Gun of the Week
Blaser 93 Safari -- Straight Pull, Switch-Barrel Game Rifle
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Well, it's Thanksgiving Week and Deer Hunting Season is upon us, so we decided to feature a proper field hunting rifle. It's a 6BR, naturally, but this Blaser 93 Safari features a simple switch-barrel system that allows you to shoot a wide variety of calibers. With a patented locking system, straight-pull bolt, cantilevered sight mount, and modular barrel system, this gun may look "plane-jane" on the exterior, but it is a decidedly sophisticated piece of engineering. Here's Captain Dave's report on his super-accurate R93 switch-barrel.
Blaser R93 -- from Prairie Dogs to Pachyderms
Well, maybe not quite pachyderms with the 6mm BR Norma version, but with the quick-change barrel options that the Blaser R93 provides, it is possible to have one action and trigger for all your hunting and varmint shooting needs. Having taken my 338 Winchester Magnum R93LX on my first hunt to Africa this last May, I am more in love with the Blaser straight-pull concept than ever.
Having shot several cleans (200 points for 20 shots prone) at 500 and 600 yards with my AR-15 Service Rifle in NRA high power competition and more prairie dogs than I care to admit, I've long sought a viable medium range (300-750 yards), low recoil, wind-bucking and barrel friendly cartridge. Additionally, I've been disappointed with the feeding reliability and excessive re-work required of my Rem 700s to continue to remain committed to that basic turn-bolt design.
Although my son loves his Ruger No.1V with a Krieger fast twist .22-250 barrel shooting 75-80gr bullets for prairie dogs, my previous favorite long-range prairie dog and antelope gun was a Jim Kobe Custom M700, 25-06, shooting 100gr Federal Premium Ballistic-Tips. Perhaps 80% of my prairie dogs are shot with the .223s and fixed power 6x42mm Leupold inside of 350 yards. When the wind comes up or the dogs go down (because they have been shot at before), a good medium range caliber without too much blast or recoil is called for. The .223s are too light in the wind and the .25-06 has too much blast and recoil for all-day shooting.
Wide Variety of Options Available
Blaser, a German manufacturer of fine rifles, combination guns and one bolt-action pistol, has 6mmBR Norma versions of the R93 Long Range Sporter (LRS) and the R93 Jagdmatch or Match Standard, in 6mm BR Norma. It can be purchased as either a version of the Safari Synthetic, the LRS or in the various wood stocked versions. The photo at right shows the deluxe engraved "Royal" edition. The Safari forearm with the larger barrel channel is all that is necessary to handle the R93 LRS 24.7” fluted barrel. The Safari Synthetic version with both .223 Remington and 6mm BR Norma LRS barrels is what I have recently acquired. View all the options on the Blaser web site.
Quarter-MOA Accuracy with Factory Ammo!
The standard Lapua 77gr Hollow Point factory load shot an amazing .192” at 100 Meters in my rifle. The best handloads I have put together so far consist of Sierra 70gr Moly BlitzKings over 33gr of Varget from once-fired Lapua brass with Federal 205M primers with an OAL of 2.270”. These have printed consistent groups in the .610” range. The Lapua Match 105gr Scenar factory loads shoot into .395” in my rifle.
An interesting aside to the BR’s performance is my .223 barrel. The first three break-in shots, cleaning between each shot, were touching at 100 meters with 55gr Moly BlitzKings over 26.5gr of Varget. The .223 barrel has grouped in the .60s with my other handloads and all factory Federal and Winchester match ammo up to 69gr that I have tried to date. This performance is from a non-custom made, factory repeater rifle you can buy ready to shoot, right out of the box!
My .223 barrel is fitted with the Blaser saddle mount and a 6x42mm Leupold Target scope. The 6BR also uses the Blaser saddle mount and it wears a Zeiss Conquest 3.5-10x scope. It is a three-minute, two Allen bolt operation to switch barrels and internal magazines from one caliber to another. The bolt face can be changed from the Medium (308 family) to the Mini (223 family) in less than two minutes without tools. I personally carry two complete bolt assemblies in the field for enhanced reliability. Should a firing pin break, I can still switch the bolt heads and shoot both calibers.
With the scopes I am using, both Safari Synthetic stocked versions weigh within a few ounces of eleven pounds, perfect for a walking around or bench shooting in prairie dog towns. All Blaser rifles share a unique trigger mechanism, providing for a consistent 2.2lb crisp trigger pull. The safety, on the back of the bolt assembly, cocks and un-cocks the rifle, making it perfectly safe to carry the gun loaded and allowing for un-cocking during long term storage without dry firing or utilizing snap caps.
I’m looking forward to developing antelope loads with this gun, my initial work will be with the Sierra ProHunter 6mm single shot pistol bullets, but not having a lot of experience with the 6mm family, I am open to suggestions from other shooters.
My favorite source for Blaser rifles and components is the Backus Corner Store, in Backus, Minnesota, (218) 947-4115. Please feel free to email me at Captain Dave with your comments or load suggestions.
-- Dave Funk --
Editor's Note: Blasers are available in a wide variety of finish grades, from the field grade shown above, to presentation grade. Here's the fanciest Blaser ever created, the 9/100000 model crafted to commemorate the 100,000th straight-pull R93 made in 2002. Click here for more photos and information.
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