Firearms technology has moved well beyond wood stocks and leather slings. We’re now in the era of injection molded polymer and precision machined aluminum. While that change has produced some amazingly accurate weapons and lowered the cost of entry for new shooters, there’s definitely something to be said about the charm and the warmth of the rifles of yesteryear . . .
Strasser Weapons Factory — “passionate innovation” — blends those two realities together, producing a precision-machined, highly accurate rifle with all the refined touches you’d expect from a bespoke firearms manufacturer like Holland & Holland.
Starting at the front of the rifle, the barrel may be one of the more remarkable things about this gun. Or, rather, the choice of barrel.
As the instruction manual reveals, the RS14 disassembles for storage. A number of rifles do that same trick; not many of them can swap calibers as effortlessly. A user can swap Strasser’s barrel and bolt face in well under five minutes to accommodate new calibers, from short-action plinkers like .223 Remington to full-belted magnum loads like .300 Win Mag.
You can choose your favorite calibers and different barrel and muzzle profiles. Our test and evaluation RS14 had a traditional lightweight barrel with a set of iron sights attached and was chambered in .300 Win Mag. Strasser also sells a 300 AAC Blackout barrel with a threaded barrel for suppressed shooting, plus barrels in another 20+ calibers all of various profiles and lengths. (I wouldn’t buy a dedicated bolt-action 300 BLK rifle again, but I’d be interested in a barrel change kit for an existing gun.)
The RS14’s receiver is a solid chunk of metal machined from a single block, with a solid bar running down the center for strengthening. An ejection port sits on either side of the gun. Lefties will welcome this configuration allows, with ejected brass landing somewhere other than straight in their face. Right-handed shooters can look into the action while they load additional rounds without taking the gun off their shoulder. That’s huge for shooters in the prone position sending more than a couple of shots downrange.
There’s a pair of removable panels on either side of the RS14’s receiver. Bling-seeking buyers can have the panels engraved for wall-hanging props. And then swap them out for plastic panels, creating a rugged workhorse for hunting season. Bonus! Your engraver doesn’t have to keep your rifle to work on it, doesn’t have to work in an awkward position, and doesn’t have to worry about ruining the gun if they make a mistake.
Straight pull bolts are the quickest to operate. A traditional bolt-action rifle requires four movements: up, back, forward, down. The RS14 requires only two: straight back and forward. That “extra” speed could make all the difference in the field; enabling a quick follow-up shot, putting more rounds downrange.
The RS14’s bolt is a thing of beauty. Perfectly machined with a satin-smooth finish, it glides back and forth in the action’s channel. The oversized bolt handle gives the operator a large target to grab when reloading. Fine motor skills can be lost in high stress situations, such as trying to get a second shot on that gigantic moose you’ve been tracking for two days straight. The RS14’s big ass bolt minimizes the chances of fumbling in the heat of the moment.
Strasser has designed their own mounting system for the scope. Three pins align the scope to the receiver. A cam locks it in place. The system makes for rapid scope removal and replacement. Wonderful, but forget swapping any of your Picatinny-based scope mounts (unless Strasser chooses to make a QD Pic rail at some point).
Under the receiver, all the goodies are designed for quick removal and adjustment. Strasser ships the RS14 with a single magazine which holds three rounds of short action ammunition, or two rounds of magnum ammunition. That seems a little skimpy. On the positive side, the magazine sits flush with the bottom of the receiver, so you won’t ruin the looks of the gun. Buyers who need a little more ammo can buy Strasser’s “Driven Hunt” magazine. It holds two more rounds — twice as much! — ammo.
The trigger group drops straight out of the rifle for easy adjustment. It also houses the wrench which you can use to remove the handguard and then the barrel. Let’s talk about that trigger . . .
The RS14 has one of the best triggers I’ve ever encountered. Pulled normally, the trigger has a crisp and clean break at a little north of 3.5 pounds of force. Not bad at all. Engage the set on the trigger and the force required drops to an imperceptible 0.337 pounds. Lowering the force required to pull the trigger reduces the chance that you’ll accidentally move the gun off target, improving the rifle’s accuracy — at least in theory.
To put that theory to the test Jeremy and I took the Strasser RS14 to the range and put our best groups on paper. I used RUAG manufactured Swiss P Target loads. Jeremy used American-made Winchester ammunition. We both came to the same conclusion: this rifle is painful to shoot.
Strasser optimized the RS14 for hunting. The lightweight construction and straight pull bolt are a testament to that mindset. That’s great for when you’re hiking through the wilderness carrying your rifle. It isn’t so great when actually shooting it.
On stouter rifles, the gun’s mass partially absorbs the .300 Win Mag cartridge’s significant recoil. The Straser RS14’s light weight (and slim, stiff recoil pad) means that all that energy is transmitted directly to your shoulder.
After three rounds my shoulder started hurting. After five rounds I began to question whether testing the gun was worth the meager TTAG paycheck. After seven rounds I concluded that the answer was no and started dreaming of ice packs.
Jeremy came away with the better group: 1/2 MoA at 100 yards. That’s a damn impressive feat for a lightweight rifle like this one.
Removing the barrel and replacing it in the action resulted in a point of impact shift. The difference: an inch at 100 yards. That’s not ideal, but it’s not terrible.
I’m a fan of blending yesterday’s tradition with today’s technology. I fire-up my cigars with a 1950’s Pan Am Penguin lighter with a butane insert. I flew a 1963 Piper Cherokee with an in-panel GPS. Not everything old is bad, and not everything new is good. Sometimes a blend of the past and present make something unique, useful and enjoyable.
That’s what we have here: a firearm that blends the aesthetics of a traditional hunting rifle with the accuracy and precision of modern materials and machining. I would’ve appreciated the Strasser RS14 more if it had been chambered in something other than .300 Win Mag. It’s an issue that can be fixed with a swipe of a credit card and the turn of a couple of levers.
Caliber: .300 Win Mag (also available in .223 Rem, .300 BLK, .243 Win, .308 Win, and many more)
Capacity: 2+1 rounds (as reviewed)
Barrel Length: 24″
Weight: 7.25 lbs
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Style and appearance * * * * *
Like a high tech spy car in the sleek body of a classic sports car, the RS14 is the perfect blend of old school cool with new school engineering.
Ergonomics * * * *
My only complaint: the stock isn’t adjustable.
Customization * * *
The interchangeable barrels and bolt faces are a way cool. But the proprietary scope mount and the lack of aftermarket parts and other attachment methods kick it down a couple notches.
Accuracy * * * *
If a rifle costs more than $1,000 it should shoot 1 MoA or better. The Strasser RS-14 costs over twice that much — and shoots twice as accurately. Star deducted for the inability to easily add a bipod.
Reliability * * * * *
Overall * * * *
It’s expensive, proprietary and uncomfortable in the higher calibers. But damn if it isn’t a straight-shooting thing of beauty.