After a long-term test, Stuart Wilson delivers his long-term verdict on the Haenel Jaeger 10 Sporter and Meopta Meostar R2 combo
After a long period using the Haenel Jaeger 10 Sporter Varmint, with adjustable cheekpiece topped off with the Meopta R2 2.5-15×56, it seems only appropriate to gather up my findings and give my verdict.
I reviewed this rifle last year and enjoyed the features and the overall balance of the whole package during the initial testing phase while on the range zeroing up.
Just to recap, the rifle is fitted with a Brugger & Thomet moderator – which does increase the weight but it enhances the package, and performs flawlessly – and topped with a Meopta Meostar R2 scope.
Balance and Handling
My rifle spends more time on my shoulder than anywhere else, but perhaps a close second is the resting place on my sticks after I have stalked into a decent ambush position. With that in mind, the balance of a slung rifle – which is key for comfort – is something I really look for.
With a good quality sling around an inch wide, the Haenel can sit patiently waiting for its opportunity, quietly and without causing me any discomfort – it is even sometimes easy to forget you have a rifle on your shoulder at all.
Even with the semi-weight profile of the barrel and the added weight of the moderator, I have trudged some reasonable distances, through some tougher ground without ever wishing for a lighter rifle. Once into position, the Haenel has sat waiting atop the sticks.
My sticks are homemade (I am a tight Yorkshireman after all) and provide two good solid Vs for the butt and forend. I have stood in place with the rifle balanced, for several hours, with the weight just tipped back into my shoulder – this makes the movement minimal to get onto any deer or fox that presents.
The Haenel also shoots well from a bipod, and when the occasion calls for it I am more than happy taking all the accuracy-enhancing help I can get.
It is worth pointing out that the Haenel shot consistently regardless of the shooting position I adopted. Perhaps some experience helps here, but the stock dimensions and handling certainly helped me achieve this goal.
The butt pad sticks nicely into the shoulder, and when you have adjusted the cheekpiece to your favoured height, the Jaeger 10 Sporter Varmint will hit the mark with solid, consistent accuracy.
The cheekpiece is one of my favourite features on this rifle; one very small point to mention is that the bolt can’t be fully withdrawn from the action with the cheekpiece elevated. It’s a ‘finger gauge’ away from a perfect reset regardless.
Performance and accuracy
The Haenel shot well from the start. The initial zero was simple, and I have barely adjusted the sight across several hundred shots and thousands of miles bouncing around my truck, up and down the country. I am not overly fussy when it comes to accuracy – to my mind, a solid sub-inch group at 100 yards is fine.
The Haenel will certainly shoot much better than this, but across my requirements – high seat, out of the truck window, off sticks, bipod from bench or similar – and more often than not with the intention of bagging a deer, consistency is key, particularly when quicker shots are needed.
Recently I have been feeding the Haenel a diet of Sako 123gn Gameheads, and this has transformed the experience. The accuracy of the Haenel-Meopta combo and the lighter Sako .308 rounds has improved, and the trajectory from 0-300 yards has significantly improved.
I am now barely an inch high to hit smack-on at 200 yards, with seven inches of drop at 300 yards and still holding good accuracy. Most of my shooting at deer will be up to 200 yards, particularly for roe, and this round is also more than capable of dealing with foxes that happen to present whilst I am stalking.
While I personally have an advantage using a rifle that’s set up for me, and one that I have got more than used to over the months, its capabilities don’t end there.
Adding the variable of novice stalkers to the equation on some guided shooting, the Haenel has proved just as suited to anyone who picks it up – seasoned hunters, experienced rifle shots taking their first deer, and complete novice shooters who have been lucky enough to go on an initial stalk. This is a resounding tick in any rifle’s positives column.
During this year’s buck season I had a few days stalking with Frank – a gracious, funny guy who also proved to be a very capable hunter. We had struggled during some awkward weather and worked hard, seen bucks, but ultimately hadn’t managed to get a buck locked in the Haenel-Meopta combo’s sight. We even endured a two-hour sit before the golden hour, only to be completely scuppered by a muck spreader rocking up right next to us.
The haze of timings and disappointment escapes me a little as they blended into the next attempt to get into a promising high seat before another failed day. Rolling to a stop with the engine already off, Frank and I carefully gathered our gear, binoculars and the trusty Haenel slung over Frank’s shoulder.
We carefully peeked around the corner of a wood into the track leading to a favoured high seat on the corner of a wood looking directly at another wood, with miscanthus grass to the right.
Time was against us, and an even trickier situation slowed our progress into the high seat as the sun started to near its horizon. No fewer than seven roe deer were in front of us – several does with kids, and one reasonable buck on the edge of the furthest wood, no more than 200 yards from our position.
We ducked low, and crawled to the miscanthus for some cover, stopping to glass the ground as we progressed, carefully picking our way forwards as the deer moved from view. Slow progress saw us close to the base of the high seat, with only a quick check of the ground to our left needed before we could climb into our darkening position.
The buck had now melted into the wood across from us, and just as we were about to hastily stand to climb the high seat in a ‘now or never’ move, two roe kids – which had been boisterously larking and running through the meadow – all but ran into us as we crouched in place, turning and running with another roe barking in disapproval at our presence.
The jig was apparently up. We climbed the high seat quickly and quietly but had little expectation of any buck now appearing. The light was fading as fast as our hopes.
Frank sat with the Haenel across the high seat front rail and carefully chambered a round, ensuring the safety catch was still engaged. We both glassed from our vantage point, with a mix of fresh stubbles and some grassy meadow margins in front of us. The barking had stopped and only a few hares skipped through the grass.
Our perseverance had paid off. A buck started to make his way out of the second wood, around 250 yards away. In the fading light, we really needed him to come closer, and more into the open.
After what always seems like an age, the buck had crossed nearly halfway over the open stubble and meadow, using the grass margin as his chosen path. I zapped his range at 150 yards, and he was slowly walking broadside – he just needed to stop for Frank.
With the Haenel rested on the front rail, and the stock firmly snugged into his shoulder, Frank quietly slipped the safety catch forward in readiness for a shot. Right on cue, the buck had taken his last step, stopped, and Frank let the Haenel send its bullet away, which found its mark and dropped the buck on the spot. What a result.
This is one of my most memorable stalks using the Haenel Jaeger 10 Sporter Pro Varmint. The rifle may be always present on the stalk, but it only has a short time in the spotlight – and the Haenel has always delivered in the short time it is allotted. I have taken fallow, roe, red, and several foxes with this rifle. It is a joy to use, always accurate, and has never felt like an anchor on my shoulder.
So what’s next for the Haenel-Meopta combo? Well, I have had the ballistic turret installed on the scope for several months now, and I plan to push this rifle as far as I can – realistically 400 yards would be very nice using the preset function of the turret – but I will keep you all posted on any progress, and hopefully film this part of the project.
I shoot plenty of rifles, but only a select few spend a lengthy period in my regular rotation. The Haenel is one of them.