Review: Blaser R8 Rimfire Conversion Kit

Review: Blaser R8 Rimfire Conversion Kit

Watch American Rifleman staff wring out the latest offering from Blaser, a .22 Long Rifle conversion kit for its well-regarded R8 straight-pull bolt-action rifle. 

Now, the same rifle others use for elk or for elephants is fully capable for any and all .22 hunts and could even hold its own in some types of rimfire competition. The .22 conversion comes as a kit, which brings up an elephant of a different sort, the one in the what’s-it-cost room. The kit itself lists for a salty $1,450, and if you’re wondering, becoming an R8 owner starts in the $4,000 neighborhood. Likely you’re thinking that’s another reason it’ll never sell like hotcakes in America, and of course you’re right.

The rifle’s trigger and magazine form a single unit, wherein the mag box sits directly atop the trigger assembly. Simply depress two spring tabs, and the whole thing drops right out. Beside the obvious safety aspects, this cuts a few precious inches of overall length, consequently reducing weight and improving handling in close quarters. Or owners can opt for performance advantages of longer, heavier barrels without exceeding typical sporter dimensions.

Equally ingenious is the way action-lockup occurs via an expanding collet. Nudge the bolt handle forward and 13 separate lug segments seat and lock into a 360-degree recess. A backward nudge to unlock makes the operating cycle incredibly fast, requiring just a slight flick of the wrist. Even so, the action securely handles boomer rounds up to .470 Nitro and .500 Jeffrey. 

Come time for a barrel/caliber switch, you’ll need the supplied hex wrench to free the action screws (which are trapped in the stock where they can never be misplaced), plus a few minutes to remove the existing barrel and bolt carrier, free the inner bolt body, and change the bolt head—none of which requires a tool—then reverse the process by installing a new bolt head and finally reattaching the body. Those lacking fine motor skills (like me) may need an extra 20 seconds to change the magazine box liner, but that’s easy too. 

The rimfire conversion bolt swaps in the same way despite its 12 o’clock firing pin and twin extractors. its single-column six-round magazine is contained in a placeholder with the same outer dimensions as the centerfire box. The .22 LR barrel matches the outside contour of standard R8 centerfire barrels, meaning it’s a shade heftier thanks to the smaller bore.

Machined into receiver’s upper surface are opposing, fore-and-aft recesses that accept Blaser proprietary saddle mounts. The sleek mounts feature peglike projections that tightly fit the recesses. To “saddle up,” you simply fit the mount in place and then turn down circular locking tabs on the left-hand pegs. Installation requires a few seconds and zero tools.

Watch the above video to learn more about Blaser’s R8 and its .22 LR conversion kit.

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