Precision at the highest level: new Haenel HLR bolt-action rifle series for long-range shooters tested

In 2010, in response to requests from government agencies, the Suhl-based weapons manufacturer C.G. Haenel launched the RS8 precision rifle. "RS" stands for Rifle System. The RS8 model series is currently available in three versions: Basic, Compact and Subsonic. The RS8 Basic is available in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester calibers, each with a 600-mm barrel length and 1:8" or 1:12" twist. The Compact is offered with a barrel length of 510 mm and 1:12" twist in .308 Winchester only. The third variant, the RS8 Subsonic, is an integrally silenced bolt acti-n rifle and, with a barrel length of 387 mm and a 1:8" twist, specially designed for firing subsonic ammunition. The .300 Winchester Magnum caliber variant of the RS8, which was introduced at the beginning, has since been discontinued. Due to increased demand for the .338 Lapua Magnum, the RS9 was finally introduced at IWA 2011. Both the RS8 and RS9 have been subject to continuous technical adjustments over time to meet the needs of government users.

The new repeater series Hanel HLR represents a further development of the proven RS series from the manufacturer

The 7 variants of the HLR Basic and Pro with different length handguards and in different color combinations.

Haenel is currently launching the new HLR series. This is a further development of the RS series. However, barrel, action and bolt are the same as the RS models. This is why the serial number of the test gun is preceded by the designation RS9. The main changes in the HLR series took place in the handguard and stock attachment areas. This makes the gun lighter, more ergonomic and more modular. Accuracy and durability are to remain unchanged from the RS models at the same high level.

The HLR Basic is available with a 600-mm barrel length in 6.5 Creedmoor (1:8" twist) and .308 Winchester (1:12" twist) calibers and in .338 Lapua Magnum with a 690-mm barrel (1:10" twist). The folding stock-equipped "HLR Pro" is available in .308 Winchester and .338 Lapua Magnum calibers, barrel and twist lengths being the same as the HLR Basic. Finally, both the HLR Basic and HLR Pro also come in a version called "Compact" in .308 Winchester with 510-mm barrel and 1:12" twist.  The next few lines will tell you exactly what the differences are between the HLR Basic and the Pro and how they differ from the RS predecessor model.

Design features of the new Haenel HLR series

The top rail of the Haenel HLR 338 is machined out of the steel receiver. The action and the action support underneath can't be separated by the user.
The toothed mounting block of the Haenel HLR 338 connects the receiver and the handguard. The 5 screws are glued. For the sake of precision, this is to ensure the  components' accuracy of fit set by the factory. 

All barrels in the RS and HLR series are cold hammer-forged. The hardening of the steel structure during cold-hammer forging makes the surface of the barrel bore harder and thus more wear resistant. Hammer forging produces a surface that is not only very hard but also very smooth, which reduces the friction of bullet jacket material. In addition to the same manufacturing process, the 22-mm-diameter barrels of all models feature an M18x1.5 muzzle thread. The three-chamber muzzle brake mounted on it deflects the propellant gases at right angles. This reduces the recoil impulse somewhat less than with brakes with baffles set in the direction of the shooter. On the other hand, the muzzle blast and any dirt that is thrown up are not blown in the direction of the shooter. The brake has an M28x1 fine thread and, directly behind it, a contact collar for mounting and centering a silencer. Compared to the early RS models, Haenel does not currently offer fluted barrels on either the RS or HLR line. Corrosion protection on all models of this repeater type is provided by an Ilaflon coating in sand or black color. The barrel root is screwed into the action.

The manufacturing quality of the Haenel HLR 338 is outstanding. The gaps between the individual components are very small and even, which is evidence of high reliability during manufacturing. A small pin on the bolt indicates the loading status of the weapon, and the three positions of the firing pin safety can be selected specifically.

The receiver of the Haenel HLR 338 Basic is made from tool steel and, like the barrel of the test gun, features a sand-colored Ilaflon finish. The locking lugs mating recesses are machined out of the action. On top of the action is a 182-mm integral Picatinny rail with no forward tilt. On the head of the 463-g bolt there are 6 locking lugs in 2 rows. Bolt throw thus corresponds to 60°. The extractor sits in a T-slot guide and is not kept in place by a spring-loaded bearing as usual, but by a spring wire whose end wraps around the base of the bolt head. Ejection of the cartridge cases is handled by two spring-loaded ejector pins. The detachable bolt handle of the Haenel HLR 338 Basic is double-angled and fits very closely to the receiver when the chamber is closed. The end of the handle is formed by a large plastic ball. A three-stage firing pin safety is mounted on the bolt. In the forward position, the HLR is unlocked and ready to fire. In the middle position, the firing pin is locked and the chamber can be opened. The rearmost position locks the firing pin and bolt.

The steel magazine of the Haenel HLR 338 is Ilaflon coated. In addition to the sand-colored finish, black is also available.
The three-chamber brake of the HLR 338 is screwed and clamped to the muzzle to fix the alignment of the ports. The fine thread and the contact collar of the silencer receiver are also located on the brake.

The action support made of a high-strength aluminum alloy holds the action using so-called bedding strips. Although the two action screws can be loosened, the user can't separate the two parts. The double-stack sheet steel magazine holds 10 cartridges. In accordance with military specifications, the magazine is free-falling after the release is operated. It has some radial play in the magazine well, so it rattles a bit when the rifle is moved quickly sideways. The internal length of the magazine allows a cartridge length of up to approximately 96.5 mm for handloads. When the magazine is empty and the chamber is completely open, the magazine follower locks the bolt. The pistol grip has the widely used AR interface and can therefore be replaced if necessary. On the factory-mounted grip, the circumference and size can be adjusted using interchangeable backstraps and finger grooves. The two-stage trigger deserves the rating "excellent". The trigger breaks in a defined manner at the wall, and its characteristics are excellent. The trigger weight can be adjusted to 1,019 and 2,039 g.

 The Basic version of the Haenel HLR 338 has an AR-compatible telescopic stock that can be gradually adjusted in length and height.

Depending on the version, there are two hand guard lengths. The long version with a total length of 483 millimeters was mounted on the HLR 338 Basic described here. The cross-section of the handguard is octagonal and has a diameter of 49 mm. At the top, there is another 496 mm long Picatinny rail – with the same tilt as the action rail. On each of the remaining handguard surfaces, 10 M-Lok slots are milled out. On the short version, there are only eight M-Lok slots per surface. A solid aluminum block connects the handguard to the receiver via five screws. The screws are glued and should therefore only be loosened by the manufacturer or a gunsmith. The telescopic stock, which can be extended by a total of 75 mm in six positions, is connected using an AR-15 interface. The cheek-piece can be adjusted in height by a total of 21 mm. The stock has some play on the support tube. For the HLR-Pro models, Haenel uses the folding stock from the RS8/9, which can also be adjusted in length and height without tools.

Haenel HLR 338 Basic longe range precision rifle in .338 Lapua Magnum specs and price

Haenel HLR 338 Basic
5,606 euro
.338 Lapua Magnum
10 + 1 cartridges
Overall Length:
1,237 to 1,313 mm
Barrel Length:
690 mm 
Twist Length/Rate:

254 mm / 1:10" twist, 6 RH

Trigger Pull Weight:

1,383 g (13.6 N) 

6,630 g

Features: bolt-action rifle with six-lug bolt, 60° bolt throw, 10-round magazine, Picatinny top rail, three-position firing pin safety, adjustable two-stage trigger, telescopic stock with height-position adjustable cheek rest, three-chamber muzzle brake, M-Lok handguard.

Test: Haenel HLR 338 Basic bolt-action rifle with the new Zeiss LRP S3 636-56 scope on the shooting range

1.             The octagonal handguard of the Haenel HLR Basic in .338 Lapua Magnum has a continuous Picatinny rail at the top and ten M-Lok interfaces on each of the other seven sides. This offers sufficient mounting options for all conceivable accessories.  

Due to the ongoing ammunition shortage, the testers used four handloads in addition to the nine factory loads. The bullets used were Sierra's 250-grain MatchKing and Lapua's OTM Scenar, both HPBT bullets. Loads were made with Reload Swiss RS 76 and Vihtavuori N565 dual-base propellant powders, always in Norma case. The optic used was the brand-new LRP S3 636-56 from Zeiss with the mrad-based MRi reticle. The Zeiss LRP S3 636-56 is an excellent scope for medium to extreme long range shooting. It offers a magnification range of 6x to 36x and has an extremely wide elevation adjustment range of 32 mrad, or 110 MOA. The Zeiss LRP S3 riflescopes use the proven Zeiss ballistic stop and can of course be zeroed precisely. The manually lockable windage turret allows quick windage corrections. In order to be able to react to all conceivable lighting conditions, the illuminated reticle, which can be switched from red to green, has 5 intensity settings in each of these two colors. Only the central section of the reticle positioned in the 1st focal plane is illuminated to provide a particularly precise aiming point. By the way, as an alternative to the mentioned MRI reticle, the LRP S3 636-56 is also available with a MOA-based reticle. The new ZF is currently (spring 2023) in the process of being shipped to retailers. MSRP is €2,700.

The scope was mounted on the top rail of the HLR Basic using an ERATAC one-piece mount with adjustable inclination between 0 and 20 MIL or mrad.

The muzzle brake of the Haenel HLR works effectively despite the baffles being set at right angles and significantly reduces the recoil impulse. The bolt runs nicely and smoothly with no hooking or jerking in the action. The trigger pull is excellent and allows for a clean shot release. The stock adjustments are adequate and held their set position securely during the test. The accuracy of the test gun can be described as consistently good to very good. Thus, with the factory 285-gr Hornady ELD Match cartridge, a grouping of about 15 mm at 100 m was possible. At 13 mm, the group was even slightly better with one of our handloads with the aforementioned 250-gr MatchKing bullet, which also came out on top on the 300-meter course with a 5-shot group of 42 mm in diameter.

For more information on the Haenel HLR 338 Basic, please visit this product web page from C.G. Haenel.

Learn more about the Zeiss LRP S3 636x56 riflescope on the manufacturer's product page.

Get more info about ERATAC adjustable pre-tilt one-piece mount and other mounts from this manufacturer.

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