Apparently it takes a team of German firearm engineers to fashion the perfect thumbhole stock, because the Blaser R8 Professional Success is as good as it gets. It’s not exactly a surprise that this touch of perfection comes via the R8, which I consider the world’s most technologically advanced hunting rifle. The Blaser’s unique mechanical features include a segmented-collet bolt sleeve that forms a circular locking lug, making the action faster than any turnbolt, yet stronger than competing straight-pull guns. On top of that, the magazine and trigger assembly are combined in a single detachable unit, which allows for a shorter receiver and shorter overall length, while at the same time enhancing safety by allowing the shooter to fully unload or reload the gun in an instant.
Granted, the R8’s looks take some getting used to, and thumbhole stocks aren’t necessarily my cup of tea. But I do like the way they feel in actual shooting positions-especially offhand and kneeling-and am convinced that the thumbhole configuration is an advantage in making deliberate, precise shots. For me, though, a thumbhole stock can feel kind of awkward afield when a fast shot is needed. The Professional Success’s interpretation bridges the gap. The grip angle, size and shape combine to produce a comfortable hold and great trigger control, but make for intuitive handling, and the entire rifle was rebalanced to account for the relaxed hand position. Some versions of the new stock even come adorned in fine-grained leather, which, perhaps goes to show that much as I like the R8, I’m still a step behind Blaser’s engineers.
A new thumbhole stock designed for the Blaser R8 Professional Success brings a new balance of trigger control and fast-handling capability.