MERKEL in Suhl is among the companies that have perfected the bolt-action principle for the 21st century. Its RX.Helix model was released in 2010 with a special transmission for extremely short straight pull action. Here, the backward slanted bolt handle, designed to meet modern standards of ergonomic handling, only travels half the distance completed by the action and its six-lug rotating bolt.
The idea: the movement needs to be absolutely linear to prevent the shooter’s eye from drifting off-target. To ensure this happens, the rotating bolt runs along a helical groove and therefore performs a spiral movement. This is what gave the weapon than its name ‘Helix’ (the ‘R’ stands for repeater and ‘X’ is the Latin numeral for 10, the year of its launch).
The trick: the breech remains in the weapon and does not move out of the receiver toward the pupil.
MERKEL RX.Helix Alpinist bolt-action rifle: available calibers
The breech is sealed to the rear to prevent soiling and provide an additional degree of safety. Models are available in all standard calibers, from .222 Rem. to .300 WinMag, as well as with wooden stock or even an ‘Alpinist’ with Explorer polymer stock and a height-adjustable cheek rest.
We reviewed various HELIX models. A noticeable feature of the Alpinist: the forearm could be a tad thicker. It takes a bit of practice to flip the manual cocking device to ‘Fire’ without creating noise. Stripping and mounting the clamped barrel using the takedown device was easy, but may shift shot accuracy. What else? Solid cycling, crisp trigger, fantastic group sizes. And: “the rifle is pretty handy!”
Possible uses for the MERKEL RX.Helix Alpinist
The MERKEL RX.Helix Alpinist is everything one might expect of a good hunting rifle, but less-suited for sport, law enforcement or tactical purposes.
Data of the MERKEL RX.Helix Alpinist
|Model:||MERKEL RX.Helix Alpinist|
|Capacity:||3 + 1 rounds|
|Barrel length:||560 mm|
|Total length:||1,076 mm|
|Trigger pull:||1,400 g|
Features: six lug rotating bolt with straight pull action, linkage-driven hammer, takedown system.
Range test: MERKEL RX.Helix Alpinist in 7×64 mm
|Nr.||Factory cartridge||Group size|
|1||160 grs Lapua Naturalis||31 mm|
|2||162 grs RWS KS (cone point)||19 mm|
|3||170 grs Norma Soft Point Vulkan||27 mm|
|4||173 grs Prvi Partizan SP||41 (32) mm|
|5||173 grs S & B SPCE||25 mm|
Remarks: Group size = five-shot groups, shot in a seated position using a bench rest at a distance of 100 m, expressed in millimeters, measured from bullet hole center to bullet hole center. Values in parentheses after elimination of one outlier.
Abbreviations/bullet initials: SP: soft point, SPCE: soft point cutting edge
Rating for the MERKEL RX.Helix Alpinist
|Precision (max. 50 points)||50 points|
|Shaft (max. 10 points)||7 points|
|Trigger (max. 10 points)||8 points|
|Magazine/handling (max. 5 points)||5 points|
|Sights (max. 5 points)||4 points|
|System/function (max. 10 points)||8 points|
|Finishing (max. 10 points)||8 points|
|Total score (max. 100 points)||90 points|
(6 out of 6 stars)|
Summary of the MERKEL RX.Helix Alpinist
The RX.Helix has the fastest bolt-action – and that alone makes it stand out from the crowd. The Alpinist for hunting also comes with a modern stock: it’s a good one.