Test: Haenel HLR Basic in 6.5 Creedmoor and HLR Pro in .308 Winchester bolt-action rifles

The predecessor: compared to the Haenel RS8/RS9 models, here a G29 in .338 LM, the new HLR models are characterised above all by the stock connection and the modern M-LOK handguard systems.

With the HLR series of bolt-action rifles, C.G. Haenel offers a line that has been modernised and given a facelift compared to the Haenel RS8/RS9. Seven different models are available within the new HLR series. The largest selection is in the standard .308 Winchester chambering with the four models HLR 308 Basic, 308 Basic Compact, 308 Pro and 308 Pro Compact, followed by the .338 Lapua Magnum in the two versions HLR 338 Basic and Pro and, last but not least, the HLR 6.5 Basic in 6.5 Creedmoor, which could also be of interest to sport long-range shooters, for example. However, the range of rifles on offer in the PRS/long-range shooting sport has grown almost explosively and many competitors often have a lot to offer at lower purchase prices. Here are just a few examples: Accuracy International AT-X, Anschütz 1782 APR, Kelbly's NYX Elite, Masterpiece Arms PMR Pro 2, Ruger Precision Rifle, Savage 110 Elite Precision, Seekins Precision Havat Hit, Tikka T3x TACT MT Custom from 3G Sports or Victrix Armaments Venus Pro.

The main differences between the Haenel HLR rifles in the Basic and Pro configuration are: length-adjustable buttstock with height-adjustable AR-style cheek rest (Basic) or folding, versatile adjustable buttstock in an independent design (Pro) as well as cold hammer forged precision barrel with 22-mm outer diameter, M18x1.5 muzzle thread (Basic) and silencer-compatible three-chamber muzzle brake (Pro). All rifles have a trigger adjustable in pull length, first stage travel and pull weight between 1,000 and 2,000 grams, in combination with a three-position firing pin safety. The HLR 308 Basic and Pro Compact versions have a 90-mm shorter barrel (510 instead of 600 mm). The new HLR repeaters are fed from box magazines with a capacity of 10 cartridges.

The Pro version of the new Haenel HLR. Here with a Steiner riflescope and backup sight at a 45-degree angle.

Haenel HLR: the new bolt action rifle in detail

Side view of the Haenel HLR Basic in 6.5 Creedmoor, here fitted with Rusan mounting rings and a GPO Spectra 6x 4.5-27x50i riflescope.

The further developed HLR bolt-action rifles are based on the technical foundation of the RS8/9 family, meaning that the receiver, bolt and barrel are largely identical. Striking distinguishing features between the predecessors and successors are the stock attachments and handguard systems, which are intended to make the HLR series lighter, more modular and more ergonomic, according to the manufacturer. The Rifle System (RS)8 in the popular .308 Winchester caliber was presented for the first time at the IWA 2009. This was followed in 2011 by the Haenel RS9 in the mighty .338 Lapua Magnum caliber. The receiver, which is milled from a solid billet with a flat underside and integral optics mounting rail without a forward tilt on the top, is made from the same tool steel as the cold-hammer forged barrel in the HLR models. This is intended to minimise material expansion in the event of temperature fluctuations and ensure optimum shooting performance under all environmental conditions. The action and box magazine dimensions show that the components are designed for longer cartridges. However, while other manufacturers allow the shooter to overcome the full return travel of the bolt, Haenel takes the more complex design approach here.

The bolt travel of the Haenel HLR is limited to the length of the cartridge. The slot on the bolt has been milled significantly shorter for this reason.

This is because the action has been limited so that the shooter only has to cover the maximum travel required for the short cartridge when repeating. For this purpose, the slot on the bolt has been milled significantly shorter in order to create exactly the necessary distance to the breech face required by the 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Winchester. The bolt with six locking lugs, each arranged in three elements on two rows, and a 60-degree throw locks in the front section of the receiver. It is already familiar from the Haenel RS8. The extractor, which surrounds the base of the cartridge, is designed to ensure reliable operation under all conditions. According to the manufacturer, this action is designed to withstand gas pressures of up to 8,000 bar. It is also interesting to note that almost the entire bolt is manufactured from a single part. Many other manufacturers work more rationally here and separate the bolt head from the bolt body in order to save production costs. This means that the bolt body can be made from a low-cost steel and only the bolt head from a higher-quality steel, whereby the body can also be machined more easily and quickly. Since Haenel manufactures its bolt from a single piece, the cost is significantly higher. A new feature compared to the RS8/9 is the octagonal aluminum handguard shrouding the barrel with eight M-LOK interfaces on each side. A solid aluminum block and a total of five additional sealed screws connect the handguard to the chassis in a bombproof way.

The AR-compatible, six-position length-adjustable stock of the Haenel HLR Basic. Thanks to the steep slope, the cheek piece is not pushed too far back even in the rearmost setting and remains in the correct position.

With our HLR 6.5 Basic in 6.5 Creedmoor featuring a 600-mm barrel with 1-8" twist, the AR buttstock is fixed to the receiver using an adapter. The stock with six fixed length positions can be adjusted by a total of 75 mm in 15 mm increments. The height-adjustable cheek rest has a total adjustment range of 21 mm with 1.5 mm detents. A free-standing AR pistol grip, which can be customised with interchangeable grip backstraps and finger groove front straps, rounds off the stock set.

The highly sophisticated, adjustable two-stage trigger on the Basic model had a factory-set pull weight of 1,750 grams. The fine trigger group is combined with a user-friendly three-position safety on the bolt, which acts on the firing pin. Tip: due to its design, the M4 buttstock has some height play so that it can always be extended and retracted under different conditions. If you shoot statically with this rifle and want to maximise accuracy, you can only achieve this with a buttstock that is free of play. However, the play can be eliminated quite easily with shims.

Haenel HLR 308 Pro: how the top model differs

Side view of the Haenel HLR Pro in .308 Winchester, equipped with Schmeisser SM30 mount and Falke 8.5-25x50 riflescope.

The main distinguishing features of the Haenel HLR 308 Pro in .308 Winchester compared to the Basic model described above are the ultra-robust folding stock from the RS8/9 and the compensator mounted on the muzzle. The buttstock length can be infinitely varied by around 70 mm. The concave moulded, dovetailed, soft butt plate can be adjusted in height by 60 mm. The spring-loaded cheek rest with a pleasantly soft polymer coating allows the height to be gradually adjusted by a total of 43 mm. The hinge of the folding stock is made of tool steel and, just like the controls and mechanisms for the adjustment options, which are designed for simple handling, is solid and low-tolerance – nothing rattles at all. The muzzle brake with three expansion chambers is designed to work effectively while blowing little muzzle blast and swirling dirt towards the shooter's face. The compensator has an external M28x1 fine thread with a collar behind it for quick, simple silencer installation. The trigger pull weight of our HLR 308 Pro featuring the 600-mm barrel with 1-12" twist was 1,590 grams (average of five measurements) and, as with the Basic, the trigger pull impressed with its clean overall characteristics and a clearly defined release point. The HLR models are rounded off by an Ilaflon coating (in simple terms, a stove-enamel finish) in various colours with very high corrosion protection.

Test on the shooting range: Haenel HLR Basic and Pro in the field with the GPO Spectra 6x 4.5-27x50i riflescope

Off to the shooting range: the Haenel HLR Pro has a small transport size with the buttstock folded in. Also ideal as a police precision rifle (PSG) with comparatively short operating ranges in urban environments.

We fitted the Haenel HLR 6.5 Basic with mounting rings from the Croatian manufacturer Rusan and a German Precision Optics (GPO) Spectra 6x 4.5-27x50i scope and the Haenel HLR 308 Pro with a newly launched Schmeisser SM30 block mount and a Falke 8.5-25x56 scope of the new, third generation. In addition, the rifles were fitted with a Fortmeier bipod, which was mounted on the handguard upper mounting rail so that the rifles hung in the bipod. The Basic model was tested for accuracy with eight types of 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition, including a handload, with bullet weights ranging from 95 to 143 grains. We remained below/up to 20 mm with all cartridges. The Pro model was also tested for shooting performance with eight types of .308 Winchester ammunition, including a handload, with bullet weights from 110 to 168 grains. It was almost in no way inferior to the Basic in 6.5 Creedmoor.

The Haenel HLR 308 Pro also impressed with its first-class buttstock. The shooter only has to bring his cheek into the correct position behind the scope and the spring-loaded support of the stock immediately moved into the correct position after actuating the operating lever on the underside. All important adjustments were made in a fraction of a second. The buttstock has a Picatinny mounting profile on the underside for attaching a monopod. Such accessory is a recommendable additional feature because the sharp-edged profile is not good for a typical sporty sandbag rest in the long term.

The versatile, adjustable buttstock with its sturdy...
...and backlash-free folding mechanism of the Haenel HLR Pro version.

Overview:  Haenel HLR Basic and HLR Pro bolt action rifle specs and prices

Model:Haenel HLR 6.5 Basic in 6.5 CreedmoorHaenel HLR 308 Pro in .308 Winchester
Action:Bolt action with 6 locking lugs that lock in the front of the receiver sleeveBolt action with 6 locking lugs that lock in the front of the receiver sleeve
Barrel:60-cm long match barrel with 1-8" twist, 22 mm outer diameter and M18x1.5 muzzle thread60-cm long match barrel with 1-12" twist, 22 mm outer diameter and M18x1.5 muzzle thread as well as three-chamber muzzle brake
Stock:Aluminum chassis with fixed 6-position M4 buttstock and adjustable cheek rest, free-standing AR pistol grip and M-LOK handguardAluminum chassis with folding, fully adjustable RS8 buttstock, free-standing AR pistol grip and M-LOK handguard
Magazine:Box magazine made of sheet steel with a capacity of 10 cartridgesBox magazine made of sheet steel with a capacity of 10 cartridges

Adjustable, two-stage; measured trigger pull weight 1,750 grams

Adjustable, two-stage; measured trigger pull weight 1,590 grams

Safety:Three-position catch on the bolt, acting on the firing pin
Three-position catch on the bolt, acting on the firing pin
Overall Length:993-1,159 mm830 mm folded/1,120 mm unfolded
Weight:5.0 kg5.2 kg
Price (RRP):4,699 euro
8,054 euro

Our test conclusion: is the new HLR series from Haenel worth it?

In terms of material quality, workmanship and robustness, no compromises were made in the "Made in Germany" Haenel HLR series. This, together with the high functional reliability and accuracy, explains the comparatively high prices of these German shooting machines. The Haenel HLR Basic costs just under €4,700 and the Haenel HLR Pro even costs around €8,050. But both models are worth every cent.

We also liked the GPO SPECTRA riflescope in the version we tested. It is priced at 1,299 euro (RRP). The GPO SPECTRA 6x 4.5-27x50i MOAi was developed for demanding shooters who want to shoot (and hunt) at long ranges with high magnification and prefer a reticle in the 2nd focal plane. With a main tube diameter of 30 mm, a magnification of up to 27x, a light transmission of 92%, long adjustment range, wide eye relief, large exit pupil and the integrated zero stop, it is a very good optic for ambitious long-range shooters at a really attractive price.

This article is also available in this language: