By Thomas Murphy
The Steyr anti-material rifle is a recent development of Steyr Mannlicher GmbH & CO. The public first saw it at the SHOT Show in 2004 in Las Vegas.
Steyr originally built this rifle only in .50 BMG. When ownership of .50 cal. by private citizens was prohibited in Australia and California, they produced the HS .460 (11.65mm x 90.50mm), designed by Horst Grillmayer of Austria. It's basically a necked-down .50 BMG to .458. But, instead of using available .458 bullets, it shoots a proprietary 600-gr. spire-point bullet at 2,985 fps. It's similar to the old CETME cartridges, and it resembles a .408 CheyTac.
The HS .50 is a single shot, bolt action rifle meant to be fired off an integral bipod. A three-stage bipod is attached at the front of the forearm. The two-stage trigger is set to 4.5 pounds but can be adjusted for a lighter pull. As in other rifles, the buttstock is fully adjustable. The heavy barrel is fluted over half its 33-inch length with the front length being round. A muzzle brake and a Picatinny 1913 rail are standard, but there are no iron sights.
As it is a single shot, it's not a true bullpup, but the two-lug rotating bolt is above and behind the trigger pack. The bolt does not have to be removed to load the weapon like some other anti-material single shots.
The rifle is a takedown with the scope left on the barrel when it is removed. This makes return-to-zero almost guaranteed, very useful especially when there's no chance for a first sighting shot. Overall length when broken down is 36 inches. The large muzzle brake causes a great deal of side blast, and people standing on the side or to the rear require major ear protection. Plugs and muffs in combination would be a good idea as the blast is louder than a Barrett or ArmaLite .50 BMG.
The rifle became well known when it was discovered that Steyr had sold 800 HS .50 rifles to Iran in 2005. As expected, the rifle turned up in Iraq. The Daily Telegraph reported that the first American soldier was killed with one 45 days after the shipment. Steyr, as expected, was running around trying to spread chicken feathers over the entire debacle. American forces have recovered over 100 of the rifles.
This rifle is sold in the U.S., and prices run around $4,400. Ammunition for the HS .460, made from re-sized new .50 BMG brass runs $450 per 50; $825 per 100. Single rounds are $20 each.
Caliber: .50 BMG, .460 Steyr
Service date: 2004
Weight: 28.5 lb
Length: 54 inches
Barrel length: 33 inches
Action: Bolt, single-shot
Effective range: 1,800 yards
Optics: Customer, no iron sights fitted
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