6 2   G & A  au gu s t 2016

a ug us t 2 0 1 6  G &A  6 3

TAKING THE GUESSWORK OUT OF LONG-RANGE SHOOTING
WITH STEYR’S SSG-08 AND U.S. OPTICS’ NEW LR-17.

THE RIGHT TOOLS
W ORDS BY CH RIS M U DG ETT  |  P HOTOS BY ALFRE DO RICO

6 4   G & A   au gu s t 2016   |  t he right t o o ls

Steyr
SSG-08
Type:
Bolt action
Cartridges: 
.243, .308 Win., .300 Win.
Mag. (tested), .338 Lapua
Capacity:
8 rds. (.300 Win. Mag.)
Barrel:
23.6 in.
Overall length: 47.7 in.
Weight:
12 lbs., 2 oz.
Stock: 
Adjustable, folding
Grip:
Modular
Length of pull: 14.25 in.
Finish:
Mannox
Trigger:
3 lbs. (tested), single-stage
Sights:
None
Safety:
3+1 position wheel selector
MSRP:
$5,995
Manufacturer: 
Steyr Arms, 205-417-8644
steryrarms.com

We can attest to Steyr Arms’ sub-MOA accuracy guarantee.
Every group shot was closer to half-minute measurements.

level of precision at more reasonable distances, those in the 300GUNS & AMMO WAS INVITEDto attend the first open
to 800-yard range, where I expected we’d spend the majority of
enrollment course at the U.S. Optics Academy. Located in Apple
our training time.
Valley, California, the facility offers the ability to train and
Long-range marksmanship is a rewarding discipline and there
engage targets from 100 yards to well beyond 1,500 yards. I set
is a reason why the majority of serious long-range practitioners
out to find a platform that would get me to that distance in a
reload their own ammunition. They are
chambering that wouldn’t cost me a fortune
minimizing variables. The performance of
in ammunition to feed.
factory-­loaded ammunition can vary greatly
The .300 Winchester Magnum was my
in your rifle and from lot to lot. This is one of
cartridge of choice for this course. The .300
those impossible-to-control elements that can
Win. Mag. is the blurred line when our need
wreck a day on the range troubleshooting only
is to increase ahead of the .308 Winchester
to find out the problem is with the ammo.
to rival long-range monsters such as the .338
Fortunately, companies like Black Hills
Lapua or .50 BMG.
Ammunition (BHA) feel the same way we
The recoil of the .300 Win. Mag. is stout
do. It ensures consistency in its match-grade
but manageable in the right rifle, and the
Black Hills Ammunition has a
rounds. I spoke with Jeff Hoffman, owner of
round is very capable of smacking targets at
well-earned relationship with top
BHA, who picks up the phone almost as reguthe far end of the range. It also offers a high
shooting professionals.

6 6   G & A   au gu s t 2016   |  t he right t o o ls

Not only is the
stock fully adjustable, but it also
folds for easy
transport. The
aluminum hinge is
hard Eloxal-coated
and is attached
to the receiver by
four Torx screws.
It’s certainly not a
weak point.

G&A reached out to Mike Nischalke of Steyr-Mannlicher,
also former editor of Shooting Times, who made reference,
albeit under his breath, to “Counter Strike.” This is a game that
features the Steyr SSG-08, which is a modern precision rifle used
by several elite European entities to include Einsatzkommando
Cobra (or EKO Cobra), Austria’s premier counterterrorism special
operations unit. After explaining the U.S. Optics Academy’s
course requirements, Nischalke agreed to lend us an SSG-08. I
say “lend” because the rifle costs $5,995.

larly as his customer service operators do — which is all the time.
Hoffman reaffirmed my choice in the .300 Win. Mag. and recommended the 210-grain variant, which uses Berger’s VLD bullet, a
low-drag projectile that is more resistant to wind deflection.

Stock  The stock on the SSG-08 model is a work of shooting art.
The engineers at Steyr did their research and worked extensively
with intended end users to get it right the first time. The length of
pull is completely adjustable by adding or removing sections of
polymer spacers or “blocks” as Steyr refers to them. The Elastomer

68  G&A  augu st 2 0 1 6  |  the r ig ht tool s

a ug us t 2 0 1 6   G & A   6 9

The single-stage trigger is adjustable for
user preference; this sample measured
exactly 3 pounds out of the box with no
creep or overtravel.
Like every feature
on the SSG-08, the
safety wheel is well
thought-out, tactile
and intuitive to
use. The springloaded tab needs
to be depressed
before the safety
wheel can be rolled
forward to the fire
position.
The U.S. Optics LR-17 features large
adjustment turrets. The windage knob
can be capped. The reticle is illuminated
for use in reduced light by a three-button
turret ahead of the windage knob.
The familiar AR-style pistol grip offers interchangeable rubber
inserts for tuning both front- and backstrap shape and size.

(i.e., rubber) recoil pad is also height adjustable, providing the
shooter with perfect placement within the shoulder pocket.
This is beneficial if the user is wearing body armor, a chest rack
or heavier clothing that puts more distance between the torso
and the ground, allowing the rifle to be ideally mounted to the
body. The cheek piece is vertically and horizontally adjustable
and can be modified on the fly. Laser-etched witness marks are

INSTRUCTOR
SPOTLIGHT
TYLER HUGHES is a 10-year combat
veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He
served in both Operation Iraqi Freedom
and Operation Enduring Freedom. He
completed five tours overseas and held
many billets in the infantry to include
scout/sniper team leader, and scout/sniper
platoon sergeant. His military training and
expertise includes reconnaissance, Infantry
Squad Leaders course, Close Quarters Battle
Security Instructor course, Helicopter Rope
Suspension Techniques Master course,
Scout/Sniper Basic course (where he was the
honor graduate), Scout Sniper Team Leaders
course (with the Top Shooter award), Urban
Sniper course, Mountain Sniper course, and
Advanced Sniper course. Before leaving the
military, Hughes was selected to serve as an
instructor at the Marine Corps Scout/Sniper
School (West) on Camp Pendleton, California, where he was the marksmanship and

operations/tactics instructor. Marine scout/
snipers are arguably the best snipers in the
world. The scout/sniper community is small
with few earning the hog’s tooth — a 168-gr.
7.62mm bullet on 550 cord. Hughes belongs
to an even smaller group in the Marine
Corps who have completed all scout/sniper
courses and schools. Visit maxordinate.com
to start training.

visible for repeatable comb height, which
can be used to address specific shooting
scenarios. At the rear of the stock is an
adjustable, gravity deployed monopod
that, with a push of a button, extends and
can be minutely adjusted like a screw with
the support hand thumb and forefinger. A
hinge at the front of the stock allows it to
fold to the left, making for easier transportation.
The single-stage trigger is adjustable
from 3 pounds, 8 ounces, to 2 pounds,
and it breaks like a glass rod with no
creep. The detachable double-stack
polymer magazine swallows an incredible eight rounds of .300 Win. Mag. and
features a unique two-stage magazine
securing system. The first stage locks the
magazine in, but the bolt can be operated without stripping a round out of the
magazine, allowing us to individually load
rounds by hand while maintaining a full
mag. Pressing the magazine upward again
seats it, making it ready for auto loading.
The action is topped with a 20 MOA
Picatinny rail, on which we mounted a
U.S. Optics LR-17 3.2-17x44mm with an
R&D Precision (RDP)-designed illuminated milliradian (mil) reticle in the first

7 0  G & A   augu s t 2016  |   the ri g ht t o o ls

t h e ri g h t t o o l s   |   a ug us t 2 0 1 6  G &A   7 1

PERFORMANCE
LOAD

Black Hills 210-gr. OTM

VELOCITY
(FPS)

ES

SD

BEST
GROUP (IN.)

AVERAGE
GROUP (IN.)

2,805

41

18

.52

.71

Notes: Accuracy is the average of five, three-shot groups fired from 100 yards utilizing
a bipod and monopod. Velocity is the average of five shots measured by a ProChrono.

Picatinny rail sections are easily attached
to the forend as well as Steyr Arms’
quick-release adjustable bipod system.

focal plane (FFP). The RDP reticle features
a fine center crosshair for precise engagement of small targets or extreme distance
shooting. The vertical axis below the horizontal line has a total of 15 mils divided
into half-mil increments. The right and
left sides of the horizontal axis are divided
into 1-mil increments, for a total of 15
mils. A large elevation turret allows for
easy and quick dialing, while the windage
turret can be capped. While at the U.S.
Optics Academy, I learned how to accurately call wind and hold the correction
using the reticle instead of dialing.
The forend allows the user to position
two short pieces of Picatinny rail at 3- and
9 o’clock to conveniently mount laser
rangefinders, visible or infrared (IR) lasers,
or other accessories. Two quick-detach
(QD) sling swivel cups allow for proper
sling placement, also. The .300 Win. Mag.
model carries a 23.6-inch, 1:10 RH twist,
cold-hammer forged heavy barrel that is
free-floated for accuracy.
Bipod  When you set an SSG-08 on a
shooting mat or bench with its bipod legs
extended, the rifle loads itself. The bipod
is Steyr’s creation, and there is no doubt
it was designed for rapid deployment. At
extension, the legs align themselves at the
5 o’clock position, instead of the traditional 6 o’clock arrangement. This means
the rifle’s bipod is already dug in and
leaning forward on setup, allowing us to
slide behind it and prepare to fire. Bipod
loading helps prevent the rifle from moving around during recoil and adds a level
of consistency to our shooting position,
reducing shooter input. It also allows us to
put our weight against the rifle without it

moving forward. Each bipod leg is adjustable for height and cant.
Steyr Arms guarantees its SSG-08 package will produce subMOA accuracy — and accurate it is.
My best group at 100 yards was .52-inch center to center. This
was the level of accuracy I experienced from the SSG-08 after
firing many groups and concluding my initial performance testing. It was further proven throughout training at the U.S. Optics
Academy.
On my initial range trip, I took the time to adjust the stock
to my preferences through trial and error. Going forward, all I
needed to do was uncase the gun, unfold the bipod legs, press
the monopod button and slide behind the gun. Each time, I
found that the SSG-08 fit my body. I used my thumb and forefinger to tailor the monopod’s height, placed my crosshairs on
the target, pressed the trigger and watched round after round
impact exactly where I wanted them with boring regularity. This
was completely repeatable. The only variance was how much
elevation I dialed or held, and my wind corrections. This rifle
is a bench shooter’s dream. However, it may be a field shooter’s
nightmare. An empty rifle without the hefty bipod weighs 12

This 10-shot group
was fired during a
stress event: Shoot
one round, run 15
yards to retrieve
a single round of
ammo, run back to
the rifle, load, fire
and repeat.

pounds, 2 ounces. Equipped with optic, bipod, sling and loaded
magazine, my setup was pushing 19 pounds.
All that weight reduced felt recoil and provided a stable,
surefooted rifle. It allowed me to make first-round hits from 200
yards out to 1,000 yards, with the exception of 800 yards, which
took four shots due to a wild wind that bounced from wall to
wall as it came through the canyon my class was shooting into.

7 2   G & A   au gu s t 2016   |  t he right t o o ls

The oversize bolt is readily grasped to cycle rounds without taking eyes off target and is easily disassembled for maintenance.

The adjustable bipod made shooting from high angle and
uneven, sloped positions steady.

The new U.S. Optics Academy was designed with the purpose
of expanding the knowledge and experience with the U.S. Optics
scope line. If you purchase a U.S. Optics scope, their instructors
will teach you how to effectively use it. Students gain a complete
understanding of their chosen reticle, while gaining an education
or reinforcement of marksmanship fundamentals. No prior training is required to enroll in the Long Range Precision Rifle I
course, and it is acceptable to show up with another brand of
optic. For more information, visit usopticsacademy.com.

The Steyr SSG-08 is a superb choice for use from a fixed firing
position, such as a shooting bench or prone position. Although
the rifle was designed to fold up and be easily transported, the
weight of the platform is not fun to lug around uncased in the
field. The ergonomics are second to none and rival any custom
example currently available. Once the gun is configured to a person’s body type and preferences, it is quick to set up and fire with
extreme precision at long distances without much shooter input.
This is one example of a rifle that anyone can shoot well.