Jaeger 10 Varmint Sporter
- By Pete Moore
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 01/07/2019
It’s funny how some makes of rifle and, for that matter other associated shooting equipment, seem to get lost in the vast amount of products we encounter. It’s often not always about lack of quality, but the simple fact they are not a recognised or a well-known name. For example, if I asked you to name a German rifle brand that was not Blaser, Merkel, Sauer or Mauser, would Haenel spring to mind, probably not?
However, they have been producing guns since 1840 at Suhl in Thuringia, Germany, today they offer a wide range of sporting as well as military and police firearms of all calibres and are imported and distributed in the UK by Viking Arms Ltd.
The Jaeger 10 is their bolt-action line and is offered in eight models, five with synthetic stocks and three with wood, this last includes the Lady Timber, which is aimed at the female shooter, as weight is slightly less and the stock configured differently. However, it’s the plastics I’m looking at and, on test, is the Varmint Sporter, which is not the first gun of theirs I’ve looked at, as I had a Varmint, which I did not like, as I found the comb too low, and I struggled to get decent cheek weld and head support. However, the Varmint Sporter address this, with an adjustable unit that, to me, makes all the difference!
As the name implies, the Varmint Sporter offers a field rifle, with a slightly heavier barrel and better stock design, so offering more rigidity and therefore accuracy; in the US, it would be called a Varmint Target. So, let’s start with the furniture. One piece, it’s made of a rigid synthetic with a lovely soft touch finish and in this case in a pleasing OD (olive drab) finish. The butt is long and heavily tapered with a shallow angled pistol grip with texturing on the sides. Most notable is the large, height-adjustable comb section, which is controlled by two thumb screws, and can also be offset left or right to offer a bit of a cheek piece tweaking. Although the butt is ambidextrous, it’s not lefty-friendly, as the two comb locking screws protrude from the right side.
The forend is quite short and is best described as a tapered beavertail in section, the top shows concave finger boards with textured sections inside and the base a slight swell that fills the hand well for off-hand shooting. Rigid enough, it offers a reasonable free-float. Taking the action out of the stock shows a proper (receivermounted) recoil lug and a deep pocket, which is always pleasing. The forend is braced inside, which adds considerably to rigidity; full marks there too.
The design is finished off with a thick rubber recoil pad and your standard Euro, 25mm fixed swivels, however, they have wisely fitted a single QD sling stud behind the front loop so the Jaeger 10 will accept a Harris bipod or clones, something not all European rifles will do. Length of pull is 14.5” and suited me nicely. As I surmised, the adjustable comb makes a massive difference and improvement to shootability.
The trigger guard and magazine well blend in smoothly with the underside of the stock, with the flat, ambidextrous release catch again nicely faired in, but easy to use. Feed is from a double column box magazine with capacities depending on calibre. My tester was in 223 Rem, which Haenel says gives a payload of 4 + 1; in standard calibres, it’s 3 + 1 and 2 + 1 in magnums. Available are 223 Rem, standard: 243 Win, 308 Win., 6.5x55 Swedish, 270 Win and 30-06 and magnum 300 Win Mag only.
Which brings me nicely on to the barrel. Cold hammer-forged and button rifled, they are described as having a semi-weight build, so what I would call light/medium bordering on heavy, at an outside diameter of 19mm and threaded 15 x 1mm, with protector.
Depending on calibre, you get a choice of three lengths: 223 and standard 560 mm, magnum 610 mm, with an optional: 510 mm in 308 Win. In old money that’s 22”, 24” and 20” for the shorter 308 Win. As ever, I feel that 6.5x55, 270 and 30-06 should really get the 24” tube for best performance!
The steel receiver is closed-topped with a long ejection port and only built on a long action, which makes sense, as it simplifies production. Typically, this length difference is taken up by a filler block in the rear of the magazine. However, can present issues with shorter cartridge overall length (COL) calibres like 223 Rem, as the Jaeger 10 uses a sprung plunger ejector and the case starts coming off the bolt face too soon and can fall into the action. My Mauser M03 in this calibre is prone to this, unless I operate the bolt quickly.
Haenel pleasingly fit a Picatinny rail for scope mounting, always a result. The bolt is nicely faired in at the back and shows a cocked action indicator pin, the handle with synthetic ball end is nicely cranked back and feels good in the hand, the six (three lines of two) locking lugs give a low lift angle of 60⁰ and the action is smooth and cocks on opening. The 2-position safety is located rear/right of the receiver and is a bit of a stretch for the firing hand thumb without loosening your grip. Forward is FIRE (red dot) and rear SAFE (bolt-locked) white dot, although a lever is incorporated that allows you to open it in this position for unloading etc.
The trigger is a short and wide, curved blade and feels comfortable on the finger and broke at a crisp and readable 3 lbs. Haenel says it has a set (lighter) option, but it was not the case with my tester, but at the weight it offers, not a problem. At 3.6 kg, the Jaeger 10 is a mid-weight build but most of this is towards the rear, so it points and shoulders nicely; however, with a scope, moddy and bipod on board, it might feel a bit heavy for some.
For the test, Viking supplied a Leupold 3-15x56 VX-5HD, which I fitted into Nightforce medium-height 30mm rings, up front a Brugger & Thomet muzzle-mounted moderator along with a Harris BRS bipod. Ammunition went to my 69-grain Sierra Match King BTHP 69-grain Match over 24-grains of Ramshot TAC, RWS 55-grain soft tip and Hornady’s 35-grain SuperFormance NTX (non-lead) ballistic tip. With its 1-19” rifling twist, I was keen to see how this lighter load performed.
The magazine fills easily but, try as I might, I could only get three in and insertion requires a good slap to lock it in at both ends of the well. If you hinge it in, then it will engage at one end and seems like it’s in, but the bolt won’t pick up the cartridge as you cycle it. On the plus side, it free falls cleanly, courtesy of the wide and well-placed release catch. One of my tests of any bolt-action is to see if it will single load by dropping a round into the ejection port and trying to close the action. But the rifle was having none of it; some do, some don’t! In use, the bolt runs cleanly, but as previously mentioned you need to operate it fast for the shorter 223 case to cleanly eject from this long action receiver.
As always, some surprises on performance. Starting off with my reload, it was shooting 0.6” @ 100m, pretty good. The RWS soft tip came in at 0.9” and I thought it would do better, as it has in other rifles and, much to my surprise, so did the Hornady. Most pleasing, as I thought it would be too light to stabilise in the barrel. So, let’s see what it did over the chrono see: FACTS & FIGURES. Overall a nice rifle, good trigger and shootability, there’s definite accuracy potential there too, my tester showed a preference for heavier bullets and there’s plenty of those in the 60 to 69-grain category, as well as off the shelf ammo. However, two factory and one reload don’t tell the whole story. As it is, it’s a shooter and good for both varmints and small deer species and, in something like 308 Win, good enough for any deer on the planet.
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