Transitioning To A Blaser R8 - A Two Months / 500 Rounds Review

One Day...

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How do you get the rear pad off the stock - it looks to be glued on mine and I'm loath to take a screw driver or knife to it in ignorance

It is screwed on bowjijohn. The "holes" in the recoil pad look more like razor blade slits (which they are). They are meant to be invisible, but you can find them easily if you apply finger pressure on both side of the pad to open the slits:

R8 top recoil pad screw slit.jpg
R8 bottom recoil pad screw slit.jpg


I intuitively tried a Philips bit first, but the screws on mine are Allen (or Hex") head 3 mm.

R8 recoil pad screw Allen head 3 mm.jpg


You can use a T15 driver in them too, but the fit will be loose.

This, from BeeMaa, is excellent advice. A drop of liquid soap works great, or even a dab of saliva in a pinch...

...
Put a little lube on the screwdriver shaft and the butt pad.
It keeps the rubber from grabbing the shaft and twisting.
...
 

One Day...

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How many hunters out there do not realize that they can buy today a complete R8 rifle in any caliber up to .375 H&H for $3,300?

@BeeMaa and @oneday
Between the 2 of you you have almost converted me to the R8 if it wasn't for the fact that in Australia it would set me back $14,000 or more for a rifle, 2 scope mounts ,2 scopes and 2 barrels. Rifle with one barrel is 8 grand plus, scope mounts 870 bucks each, 2 scopes God knows and 2nd barrel 1,800 bucks.

Currently (December 2020), Bob, the best price in the US for a complete "standard" barrel R8 Professional rifle in any caliber up to .375 H&H is with Cove Creek Outfitters for $3,300.

1606790451837.png


Notwithstanding some dealers who have $4,000+ stickers on a "standard" barrel R8 Professional, the typical pricing with most dealers in the US is around $3,700.

1606792479225.png


I personally ordered my R8 for $2,999 from Cove Creek in August and experienced great service.

Additional "standard" barrels in any caliber up to .375 H&H typically sell for $1,100 to $1,200.

1606790536618.png


1606792690408.png


Barrel prices essentially double for "semi weight" or fluted barrels, and triple for "safari" barrels.

Down Under?

Today's Australian dollar exchange is US $0.74, therefore, assuming similar distribution profit margins (?) a complete R8 Professional should start in the AUD 4,500 - 5,000 range; a second "standard" barrel should start around AUD 1,500; and a Blaser scope mount should start around AUD 600.

The scope(s) can come from the donor rifle(s) you will never use again and you will resell after you have your R8 :)

It looks like the prices you have for scope mounts (AUD 870) and barrels (AUD 1,800), Bob, are a bit higher than what most dealers charge in the US, but a "standard" barrel R8 Professional complete rifle for AUD 8,000+ (almost US $6,000) is surprising. It seems worth double checking...

R8 prices have a way to take off to ridiculous heights as soon as you depart from the "standard" barrel Professional rifle. The example that dissuaded me from buying initially was the steel receiver R8 Professional: it is ~3 times, or ~$3,000, more expensive than the alloy receiver R8 Professional !?!?!? As I wrote at the time: steel must be pretty expensive in Germany!

1606792031107.png


1606792109718.png



It could very well be, Bob, that you are looking at a steel receiver stock, which you do not need unless you desire an additional 1 lbs. of weight.

You may actually be in the shoes I was, Bob:
--- I was not a buyer for a US $7,500 R8 .375 H&H with steel receiver and "semi weight" or "safari" barrel, but
--- I was a happy buyer for a US $3,000 R8 .375 H&H with alloy receiver and "standard" barrel once I was reliably informed that I did not need a steel receiver for any caliber from a mechanical strength perspective.

And once I was reliably informed that a R8 .375 H&H with alloy receiver, kickstop and "standard" barrel would already weigh ~10.5 lbs. with the scope I wanted to put on it (Leica 2.5-10x42), I picked up the phone to order...

Since it took me considerable research, and sorting through a number of inaccurate or incomplete websites and misinformed salesmen to get these information, I really hope that this review will help other AH members make educated decisions :)
 
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Either I have misunderstood you, or your A$ prices are out of whack, Bob.
A basic R8 Professional, complete with barrel, is way under $8k, even after the price rises of the last twelve months. Not sure about spare barrels, but your figure of $1800 for standard calibre (IE not magnum) barrel, with no bolt head, should be less than that. Magnum cals carry a premium (because we can ??)
Whichever way you look at it they are not cheap, but the $$$$ pain is less than you think.
It can be difficult to to get accurate info here as we have a new importer still learning the brand, and only a small number of dealers who are fully familiar with the ins and outs of the brand. There are some other excellent dealers on board who are still finding their way around the brand.
@Newby
Those prices were out of an Australian hunting mag printed last month. I can t remember if I t was a timber or synthetic stock. I do remember being glad I was sitting down at the time. A basic Rigby highland stalker will set you back over 12k. I was talking to a guy at our local range that had an Accuracy International and Nite Force scope in 6.5 creed that set him back 13,000 dollars. A standard Tikka out there will set you back about 1200 dollars.
Hope this gives you a bit of an idea how much we pay.
Bob.
 

GeoffB

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Currently the cheapest dealer in Australia for an R8 Professional with alloy receiver is selling for AUD$5529.00 in non magnum cals. See Below. This price includes our local 10% GST (applicable Aust wide)

1606797387282.jpeg


Magnum barrel price is around AUD$2600.00 Standard barrels are approx $1900.00 with sights and magazine insert.

1606797580224.jpeg

Here is another Aust gun shop price for a R8 Luxus.
1606797974519.jpeg



Its not just the exchange rate and a currency conversion we have to deal with. The Blaser importer whacks their bit on as well.
 

Newby

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@Bob Nelson 35Whelen
Check out the post by @GeoffB for sensible A$ prices.
As @One Day... and myself have pointed out, without some understanding of the product and the options, the chance of getting a misleading quote is high.
The Blaser price lists include pictures of the item to which the prices relate, as well as a description, so there is no reason for a dealer to get it wrong, provided, of course, that the customer knows what he/she wants, and gets their thoughts aligned with those of the dealer.

A$5500 is a lot less than A$8000, unless one wants whatever options or higher grades were included in the $8k. that you saw. IIRC a base model timber stocked R8 is less than a base model Professional synthetic, so even A$5500 is more than an R8 in a non mag could be bought new for. The timber in even base model R8s would be nice enough for most people's tastes. Many R8 models can be ordered without the detachable fire control, which knocks another few hundred off the price.

Again, not cheap, but as discovered by @One Day... , a lot less than you may have thought.
 
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Justbryan

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I am in the market for a switch barrel rifle. I have been wanting a Jaegar Grade 8 in 375 and 300 H&H for an African hunt since my first trip.

I love beautiful wood but cannot see spending $10K+ for a Blaser. So, I will probably buy a "R8 Pro S" in 375 H&H then later purchase a 300 H&H barrel. I can always get my stock builder to build an exhibition grade walnut stock later for the Blaser.

Your write-up has helped me with my reservations in buying the "R8 Pro S" vs "R8 Success" or other more expensive models!
 

dchamp

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@BeeMaa and @oneday
Between the 2 of you you have almost converted me to the R8 if it wasn't for the fact that in Australia it would set me back $14,000 or more for a rifle, 2 scope mounts ,2 scopes and 2 barrels. Rifle with one barrel is 8 grand plus, scope mounts 870 bucks each, 2 scopes God knows and 2nd barrel 1,800 bucks.
If I could afford it I would love a K95 Blaser in 35 Whelen, my 25 wild cat and 22 hornet. Now that would be sweet.
Bob
Bob, I understand there is a store in Melbourne named Maills that sells Blasers. Several guys, who shoot Blasers, on another forum, from that area talk about it occasionally. I think one of them has some affiliation with the store. You might pop in or give them a call. Try asking for Theo
 

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Import exclusivity can wreak havoc on prices. Look at Leupold pricing in SA...more than the currency exchange rate would dictate.

@GeoffB @Newby What would a Blaser R8 pro. in 375h&h lighter profile barrel with mount cost in Australia? If non magnum are 5500, what would going to a 375 and adding the scope mount bring you too?
 
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Bob, I understand there is a store in Melbourne named Maills that sells Blasers. Several guys, who shoot Blasers, on another forum, from that area talk about it occasionally. I think one of them has some affiliation with the store. You might pop in or give them a call. Try asking for Theo
@dchamp
Thanks mate that shop is about 600 miles away. On my income I will never be able to afford a blaser and besides that it would cost me a,bucket load more because my chambers arentlisted and I do it they would chamber for my wildcat 25 even in a model 95 .
Bob
 

One Day...

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The R8 Pro S...

The R8 Pro S is a R8 Professional without a detachable magazine.

R8 Pro.jpg

R8 Professional with detachable magazine.

R8 Pro S.jpg

R8 Pro S without detachable magazine.

The obvious differences are:

1) It is impossible to lose a detachable magazine with the R8 Pro S, because there is no detachable magazine... This may be a big perceived advantage for someone concerned about losing the detachable magazine. However, since the R8 Professional with detachable magazine has a magazine release safety, a R8 Professional detachable magazine can be rendered non-detachable with the flick of the magazine release safety slide.

2) The R8 Pro S cannot be rendered idiot-proof as the R8 Professional can be when the magazine and trigger are detached from the rifle. While this feature will not change my life, I can see myself removing the trigger from the rifle when leaving the rifle on a public rack in camps where the practice exist.

3) The non detachable magazine can only be top loaded in the rifle, while the detachable magazine can be either top loaded in the rifle, or loaded while detached. It is indeed convenient to detach the magazine to load it, and I do it, but, again, this is not a life-changing feature.

And of course:

4) Supposedly the R8 Pro S is less expensive than the R8 Professional. I say supposedly because this is not always the case. In the US, currently, the R8 Pro S appears to be available only with one dealer, Mark Schraeder who operates Mad Dog Guns. He is an on-line-only dealer (I know because he is located in greater Phoenix, Arizona, the State where I live, and I went to visit him. He received me in his private home and has no brick & mortar store). He prices the R8 Pro S on Gun Broker com at $3,140, which is more expensive than what I paid for my R8 Professional from Cove creek when I ordered in August ($2,999).

1606847919708.png


I have not been able to find any other dealer who actually has a R8 Pro S in stock in the US.

Truth be told, had the R8 Pro S been significantly less expensive (say, $500 less, or something like that) I would have bought one, but since it was actually more expensive AND the magazine can be locked in place with the R8 Professional, I saw no advantage in the R8 Pro S.

To the best of my knowledge there is no other difference between the two rifles.

I believe that Philip Glass bought a R8 Pro S for his son a year or so ago and that he paid less for it than he did for his own R8. He may have more information than I do on where to find one in the US...

... I will probably buy a "R8 Pro S" in 375 H&H then later purchase a 300 H&H barrel...
FYI Bryan, Blaser does not offer the .300 H&H chambering. The offer .300 Win, .300 Wby, .300 RUM, .300 WSM and .300 Blaser.
 
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Ridgewalker

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I am in the market for a switch barrel rifle. I have been wanting a Jaegar Grade 8 in 375 and 300 H&H for an African hunt since my first trip.

I love beautiful wood but cannot see spending $10K+ for a Blaser. So, I will probably buy a "R8 Pro S" in 375 H&H then later purchase a 300 H&H barrel. I can always get my stock builder to build an exhibition grade walnut stock later for the Blaser.

Your write-up has helped me with my reservations in buying the "R8 Pro S" vs "R8 Success" or other more expensive models!
Bryan, I think having someone build a custom stock might be more expensive than a top of the line Blaser stock. JMT after seeing a stock off the rifle.
 
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Bryan, I think having someone build a custom stock might be more expensive than a top of the line Blaser stock. JMT after seeing a stock off the rifle.
@Ridgewalker
If I had paid full price for the wood on my Lowall 22K Hornet it would have cost me 1,400 dollars for the wood plus fitting.
Bob
 

BeeMaa

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I am in the market for a switch barrel rifle. I have been wanting a Jaegar Grade 8 in 375 and 300 H&H for an African hunt since my first trip.

I love beautiful wood but cannot see spending $10K+ for a Blaser. So, I will probably buy a "R8 Pro S" in 375 H&H then later purchase a 300 H&H barrel. I can always get my stock builder to build an exhibition grade walnut stock later for the Blaser.

Your write-up has helped me with my reservations in buying the "R8 Pro S" vs "R8 Success" or other more expensive models!
I agree with @Ridgewalker.
You should really take a close look at the R8 stock.
With all the metal and steel removed.
It's complicated...not impossible, but certainly not easy.
 

Justbryan

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FYI Bryan, Blaser does not offer the .300 H&H chambering.
I really want a 300 H&H (too bad), 375 H&H, and a 404 Jeffery (which is probably not available either). I will probably buy a R8 Pro S in 375 H&H and add a 7x57 (not 300 H&H).

Bryan, I think having someone build a custom stock might be more expensive than a top of the line Blaser stock.
Ridgewalker and Beemaa, you are probably both right about the custom stock cost and complexity. The stocks I see on auction sites are overly expensive, sometimes more than a complete rifle.
 

BeeMaa

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I really want a 300 H&H (too bad), 375 H&H, and a 404 Jeffery (which is probably not available either). I will probably buy a R8 Pro S in 375 H&H and add a 7x57 (not 300 H&H).


Ridgewalker and Beemaa, you are probably both right about the custom stock cost and complexity. The stocks I see on auction sites are overly expensive, sometimes more than a complete rifle.
There are a couple of barrel makers out there for the R8.
J. Sip & Sons and Palehorse Zero come to mind.
They would be able to make you a 300H&H and 404J.
Any length, profile, fluting, threaded...etc, they will do it.
 

dchamp

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Is the difference between Blaser R8 Luxus and Pro just the stock type, wood vs plastic?
Yes and no, An R8 Luxus has a two piece wood stock attached to the receiver/stock with side plates on both sides of the receiver/action. The Pro is a one piece synthetic stock with the receiver/action let into the stock.
 

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I can't say enough good things about my Blaser R8. The only complaint I have is the recoil pad, on a heavy recoiling rifle the genuine Blaser recoil pads on the synthetic stocks are just not up to scratch IMO. I am actually having a 1" decelerator fitted to my R8 tomorrow.
 

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The review... Part 3 - the R8 barrels

Blaser offers a large number of barrels for the R8.

To summarize:
  • "standard" profile barrels have a diameter of 17 mm / 0.67" at the muzzle.
  • "semi weight" profile barrels have a diameter of 19 mm / 0.75" at the muzzle.
  • "safari" and match barrels have a diameter of 22 mm / 0.86" at the muzzle (Note: the one exception is the .300 Win Selous barrel that has a diameter of 19 mm at the muzzle).
  • non-magnum caliber barrels are 58 cm / 22.8" long (Note: they can be special ordered with a length of 52 cm / 20.5").
  • magnum caliber barrels are 65 cm / 25.6" long (Note: they can be special ordered with a length of 58 cm / 22.8").
  • Any barrel can be ordered with or without iron sights.

View attachment 377490

Four points need to be made:

1) "Standard" profile R8 barrels are heavier than the typical American sporter barrels. For example my Weatherby Mark V .340 Wby has a muzzle diameter of 0.6" / 15.3 mm; and my Winchester 70 Classic Stainless .300 Wby has a muzzle diameter of 0.58" / 14.7 mm. In contrast, my "standard" R8 barrels have a muzzle diameter of 0.67" / 17 mm.

2) "Semi weight" barrels are significantly heavier, and "safari" barrels even more. Expect an ~11.5 lbs. "semi weight" scoped rifle with the kickstop in place to balance the rifle, and a ~12.5 lbs. "safari" scoped rifle with the kickstop in place to balance the rifle.

3) The flexibility to build the rifle you want is one of the advantages of the R8 system.
  • Some want a 11.5 lbs. scoped .375. You get there with a "semi weight" barrel, the kickstop, and a typical 2.5-10x42 scope.
  • Others like a 9.5 lbs. scoped .375. This is what the R8 weighs with a "standard" barrel, no kickstop and a typical 2.5-10x42 scope.
  • Others prefer a 8.5 lbs. scoped .375. You get there by ordering a shorter 22.8" (580 mm) "standard" barrel, no kickstop, and putting a light 1-4x24 scope on it.
  • Personally, I like a scoped .375 around 10.5 lbs. I get there with the "standard" barrel, the kickstop and a 2.5-10x42 scope.
To each their own (y)
  • And many will welcome a 12.5 lbs. scoped .416 Rem or .458 Lott. You get there with a "safari" barrel and the kickstop. Make it 13.5 lbs. with a steel receiver.
4) The R8 barrels length is not comparable to typical American barrels length. Because the bolt locks directly into the barrel of the R8, the R8 barrels have a 25 mm / 0.98" recess, and are in fact ~1" shorter than comparable American barrels.

View attachment 377492

As a consequence, R8 magnum barrels are in fact the equivalent length of American 24.6" barrels.

I was concerned about muzzle velocity. Magnum barrels loose typically 30 to 40 fps. per inch...

.223 Rem standard 58 cm / 22.8" (actual 21.8") barrel
The Federal American Eagle 55 gr FMJ load has a factory muzzle velocity of 3240 fps.
My R8 barrel clocks exactly 3240 average for 20 rounds.

.257 Wby standard 65 cm / 25.6" (actual 24.6") barrel
I was highly curious because the .257 Wby has acquired a reputation for often shooting at about the same muzzle velocity in Weatherby Vanguard 24" barrels and Weatherby Mark V 26" barrels.

The Weatherby .257 Wby 100 gr TTSX factory load has a factory muzzle velocity of 3570 fps.
My R8 barrel clocks 3470 average for 20 rounds.

Considering that this same load clocks 3580 fps (actually 10 fps faster than spec) in my Mark V, I know the factory spec to be realistic (a rarity with Weatherby ammunition ;) ). Therefore, loosing 100 fps with the R8 is disappointing. Sure, it is in line with the barrel being 1.5" shorter (this may account for 45 to 60 fps), but, more probably, I guess that the Blaser throat is shorter than the Weatherby throat. Well..... it will last longer...

.300 Wby standard 65 cm / 25.6" (actual 24.6") barrel
The Weatherby .300 Wby 165 gr TTSX factory load has a factory muzzle velocity of 3330 fps.
My R8 barrel clocks 3248 average for 20 rounds.

This same load clocks 3255 fps in my CZ 550 with 26" McGowen chrome moly steel hand-lapped match barrel.

Unexpectedly, the 24.6" R8 barrel clocks almost the same speed as the 26" McGowen barrel. I can speculate that the absence of the long Weatherby throat could account for a loss of 80 fps on both barrels (?). This would be consistent with the lower speed in the .257 Wby barrel too...

.375 H&H standard 65 cm / 25.6" (actual 24.6") barrel
The Barnes .375 H&H 300 gr TSX factory load has a factory muzzle velocity of 2450 fps.
My R8 barrel clocks 2490 average for 20 rounds.

I believe that the Barnes .375 H&H loads are clocked with a 24" barrel at the factory, so it is not surprising that the R8 barrel clocks a little faster than spec.

Does it matter?
Sure it matters, but not until 350 yards for the .257 and .300 Wby, which essentially means that it does not matter :ROFLMAO:


PS: nonetheless, since I have embraced modernity with the R8 and I put scopes on the Wby barrels that can look far (Zeiss V4 4-16x50), I plugged the actual chronographed muzzle speeds in the Shooter App before I sent the ballistic tables to Kenton Industries for the engraving of two custom BDC turrets. More on this later...
My R8 in 500 Jeffery only weighs 10.5lbs with a safari barrel, steel receiver, kick stop recoil reducer and Blaser RD17 red dot. No way it's getting anywhere near 13.5lbs even with an extremely heavy scope.
 

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