December 02, 2021
Some hunters enjoy having a plethora of rifles in varying configurations and cartridges. Others prefer a “one-stop-shop” rifle capable of taking down everything from dainty pronghorn to massive brown bears. If you find yourself in the latter category, do I have a treat for you. Enter front and center stage, the Austrian-made Strasser RS 14 Evolution.
The RS 14 Evolution rifle is a modern engineering masterpiece designed to meet the demands of any hunting scenario. Strasser accomplished this via a modular take-down process that allows hunters to swap barrels and calibers in a matter of minutes. Everything you need to perform the barrel swap is integrated into the rifle allowing you to switch calibers on the go. Combine this modular system with Strasser’s impressive straight-pull action and you have a deadly combination.
Strasser’s commitment to building world-class rifles bleeds through in every component. The RS 14 Evolution is no exception. Multiple calibers are available, ranging from the popular 223 Rem. all the way up to the walloping 458 Win. With a wide range of options, you can literally hunt everything from coyotes in the open prairies to dangerous game on the dark continent with a single rifle, and a couple different barrels of course. Keep in mind that you might need to swap bolt heads and magazines depending on what calibers you are rotating through; both of which are easy to switch.
Designed with precision in mind, the RS 14 Evolution trigger lives up to its reputation. Out of the box the trigger pull is set at a crisp 3.5 pounds. With a push of a button, the trigger assembly can be removed, and the trigger pull adjusted via a small lever down to 2.5 pounds. No tools or gunsmiths necessary. The straight-pull action may be the engine of this workhorse, but Strasser’s trigger design lies at the heart.
Another notable feature includes the integrated picatinny rail, eliminating the need for an after-market scope mount. Pick your favorite pair of reliable rings, and you are ready to go.
The RS 14 Evolution also features a classic walnut stock with varying grades of wood available. My rifle sported their base grade 1 walnut stock which was a rather handsome piece of wood, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t drool over some of the beautiful higher grade wood stalks that Strasser offers.
When I was finally able to get my hands on one of these rifles, I was not disappointed. The craftsmanship and precision in which the rifle was manufactured and assembled were extraordinary. In preparation for an upcoming hunting excursion to Africa, I selected a 270 Win. and 9.3X62 barrels. This combination would allow me to hunt everything from a 30-pound common duiker to a 1,000+ pound cape buffalo.
My biggest quandary going into the testing of this rifle had to do with its precision capabilities. In the back of my head, I kept thinking, “How can a takedown rifle maintain reliable precision?” My doubts and fears were easily replaced with confidence after my first trip to the range. Shooting 130 grain Nosler E-tips out of the 270 Win. barrel I consistently achieved sub-MOA accuracy. Out of curiosity, I disassembled the rifle and then put it back together to see if it would change the point of impact. It didn’t.
Next, I threw the 9.3X62 barrel on for testing. Shooting 286 grain Nosler Solids the rifle held 1.5-inch groups at a hundred yards, more than adequate for a big bore caliber.
Obviously, the point of impact was different between the 270 Win. and the 9.3X62 but not by much. In order to use the same scope regardless of what barrel I would be using, I sighted the 3-18X50 Zeiss Conquest V6 scope in for the 270 Win. and then zeroed the turrets. I then swapped barrels to the 9.3X62 and repeated the process but did not zero the turrets after. Instead, I snapped a picture of the horizontal and vertical turrets for easy reference and returned the dials to the 270 Win’s zero. Now all I needed to do in the field when swapping to the 9.3X62 barrel was roll the horizontal and vertical turrets to the predetermined hash marks on the turret, and I would be ready to go hunting.
In the Field
We heard them long before we saw them. The grunts, groans, and unmistakable thud of hooves stomping the ground from 100+ cape buffalo meandering through shoulder-high grass reminded me of a scene from Lord of the Rings as the legions of orcs prepared for war. When we saw the first buffalo, we were inside 75 yards.
As I steadied the rifle for the shot across the PH’s homemade shooting sticks, my heart rate spiked and sweat dripped out of pores I didn’t know existed. On cue, the lead cow turned broadside at 40 yards presenting a small window of opportunity. I squeezed through the crisp trigger sending a 286 gr. Nosler Solid through the spinal column of the unsuspecting cow. As fast as I could run the straight-pull action, I put two more insurance rounds in the downed buffalo. The cloud of dust kicked up by the fleeing herd began to clear, and reality set in. I had just killed my first buffalo. No wonder people are addicted to hunting these massive animals. The sights, sounds, and roller coaster of emotions experienced when hunting cape buffalo are in a league of their own.
Fast forward several hours and we had the buffalo back to camp, some food in our bellies, and a hankering to get back out in the field. Knowing we would be targeting zebra and black wildebeest, I quickly and easily swapped barrels back to the 270 Win., zeroed the turrets, and headed afield. Before the sunset that evening, the RS 14 Evolution had taken down both a mature wildebeest bull and a stunning burchell’s zebra. Three animals ranging from 300 pounds to over 1,000 pounds with the same rifle. I was sold!
Premium Rifles = Premium Prices
As with any premium product, the RS 14 Evolution comes with a sizeable price tag. These rifles start at $4,159.00 and go up from there depending on the model and grade of wood you desire. I have always lived by the motto of “buy once, cry once”. A finely made rifle such as this falls into that category.
No doubt, the Strasser RS 14 Evolution is one of the finest rifles I have had the pleasure to handle. If a new rifle is in your future, save your pennies and seriously consider a Strasser RS 14 Evolution. It may just be the last rifle you ever need to buy. At least that is what you can tell your significant other.