The SSG08 is, in many experts’ opinion, one of the best .308 sniper rifles available. It has blown away its competitors in the Government trials where it has participated, against the best sniper rifles on the market. Considering it has been available a little over a year, that is a remarkable feat. If all goes well, politically, I have been told that there will be some very important contracts soon. Sadly, Steyr rifles have a hard time winning the hearts and minds of the U.S. operators and agencies, for some complex reasons—the most important a defamatory campaign by a British newspaper some years ago.
If you already are familiar with the SSG08, from shooting it or otherwise, take note: There are some new and important features in the new .338LM SSG08. New engineers are joining the team at Steyr, adding fresh blood to the already extensive experience of the design teams, and new ideas are coming on line.
Steyr is the only manufacturer offering sniper rifles with cold-hammer-forged barrels. Cold hammer forging is a process in which the barrel is forged over a mandrel that has the lands and grooves imprinted into it. This forms the barrel with incredible precision and increased hardness, compared to traditional rifling methods. SSG barrels are known for their superb accuracy, ease of cleaning and long life, due to this ultra fine interior barrel finish. As a side benefit, the process leaves a unique spiral mark all over the length of the barrel, a Steyr-Mannlicher trademark. Although these SSG08 barrels were incredibly accurate, they had a drawback: In my opinion they were too short.