Over the years I’m sure everybody has spoken about their dream rifle. The one to eclipse them all, the perfect setup, the one you have always wanted. I myself until recently didn’t know what my dream rifle was until I saw it and immediately knew I had to have it. For most this dream rifle is out of reach but for some money isn’t the issue, for some it’s the availability of the rifle due to its age or limited release or the dreaded gun laws in their country and state. Having said that, if none of those things are an issue there is then the question of what you want.
It’s not only the rifle or the caliber that are important in the decision process but there are a multitude of others to consider. Do I want it blued, stainless or cerakoted, a synthetic stock or beautiful timber or any other amount of choices. Then there’s what model should I choose and for many there will be optics choices to suit your rifle of which there is almost an infinite amount. With so many choices thrown into the mix it can be a very long and sometimes frustrating road to decide on what you want. With manufacturers releasing new models all the time it adds to the frustration but it’s a good frustration, for me I really enjoy comparing all the different and wonderful rifles and accessories out there.
Being an Australian my choices are limited by law to mainly bolt actions, a handful of lever actions or pump rifles so the choices aren’t as diverse as say what’s available in America but it doesn’t worry me in the slightest, given the choice I would still choose a bolt gun without hesitation, I simply love the action. With many years of buying and selling all different makes and models of rifles I was able to eliminate quite a lot of contenders for the crown. I put in the hard yards at work and through selling most of my rifles I was able to raise the funds that allowed me to jump up a notch in the rifle offerings. This brings me to the story of how I acquired my dream rifle.
My caliber was finalized, 9.3 x 62 Mauser; I have always liked the German calibers and own a K98 in 8mm Mauser so I decided to stick with the Mauser. The problem was then the availability of factory rifles in the 100+ year old caliber and although common in European countries the 9.3 is not widely used in Australia. A trip to my gun shop chasing a scope for my new 22lr led to the discussion of what’s available in Australia in 9.3, Ruger was one with their Bolt guns and the Ruger No.1 with its falling block action, at this time I had already had and sold a Ruger No.1 in 9.3 x 62, it had obviously slipped through quality control and let’s just say it must have been a Friday afternoon build so it spent only a couple of weeks in my safe before I got rid of it.
With Ruger out of the mix and already having had several Tikkas, nothing wrong with them at all and in my opinion still the best factory rifle for the money, I was after something different. I had a look at some Sako’s, Voere’s, Sauer’s and Merkel’s plus a few others ,but the Merkel caught my eye, being German made for a start sucked me in. A number of phone calls and emails back and forth had the models available to me in stock in Australia, I’m not one for waiting, impulse buying is my curse. The two Merkel models that were available were the KR1 Bolt action, it wasn’t just a standard bolt action either, it was quite a unique design that I fell in love with.
That was until I saw the second of the Merkel’s, my dream rifle, the Helix which comes in a number of different stock choices, barrel weights and other trimmings. It was truly love at first sight. The Helix is no ordinary bolt action. It sports a straight pull bolt with some excellent engineering making it all possible.
For a 4 inch internal bolt travel to be made only moving the bolt handle a couple of inches is required, this means super-fast shooting which is one of the features I love about this rifle as most of my hunting is done on foot and pigs are my main target. My Helix came with a 3 shot mag but a 5 shot is a factory option and one which I will be chasing up. Another feature that drew me in was how sleek and light weight the rifle is, which is perfect for my style of stalk and shoot hunting.
I decided to go with the synthetic Explorer model more for the fact that the timber models available were too nice to go into the bush with, I would cry if I scratched it but also because the matte black finish of the aluminum receiver and matte finish barrel look sexy as hell with the black synthetic stock. The Helix also offers the versatility of swap barrel technology and where this technology comes into its own is that all this can be done in less than 20 seconds as no tools are needed for the change. You simply depress the button on the fore end and slide it off exposing the lever which is easily pulled down 90 degrees and the barrel smoothly slides out, this is when most people are saying "WOW" or here in Oz it's more commonly " F Off ". Now depending on caliber, the bolt head may or may not need to be changed, if it doesn’t you simply open the action prior to removing the barrel and the bolt head stays with the receiver, that simple.
I was initially concerned with the strength of the swap barrel setup but I then remembered it’s German but also the bolt directly locks into the barrel so there is no stress on the receiver as there is with standard bolt guns. Another neat feature is the integral weaver/picatinny type scope rails that are machined into the top of the receiver. A nice touch I thought as you don’t need to use million dollar special mounts to attach a scope if you choose too or you can go down the more traditional path and use the open sights which are fantastic and are two tone fiber optic red and amber allowing the rifle when shouldered to point like a shotgun, what I’m meaning is that it feels natural and comfortable immediately for me anyway.The Fiber sights will not be utilized on mine as I’m fitting it with a Kahles Helia 5 using the MAKuick Helix quick detach mounts, so much for not using million dollar gear to mount a scope, the MAKuick mount runs about $450-$500 here in Australia.
I went with the QD mount as I plan to get the 6.5x55 barrel for the Helix in the coming months to make it an all-purpose hunting setup and with the quick barrel changes that style of mount makes it easier to swap the caliber, the QD mount is also a tool less removal with the flick of little levers at both ends.
I’m not going to talk about the safety as I never use them, I don’t chamber a round until I’m ready to fire, just how I roll but I realize everybody is different. I will however talk about the perfection that is the trigger, what can I say, it’s the ideal pull weight for a hunting rifle for me again at around 2 pounds and it also breaks like glass, flawless. The thought and technology that’s gone into this rifle is what makes it my Dream rifle, even though my dream was turned into reality. This was my first attempt at writing something like this so I trust I haven’t prattled on too much. I hope everyone who reads this has or will get their dream rifle also, whatever it may be.
Thanks again and Happy Shooting.
By Roger Lewis