MERKEL’S NEW RX HELIX

The author found the RX Helix to be highly accurate…

The author found the RX Helix to be highly accurate and a pleasure to shoot from the bench. And cycling the action from the shoulder was lightning fast.

Over the course of the 43 years I’ve been in this gun writing business full-time, I’ve seen literally thousands of “new” rifles introduced. The vast majority of them, however, were not new at all, but simply variations based on a given manufacturer’s flagship action designed decades ago. Think about it. The Winchester Model 70 has been with us since 1936; the Remington 700 is still based upon the basic Models 721 and 722 of 1948; the Savage 110 series goes back to 1957; and the Ruger 77 to 1967. All are basically twin-lug Mauser 98-type actions. Nothing new here.

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The Helix’s trigger broke at 2.6 pounds, which is a little light for a general hunting rifle, but it sure was a pleasure to use, especialy off the bench.

The most radical departure from the Mauser we’ve seen from any major U.S. manufacturer has been those of the “fat bolt” school, whereby the bolt bodies have larger diameters and three locking lugs (or two rows of three, or three rows of three), oriented on 120-degree centers to reduce bolt rotation from the 90 degrees required of a Mauser-type action to 60, with a commensurate shorter handle lift. Among the more familiar members of the “fat bolt” school are the Browning A- and X-Bolts, Thompson/Center’s Icon, Venture and Dimension, the Sako 85, and Ruger’s new American.

Helix Innovation

When you really get down to it, almost every truly new centerfire rifle that we’ve seen over the last half-century has come from Europe, and most of them are of German origin. It started in the mid-1960s when that country was able to resume firearms production after post-war restrictions expired. Mauser was first out of the chute with its Model 66, a bizarre rifle with a telescoping bolt that to my recollection was mind-bogglingly complicated, and it set the tone for most of the bolt-action rifles to come out of Germany since in terms of complexity.

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