The Steyr-Mannlicher ProHunter

By Jon Y. Wolfe

Steyr Pro Hunter
Illustration courtesy of Steyr Mannlicher

Steyr-Mannlicher rifles are engineered and manufactured in Austria. My particular Steyr rifle is chambered for the 7mm Rem. Mag. and has a synthetic stock, 25.6 inch barrel, detachable two position magazine, 3-position rotary tang safety, user adjustable trigger, 4-lug stainless steel bolt, is drilled and tapped to accept standard Browning A-bolt scope mounts, and has an adjustable length of pull. Overall length is 46.5 inches, and the catalog weight is approximately 7.5 pounds.

The SBS 96 comes with Millett flush mount swing swivels that can be easily removed by pressing in and turning 90 degrees. A Harris Bipod adapter is available and is just as easy to use as the swing swivels. The calibers available in the Steyr Safebolt are .243 Win., 25/06, .270 Win., 6.5x55, 7x64, 7mm/08, .308 Win., .30/06, 7mm Rem. Mag., .300 Win. Mag, 8x57JS and 9.3x62.

The Steyr has proven to be functional, accurate, and easy to carry and shoot. The rotary, cold hammer forged barrel has proven to have a high level of intrinsic accuracy. The two-position magazine allows the user to cycle the action without loading a cartridge in the partially engaged position, and the fully engaged position allows the bolt to strip a cartridge from the magazine in the usual manner. The magazine holds three magnum cartridges.

The stainless steel 4-locking lug bolt is smooth in operation. The bolt is removed by rotating the rotary tang safety to it most rearward position and simply sliding the bolt out. The bolt can be completely locked by moving the rotary tang safety to its most rearward position and pushing the bolt handle flush with the rifle stock. This prevents the bolt from being inadvertently opened while carrying the rifle in the field. The bolt is unlocked by rotating the rotary tang safety forward to either of two positions. The intermediate forward position allows the bolt to be cycled while still keeping the rifle on safe, and the full forward position is fire.

The bolt has four locking lugs with the front pair being larger than the rear two. The bolt face looks very similar to the bolt face of a Browning A-bolt rifle. It has a plunger style ejector and a small claw that locks on to the rim of the case to accomplish extraction. When a cartridge is loaded the case is completely enclosed by the recessed bolt face. The receiver is a closed top design and this makes it difficult to manually load a cartridge into the chamber through the ejection port.

The stock on my particular rifle is a synthetic composite with a mossy oak break-up pattern. It comes with removable butt-plate spacers that can be used to adjust the length of pull. It is adjustable from approximately 12 3/4 inches to 13 3/4 inches. The stock has a flat bottom forearm that rests naturally on a branch or shooting rail.

The stock is ergonomically different from any stock I've ever used. It seems to be ambidextrous in that it is symmetrical on both the left and right side. However, it feels very natural and seems to focus the recoil down and away from the face. It fits the hand rear hand nicely, and has a slight palm swell.

The adjustable trigger is factory set to release between 3.5 and 4 pounds. Mine is set at 3.6 lbs. and functions flawlessly. The trigger has engraved lines that run perpendicular to the rifle.

This is a excellent hunting rifle that is has many desirable engineering features. It has a high degree of intrinsic accuracy and the rotary, cold hammer forged barrel is superior.

Note: A complete review of the Steyr-Mannlilcher SBS 96 ProHunter rifle can be found on the Product Reviews page.

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Copyright 2004, 2006 by Jon Y. Wolfe and/or All rights reserved.