GERMAN ARISTOCRAT - HEYM’S SR-21
This German rifle passed the test with flying colours.
With a proud history dating back to 1865 and a stellar reputation as a builder of especially heavy-calibre double and magazine rifles, the German manufacturer Heym needs very little introduction to South African rifle enthusiasts.
Heym’s Martini Express boltaction rifle is the flagship of the Heym bolt-action line-up. It is chambered for a range of largebore cartridges and made on a Magnum Mauser-type action with dedicated, calibre-specific magazine boxes. Not to be forgotten, however, is the SR-21, Heym’s more affordable bolt-action cham-
bered for a variety of today’s more popular small- and medium-bore cartridges.
I recently had the opportunity to field test a Heym SR-21 chambered for the .30- 06 Springfield cartridge. Heym calls this particular model the “Allround”, a rifle that is manufactured from tip to tail in Heym’s factory in Gleichamberg, Germany. This model is Heym’s backbone rifle for the European market. The Allround was actually designed with African hunting in mind, so I was eager to put it through its paces during a recent hunt in the Karoo.
The stock is in the classic style with minimal drop at the comb to mitigate felt recoil. Goodquality chequering adorns the pistol grip and fore-end and the stock is fitted with a contrasting fore-end tip and grip cap. The wood is dark European walnut with weather-proof finish to minimize moisture absorption. Unfortunately the finish is a bit dull and does not exactly enhance the grain and contrast of the wood but it serves its purpose well. Some people will definitely want to apply a proper handrubbed oil finish to the wood.
The SR-21 Allround’s stock fitted me very well and the rifle was a pleasure to handle and shoot. It was fitted with a high- quality German 4-12x50 scope mounted in quick-detachable EAW mounts. With the scope removed the open sights were relatively easy to use as well but to align them properly I had to press my face hard onto the comb. More about the open sights later. Most people will use a scope, so the open sights did not bother me too much. In short, the overall balance of the rifle was very good – full marks to Heym.
The length of pull was just shy of 14” and the butt is fitted with a neat, solid, black recoil pad. Quick-detachable sling swivel studs fore and aft are stan- dard on the SR-21. What at first glance appears to be a bulge in the stock in the area of the magazine cut-out, is actually intended to strengthen the wood in this vital area. For those used to a more streamlined stock profile this may take some getting used to but it is something I can live with. The angle of the pistol grip is comfortable and the grip of the test rifle featured a very slight Wundhammer swell to accommodate those with big hands. As a final touch the stock is properly bedded under the recoil lug to avoid wandering zeros and the barrel is free-floated.
BOLT, TRIGGER, ACTION
When taking a closer look at the action I noticed a number of familiar features as well as a few not-so-familiar ones. The Winchester-type safety catch is located on top of the bolt shroud and functions in the normal fashion: forward for fire; central position blocking the trigger but allows for safe unloading; while the rear position blocks the trigger and the striker. It was easy to use and functioned perfectly, as did the bolt-release catch which is located on the left of the action, just below the bolt shroud.
The bolt shaft is fluted to reduce weight and to act as an anti-binding measure and the three recessed, forward-mounted locking lugs ensure a strong and secure lock-up when the rifle is in battery. The hook-andplunger-type ejector system fitted to the action may not be to everyone’s taste but Heym makes other more suitable rifles for use on Africa’s dangerous game, so it does not bother me. It worked perfectly during our hunt and on the shooting range – empty cases were flung with alacrity from the ejection port every time we worked the bolt. The case head is fully recessed and there is a gas port on either side of the action to release pressure in the event of a cata- »
» strophic malfunction.
The bolt on the SR-21 only requires a 60-degree lift/rotation to operate and therefore easily cleared the mounted telescope. The mounts on the test rifle was fitted directly to the bridge and receiver by means of conventional bases but a Picatinny rail (available from Heym) can be fitted as well if so desired. A wooden knob graces the bolthandle, but I have to admit that given a choice, I would have preferred a traditional steel bolthandle knob instead. This is due to my rather traditional tastes when it comes to firearms. I must hasten to add that the wooden knob is not unattractive at all, just not what I am used to.
The SR-21’s single-stage trigger (a set-trigger mechanism can be ordered from the factory) is fully adjustable and broke at a crisp 3lbs without any creep. It is located towards the rear of the trigger guard and allows enough space for easy use with a gloved finger.
To my delight the magazine is a detachable steel unit with a capacity of three cartridges. To remove the magazine, simply press in the plunger-type button located next to the magazine and it will pop out. The magazine itself is a hefty, sturdy affair that should give years of troublefree service if looked after. Feeding cartridges from the action was very smooth indeed and the Heym functioned perfectly.
BARREL AND SIGHTS
It is a little known fact that Heym manufactures its own rifle barrels in-house, not only for its own use but also for corporate customers. The slim, hammer-forged barrel fitted to the SR-21 Allround is 23.75” (55cm) long and, as mentioned, fitted with open sights. The sights have fibre optic inserts (green at the back and red for the front-sight) for fast acquisition and ease of use.
In parts of Europe open sights are still very much in vogue, especially for game such as driven boar. I did not test the open sights on the range but was assured that they were well regulated. As mentioned earlier, most people will fit a scope to a rifle but well-regulated open sights are certainly a handy back-up to have in case something goes wrong.
After all is said and done, any rifle is only as good as it shoots and a visit to the shooting range was a logical step. I had a supply of PMP 150-grain factory ammunition on hand and settled down to fire a few groups at 100 metres. With the aid of the fine scope and the excellent trigger it was no art shooting groups that measured slightly bigger than one inch. Heym guarantees that every SR-21 will produce groups of 20mm or less at 100 metres with selected ammunition and I have no doubt that with a bit of experimentation or careful handloading, the SR-21 would be capable of very fine accuracy.
Thanks to the well-designed stock the SR-21 was a pleasure to shoot from the bench. Even though the .30-06 is by no means a fierce-recoiling cartridge, I have fired one or two rifles chambered for this cartridge that was uncomfortable to shoot.
To round off the test, I also hunted with the SR-21 on Mynhard Herholdt’s beautiful farm bordering the Vanderkloof Dam in the Northern Cape. On the first morning we checked the Heym’s zero before heading out to hunt. Mynhard’s well-stocked farm is home to blue wildebeest, gemsbuck, red hartebeest, springbuck and blesbuck (amongst other species) and we encountered a number of herds of all of these species before I got a chance on a nice blue wildebeest bull.
Our chosen quarry was part of a small but wary herd and it took quite a bit of manoeuvring to get in a position where a shot could be taken. At a measured 128 metres the crosshairs eventually settled on the bull’s shoulder where he stood in the open on a grassy plain. He was ever so slightly quartering towards us and I had a fleeting doubt or two about the ability of the 150grain PMP soft-nose before pulling the trigger... blue wildebeests are tough. The bullet hit the bull with an audible thump and with his right front leg flailing about; the bull took off across the plains like a scalded cat.
As it turned out, the bullet had been perfectly placed for the quartering-on shot and had smashed the bull’s big shoulder bone upon impact. Unfortu- nately it also disintegrated almost completely without penetrating deep enough, leaving the bull with a nasty wound that certainly wasn’t immediately fatal. Fortunately the bull gave me a second chance and, with the bullet placed behind the shoulder into the lung area, he went down.
Back to the rifle. To get another opinion I asked a friend, who accompanied me and who is also a well-known professional hunter from Zimbabwe, for his impressions on the Heym. After firing the rifle on the shooting range and hunting with it he also mentioned that the rifle handled well, recoiled very little and in general did what was expected of a quality German hunting rifle.
The sub-standard bullet performance notwithstanding, the Heym SR-21 passed its field test with flying colours. A quick internet search revealed that the SR-21 is available in a number of different configurations, including the Precision, a highly accurate version specifically aimed at long-range shooting. In addition, a number of other versions featuring custom touches such as personalised engraving, select wood, threading for silencers, and custom stock dimensions are also available.
Heym also manufactures rifles specifically for law enforcement purposes on the SR-21 action but these are at present not available for sale to the general public. The SR-21 Allround as tested is available in 6.5x55, 7x57, .30-06, 8x57 JS and 9.3x62. As an added bonus, the SR-21 is available in a true left-hand version as well, at no extra charge.
In closing, I was favourably impressed with the SR-21 Allround. It is a quality product that I’m happy to recommend for those looking for a reliable hunting rifle at a competitive price. * Full after-sales service is available and it carries a comprehensive Heym’s guarantee. It is available from Safari Outdoor, Heym’s agents in South Africa. Prices start at approximately R24 000.
A side-on view of the SR-21 without scope mounts fitted. Note the slight bulge in the wood around the area of the magazine cut-out. This was done to strengthen the stock in this vital area.
The ultimate field test for the SR-21 was the hunt for this nice old blue wildebeest bull. In spite of indifferent bullet performance, the rifle passed the test with flying colours.
The Heym SR-21 was very comfortable to use from the bench. This picture shows professional hunter Sean Viljoen firing the rifle, loaded with 150gr PMP factory loads.
LEFT: The SR-21 is fitted with a Winchester-type threeposition safety catch that functioned flawlessly. Also note the wooden bolt knob. ABOVE: The hook and plunger ejector system may not be to everyone’s taste but it functioned perfectly. Also note the flutes machined into the bolt to act as an anti-binding device and to save weight.
The open sights fitted to the SR-21 feature fibre-optic inserts to aid in target acquisition and ease of use.