Steyr’s new model has a vastly improved synthetic stock design and is an accurate and dependable rifle that will function in all weathers, says Bruce Potts
I always liked Steyr’s old Pro Hunter rifle for its radical stock design — but that was also its downfall in many ways because of its flexible nature. The metalwork, however, was always its strong point and now Steyr has graced its new model with a far better-designed stock.
The Steyr C2 SX rifle is available with a standard wood, synthetic or stainless stock, with standard or magnum calibres, as well as short, mountain-weight and mid-weight barrel profiles. The idea is to offer a no-nonsense, accurate and dependable rifle that will deliver a bullet where aimed in any weather condition. This C2 SX sports a green synthetic stock with a 22in barrel, and is in the ever-popular .243 Winchester round.
Barrel, action and finish
First, you notice the traditional hammer- forged spiral barrel finish that, on this model, has a trim Sporter profile. The muzzle was threaded for a ½ in UNF thread and supplied thread protector, but best of all is the overall finish to the action and barrel.
The Mannox coating is a matt hunter- friendly non-reflective finish that is highly scratch-resistant and more durable than bluing, and it looks right on this synthetic model. It also offers protection against water, blood and moisture, so it’s ideal on a rifle that will spend 90 per cent of its life in the field.
The action uses the same safe bolt system, but this model has the older three-position toggle safety rather than the newer tang-mounted lever-operated version on the SM12 model.
The bolt, however, is designed to maintain maximum strength even if a primer ruptures. It locks solidly in the receiver ring via four twin-opposed locking lugs, the largest of which are in front. These release their mortises with a shallow 60° angle and cases are ejected via a side claw extractor and sprung ejector through a small action port. The bolt’s body has a continuous groove cut along its length to stop the bolt freezing if rain gets on the bolt body and, to some extent, stop binding if grit gets into the action.
The bolt is angled slightly rearward and still has a characteristic butter-spoon profile, so typical of Steyr. The action top is drilled and tapped for scope mounts, and this rifle had a twin set of Warne Weaver bases for universal scope fitment.
Trigger, safety and magazine
Slimlined and smooth, the trigger-blade operates an excellent trigger mechanism that is single stage and breaks at 3.55lb weight with zero backlash. You can push the blade forward after cocking and this operates the set option, which is very light at 0.55lb. The safety is comprehensive, with three positions and a roller button on the tang behind the bolt for easy access.
The grey pop-up catch with white dot showing allows the bolt to be removed from the action. It also means the bolt handle can be fully pushed down, which locks it totally.
When you push down this grey catch and rotate the safety so that only the white dot is showing, the bolt handle pops up and can be used to unload the Steyr but the trigger is disengaged. You then rotate so that the red dot is showing to make the gun live and able to be fired. It’s comprehensive.
The detachable magazine has a double-stack capacity, four rounds in .243 Win and is removed from its plastic magazine well via twin push-in release catches on each side of the magazine.
This is where the SX comes alive. The boffins have designed a stock worthy of a true synthetic model with user-friendly features and rock-solid build. Gone is that futuristic look that I liked, but it feels far better.
The solid synthetic stock is green, which is perfect for a hunting rifle. It has tactile black rubber insets at the pistol grip and fore-end as one long panel. The design is more Sporter-like, with a slender fore-end and chiselled tip, with minimal twist for a rigid hold and less flexing with a reinforced inner section.
The pistol grip has a long rake and the moulded-in trigger-guard allows you to use a glove. The butt section, without a cheekpiece, is almost ambidextrous. Inwardly, the CX has another advantage, as the action beds on a separate glued-in bedding block, which has inner stock screw pillars, adding strength and potential for consistently accurate shots.
Steyr C2 SX rifle on test
As with all .243 Win calibre rifles, the barrel length can be crucial to meet the deer-legal energy figures with certain bullets: 24in is best but it’s a bit ungainly with a sound moderator fitted; 20in is cutting it fine for energy but is nice and compact, so the Steyr’s C2 22in barrel is the best of both worlds. Rifling twist rate is 1-in-10in (measured 1-in-10.2in) so is good for bullet weights up to 100-gr; a 1-in-8 is better for the heavy bullets to stabilise. Factory ammunition ranged from 55-gr to 100-gr bullets so good for vermin to deer.
Best accuracy went to the mid-range loads. Both the Winchester 80-gr Soft Points and Federal 85-gr Sierra GameKings shot 1in to 1.25in three-shot groups at 100 yards. Both returned decent velocities and energy figures too, 3,184fps and 1,801ft/lb and 3,084fps and 1,796ft/lb respectively.
Reloads tightened up the groups and improved on some of the velocities. The 70-gr Nosler Ballistic Tips with a load of 45.5 grains of IMR 4007 SSC gave a nice 3,350fps velocity and 1,745ft/lb energy and 0.95in groups. Getting a bit heavier, and the Nosler 95-gr Partitions gave the best accuracy at 0.75in at 100 yards for a velocity of 2,969fps and healthy 1,859ft/lb. Stalkers north of the border who require a 100-gr bullet for large-species deer would find the 100-gr Hornady Interlock good, with 1,968ft/lb on tap and consistent 1in groups.
Imported by Sportsman Gun Centre, telephone: 01392354854.
The stock has to be the most significant improvement to the C2 - offering a proper solid synthetic stock and stable shooting platform with its aluminium bedding block system