By Bruce Potts
Monday, 20 April 2009
Heym SR21 Classic rifle: The Heym SR21 Classic deer stalking rifle is a great-value German gun that’s accurate, reliable and beautifully crafted.
Heym SR21 Classic rifle.
Heym is one of those revered German companies associated with high-quality, desirable stalking rifles, but for some reason it has never really caught on here in Britain.
I cannot for the life of me think why, because the factory, which is based in Suhl, produces some cracking stalking rifles with many features that we British like, such as classic sporter stocks, detachable magazines and all-metal construction.
From a handling point of view, the Heym SR21’s classic lines and stock make it feel just right. The long fore-end affords a good grip and the length of pull makes for a less cramped hold.
Modelled on the best British classic straight-comb style, with rosewood-tip fore-end, the Classic has all but the cheekpiece, which is found on the Continental model.
A traditional hog’s back German-style stock is also an option. Wood choice is walnut and grade can be specified too, at a price.
The Classic model’s walnut had straight-grained figuring, albeit a little light in colour, which was nicely finished with a rubbed oil surface.
There are hand-chequered panels on the pistol grip and fore-end sides, which are well executed, as is the thin black rubber recoil pad.
Especially appreciated was the longer-than average length of pull at 14.5in. There are also pleasing touches such as the gently scalloped wood that incorporates the magazine well and stops your hand from riding back too far in the hold.
The pistol grip cap has an insert that can be changed with engraved panels to suit your personal preference.
SEAMLESSLY FINISHED ACTION
Substantial and superbly engineered best describes the action of the Heym. At 8.75in long there is plenty of bedding surface underneath and heft to make a strong design.
Seamlessly finished in deep blueing with a slanted left facet, it has twin gas ports on the front bridge section but a small ejection port.
The round-topped action is drilled and tapped for scope bases.
The importer, Reeves, converts sets of Leupold mounts that fit perfectly and also aid flexibility, as they are readily available in most sizes. The bolt is large, too, at 7.25in long with a girth of 0.768in.
The shaft has six straight flutes of 4in in length to reduce weight and to help prevent the bolt from binding in operation. As an all-one-piece construction, the Heym’s bolt has three locking lugs, but these are arranged so that there is a lug at the six, 10 and 2 o’clock positions when looking down on it.
The bottom lug scoops up a cartridge from the magazine, the 10 o’clock positioned lug has a sprung large extractor claw inset and there is a plunger-type ejector button positioned at 4 o’clock.
Behind the lugs there is a clear recess with the back of each lug angled to allow a positive yet smooth lock up — a well-thought-out design.
My only grumble is that the short, dog-legged bolt handle has a smaller-than average bolt knob, which I found a little uncomfortable to use.
It is also worth pointing out a sprung plunger at the bottom of the bolt shroud stops the cocking piece moving until the bolt is fully closed, so you need consciously to overcome the very slight pressure as you close the bolt.
The barrel is a slender sporter profile with a muzzle diameter of 0.555in, which thoughtfully is threaded for a moderator at the factory so it is well cut and concentric to the bore.
The 22.75in length is right on a sporting arm — not too long but long enough to achieve good ballistics with the 7x57mm cartridge tested.
THREE-POSITION SAFETY FUNCTION
To the rear of the bolt shaft is the prominent bolt shroud that houses the safety and cocking piece. The safety is a wing-type model that operates as a lever on top of the shroud and this Heym has a three-position function.
Forward (red dot) and the rifle can be fired, fully rearward (large white dot) and the bolt and trigger are locked. In a halfway position (small white dot) the trigger is safe and the bolt can be operated if you need to remove a cartridge from the barrel’s chamber for safety reasons.
The trigger is typically Germanic, having a single-stage pull of 3.5lb and very little creep, with the option of pushing the metal trigger blade forward to operate the ‘set’ mode and thus reduce the trigger pull weight to a hair’s breadth.
The trigger is adjustable via an Allen screw through the front of the guard.
A good feature is the metal magazine, which is a straight-feed system and houses three 7x57mm rounds. The design is detachable by means of a large, external push-operated button recessed into the right underside of the stock.
A firm push and the magazine pops out under pressure from a wire plunger, like the Sauer rifle method.
A word of warning, though — do not lose the magazine, as a replacement will set you back £110.
GOOD BALLISTICS FOR STALKERS
The Heym came chambered in the venerable 7x57mm cartridge, which suits this classically styled rifle and gives very good ballistics for the British stalker.
Despite its light-weight, the well-designed stock means the recoil from the 7x57mm is mild indeed — in fact the 7x57mm is not known for its heavy recoil and complements the Heym well.
I had two factory-loaded ammunition choices.
First, the Federal Vital-Shok loaded with 140-grain Nosler Partition bullets shot across the chronograph at 2,587fps velocity, delivering 2,081ft/lb energy. For an average of three shots at 100 yards group sizes were 1-1.5in, more than good enough for factory ammunition.
The second load had RWS 123-grain cone-shaped bullets that gave an impressive 2,925fps and 2,337ft/lb and grouped well under the 1in mark at 100 yards.
I was sure I could improve with reloads.
A load of 47 grains of Alliant RL22 with a 150-grain Combined Technology bullet gave a mild but accurate 2,602fps and 2,256ft/lb and cracking 0.5in groups — a perfect stalking load.
FINELY CRAFTED AND GOOD VALUE
With the ever-increasing trend towards reducing costs and use of synthetic materials, it is good to see that old-world techniques and good value can still come together.
The Heym is beautifully crafted and represents really good value for money considering the specification and finish. I appreciated the solid, yet smooth action, accuracy and better-than-average length of pull to the stock.
The Heym SR21 is available in many models from short-barrelled Keiler to upgraded Concord models with better wood and engraving.
When you look at what is available on the market at the same price, I cannot understand why Heym is not more popular in this country.
It’s a great stalking rifle that will deliver good accuracy and reliability coupled with excellent build quality
Solid build quality
Small bolt handle
Expensive spare magazine
As our thoughts turn to Christmas and all it entails (Boxing Day shoot, anyone?), Shooting Gazette is here to take the stress away from the festive season. So away with the endless present lists, hangovers and wrapping paper for a moment and straight into our sack overflowing with great guns, gamekeeping, gundogs and reviews, including…
Britain's biggest & best shooting magazine - January 2013 - £3.60 PLUS - subscribe before Christmas to get a free gift!
Don't miss this week's issue of Shooting Times (on sale Wednesday 4th December)! Simon Whitehead visits the set of the TV show 'The Burrowers' to find out how a television production company filmed inside a rabbit warren? For all the latest news, views and great features - buy your copy today!