Though their name doesn’t seem particularly mainstream among the UK firearm market, Haenel have actually been manufacturing guns since 1840. Byron Pace reviewed their single-shot Jaeger 9 last issue, but I went for the bolt-action Jaeger 10 – a range that has been expanded with the clear aim of catering for varied tastes. With synthetic, wood, camouflage and lightweight stock options and sporter, varmint and short tracker barrels available, it’s effectively a modern solution resulting in a rifle that looks as good over a stalker’s shoulder as it does on the range. The review model I have tested is the Jaeger 10 Pro Green in .243 Winchester.
The stock is green synthetic with a soft touch finish, grippy in the hands but not overly so in use. Its stippled panels on both sides of the forend and pistol grip add extra security when shooting, while the stock is straight and ambidextrous ( apart from the bolt, obviously). The comb does feel slightly low for my dimensions, but still manageable. I would probably be inclined to add an ammo-holding comb raiser to get this perfect for my needs.
The forend is nicely formed and tapered, allowing good finger purchase for secure shooting. The virtually industry-standard bipod/sling stud has a fixed sling eye – a minor niggle on a gun that lends itself to standing shots with or without sticks. This sling eye does thread out to show a standard coarse wood thread, but it looks little too far forward for a bipod to sit properly.
The green finish does appear to have a tendency to scratch off and reveal the black stock underneath. This does not concern me too much as I enjoy giving my rifles proper in-the-field use, and accept some wear and tear as a result. To the rear of the gun is a conventional rubber recoil pad – not that a .243 recoils a great deal, especially when moderated, but the pad still does the job when securing the butt of the rifle in your shoulder with its rubber texture.
The barrel is a sporter profile, measuring 21in (535mm), factory threaded in 15x1mm no spigot, with a dished crown, which is also chamfered at the edge of the bore to further protect the crown. The cold hammer forged barrel is then finished with a matt blueing – anti-glare, the same as the action. The barrel is fully floated in the sturdy forend so accuracy is consistent shot to shot, and more importantly, very accurate with the first shot from a cold barrel.
A tubular forged receiver, sporting the same matt blued finish as the barrel, is topped off with a 6.25in long picatinny rail – which is my personal preference as it makes mount choice simple, but also lends itself to most current night vision scopes. At first glance, the action does seem rather long, but on closer inspection you can see that Haenel have machined the bolt lug abutments into the end of the barrel, almost like a switch barrel. If you have a really good look at the assembly you will see what appears to be a lug abutment bushing screwed on to a threaded and chambered barrel – all expertly machined to tight tolerances.
To the right-hand side of the action you will find a neat, if a little small, ejection port. Everything ejects beautifully without issue, but I certainly can’t get my sausage fingers in there in to straighten any rounds that need guiding a little more in the heat of the moment. Smaller ejection ports do mean the action can potentially be stiffer and less prone to flexing when fired, which will aid accuracy and consistency.
To the left-hand side you will find the bolt release lever. Simple and elegant in design, it does, curiously, stick out when the bolt is fully closed. The bolt sports a textured nylon ball, which provides a secure hold while the action is cycled. It’s swept back slightly, with three lugs, and a 60-degree lift to keep it well out of the way of your chosen optic.
Considering that .243 Win is short action, the bolt is slightly long – only really noticeable when you scrutinise the rifle in the workshop. The reality is that it is a very slick bolt with one raceway machined in it, which takes its guide from the dual-purpose bolt release lever. The shroud to the rear of the bolt performs the job of a cocking indicator, sitting proud from the back of the action, with a red circle visible until the firing pin has dropped. The recessed bolt face safely encapsulates the rear of a chambered case, and houses the extractor claw and plunger that are responsible for the faultless extraction and ejection of fired cases before allowing you to glide another round into the chamber.
Trigger, safety and magazine
The trigger blade is a clean, curved design, with a smooth black finish, breaking at a workable three pounds with no drag or creep. I would maybe prefer slightly less weight of trigger pull, but if it is crisp and consistent as well as safe, that’s more important. The trigger blade feels good to the finger and helped put some good groups on paper.
The safety is to the right of the action, next to the bolt handle recess. It’s a simple ‘forward for fire, back for safe’ job with a small button allowing the bolt to be opened when the safety is engaged – a nice feature that is becoming the standard today. The positioning of the safety is pleasing, within easy reach of the right-handed shooter’s thumb. Its operation is smooth like the rest of the gun.
The trigger guard is a tough plastic design, flowing into the magazine well. I have no aversion to plastic bottom ‘metal’ – it looks the part and is very durable with near zero maintenance needed. Just to the front of the trigger guard is the magazine release lever – quite a large lever, which follows the contour of the trigger guard, which means it’s easy to see if you haven’t fully engaged the mag.
Thumbing the lever forwards pops the mag out with ease – you will not be fumbling for a recessed button to drop the mag for a refill. The magazine is a double-stacked, staggered design. I had read one report of this magazine being a bit sticky and occasional failure to feed – I assume this was a foreign body in the mag causing the intermittent jamming. I am glad to report that I had no issues with this magazine. Granted it doesn’t feed like a straight stack, but I am not known for being overly gentle with hunting rifles, and during a few outings zeroing and a couple of (sadly fruitless) stalks, the Jaeger mag performed without fault.
In the field
The Haenel Jaeger came as a package ready to assemble, with a Brugger & Thomet moderator, Warne mounts and a fine Meopta Meostar 3-12×56 RD with an illuminated reticle. After 25 minutes on the workbench, everything was assembled and I was ready for a zeroing session. I fancied trying the Haenel on some foxes so I opted for Winchester’s 58gn Varmint X – flat shooting and deadly on vulpine quarry. I have even taken roe with these without issue.
Three rounds went into the magazine and one into the chamber. Close the bolt and pop the mag in, and you’re ready to go. I had done an initial bore sight from my workshop, resulting in the first two rounds flying high and right four inches. After a quick adjust of the scope, the Haenel was printing around an inch for a five-shot group at 100 yards, deliberately shooting an inch high for a 200- yard zero (just my preference).
Shooting prone off a front bag, the rifle did have a tendency to slip down out of the shoulder a little. Then again, I never shoot foxes prone – they are nearly all from sticks or sat in the vehicle – so I moved on to my sticks to shoot in a more realistic scenario. With care I could easily put my rounds into a 50mm orange blob at 200 yards.
Unfortunately the two occasions I did venture out for an opportune fox didn’t go to plan, with no results to show. That said, you do get a better feel for a rifle in the field, loaded with the safety on, slung over the shoulder and then rested on sticks in wait at a likely spot. The only disappointment was in the foxes themselves for not turning up on cue!
The Haenel Jaeger 10 has some features that are refreshingly different. The magazine release is hard to forget – it works perfectly and also lets you sneak a magazine into the rifle quietly if you push on it as you pop the mag in. We have all been in that situation where a quiet load-up has bagged us our quarry. Coupled with the slick bolt, the main operation of the rifle before you get to pull the trigger ticks all my boxes. The trigger curve meets your finger instinctively and when aimed and ready, the safety slips off smoothly and quietly. The trigger breaks cleanly and the barrel delivers the bullet accurately to your chosen target. Is this more of a Ronseal ‘does what it says on the tin’ rifle or an M&S ‘not just any rifle’? In fact, it’s a subtle blend of the two.
Contact: Viking Arms 01423 780810