Heym SR21 Rifle Review

HEYM SR21 - John Barton Reviews the Heym SR21 Rifle. 

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(Above: The Heym SR21 in .243 Calibre)

The trend in recent years has been for regular deer stalkers and professional deer managers to acquire synthetic stocked rifles with stainless or coated actions. The practicality of such features to the all-weather stalker are clear. More importantly, when your rifle is the tool of your trade, its most important attributes (other than accuracy of course) are resistance to the elements and ease of care and maintenance.

But what if your heart rules your head and you find yourself yearning for that special rifle in walnut and blue? Perhaps you’re considering (or justifying) a back-up to your working rifle, or a fair-weather buck gun?

heym250Modern, mass produced rifles are, on the whole, more than up to the task (the Sako 85 in wood and blue being a fine example) but the chances are that for such a rifle you may hanker after something a little different from the norm. For many of us a Sauer 202, Mauser or Blaser are not quite within budget (or not quite justifiable!).

Here’s where the Heym SR21 Classic fits the bill.

Walnut; check. Blue; check. Handbuilt; check. Affordable; check. It ticks all the boxes.

I got my hands on one of these fine German rifles in .243 and took a good look at what it has to offer the UK stalker.

THE STOCK
Crafted from European walnut, the SR21’s stock is of the ‘classic’ variety with a slender fore-end of a good length with a harder rosewood end cap. The comb is straight and the pistol grip has a generous length of pull which is pleasing when in the trigger. If you don’t want an off-the-peg rifle, stock style and grade can be specified at additional cost, but the styling and oiled finish of the classic rifle tested were still of a high quality, the grain being particularly nice. The addition of a palm swell on the pistol grip could make for even better ergonomics but this is a minor point. With high quality hand-chequered grip panels on the fore-end sides and pistol grip and a slim recoil pad, the SR21 is a thing of understated beauty.

Heym also offer the SR21 in a synthetic stock. I’m told this was in response to demand, but to be frank, after holding a synthetic stocked SR21 I can’t see this variant flying out of stores’ gun cabinets. The material just felt wrong; very hard with no tactile feedback.

THE ACTION
When handling the SR21 the first impression is of quality. Cycle the bolt on a factory Remington 700 and you will feel lateral play. Cycle the bolt on a Sako and you will be impressed with the smooth feel and lockup. The Heym is even better with the bolt gliding down the raceway to lock positively with three lugs. This smooth and positive action is a result of each part being hand finished to fit its neighbour. The fluted bolt on the test rifle featured a wooden bolt knob, but you can specify plain blued steel or opt for an engraved approach if you wish. The bolt is released via a catch at the left rear which is easy to operate - no fumbling around the trigger guard required. The slender, bedded, free floating barrel is cold hammered from legendary Krupp-Special barrel steel and finished in a deep blue. The rifle is fed by a three-round magazine (in .243, .308 and .22-250) that is constructed from heavy steel plate and finished to a very high standard with a cast, matt black end plate. When inserting the mag a crisp and reassuring snap tells you it’s locked in place. It’s released from the magazine well by depressing a button with your thumb, whereby a spring assists its removal. Another interesting point to consider about this rifle is the ease of calibre change. With one allen key you can remove the receiver and barrel and swap it out. In the case of a .243 to .308 or .22-250 changeover the same magazine can be used.

TRIGGER & SAFETY
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One feature of the SR21 that may not be so familiar to UK stalkers is its combination trigger. During normal operation the trigger pull is around 3.5lbs and breaks predictably and crisply with the wide trigger blade assisting a straight pull. The trigger can be adjusted by the user if a different break is required. Should you wish to use the ‘set’ trigger you simply push the trigger blade forward with your thumb when the safety is off. The trigger is then set as a hair trigger, which is something to consider if you’re stalking with gloves. The trigger should only be set when you’re in the aim and the rifle should never be carried while in such a state. The re-application of the saftey will move the trigger back to the standard setting. The safety itself is a three position design. With the safety in the rear position the bolt is locked down with the safety applied. The middle position allows you to cycle the bolt with the safety on, which is ideal for loading and unloading. The forward position is safety off, ready to fire. It’s a well designed and constructed mechanism that’s quiet and easy to operate, but won’t get snagged in the field or accidentally disengaged.

IN THE FIELD
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Weighing in at around 9lbs, the SR21 (or Safety Repeater 21) is easy to carry on even the most arduous stalk. Handling and function is precise and comfortable, with or without gloves. The fact that the bolt is locked in position when the safety is on is also reassuring when in the field. During a limited zero test at 100 yards the rifle produced consistent sub 1” groups with RWS rounds. Interestingly, it seemed less consistent with Norma ammunition. In summary the SR21 Classic is a beautifully made rifle that’s well suited to the UK stalker who’s happy to accept that a wood and blue gun is going to require that little extra TLC. By rights the Heym SR21 should be a more popular choice than it is.

Sauer and Mauser have identified the same gap in the market for affordable, ‘quality’ off-the-peg rifles and have just released the 101 and M12 respectively. Watch this space for reviews.

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