Blaser R8 Rifle Review

Peter Jones Reviews the Blaser R8 Rifle.

Blaser R8 Review


(Above: The Blaser R8 and carry case)

Being fortunate enough to be able to offer deer stalking fantastically close to London I am delighted to accommodate a number of city workers and prime central London residents for outings deer stalking. Indeed during the Roe Buck season City workers and London residents can find themselves stalking prime Hampshire country side after a mornings work and within just one and a half hours of being sat at their desks!

I could phrase this sentence in several ways but the simple truth is unsurprisingly some of these guys and girls ain't short of a bob or two, and good for them. This is not the case with all my stalking guests but being so close to the prime areas of London and the City it is perhaps unsurprising that many of them do come from this demographic.

So what is their rifle of choice? Well consistently a disproportionate number seem to be arriving with the Blaser R8. Far be it from me to stereo type however if I have a city client or prime central London resident attend with their own rifle I am never too surprised to see them sporting a new Blaser R8, this is to such an extent that I swear that they have started their own little club.

BlaseractionSo we have established this isn't going to be the cheapest rifle out there and so what is it about the Blaser R8 that has these guys and gal's so struck? Well let's take a look at the rifle a little closer.

(Left: The straight pull action of the Blaser R8)

Firstly and perhaps most crucially the single most over riding point to mention about the Blaser and the distinguishing feature that sets it apart from most other rifles is the straight pull action of the bolt.

Straight-pull bolt actions such as the Blaser R8 and Blaser R93 have a very different feel to the typical and more common turn bolts, they feel, how shall I put this? Contemporary, modern, innovative? These are all words that spring to mind when using a Blaser R8. In reality straight pulls are maybe not as new age as they seem but that is none the less the 'feel' that you get when you use one, and to a person that has all the latest contemporary gadgets in other areas of their lives this is of course going to appeal.   

So the action feels modern but is it any good? Well I have to say 'yes' it is, it's very, very good. I like it very, very much. Not only is it fast but it feels slick. In reality do we really need to be able to cycle a bolt a fraction of a second quicker, well no, not really. But hey why not! Quicker is better isn't it? Well let's just agree even if it's not really that much better it's certainly not worse.

Personally for me it's not so much the speed of a straight pull that I like so much as when you have fired a shot and are cycling a new round you are effectively pulling the bolt straight back in the direction of the shoulder and this of course is in the direction where the rifle is most securely held. For me this is the overriding benefit of a straight pull bolt. The problem I see occur with cycling the action with a turn bolt is that it rotates the rifle in the direction of the upward movement i.e. in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction as you raise the bolt and this makes it just that little harder to keep the rifle on the target for a second shot.

Indeed it is this slight resistance experienced when cocking the rifle of a turn bolt that sometimes encourages beginners to take their face away from the cheek piece. Ok, Ok I agree I am being ultra picky here because we're are talking about very small margins of error but none the less there are no two ways about it, the straight pull movement is both quicker and if you're not already well accustomed to turn bolts feels more natural.  

(Below: A regular client at County deer Stalking in action with the Blaser R8, stalking Roe Buck in Hampshire)

Bradblaser300So what's the next thing that has city boys so excited about the Blaser R8. Well maybe it's the modular system of interchangeable barrels, bolt heads and magazines arranged in order that you can have just one action and stock with multiple barrels for a multitude of uses?.... Errrrr Nope, I don't think so! It's very nice but is it the reason for the popularity? Well I expect not. Agreed this will entice some and many of said demographic will hunt in Africa and abroad, however in reality I suspect for convenience they will use the estate rifle when they get there. Most of these guys in fact have one calibre and stick to it. So why do they like it, well this break down modular design means that you can put it in a very smart carry case and assemble it at the stalking ground. Very James Bond!!

I am in fact not taking the p*ss here, the fact is this is no small thing. Remember we are not talking about the farmer who slings his rifle in the boot of his 4x4 here. We are talking about guys and girls who have to be extremely discreet. Living in cities does not lend itself to strolling out your front door with a rifle slung over your shoulder. To put this in perspective I have had guys arrive off the Tube at Richmond in West London with one of these carry cases and their fellow passengers didn't bat an eye!  If you want to live in a big city and still be able to get out to the countryside to hunt without being pinned to the floor by officers from SO19 then this is a definite plus!!

So what else? Well this is a rifle review so a bit more detail about the actual rifle is in order.

Sound bedding and hammer forged barrels mean that these rifles are truly very accurate and at this price they should be. The integral saddle scope mounting system goes on the barrel, not on the action and you can switch scopes from barrel to barrel if required.

Mechanical improvements to this Blaser mean that the trigger mechanism is now integral to and directly under the magazine. This in turn shortens the rifle by some 3 - 4 inches and as such the Blaser R8 has a well balanced and compact feel to it. The magazine and trigger is detachable as one unit with a dual release on both sides of the action. I am not convinced by this mainly because it is just one more thing to loose and this is not an item that you can leave lying around. Believe me it can be done! I have in fact already on one occasion spent considerable time hunting for a clients lost trigger/magazine assembly dropped into long grass! 

On the flip side I do like the safety. This is positioned on the top of the pistol grip and is in fact not a safety but a cocking mechanism. When pushed forward the cocking lever is engaged and can in turn be manually de cocked. It is easy to use and feels robust, safe and effective, this is great stuff.  

Issues? Well not many. Sure there are prettier rifles out there and there are certainly considerably cheaper ones that will arguably do the same job just as well, but if you have 'Loads a wonga' and want something a bit special then this rifle is undoubtedly a very hard act to beat.  

NB. For more information about other popular Rifles used for Deer Stalking & Management in the UK why not visit our Rifle Reviews page, click on the following link:  rifle-reviews.

Or for information about Rifle Calibres click on the following link:  rifle-calibres

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