A lightweight design with heavyweight performance, this tough new rifle is consistently accurate whatever the weather, says Bruce Potts
Steyr Mannlicher has been producing rifles in Austria for more than 150 years and its latest is the Steyr Mannlicher Carbon CL II. As the name suggests, it features a lightweight and strong carbon-fibre stock for consistent accuracy in all weather conditions. The new stock also alleviates excess noise, where other synthetic stocks may echo and sound hollow.
Available cartridges are the 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, .30-06 Spr, .270 Win, .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua Magnum, which, combined with potential different barrel lengths, means all British deer species are catered for.
Steyr’s SBS (safe bolt system) provides a safe and smooth bolt operation, while the rifle also features a detachable three- or four-round magazine and tough Mannox finish designed for rough use.
I remember when the Mannlicher Luxus was ‘the’ stalking rifle everyone aspired to. This modern design builds on its heritage with a very user-friendly and durable rifle.
Need to know Steyr Mannlicher Carbon CL II
- Manufacturer Steyr Mannlicher
- Model Carbon CL II
- Type Bolt action
- Overall length 44.65in
- Barrel length 22in, 15mmx1 metric thread
- Calibre .30-06 Springfield tested
- Length of pull 14.25in
- Weight 6.75lb
- Finish Mannox coating
- Stock Synthetic, carbon fibre
- Magazine Detachable, double-column four shot
- Sights None furnished, open sights optional
- Trigger Set trigger as standard
- Safety Three-position safety wheel: trigger safety, bolt handle and firing pin lock
- Price £3,796 Importer Sportsman Gun Centre, 01392 354854
The carbon-fibre stock is designed by Fine Ballistic Tools to achieve a high degree of stability and rigidity, thus maintaining accuracy combined with light weight that provides fast handling and less fatigue when stalking. I like the quiet nature of this stock design as its resonant pitch is the same as that of a wood one, so no extra noise is knocked out that could spook game. A small thing, you may say, but it works.
The overall design of the Steyr Mannlicher Carbon CL II is quite svelte and angular, with the typical carbon-fibre weave material finish. It is a tad slippery without any additional chequering; however, the fore-end’s full-length balanced profile does provide extra finger grip. Handling is very good, with a deep pistol grip quite upright in design that feels natural. The cheekpiece is again quite angular but comfortable, with a pronounced lip and solid black rubber recoil pad.
The Carbon CL II is designed for hunting and its super-tough Mannox coating gives a dull, non-reflective finish to the metalwork, making it highly scratch resistant. Steyr barrels are legendary not only for their traditional hammer-forged spiral barrel finish, but also their consistently good accuracy. This practical length 22in Sporter-weight barrel had a 15mmx1 muzzle thread, allowing a sound moderator to be fitted.
Action wise, you have the SBS, which employs a three-position toggle safety operated by the thumb. The bolt can be removed from the action or locked down fully for safety when the grey catch is up and the white dot is showing. Push the grey catch down and only the white dot will show, meaning the locked bolt will be released but the trigger is disengaged. Finally, rotate the catch to show red to fire.
The bolt is very Steyr with its butter-spoon profile and is sturdy, with four twin opposed locking lugs up front, single claw extractor and sprung ejector. Its low 60° angle makes for a fast and very smooth bolt operation.
The trigger broke like glass at just over 3lb weight with no creep; pushing the trigger-blade forward allows the use of the set trigger, which is very light at 0.65lb.
Loading and unloading is simple, with the polymer detachable magazine and double-stack capacity holding four rounds of .30-06 Springfield cartridges. Twin push-in release catches on each side of the magazine make for easy removal.
The Steyr Carbon CL II is one of those rifles that once sighted in with your favourite ammunition, you can forget about, other than cleaning. The well-designed, lightweight and impervious stock keeps the Steyr accurate, allowing you to concentrate on stalking. In fact, regardless of the temperature and weather conditions, the Carbon CL II puts that first bullet exactly where you aimed it, which is what it’s all about.
- Accuracy 18/20 Consistent accuracy in any weather conditions
- Handling 18/20 Lightweight and, with a 22in barrel, balances well too’
- Trigger 18/20 Steyr triggers are always very precise and predictable
- Stock 18/20 Bit slippery but tough and lightweight with a comfortable design
- Value 16/20 Pricey, but if you only want one rifle this is a good choice
- Overall score 88/100 A great rifle that comes into its own in rough conditions
The Steyr came fitted with the excellent Nightforce ATACR 5-25X56 scope on a Warne Weaver-style base and made a nice compact stalking rifle. Factory loads were a bit thin on the ground, but I had some Federal 150-gr Power Shok that shot consistent 1in groups at 2,784fps for 2,582ft/lb. The Sako 123-gr load, my favourite, shot 2,875fps for 2,258ft/lb and just under 1in for three shots.
With regard to reloads, I’d stick to the mid-range bullets of 150-gr or 165-gr. My go-to loads are the Hornady SST 150-gr bullet with 52.0 grains of RS50 powder, which achieved 2,758fps for 2,534ft/lb, and the 165-gr Nosler Accubond bullet with 50.0 grains of Vit N150 powder, which achieved 2,649fps for 2,571ft/lb. Both grouped at between 0.75in and 1in.
The Steyr proved happy in wet and rough conditions. It was a joy to carry and the carbon-fibre stock and tough metal finish shrugged off the elements as I stalked the forestry. The stock is well designed, warm — that may sound odd but it is — and quiet, with no echo if knocked. While traversing obstacles, the SBS with the bolt locked down meant the CL II was totally safe, but with a quick rotation of the catch you are ready to shoot.
I had two stags on this trip, and the Steyr’s light weight and ability to be rested solidly off sticks made for confident shots.
This tough new rifle is consistently accurate whatever the weather