Blaser R93 Rifles
The uniquely designed Blaser R93 is made in Germany and is certainly a rifle but may be more aptly described as a system. It is modular in that all the barrels, bolts (right and left), bolt heads (mini, standard and magnum), and stocks are interchangeable. That's right; one can take a right hand R93, remove the bolt and replace it with a left-hand bolt. This certainly raises possibilities in a family where one member (I am left-handed) shoots from the "wrong" shoulder. Sigarms customer service has told me some who buy an R93 will buy both bolts for just this reason.
The Sigarms 2003 catalog shows eleven 22" barrels available for mini (.222, .223), and standard cartridges from .22-250 to .30-06 and eleven 26" barrels chambered from .257 Weatherby to the .416 Remington Magnum. The new WSM calibers have recently been added.
The corresponding magazines (standard and magnum) come with a rubber bumper to protect bullet tips and fit into a cistern below the bolt. Bolt heads can be changed out from mini to standard to magnum and back again (there is even an Ultra Mag bolt head for the .300 Ultra Mag).
There are four stocks or grades available from the Synthetic (the least expensive) to the Attaché (the most expensive). In between in ascending order of better Turkish walnut and more metal work on the side plates and thus cost are the Prestige and the Luxus. These are very unique looking rifles, immediately catching the eye wherever they are seen.
The R93 is not very light by today's standards but is certainly not too heavy. The standard rifle weighs in at 6.6 lbs. and has an OAL of 40", the magnum, 6.8 lbs. and an OAL of 44". My R93 Prestige in 6.5x55 with the Q.D. mounts and 1" rings and a Leupold 3x9 compact comes in at 7 lbs. 5 ounces.
All this interchangeability means that with several barrels and two bolt heads (standard and magnum) and the option of a synthetic stock, the R93 can cover the entire spectrum of game and conditions you expect to encounter.
Unlike almost all rifles where the rings and bases anchor the scope to the receiver the mounts on the R93 hold the scope on the barrel. The Blaser saddle mount is quickly detachable and very easy to use. The significance of this is obvious; the barrel and scope are removed as a unit with the zero maintained.
The belly of the forend holds two captive screws accepted by two pillared receptacles on the underside of each barrel. With the action open this is what holds the barrel in the forend channel. In other words the barrel isn't screwed into a receiver meaning it (the receiver) doesn't take any of the great pressure force of combustion. This is contained wholly in the barrel chamber. The receiver or frame can thus be made lighter, of alloys, contributing to the reduced weight of the rifle.
On the three models with walnut stocks there is a metal bedding system to avoid barrel-wood contact. The triggers are listed in the catalog as sear-free and having a 2 pound pull weight without creep.
An equally unique part of the firing system is the bolt. The R93 bolt has no lugs that rotate in a receiver raceway to lock up behind the cartridge case. The bolt utilizes a "patented Radial Locking System that expands a full 360-degrees to make rigid contact inside the barrel for an exceptionally strong, solid lockup" (a quote from the Blaser brochure, Sigarms, 2003).
I would describe it like the petals of a flower opening evenly and equally; these "petals" open into a 360-degree recess in the barrel. Each "petal" is in effect a mini-lug expanding equally to point of contact inside the barrel with the others distributing back thrust equally throughout the 360-degrees. This system centers the cartridge perfectly in the chamber.
The bolt face is recessed to enclose the cartridge head and has a big, no-nonsense extractor. The R93 is a straight pull action. The bolt pull is in a straight line back and then forward into battery; there is no up and down motion. To my notion there is a definite audible and tactile "click-clack" to working this action.
The bolt fits inside a breechblock or I would say a shroud to which the bolt handle is attached and rides on two guide rails as the action is opened or closed. The bolt head with its expanding shell or "flower petals" protrudes from this breechblock as it rides into and out of battery.
The safety is large and ambidextrous and located at a high tang position; it is really a cocking mechanism for the firing pin spring. With the safety engaged, it is also uncocked and vice versa. As well as the usual slide forward and backward of a tang safety, there is a slight up and down maneuver required which was initially foreign to me, but this quickly resolved with practice.
The Blaser R93 is not inexpensive, the Synthetic (a complete rifle and the least expensive) carried a MSRP of about $2000 in 2005. The quick detachable rings I have listed for about $227, extra barrels at $664, and either a magnum or standard bolt head at $203. Dealer retail prices are usually somewhat below these catalog figures. There are myriads of accessories that are also available for the Blaser through Sigarms not to mention the European cartridges not offered in the States but that you can special order.
One source I've read stated that the Blaser R93 is the number one selling rifle in Europe and in one review in Shooting Times, it was named, "Bolt Action Rifle of the Century". I can buy that.
Note: Two detailed reviews of the Blaser R 93 rifle can be found on the Product Reviews page.
Copyright 2004, 2006 by George De Vries lll. All rights reserved.