.
The R8 thanks to its straight pull mechanism is predestinated for this kind of hunt.
As always, before the hunting season starts, one should spend some time on the range to train aiming on moving targets and get used to the thumb hole stock.
The leather inserts give a nice and distinguished impression but we think that they are not sturdy enough for the hard use intended by a “Professional-Model“. A professional hunter who has to go through thick and thin certainly will not choose a stock with leather. For him the basic version of the R8 Professional Success with green or black-brown polymer stock with rubber pads will be the better choice.
Pros also prefer detachable swivel rings – who enters a thicket with the sling on the weapon? Many hunters also take away the sling when they reach their stand in a battue.
The riflescope was delivered by Austria’s premium producer Swarovski. The small dimensions of the Z6i 1,7-10x42 underline the elegant appearance of the weapon. The scope can do more: The switch for the red dot sits at the eye-piece. Switched to the right it activates the dot for day time use, to the left for the night. Swarovski engineers erased a bug by making the fit of the switch more resistant; now it can‘t be activated accidentally any more.
With a front lens diameter of 42 mm and a magnification of 1,7-10x, this riflescope belongs to the category “universal use”. Like all optics in this category in some situations it reaches its limits.
But let’s see what it can be used for: With a weight of only 510 g it is predestinated for lightweight deerstalking rifles. Hunters in the mountains might wish a higher magnification for distances above 300 m. If you wait sitting somewhere for the game this riflescope fits well. Only if you wait for boar at night with half moon and without snow, a riflescope with a front lens diameter of 50 mm or 56 mm would serve you better. The Z6i 1,7-10 x 42 is a good riflescope, but really no night or twilight optic.
Certain similarities exist in battue. Fast targets like running boar on distances under 20 m need a riflescope without magnification and with a wider range of sight. Otherwise the hunter doesn’t find the target in the short time available. The optimal battue riflescope by Swarovski is the Z6i 1-6 x 24.
With x1 magnification it has a field of vision of 42,5 m, the 1,7 - 10 x 42 “only“ 25,2 m.
The LD-I reticle has two thin hairlines, horizontal and vertical, and two short hairlines above and under the illuminated dot. This dot can be dimmed for day- and night-time use and is optimal for nearly all hunting scenarios (see above), under restrictions for long range and battue. The reticle on the second focal plane keeps it size even if magnification changes. The thin hairlines can be used without illuminated dot only under daytime conditions so never forget a spare battery. If you’re hunting all over the world you should prefer a reticle that can be used also without illumination, i.e. the also available 4A-I.
The decision if you choose an allround riflescope for nearly every hunting scenario or two or three scopes for special purposes is yours.
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