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Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter rifle reviewed

The Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter is a solid hunter’s friend, says Charles Smith-Jones

Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter rifle

Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter rifle

Overall Rating: 87%

Manufacturer: Steyr Mannlicher

Pros: A lot of rifle for the money

Price as reviewed: £500

Cons: You may not like the stock design

Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter rifle tech specs

  • Country of origin: Austria
  • In production :1997 to 2018
  • Action: Bolt
  • Stock options: Synthetic (Pro Hunter II also available with laminated wood stock)
  • Barrel length: 20in to 24in
  • Magazine: Detachable, four or three rounds (standard/magnum calibres)
  • Left-hand version: No
  • Weight (bare): Around 7lb 8oz, dependent on barrel length and weight
  • Available in calibres .223 Rem, .243 Win, 25/06, .270 Win, 6.5×55, 7×64, 7mm/08, .308 Win, .30/06, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag, 8x57JS and 9.3×62
  • Cost new (CL II) From £1,650 RRP
  • Cost used: From around £500, depending on calibre, age and condition
Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter rifle

The cold hammer forged barrel bears the distinctive Mannlicher twist

The names of Steyr and Mannlicher have long been synonymous with high-quality sporting rifles, so the introduction of an affordable model, the Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter, immediately met with some considerable excitement in hunting circles. The gun in question was a radical departure from the more traditional stylings of the Austrian company and had a sleek yet practical appearance. (Read our guide to the best stalking kit.)

First available only with a dull black, high-density moulded polymer stock, the Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter appealed to shooters looking for a tough, no-nonsense rifle that was clearly intended for hard use rather than occasional duties. Purchasers of the original Pro Hunter reported occasional issues arising from an over-flexible stock, which made contact with the barrel when the additional weight of a moderator was added, or when using a bipod, resulting in accuracy becoming affected. Steyr Mannlicher took note of the problem and promptly relaunched the rifle as the Pro Hunter II with a stiffened fore-end.

Although there is no dedicated left-handed version of this rifle, it remains ambidextrous thanks to the lack of a cheekpiece and a straight comb, and a spacer system allows stock length to be altered for individual fit. The flattened underside of the fore-end sits equally comfortably on the supporting hand or the shooting rail of a high seat. (Read more on high seats here.)

A distinctive twist at the action end of the cold hammer forged barrel makes this rifle instantly recognisable as coming from the Mannlicher stable. As it is primarily designed for hunting rather than heavy range work, the barrel has a light profile and can heat up quickly if subjected to extended use, though this should present no issues under normal field conditions.

Rifles left the Steyr Mannlicher factory without open sights fitted, though they can still be added as an optional extra, and came threaded for a moderator.

Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter rifle

Lack of a cheekpiece helps to make the rifle ambidextrous

Smooth moves

The action is a solid stainless-steel unit. The bolt has four opposed locking lugs, which not only ensure a good lock-up but also allow a more shallow bolt lift when cycling. In operation the bolt is extremely smooth. The bolt body is grooved, which enhances reliability under dusty or freezing conditions, and the handle itself is of the ‘butter spoon’ design that features on many continental rifles.

Unusual arrangement

The rotary safety catch arrangement is somewhat unusual. Positioned on top of the pistol grip in the form of a roller switch, it has three positions. In the first, a red dot is visible, signalling that the rifle is ready to fire. In the second, a white dot becomes visible, meaning that the rifle is safe but can be loaded or unloaded. Finally, in the third position, a grey catch pops up. At this point the safety is fully applied, the bolt cannot be operated and the rifle cannot be fired.

Although this system may be initially strange to those more used to a more traditional sliding safety catch, it is certainly effective and well thought out.

Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter rifle

The black polymer magazine attaches in two stages

Polymer magazine

The double-stacking magazine is constructed from black polymer. It is released by a double catch just forward of the trigger-guard and unlike other rifles it attaches in two stages.

The first stage holds it firmly in the body of the rifle but will not permit a cartridge to be fed until the magazine is engaged fully into the second.

Another useful aspect is that the magazine needs to be manually removed from its housing, so accidental depression of the release catch will not result in it being lost.

The Pro Hunter has been out of production for the past few years, but if you want an updated version look no further than Steyr Mannlicher’s CL II. The overall design has changed little but, importantly, the synthetic stock has been beefed up, managing at the same time to look sleeker and more modern while completely eliminating any flex problems. There is also an integral aluminium bedding block, which enhances already high levels of accuracy, and the CL II also comes in a number of wooden stock options.

If funds don’t run to a new rifle, though, used Pro Hunters are readily available and offer the opportunity of acquiring a dependable and accurate stalking tool that comes with a sound pedigree.

This article was first published in 2014 and has been updated. 


A good, practical and solid stalking rifle