hardware RIFLES

Steyr Zephyr II
n an age of long-range wonderment By Richard Mann needed to release the sear. Past
and semi-automatic awe, a simple that, there’s just enough tension
bolt-action .22 rifle would have to be rifle is chambered. It is easy to open and on the trigger lever to essentially erase
special to be one of the best new guns cycles smoothly, but is irritatingly stiff any negative influence of over-travel.
of 2018. The Steyr Zephyr II is a call back to close. The short-throw bolt—which Enhancing the seductiveness of the
to the day when blued steel and walnut is fitted with dual, opposing extrac- European walnut stock are a Bavarian
were the foundation on which firearms tors—can be removed from the action cheekpiece and a trim line that extends
were built. We’ve not seen elegance like via a small release on the left side of the all the way to the schnabel fore-end. This
this in the rimfire world for way too long. receiver. An 11mm dovetail is integral to contour runs along the top edge of the
The Zephyr II is indeed special. It’s a rifle the receiver, offering an inch of space for fore-end, prompting the support hand
for a marksman and a woodsman. It’s a the front scope ring and about 3 inches to caress, more than grip, the rifle. Bor-
rifle for a hunter. for the rear. dered, fish-scale checkering on the wrist
Some guns endure in what seems Exhibiting Steyr’s distinctive, spiral- and fore-end further adds to the stock’s
like an alternate universe. Like heir- ing toolmarks, the cold-hammer-forged visual appeal.
looms lost to time, they’re housed in the barrel is 19.7 inches long and measures The rifle feeds from a polymer, detach-
back reaches of gun safes, and only the .59 inch (remember that measurement) in able, five-round magazine. All of it but
enlightened know they exist. Such is the diameter at the muzzle, where a recessed the base pad fits inside the magazine well,
case with the original Steyr Zephyr. In crown protects the rifling. Though the which makes the rifle comfortable to carry
production for little more than a decade, barrel may seem a bit robust for a rimfire, at the balance point. For sling carry, the
it was discontinued in 1971. Considered it adds just enough forward weight for Zephyr II has 1-inch swivels mounted
by some to be the Holy Grail of rimfire the rifle to perfectly balance between the about 3 inches from the tip of the fore-end
rifle excellence, a Zephyr is nearly as rare hands when it’s scoped and shouldered. and the toe of the buttstock. They proved
as Sasquatch footprints on the beach. It’s The trigger might best be described sturdy and more than sufficient for ten-
the rifle Steyr Arms emulates with the as magnificent. It is released for firing by sioned sling support while shooting.
new Zephyr II. a two-position safety, which is perfectly Though the Zephyr II has a grooved
Photos: Forrest MacCormack

The first feature of the Zephyr II that positioned on the tang for manipulation receiver, it does not come with scope
caught my eye was the distinctive butter- by the thumb while in a shooting grip. rings. I used a set of the excellent Steyr
knife bolt handle, like is found on classic Steyr describes it as a single-stage trig- rings from Talley to mount a Weaver
Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifles. The bolt ger, but there is about ⅛ inch of effortless Classic Rimfire 3X-9X-32mm adjustable
cycles with a very short throw, conso- take-up, which technically qualifies it objective riflescope, which fit the rifle’s
nant with the length of the .17 HMR,, .22 as a two-stage unit. At the end of that svelteness and personality. After zero-
LR and .22 WMR cartridges for which the take-up, 2 pounds of pressure is all that’s ing, I fired five, five-shot groups from the
august 2018 ❘ 70 ❘ americanhunter.org
I managed a couple five-shot groups
steyrarms.com at 50 yards that measured less than an
■ Type: bolt-action rimfire rifle
inch. (For me, that’s as rare as Sasquatch
footprints as well.) Seated with the rifle
■ Caliber: .17 HMR, .22 LR (tested), .22
slung up, I could almost duplicate my
bench results. During the firing of 300
■ Barrel: 19.7"; cold-hammer-forged;
4 grooves, 1:16" RH twist rounds there were no failures to feed, fire, Throughout my youth I dreamed of
extract or eject. an accurate and elegant .22 having the
■ Magazine: detachable box; 5-rnd. capacity
What’s wrong with the Zephyr II? class and perfection of the blued-steel
■ Trigger: single-stage; 2-lb. pull weight Aside from the firm-closing bolt—which and walnut-stocked centerfire rifles of
■ Safety: two-position slide on tang undoubtedly contributes to the rifle’s that age. The Steyr Zephyr is a rifle I’ve
■ Sights: none; 11mm dovetail integral to precision—nothing, not even its price. wanted most of my life; the Zephyr II has
receiver for rings This rifle will shoot with rimfires cost- the same allure. It begs to be taken on
■ Stock: European walnut w/Bavarian cheek- ing twice as much, while looking better long walks in the wilderness. I want to
piece; LOP 14.4" and weighing less. It is the prodigy of a creep out of the fog with it on an early
■ Metal Finish: matte blue legend and maybe the gateway to the fall morning and into a stand of hickories
■ Overall Length: 39.2" other excellent Steyr firearms that come infested with fox squirrels. The Zephyr II
■ Weight: 5.93 lbs. out of Austria. is the rimfire the gun world needs to help
When I was a young man a .22 it truly understand that a good .22 rifle is
■ MSRP: $995
rifle was my constant companion. indeed something of value. ah
bench, with three different loads. The
overall average for the 15 groups was .51
inch—less than the diameter of the rifle’s
muzzle. At 50 yards, this truly is a dime-
accurate rimfire.
Anyone in his right mind realizes Accuracy Results* Steyr Zephyr II .22 LR
the Zephyr II shouldn’t be limited to Weight Velocity Group Size (inches)
Load (grs.) (fps) Smallest Average Largest
sandbags. With a trim fore-end, slight CCI Green Tag LRN 40 1068 0.25 0.46 0.70
palm-swell and an at-one-with-it feel, Federal Premium Gold Medal Target LRN 40 1011 0.27 0.42 0.60
this rifle is ideally configured for off- Remington Eley Target Rifle LFN 40 1042 0.34 0.65 0.97
hand work. From the standing position, * Outdoors | Sandbags | 50 Yards | 5-Shot Group

americanhunter.org ❘ 71 ❘ august 2018