The Stutzen is light and short, ideal for many European hunting conditions

The Stutzen is light and short, ideal for many European hunting conditions

I must start off with the qualification of “favorite”, I am referring specifically to my hunting rifle and not custom guns that I keep for the pleasure of their art. The Blaser K95 Stutzen fitted my criteria for a short and light gun, ideal for maneuverability in a hide, especially in the dark. I wanted a rifle that was a pleasure to carry in the mountains at elevations above 1000 m for the hunting of Chamois (Gams). Shooting from a hide does not require numerous shots and hence my preference for a single shot breakdown gun. If needed I can reload quickly, be it not as fast as a bolt action rifle.

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Further benefits of a short breakdown rifle is the transport convenience, my Stutzen fits perfectly into the shorter Blaser soft case for local transport or the standard Attache hard case for more arduous travel conditions. This may not seem such an advantage to many but I can assure you when 5 of us travel in one vehicle to Croatia to hunt – space matters.

The short Blaser soft case is ideal for local hunting transport

The short Blaser soft case is ideal for local hunting transport

The Attache model comes standard with a hard case, ideal for travel. A breakdown gun allows for a small case

The Attache model comes standard with a hard case, ideal for travel. A breakdown gun allows for a small case

Having decided to buy a Blaser K95 Stutzen I had to choose the caliber. Ales Spendal tried hard to convince me not to buy a 7x57R and to rather buy a 7x64R which he said was more powerful and versatile than the 7x57R. I wanted a classic European caliber and they don’t come more classic than a 7×57. The R is simply a cartridge with a rim that facilitates grip for extraction because typically these guns are not fitted with automatic extractors. Being an avid reloader I knew that I could load a 7x57R to do the same or more than standard factory ammunition in a 7×64.

Being a short barrel I wanted a caliber with less case capacity to ensure 100% powder burn. This can be achieved with fast burning powders in bigger cases but where possible I avoid half filled cases or the need for fillers. I am not averse to high recoil but if not necessary, why? The Stutzen is a short light gun, more effected by recoil and muzzle blast than a longer heavier barrel. In the caliber 7x57R there is minimal recoil and muzzle blast. I have never regretted that 7x57R was my caliber of choice.

GS Custom 120gr 2950 fts and Peregrine VGR3 150gr 2600 fts. The bushmasters shoot 1" higher at 100m

GS Custom 120gr 2950 fts and Peregrine VGR3 150gr 2600 fts. The bushmasters shoot 1″ higher at 100m

Before I got to know and use Peregrine bullets I was on a path of standardization on GS Custom bullets because I liked the idea of banded bullets and the lower pressures. I loaded my 7x57R with HV 120 grains and easily reached 3000 fps out of a 20″ barrel. I settled at 2950 fps and the gun shoots like “hell” – the target on the left shows a 4 bullet group at 100 m. I do allow barrel cooling between shots.

When I arrived to hunt Chamois with this short rifle the guide of more than 30 years experience was very skeptical and even more so when I said that I only had 4 rounds. There could be winds at the high elevations. We climbed the mountain in the darkness of morning and reached the peak dividing Slovenia and Austria at first light. With the help of a ballistic turret I shot the Chamois at 320m.

Chamois shot at an elevation of 1600m on the mountain peak that divides Slovenia & Austria. Shot at 320m with my 7x57R Stutzen using premium bullets

Chamois shot at an elevation of 1600m on the mountain peak that divides Slovenia & Austria. Shot at 320m with my 7x57R Stutzen using premium bullets

I recall setting the ballistic turret with Ales Spendal; at the same time he was setting the ballistic turret of a 300 Win Mag. None of us could believe that a 7x57R with a 20″ barrel was more flat shooting that the 300WM at a distance of 300m, proven by the fact that we adjusted for less clicks at 300m with the 7x57R than for the 300WM (be it only 1). Off-course further out it would change with the sectional density of a 300WM bullet. My 7x57R set at 100m, 4 clicks up at 200m, 4 more clicks up at 250m and 5 more clicks up at 300m!

Having got to know Peregrine bullets I fell in love with the Bushmaster range for European hide and pig hunting. I loaded 150 grains VGR3 and reached 2600 fps without any pressure signs. I am sensitive to write this because by the time you see signs of high pressure you have already overstepped the mark. I normally test rounds at a higher velocity and settle back on a lower velocity for safety. I like that GS Custom and Peregrine bullets allow this option because their accuracy is much less sensitive to velocity changes than traditional bullets.

I was fortunate that the 150 gr Peregrine bushmasters shoot precisely 1″ higher than the 120 gr GS Custom bullets at 100m so I don’t need to change scopes or scope settings when switching between the two loads. Also, I got awesome hunting accuracy the first time without changing the seater die setting! I leave the ballistic turret set for the HV 120 gr because anyway I only opt for bushmasters at shorter shooting distances. I dropped a pig with the bushmasters without the pig moving an inch. The main reason that I have moved from GS Custom to Peregrine (both are great) is that in some calibers I experienced “problematic” concentricity on seating GS Custom bullets. I came to the conclusion that the greater bearing surface of Peregrine bullets eradicated this problem. Also I love the flat point Bushmaster for instant knockdown results.

Night vision fitted to front of scope, no need to sight in. You see your own scope reticle

Night vision fitted to front of scope, no need to sight in. You see your own scope reticle

The main accessory I use on my 7x57R is a night vision which attaches to the front of the scope. The use of night vision is mostly illegal but there are places that it can be used for certain applications. It is rare to shoot pigs from a hide before darkness. The same for brown bear. I chose a night vision model that had the versatility to attach to different rifle scopes and without any need for setting or changing the setting of the scope. The picture below gives some indication of the size of the night vision.

the night vision just looks big against the backdrop of a Stutzen

the night vision just looks big against the backdrop of a Stutzen

Another feature I added to the stock of my Stutzen is the magazine carrier in the butt of the stock. My GS Custom loads are too long to fit but this can easily be fixed. I have procrastinated in remedying because the Peregrine bushmasters fit perfectly. I like this feature for hunting in Europe because you seldom need more than 4 bullets. A driven pig hunt is different but then I don’t use a single shot breakdown gun on a driven pig hunt. I waited and then chose a Chamois engraved pistol grip cap from Blaser to remind me of the first quarry taken with this rifle.

A smart accessory that ensures you never arrive at the hunt without ammunition

A smart accessory that ensures you never arrive at the hunt without ammunition