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Strasser Straight-Pull Review: Fast Cycling, Accurate

The Austrians are turning out some of the best rifles money can buy - and they're straight-pulls. Meet Strasser.

Strasser Straight-Pull Review: Fast Cycling, Accurate

Strasser Straight-Pull Rifle (Mark Fingar photo)

There are a lot of things about Europe that don’t impress me, but this rifle from Strasser certainly does. This is the nicest straight-pull rifle I’ve ever touched, and the manufacturing techniques used to make it offer a level of precision that is difficult to envision. For all of its fine craftsmanship, Strasser rifles were made for the field. They are simple to disassemble for maintenance, and some models allow for quick caliber conversion and disassembly for easy transport. If a fast-cycling, accurate, and full-featured rifle interests you, allow me to introduce Strasser.


Rockets to Rifles

Strasser is an unknown name in the American lexicon, but the company has a record for premium manufacturing that goes back to 1947. Herbert Strasser founded Strasser Machinery shortly after World War II with a turning lathe in a garage near Saltzburg, Austria. He specialized in producing parts for the wood-cutting and ski-lift industries and slowly grew the company while his son, Herbert Mathias Strasser, attended school, graduated, and went to work for Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) as part of the engine development team for BMW’s racing division. Not a bad gig for a guy fresh out of school! (For the gearheads in the audience, the younger Strasser was on the same racing team as Hans-Joachim Stuck.)

Herbert Strasser became ill, so Herbert Mathias returned to Salzburg in 1975 to run the family business, and this is when things started to happen quickly. At this point, Strasser Machinery was making machines for large manufacturers worldwide and, when Herbert Mathias was in the U.S. working for Wrigley Chewing Gum, he saw some high-end Japanese Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines. He promptly hopped on a flight to Japan where he ordered these new machines for his own shop. Those new machines allowed him to use about 300 tools instead of his old machines that only allowed five or 10. He also purchased Europe’s first, small, three-dimensional (3D) measuring machine. Between the new CNCs and the 3D measuring machine, Strasser began making more complex and precise parts.

Strasser RS 14 EVO Black Widow
Strasser RS 14 EVO Black Widow Rifle (Mark Fingar photo)
  • Type: Straight pull, bolt action
  • Cartridge: .270 Win. (tested); standard and magnum lengths available
  • Capacity: 3 rds.
  • Barrel: 22 in. (std.), 24 in. (mag.)
  • Overall Length: 42 in. (std.), 44 in. (mag.)
  • Weight: 7 lbs., 12 oz., to 8 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Stock: Grade 6 Italian walnut, ebony
  • Trigger: 3 lbs. (tested); adjustable
  • Sights: None
  • MSRP: $7,952 (std.), $8,336 (mag.)

In 1981, Strasser became a prime vendor for the European Space Agency (ESA), and worked extensively on the Ariane 5 rocket. Strasser did a sizeable portion of the engine components used in the rocket and launcher, and worked at the ESA for a number of years. Herbert Mathias recalls an early visit from ESA where they assessed his quality control. The representative saw Strasser’s new CNC machines, but was immediately drawn to the 3D measuring machine. “This is what I want to see,” the representative said. “This is what we need.”


The Strasser family continues to work in the industrial machining and tool-making industry, even today.

The transition from making parts destined for space to sporting rifles began in 1990. Herbert Mathias loved rifles and was friendly with the local butcher, who was also the local gunsmith. Herbert Mathais gave the butcher a tour of his manufacturing facility, just being friendly, and a week later Horst Blaser, founder of Blaser rifles, showed up and asked for help. Strasser Machinery worked with Blaser to build the Sodia Super Light, a light hunting rifle with an aluminum receiver. Strasser became involved in the project because of the precision manufacturing they could offer. Through their cooperation with Blaser, Strasser would get to know Steyr Arms and also Merkel, two well-known European rifle companies that build premium products. Later, Strasser would build parts for Steyr Sport, purveyor of Olympic air rifles and air pistols.

Strasser RS 14 EVO Consol Rifle
Strasser RS 14 EVO Consol Rifle (Mark Fingar photo)
  • Type: Straight pull, bolt action
  • Cartridge: .243 Win. (tested); standard and magnum lengths available
  • Capacity: 3 rds.
  • Barrel: 22 in. (std.), 24 in. (mag.)
  • Overall Length: 42 in (std.), 44 in. (mag.)
  • Weight: 7 lbs., 12 oz., to 8 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Stock: Grade 5 Italian walnut
  • Trigger: 3 lbs., adjustable
  • Sights: None
  • MSRP: $6,485 (std.) to $6,807 (mag.)

While Herbert Mathias was creating business within the firearms industry, his son, Mathias, attended Europe’s only gunsmithing and small-arms design school located in Ferlach, Austria. Once Mathias was out of school, he wanted to begin manufacturing complete rifles of his own design. It was an excellent idea considering Strasser’s proven ability in precision manufacturing. In 2005, the Strasser family opened HMS Precision Technical and began designing and manufacturing rifles.

Rifle Firsts

The firearms design education Mathias, the third-generation Strasser, received in Ferlach bears some examination. Mathias participated in the extended program where he had to make every part, to include every pin, of his rifle to graduate. He had to do everything from the CNC programming to fitting the rifle together. “I learned a lot about how a rifle fits together and how it functions,” he said. “I also learned that coatings and finishes are important, and that careful consideration is necessary to select what should be done where.” The program focused on getting even the smallest details correct.




The first rifle Strasser designed was the RS05, a straight-pull rifle that shares a lot of DNA with the RS Solo Evolution and RS 14 rifles seen here. The four models featured in this article are the RS Solo Evolution (which was used for accuracy testing), the RS 14 Evo Black Widow, the RS 14 Evo Consol, and the RS 14 Evo Tahr. The Solo Evo has a fixed barrel, while the other three rifles have quick-detachable barrels that allow for easy caliber conversion and convenient transport.

Strasser RS 14 EVO Tahr Rifle
Strasser RS 14 EVO Tahr Rifle (Mark Fingar photo)
  • Type: Straight pull, bolt action
  • Cartridge: .30-06 Sprgfld. (tested); standard and magnum lengths available
  • Capacity: 3 rds.
  • Barrel: 22 in., threaded
  • Overall Length: 42 in. (std.), 44 in. (mag.)
  • Weight: 7 lbs., 12 oz., to 8 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Stock: Laminated wood; adj. comb
  • Trigger: 3 lbs., adjustable
  • Sights: None
  • MSRP: $4,273 (std.), $4,628 (mag.)

The heart of each of these rifles is the straight-pull action. The steel bolt locks into a steel barrel extension protruding rearward from the steel barrel (to keep pressure contained), but the receiver is made entirely of aluminum. The aluminum receiver makes these rifles much lighter than they first appear. Grab the bolt handle to cycle the action, give it a tug, and the bolt unlocks and effortlessly slides open. Pushing the bolt forward locks the bolt assembly in place. The bolt has four radial locking lugs that use the motion of the bolt handle to push a four-sided steel piece forward, forcing the lugs outward and locking them in battery. The Strasser bolt head is also removeable, allowing the rifle to transition across a range of cartridges.

Although the receiver is aluminum, all of the pressure is contained in the steel barrel/barrel extension/bolt. Strasser obsesses about safety (and they’re built in Europe), so each rifle must pass CIP testing. This is where proof rounds that are 30 percent over pressure are fired for certification. After firing several rounds, the actions and barrel must function without issue. Strasser believes so firmly in safety that they designed their rifle to function safely with only one of the four locking lugs installed in the bolt head. Just one bolt lug is strong enough to contain CIP-pressure ammunition, so the rifle will certainly handle a diet of commercial-grade ammunition. It is a light and robust action.


The barrels Strasser uses on these guns come from Lothar Walther, but they feature Strasser’s barrel extension. The fit between the barrel extension and the receiver is unlike any other quick-detach barrel system I’ve examined. When the extensions slide into the receiver, there is no wiggle. I don’t know what the clearances are between the extension and receiver, but when I asked Mathias how he made them he said, “We CNC grind them and hold them to .001 mm (.00003 in.) tolerance. Headspace with extension attached is within .01 mm (.0003 in.). This is why every barrel we make will safely operate on every receiver we make.”

Strasser RS Solo Evolution Rifle
Strasser RS Solo Evolution Rifle (Mark Fingar photo)
  • Type: Straight pull, bolt action
  • Cartridge: .308 Win. (tested); standard and magnum lengths available
  • Capacity: 3 rds.
  • Barrel: 22 in. (std.); 24 in. (mag.)
  • Overall Length: 42 in. (std.); 44 in. (mag.)
  • Weight: 7 lbs., 12 oz., to 8 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Stock: Walnut, 14.5 in. LOP
  • Trigger: 3 lbs., adjustable
  • Sights: None
  • MSRP: $3,451 (std.); $3,759 (mag.)

This test was the only time I’ve seen and felt quick-detach parts that actually fit together and then present zero play between parts.

The other component that I struggled to get my head around was the trigger. Triggers can be temperamental, and the lighter the pull weight the more prone they are to throwing a fit. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Strasser trigger slides out of the receiver with the press of a button. Once removed, there is a large cut-out in one of the side-plates that allows easy access for maintenance. Another first, the open side-plate makes it possible for tool-less pull weight adjustment. There is a lever in the back of the trigger housing that can be set in one of three positions. The heaviest setting gives the trigger a 4 1/2-pound pull weight and the lightest is 2 pounds. However, this is also a French-set trigger (with a single shoe), so pushing the trigger forward lightens pull weight significantly. The set trigger’s pull weight is also adjustable by way of a small screw on the back of the trigger. The set-trigger’s pull weight can be adjusted to just 1 ounce. Strasser rifles can be cocked on an empty chamber and have the buttpad smacked on the ground without firing, even when the trigger is set to this light of pull weight.

Strasser rifles have a distinctly European look about them, but the quality and performance they now offer the American market transcend all boundaries.

Strasser RS 14 EVO Rifle Performance

Strasser RS 14 EVO Rifle Performance

These are expensive rifles; there is no arguing that. The least expensive Solo Evo model retails near $4,000, and the top-end Strasser Black Widow costs $12,000. That’s serious money.

If you’ve got the coin, handling and shooting a Strasser is an experience unlike any other. I’ve handled a lot of rifles in my day, but I’ve never seen or worked with anything as precise or so finely made as this.

For more information about Strasser rifles, please visit: Strasser-usa.com

Strasser RS 14 EVO Black Widow Rifle

Strasser RS 14 EVO Black Widow Rifle (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Black Widow Rifle Bolt Head

The Strasser’s bolt head has four radial lugs that lock the action. Safety is such a focus that even just one lug is strong enough to handle CIP-proof ammunition. (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Black Widow Rifle Tool Storage

Any tools that are required for changing the barrel or needed during disassembly are stowed in the recesses cut within the rifle’s forend. (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Black Widow Rifle Magazine

The detachable box magazine is flush fit when inserted with the receiver. The list of cartridges it can accommodate are laser etched onto the side. (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Consol Rifle

Strasser RS 14 EVO Consol Rifle (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Consol Rifle Muzzle

The muzzle is crowned and threaded to accept a suppressor. There are two tapped holes behind the thread protector that allow attachment of aftermarket accessories. (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Consol Rifle Lined Storage Case

Some Strasser rifles can be purchased with lined storage cases featuring compartments to smartly organize each component. The cases are lockable, hardsided and worthy of travel. (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Consol Rifle Bolt Face

Each bolt face has a blade extractor and coil-spring-powered, plunger-­style ejector. The opposing position ensures reliable cycling. (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Tahr Rifle

Strasser RS 14 EVO Tahr Rifle (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Tahr Rifle Disassembled

Strasser RS 14 EVO Tahr Rifle Disassembled (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Tahr Rifle Trigger Assembly

Strasser RS 14 EVO Tahr Rifle Trigger Assembly (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS 14 EVO Tahr Rifle Barrel Change

The tools needed to accomplish a barrel change or to adjust the trigger settings are available onboard the rifle. The author added, "Holding and adjusting the trigger was like handling a piece of jewelry." (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS Solo Evolution Rifle

Strasser RS Solo Evolution Rifle (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS Solo Evolution Rifle Bolt Movement

There is little bolt movement involved to unlock and cycle the straight-­pull action. (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS Solo Evolution Rifle Bolt Movement

Once the handle moves rearwards about 2 inches, the entire bolt assembly moves with it. (Mark Fingar photo)

Strasser RS Solo Evolution Rifle Safety Lug

The small lug protruding up from the right-rear side of the receiver is a secondary safety lug to prevent the bolt from moving rearward unintentionally. (Mark Fingar photo)

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