Mission-Specific: Steyr's SSG 08

Mission-Specific: Steyr's SSG 08

Wednesday, September 01, 2010 - Scott E. Mayer

Courtesy of Shootingtimes.com.

In 2009, Steyr introduced the SSG 08 bolt-action rifle as the answer to those requiring top accuracy from an out-of-the-box rifle. Clearly police and military agencies equipping specialized units benefit from rifles that are simply issued, sighted in, and deployed without needing any tweaks that might vary from one gun to the next. And while many of us civilians enjoy the process of tuning a rifle or finding just the right load, there are those who want a high performance rifle that works at its best, all the time, every time, right from the start--a rifle such as the SSG 08.

Design features of the SSG 08 were engineered to meet the specifications of Austria's EKO COBRA anti-terrorism unit. At the time of this writing, EKO COBRA reportedly has 449 men and one woman. Their specialized training includes tactics, shooting, rappelling and close quarters combat. Fail to qualify, and the candidate must leave the unit.

COBRA's response time to an incident anywhere in Austria is less than 70 minutes, so their specialized firearms must be easily portable and may have to fit into the cramped confines of a helicopter or armored vehicle. And once on the scene, COBRA members may need a rifle capable of surgical precision to stop a terrorist or hostage taker without endangering innocent bystanders from misses.

One of the biggest design features of the SSG 08 is its aluminum stock that folds down along itself at the wrist to instantly reduce the rifle's overall length from 46 ¼ inches to a more portable 38 ¼ inches. It also features a cheekpiece adjustable for height over a range of 1 ¾ inches with numbered indicator marks so different shooters can instantly and with repeatability adjust the stock height to center their eye in the scope while using a solid cheekweld. You can even adjust the side-to-side position and angle of the cheekpiece as much as ¼ inch by way of two setscrews at its top, and slide its base forward or back along the length of the buttstock to suit individual length of pull and eye relief.

More stock adjustment is provided by a sliding buttplate to customize drop, and spacers to adjust length of pull. Moving forward on the stock is a pistol grip with interchangeable front- and backstrap inserts. Three backstrap inserts range from almost flat to positively hand filling, while the three frontstraps include smooth, one finger groove and three finger grooves options.

All that may seem like a lot of moving parts on a rifle component most shooters want to be "rigid," but Steyr didn't skimp and use flimsy components on the SSG 08's stock. I used the sample SSG 08 over several months shooting from sitting at a bench and prone positions wearing everything from heavy winter clothing to shorts and tee shirt adjusting the stock accordingly for each condition and never experienced any parts slippage, and found the large hand knobs made adjusting between positions quick and easy.

The fore end is fully free floated and ventilated with several attachment points for accessory rails on either side to provide convenient attachment points for the gluttony of tactical and "tacti-cool" accessories currently on the market. The sample came fitted with a three-inch rail on the right side and a six-inch rail on the left. There is also a full-length UIT rail in the bottom of the fore end.