With a synthetic stock and smooth, light handling the Haenel Jaeger 10 synthetic Sporter is a pure sporting rifle, says Bruce Potts
Haenel is one of those gunmakers that have never really been a familiar name in Britain, despite its 1840 pedigree. Add to this the heritage from the Suhl gunmaking region of its origin and you have yourself a well-respected manufacturer of sporting firearms. I have tested the Pro version in .308 Winchester before and found it to be a solid if a little disjointed rifle to shoot, trying to be a Sporter, varmint and tactical all in one, whereas here we have a pure sporting rifle.
This Jaeger 10 synthetic is presented as a slim lightweight Sporter yet practical with a shorter barrel and green synthetic stock for real-world hunting use.
Barrel and action
Overall finish is a tough and weather-resilient matt blued with a ridged surface that repels mud, blood and grime. Its non-reflective finish blends in with the environment. Due to the configuration of the bolt locking into the chamber end of the barrel, the action length is designed to accommodate this. It is 9.25in long with a nice scalloped left face with the Haenel name. On top is a full-length picatinny rail of 6.25in, so perfect for any scope length or night-vision kit as appropriate. The bolt is well machined with few tool marks and is long at 8.25in. You have the popular triple locking-lug arrangement that allows the bolt to lift only by 60° to unlock and thus is faster, has a lower profile in travel and with three lugs is very strong.
In the tests, the Haenel’s bolt was smooth and, due to the low profile, avoids a low-mounted or large-eyepiece scope with its large, round, synthetic bolt knob. Cartridge manipulation was equally good because the standard sprung plunger-type ejector, in conjunction with the large claw extractor, fed and ejected the cases forcibly. It had me grovelling in the mud for the cases to reload. The bolt shroud has a clear red indicator as a visual aid to tell you that the rifle is cocked.
The good balance of this model is partially due to the slender barrel profile of 0.632in-diameter muzzle, with a 15mm/ 1 metric muzzle thread for a sound moderator. It is 22in long, which can prove a little short for the .243 Win cartridge (see field test results, right). Just as important is that the barrel is free-floated within the fore-end for optimum accuracy and, despite its slim girth, allowed the barrel to cool and avoid heat build-up that would string your shots. This barrel remained remarkably cool throughout the tests.
Trigger, safety and magazine
This is where a lot of rifles fall down. While testing on the bench with the target test and out in the field, you need a light trigger to ensure minimal delay between squeezing the trigger and the round leaving the barrel. But it must be safe to use in the field when your fingers are cold. This Haenel has a direct trigger mechanism with a set option, which lightens the trigger-pull to 1.5lb, but take care with cold fingers. With the factory trigger setting it was 2.55lb on this test model — good, crisp and positive with zero creep.
The safety has a two-lever system rather than the customary one. The larger outer one (bronze coloured) disengages the sear and locks the bolt solid in the rear position. This exposes a smaller lever, which can be depressed to allow the bolt to move freely to extract a round while still having the rifle on safe. It is a nice feature and I could easily feel it on and off with a gloved hand so it is a good extra to have.
The magazine arrangement is certainly different. It has positive engagement that only allows deliberate removal, so it won’t fall out while stalking, for example. The release mechanism is in front of the trigger-guard and uses a double-sided spade lever that, when pushed downward, releases the three-capacity magazine, which has a plastic base but steel sides. It is a fiddle, to be honest, though I can see where Haenel is coming from. The twin spade release needs to be fully forward to release the magazine, otherwise it hangs up on the frontal spur that locks it in place.
I like the stock because it is functional, looks good and is configured so that left-handed shooters can use it too, which is handy because there is no left-hand version at present. It has a low comb especially for a scoped rifle-only option but the non-cheekpiece nature of the butt section allows many differing cheek positions. When shooting, say, uphill or down you can re-adjust to get correct eye alignment.
You have a solid black recoil pad, which is nice and soft and grips a jacket well for a good, stable hold. The fore-end is deeply scalloped to accommodate your fingers for a secure grip. This fore-end and pistol grip is further enhanced with panels of stippling. The whole stock is synthetic, moulded in two halves. It has a light but very solid feel, and out and about this certainly helps because any flexing would ruin accuracy. Best of all is the soft-touch green finish that feels “warm” — some plastic stocks are horrible — but you do have to take care as it can scratch off to reveal the black gel coat beneath. Annoyingly, the sling swivels were the fixed type and not quick-detach to leave a stud to fit a bipod. I feel the latter would be a more sensible option.
I like the styling and handling of the Jaeger 10, especially with the Sporter-type green synthetic stock, which was far better than the earlier Pro version I tested. Accuracy was fine but take note of the velocities with some ammunition, and though I like the magazine it is tricky to manipulate. The trigger, however, was very good and, with the Haenel pedigree, it makes a very useable and reliable stalking rifle.
A very useful and reliable stalking rifle