The Lynx is manufactured by Pirkan ASE, based in Finland. Specialising in handcrafted rifles, the company works with the Finnish Defence Forces Technical Research Centre to test weapons and projectiles. Pirkan ASE is renowned for developing high-quality sporting and competition rifles since 1979.
The Lynx 94 was designed by Torsti Laaksonen, a Finnish master gunsmith, and is a patented straight-pull bolt-action rifle. This makes it ideal for driven game and most hunting applications. It is the recently launched Light Hunter model, built with a high-quality laminated stock, that I am reviewing, as well as testing its reputation for quality and accuracy.
As the action is the most interesting and unique aspect of this rifle, I feel this is the best place to start the review. It is a tubular design with a closed, small ejection port. Fitted with an integral 17mm dovetail, the action allows for fitting the popular Tikka Optilock mounts or the more expensive but easily removable Ziegler ZP claw mount system.
The most impressive aspect of this straight-pull system is the smoothness of cycling the rounds. It may have yards of travel, but displays quality engineering and has been case-hardened to survive the harshest conditions you might find yourself in. To lock the bolt, a sliding crossbar located towards the rear of the action is used. This is similar in principle to the Browning T-Bolt system.
Other straight-pulls, such as the Blaser R8, rely on an expanding radial locking system that locks the front of the bolt head. And the Merkel Helix, for example, uses a multi-lugged head that twists into the rear of the barrel assembly, reducing the need for a strong, and therefore heavier, action. It may be one of the smoothest actions to use, but simply grabbing the large cylindrical bolt knob in the normal fashion will result in your fingers being trapped between the knob, action and stock. As with all unusual rifles, there is a knack that can quickly be mastered within a few shots: simply use the tips of the thumb and next two fingers (or push forwards using the palm). It requires more of a delicate grip as opposed to the normal grab and slide.
To release the bolt, pull down the odd-looking lever, located to the front of the trigger. It does look a little strange, but the more I examine the Lynx, the more I see that it has been designed by engineers who maybe have sacrificed looks for practicality.
Overall, the action and bolt assembly, while highly engineered, are in some ways simplistic and very mechanical to operate. This is not a criticism, but more of an observation, that will either attract or put off a prospective buyer.
What a great trigger! It is fully adjustable from 0.5 to 1.2kg (1.1 to 2.5lb). Despite breaking at 2.2lb, it feels much less. Whatever those engineers have done, it is superb, offering the slightest of creep and a crisp breaking point. The trigger blade can also be adjusted before and after, with the two-position safety catch located on the left-hand side of the action. While this lever looks a little crude, it is easy to operate in very cold conditions when wearing gloves.
The steel box magazine holds three rounds and is robust and easy to fill. To release it, simply pull down the lever that sits just in front of the trigger guard. Once again, everything is designed around the wearing of gloves, so the lever is large, stiff and easy to drop out using one finger.
The 585mm (23in) medium-grade barrel is made by Lothar Walther and, being the Light Hunter, is without front and rear open sights. As with the rest of the metal work, it is of a high quality, blued finish and supplied with a 15x1mm thread for a sound moderator.
Probably the most striking aspect of this rifle is the laminated wooden stock in a variety of brown, silver and ebony colours. The last Lynx rifle on test was the solid Hunter, furnished with a high quality walnut stock in a thumping 9.3×62 calibre. The new Light Hunter is much lighter, by about 1.2lb. It feels sleek and very comfortable, thanks to the narrow forend and pistol grip. Both areas receive a coarse chequering pattern, which makes them both rough and very nice to grip.
As it comes up to the shoulder, it is comfortable thanks to the medium-height cheekpiece but feels a little more quirky than most rifles – no thanks to that chunky, vertical bolt handle protruding from the right-hand side of the action. But how does it perform?
For this review, Alan Rhone kindly sent me the Light Hunter in .308, complete with a Zeiss Diavari 2.5-10×50 and 66 reticle using the easily detachable Ziegler ZP claw mount system. To release the scope, push back the outer bases on the front mount, lift the front of the scope and out it comes. I used the same rifle in the .30-06 calibre to demonstrate straight-pull rifles with Byron Pace for The Shooting Show, so my observations are based on using both of these rifles.
Using Lapua 150SP ammunition, kindly supplied by Viking Arms, I zeroed the .308 Light Hunter at 150 yards and achieved a 1.5-1.75in group. I have no doubt this could be reduced after further use, but more than acceptable for its intended game. I found it a little snappy, though this is not unusual for the .308 calibre. Despite removing and refitting the scope, it retained zero within one click thanks to the quality of the Ziegler ZP claw mounts.
The Lynx in .308 was off to be tested in the highlands of Scotland, culling hinds on the Kinlockewe Estate, Achnasheen. This was done under the careful eye of experienced stalkers Ronnie and Kenny Ross. As we arrived in the evening, the temperature started to drop to -10 degrees. This made the last 15 miles very treacherous because of black ice on the roads. The rest of the week was spent stalking through a mixture of thick snow up on the tops of the hills. The temperature ranged from an unforgiving -10 up to zero degrees during the day.
With a Harris six to nine-inch bipod fitted, the Lynx claimed several red hinds, calves and sika throughout the week. I found the magazine easy to fill, and it cycled effortlessly despite the cold temperatures and driving snow. The trigger was set to the ideal resistance, allowing me to easily feel the breaking point while wearing gloves.
Very quickly, I mastered the Lynx straight-pull system. I can see it being ideal for moving targets, such as running boar, as it is so quick to cycle a second round. It somehow felt lighter than the quoted 7.9lb (3.6kg) and, despite many layers of clothing and a variety of warm headgear, it was comfortable to shoot. On many occasions, it was dropped and dragged through the snow (sorry Alan Rhone) but it is designed for these harshest of conditions, so no problems arose.
The Lynx Light Hunter is available in calibres from .22-250 to the feisty .375 Ruger. With an SRP of £3,495, it is a specialist buy for someone who wants something a little different. Each rifle is guaranteed for accuracy, depending on the ammunition used. While the action is beautifully smooth, it has a mechanical feel. It may not be to the tastes of some, but others will love it. I cannot question the quality and functionality of the rifle, although it is in the same price range as the Blaser and Merkel straight-pulls, so it has stiff, very well known competition. But it certainly is a contender. TP
Model tested: 94 Light Hunter in .308
Price range: £3,495