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Merkel Helix Alpine

Merkel Helix Alpine

There are many variations of the Merkel Helix but my favourite is the Alpinist. With a lighter, 22”, 17mm fluted barrel, it was the perfect counterpoint to my usual love of chunkier rifles and barrels, and sadly, an all too brief encounter. The Helix offers an innovative straight pull action with a non-conventional bolt system! The receiver is fully enclosed so nothing slides out of the back when it’s cycled, operation is by a neat drop-down handle on the right. Different are the internals as the design offers a mechanical advantage in that the operating stroke is shorter than actual bolt stroke by a ratio of 1-2. It effectively halves the movement so 1.5” of handle pull can extract and eject a 3” case, this is done by a rack and pinion type system.

NO CHEATING

Although many straight pulls are fast, the advantage here is that you can keep your head down as even with a long action calibre such as the 300 Win Mag, you aren’t going to crash the bolt into your face. You cannot cheat the laws of physics; the downside to halving the movement is doubling the effort required. Locking is direct with the 6-lug bolt head engaging with the chamber extension, with the non pressure-bearing receiver playing no part except as a housing and scope base. The bolt face rotates anticlockwise into battery with a plunger ejector and claw extractor nestled into the upper lug of the face.

A selling point is the receiver features integral Picatinny/Weaver bases so and unlike some of the other makes of switch barrel rifle you are not shelling out big bucks for detachable mounts!

The action is quick, primary extraction is facilitated by the bolt head rotating out of battery, however, full extraction and ejection depends on how hard/fast you operate the bolt. Ammunition running at correct pressures was fine and as familiarity grows you learn to moderate the input effort BUT, it only takes one surprise round to remind you not to get too relaxed, especially in a fast fire situation. The ejection port is very slim and occasionally the case can bounce back in causing a stoppage. But that said the Helix offers superb ergonomics for fast handling and normally the bolt handle only requires fingertip and thumb dexterity to cycle it quickly.

SUBLIME HANDLING

Of all the guns I have shot, this is absolutely one of my favourites. The two-piece synthetic stock offers an adjustable cheek piece/comb allowing perfect cheek weld whether using a low slung red dot for driven boar or a moderate 50mm objective scope. The design incorporates three QD sling studs – one at the rear and two in tandem at the front so a bipod can be fitted without touching the sling. The forend although slender fitted my hand well and even though it flexes slightly still fl oats the barrel enough off a bipod not to affect accuracy/consistency. Like the Sauer 202 the furniture locates at either end of the receiver. Length of pull is 14 ¼” and great compromise when shooting in the winter with thick layers of clothing on, yet still allowing the plastic heeled rubber butt pad to mount effortlessly. No safety catch, instead a tang-mounted de-cocker which is very reassuring and something I now miss on guns without one. Although it does ride fairly close under the eye piece bell it’s easy to operate silently and offers bolt locking when decocked although a slight nudge forward whilst drawing on the handle gives safe opening.

GO-TO GUN

My tester was in 243 Winchester which 90% of the time fits my requirements perfectly for British use. The mag holds 3-rounds; more than enough! If you do want more Merkel offers a 5+1 in certain calibres a good choice for driven no doubt. Some scepticism revolved around fox shooting at night where loading the rifle silently is mandatory. I wondered how the gun would be and to be fair, that last little ½” push the bolt needs to lock it (where the carriers internal helix rotate the bolt head) can be done quietly, although silence on reload depends on speed on your bolt. A tight case will need a VERY firm yank to dislodge it, letting the carrier rattle back for a healthy clunk onto its stops. There is no halfway house so-tospeak. Insertion and extraction of the magazine was easy, left and right catches allowing the small spring to drop it clear for a fast changeover.

The Helix came threaded 15x1 along with a Brugger & Thomet end of barrel moderator. At 296 grams and 155mm long, it complimented the gun perfectly offering effective suppression. The trigger blade is slim at 7mm and I would have preferred some chequering or grooves but it gave deceptively light pulls under the 2lb mark. It wasn’t a glass break but no creep could really be felt, certainly no grittiness and overtravel after the shot was minimal. For a necessarily complex action design, the trigger was easily judged and pleasantly dependable in use.

QUICK OFF THE MARK

story continues below...

Iran a selection of ammunition through the gun’s 1-10” twist barrel. Everything from 70-grain ballistic tip Sierra handloads to 105-grain GECO Softpoints shot within my 1” @ 100 yards requirement. Special mention must go the Fiocchi 95-grain SST ammunition which became my go-to choice; often capable of 0.5” 5-shot groups and utterly reliable out to 300 yards and NO hard extraction in 200 rounds.

All showed slightly higher velocities than expected from the 22” barrel, the GECO nudging 3000 fps with Hornady 95-grain Superformance up to 3150 fps, it’s clearly a `fast` tube. The superb quality control of heat treatments and hammer forging also ruled out any wandering zero through a hot barrel! The barrel cannot be cleaned with a rod in the conventional manner without removing it from the gun, a factor that makes precision riflemen quiver with doubt and I did to start with too. But not for long! Barrel swap has to be the fastest out there – press the button under the forend allows it to slide off and an 85mm lever to the lower left of the barrel swings down to unlock it.

HEAD JOB

Removing the barrel offers two possibilities. With the action closed, the bolt head will come out with it still connected to the locking abutments. It is then rotated to remove. However with the action open it remains attached to the carrier in the receiver. To re-insert the barrel align the red mark to the upper side with the action, slot it back in and lock down the lever, click the forend home and Bob’s your uncle.

Return to zero, the most important aspect of any switch barrel system! I did refine this method a little as to aid the job. I placed an UNLOADED but fire-formed case in the chamber, rattle the action back and forward a couple of times to lock/unlock it and then the secret, from Merkel themselves, is to open and close the locking lever three times, just to allow everything to nestle back into its relaxed `comfort zone`. I followed these rules and found the deviation never exceeded ¾” from previous point of impact on the first shot and definitely within ammunition accuracy levels on the second.

These values alone are readily attributable to a cleaned barrel but I tried it several times hot and cold, clean and unclean, just for fun and it never varied any further.

COMFORT AND CONFIDENCE

It’s a very comfortable gun to carry as no bolt handle ever sticks into your back when slung. Cleaning the action’s internals is no light task though, the butt is removed with a long Allen key and then the trigger guard assembly drops out from below after two cross pins are drifted out. It is definitely a workshop job and not a 5 minute task although in 500 rounds, it never NEEDED cleaning to function. But the internals definitely sounded a little gritty on occasion and in some environments, could foul terminally in my opinion.

It shoots well from all positions, partly because it requires little physical movement to reload but also stock ergonomics and subtle features like the hard polymer heel to the rubber buttpad. The metalwork and furniture proved durable, only a careless encounter with a jagged rock has lightly marked the gun anywhere other than characteristic brass marks on the rear face of the ejection port. It has definitely become a rifle I will be sad to see go, and I can forgive its minor character faults, as its benefits far outweigh them.

PRICES: from £3285
CONTACT: Viking Arms, 01423 780810 (for nearest retailer) www.vikingarms.com

AVAILABLE CALIBRES:
222/223 ‘Mini’ 243/6.5x55/270/7x64/308/ 30-06/8x57/9.3x62 ‘Standard’ 7mm Remington/30 Winchester ‘Magnum’s

  • Merkel Helix Alpine - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Merkel Helix Alpine - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Merkel Helix Alpine - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Merkel Helix Alpine - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

gun
features

  • Name: Merkel RX Helix Alpinist
  • Calibre : 243 Winchester
  • Capacity : 3+1 (DM)
  • Weight : 7 ½ lbs
  • Barrel: 22”
  • Twist rate : 1-10”
  • Length : 42.5”
  • Magazine capacity : 3+1
  • Trigger: Single stage, 1.8 lbs
  • Stock : synthetic
  • Adjustable comb Y:

1 Comments

  • What is the best bullet weight for the Merkel RX Helix 1:10 .243 (which I own) at 200 yards.
    Thanks,
    Roy

    Default profile image
    Roy A Vories
    23 Sep 2018 at 03:51 AM


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Merkel Helix Alpine

Merkel Helix Alpine

There are many variations of the Merkel Helix but my favourite is the Alpinist. With a lighter, 22”, 17mm fluted barrel, it was the perfect counterpoint to my usual love of chunkier rifles and barrels, and sadly, an all too brief encounter. The Helix offers an innovative straight pull action with a non-conventional bolt system! The receiver is fully enclosed so nothing slides out of the back when it’s cycled, operation is by a neat drop-down handle on the right. Different are the internals as the design offers a mechanical advantage in that the operating stroke is shorter than actual bolt stroke by a ratio of 1-2. It effectively halves the movement so 1.5” of handle pull can extract and eject a 3” case, this is done by a rack and pinion type system.

NO CHEATING

Although many straight pulls are fast, the advantage here is that you can keep your head down as even with a long action calibre such as the 300 Win Mag, you aren’t going to crash the bolt into your face. You cannot cheat the laws of physics; the downside to halving the movement is doubling the effort required. Locking is direct with the 6-lug bolt head engaging with the chamber extension, with the non pressure-bearing receiver playing no part except as a housing and scope base. The bolt face rotates anticlockwise into battery with a plunger ejector and claw extractor nestled into the upper lug of the face.

A selling point is the receiver features integral Picatinny/Weaver bases so and unlike some of the other makes of switch barrel rifle you are not shelling out big bucks for detachable mounts!

The action is quick, primary extraction is facilitated by the bolt head rotating out of battery, however, full extraction and ejection depends on how hard/fast you operate the bolt. Ammunition running at correct pressures was fine and as familiarity grows you learn to moderate the input effort BUT, it only takes one surprise round to remind you not to get too relaxed, especially in a fast fire situation. The ejection port is very slim and occasionally the case can bounce back in causing a stoppage. But that said the Helix offers superb ergonomics for fast handling and normally the bolt handle only requires fingertip and thumb dexterity to cycle it quickly.

SUBLIME HANDLING

Of all the guns I have shot, this is absolutely one of my favourites. The two-piece synthetic stock offers an adjustable cheek piece/comb allowing perfect cheek weld whether using a low slung red dot for driven boar or a moderate 50mm objective scope. The design incorporates three QD sling studs – one at the rear and two in tandem at the front so a bipod can be fitted without touching the sling. The forend although slender fitted my hand well and even though it flexes slightly still fl oats the barrel enough off a bipod not to affect accuracy/consistency. Like the Sauer 202 the furniture locates at either end of the receiver. Length of pull is 14 ¼” and great compromise when shooting in the winter with thick layers of clothing on, yet still allowing the plastic heeled rubber butt pad to mount effortlessly. No safety catch, instead a tang-mounted de-cocker which is very reassuring and something I now miss on guns without one. Although it does ride fairly close under the eye piece bell it’s easy to operate silently and offers bolt locking when decocked although a slight nudge forward whilst drawing on the handle gives safe opening.

GO-TO GUN

My tester was in 243 Winchester which 90% of the time fits my requirements perfectly for British use. The mag holds 3-rounds; more than enough! If you do want more Merkel offers a 5+1 in certain calibres a good choice for driven no doubt. Some scepticism revolved around fox shooting at night where loading the rifle silently is mandatory. I wondered how the gun would be and to be fair, that last little ½” push the bolt needs to lock it (where the carriers internal helix rotate the bolt head) can be done quietly, although silence on reload depends on speed on your bolt. A tight case will need a VERY firm yank to dislodge it, letting the carrier rattle back for a healthy clunk onto its stops. There is no halfway house so-tospeak. Insertion and extraction of the magazine was easy, left and right catches allowing the small spring to drop it clear for a fast changeover.

The Helix came threaded 15x1 along with a Brugger & Thomet end of barrel moderator. At 296 grams and 155mm long, it complimented the gun perfectly offering effective suppression. The trigger blade is slim at 7mm and I would have preferred some chequering or grooves but it gave deceptively light pulls under the 2lb mark. It wasn’t a glass break but no creep could really be felt, certainly no grittiness and overtravel after the shot was minimal. For a necessarily complex action design, the trigger was easily judged and pleasantly dependable in use.

QUICK OFF THE MARK

story continues below...

Iran a selection of ammunition through the gun’s 1-10” twist barrel. Everything from 70-grain ballistic tip Sierra handloads to 105-grain GECO Softpoints shot within my 1” @ 100 yards requirement. Special mention must go the Fiocchi 95-grain SST ammunition which became my go-to choice; often capable of 0.5” 5-shot groups and utterly reliable out to 300 yards and NO hard extraction in 200 rounds.

All showed slightly higher velocities than expected from the 22” barrel, the GECO nudging 3000 fps with Hornady 95-grain Superformance up to 3150 fps, it’s clearly a `fast` tube. The superb quality control of heat treatments and hammer forging also ruled out any wandering zero through a hot barrel! The barrel cannot be cleaned with a rod in the conventional manner without removing it from the gun, a factor that makes precision riflemen quiver with doubt and I did to start with too. But not for long! Barrel swap has to be the fastest out there – press the button under the forend allows it to slide off and an 85mm lever to the lower left of the barrel swings down to unlock it.

HEAD JOB

Removing the barrel offers two possibilities. With the action closed, the bolt head will come out with it still connected to the locking abutments. It is then rotated to remove. However with the action open it remains attached to the carrier in the receiver. To re-insert the barrel align the red mark to the upper side with the action, slot it back in and lock down the lever, click the forend home and Bob’s your uncle.

Return to zero, the most important aspect of any switch barrel system! I did refine this method a little as to aid the job. I placed an UNLOADED but fire-formed case in the chamber, rattle the action back and forward a couple of times to lock/unlock it and then the secret, from Merkel themselves, is to open and close the locking lever three times, just to allow everything to nestle back into its relaxed `comfort zone`. I followed these rules and found the deviation never exceeded ¾” from previous point of impact on the first shot and definitely within ammunition accuracy levels on the second.

These values alone are readily attributable to a cleaned barrel but I tried it several times hot and cold, clean and unclean, just for fun and it never varied any further.

COMFORT AND CONFIDENCE

It’s a very comfortable gun to carry as no bolt handle ever sticks into your back when slung. Cleaning the action’s internals is no light task though, the butt is removed with a long Allen key and then the trigger guard assembly drops out from below after two cross pins are drifted out. It is definitely a workshop job and not a 5 minute task although in 500 rounds, it never NEEDED cleaning to function. But the internals definitely sounded a little gritty on occasion and in some environments, could foul terminally in my opinion.

It shoots well from all positions, partly because it requires little physical movement to reload but also stock ergonomics and subtle features like the hard polymer heel to the rubber buttpad. The metalwork and furniture proved durable, only a careless encounter with a jagged rock has lightly marked the gun anywhere other than characteristic brass marks on the rear face of the ejection port. It has definitely become a rifle I will be sad to see go, and I can forgive its minor character faults, as its benefits far outweigh them.

PRICES: from £3285
CONTACT: Viking Arms, 01423 780810 (for nearest retailer) www.vikingarms.com

AVAILABLE CALIBRES:
222/223 ‘Mini’ 243/6.5x55/270/7x64/308/ 30-06/8x57/9.3x62 ‘Standard’ 7mm Remington/30 Winchester ‘Magnum’s

  • Merkel Helix Alpine - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Merkel Helix Alpine - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Merkel Helix Alpine - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Merkel Helix Alpine - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

gun
features

  • Name: Merkel RX Helix Alpinist
  • Calibre : 243 Winchester
  • Capacity : 3+1 (DM)
  • Weight : 7 ½ lbs
  • Barrel: 22”
  • Twist rate : 1-10”
  • Length : 42.5”
  • Magazine capacity : 3+1
  • Trigger: Single stage, 1.8 lbs
  • Stock : synthetic
  • Adjustable comb Y:

1 Comments

  • What is the best bullet weight for the Merkel RX Helix 1:10 .243 (which I own) at 200 yards.
    Thanks,
    Roy

    Default profile image
    Roy A Vories
    23 Sep 2018 at 03:51 AM


guns for sale

Buy & Sell Online. Advertise your guns and accessories and be seen by 1000’s of buyers..... Buying a Gun or Accessory, Choose from 1000's of items for sale....

Helikon-Tex Training Mini Rig for Serious training session - see more
Helikon-Tex Training Mini Rig for Serious training session - see more
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