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Broadsword is greatly enamoured of the Schultz & Larsen Victory rifle in this test and review... and it isn’t only the gorgeous walnut stock that takes his fancy!
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I have a very healthy regard and respect for Schultz and Larsen rifles as they epitomise to me that even in today’s throwaway society there is still a firm that takes meticulous care and detail over every rifle they produce. Their R&D procedures take years to perfect, assess and optimise a new model before it even sees a test bed, let alone a gunsmith’s shop.
I own a Legacy model in 300 Blackout, which is sublime to shoot and just oozes quality, unlike some of the new plastic fantastics that are everywhere these days. If you like your rifles to be traditional and appreciate a superbly accurate barrel, excellent trigger and great handling from a stunning walnut stocked and blued rifle, then you need look no further than the Victory model.
Schultz and Larsen are a Danish arms manufacturer and have a very long history of producing superior grade rifles, not only for hunting but also for target shooting. John Powell gunsmiths in Reigate always had several in their racks and even as a boy I lusted after them.
All their barrels are cut rifled, not button rifled, and made in-house to maintain their high standards, which contributes to the legendary accuracy and hard-wearing nature that make them a firm favourite with shooters of all disciplines.
The Victory is the premium rifle of the range and harks back to that generation when a gentlemen’s handshake was his bond, and gunrooms smelled of worn leather, Young’s 303 oil and a hint of wet dog.
The action is smooth, with its low bolt lift, three-lug system and detachable magazine that feeds flawlessly in all weathers. The Victory, like other S&L models, has a barrel-exchange system that is foolproof and returns to zero after removal. This is enhanced by a very good bedding system for enhanced accuracy potential and you can choose what grade of walnut you want. It comes at a price, but is well worth it as S&L source only the best walnut stocks, not only for their figure but also for strength.
Both visually and from a handling standpoint the Victory does not disappoint. Sure, this model wears the upgraded level 4 walnut at an additional cost of £1,250, but it’s well worth it in my view. It instils pride of ownership and – dare I say – makes you shoot a little better.
Regardless of walnut quality, the fit, form and finish are the same. The traditional and impeccable rubbed linseed oiled finish means you can ‘top it up’ or blend in a scratch, and further applications just keep enhancing the wood.
You have a long slender forend with a rosewood capped tip with rearward slanting bias, and a totally free-floated barrel for uninterrupted harmonics for best accuracy. As with the pistol grip, the chequering is cut really well, executed to provide a sure grip with prominent cut diamonds. This pistol grip has a comfortable and unstrained rake for a natural hold and the excellent palm swell just guides your hand to the same position and hence pressure/grip for a consistent shot.
A well-defined cheekpiece of good height for correct eye alignment to the fitted scope is always beneficial and the review rifle had the optional red rubber recoil pad, which performs the double duty of providing extra grip and good looks, while allowing unimpeded shouldering at any angle.
Best of all is the bedding system under the action. There is pillar bedding for the stock screws, which is enhanced with a layer of synthetic bedding compound. This ensures the action is solid in the woodwork so that shot-to-shot accuracy and consistency are maintained.
Talking of the action, with the Victory there is only one length for all calibres, which enables the quick barrel-exchange feature. The barrel is retained by two screws in a clamping system that requires the bolt to be removed and the stock detached. This allows the barrel to slip out and a different calibre to be inserted. The standard bolt can be used with calibres .243 up to 9.3x62, but magnum calibres require a different bolt. The standard barrel costs £1,040, with the magnum calibres £1,160. The magnum bolt is £510.
A small key at the base of the barrel ensures correct alignment and the fact that the bolt locks into the barrel ensures a consistent headspace. It’s handy if you want to use a 6.5 Creedmoor for small species and a .30-06 for larger or African plains game. Cheaper than two rifles.
The barrel is made of hardened chrome moly steel, and like the action has a mirror blued finish. It is 23.5" long with a 0.635" diameter at the muzzle, which is finished with a 14x1mm thread.
S&L made their reputation on match-accuracy barrels and the Victory does not disappoint. Most manufacturers use button rifled barrels as they are cheaper and faster to make. S&L do it the right way and cut each rifling groove for a precise rifling profile, depth and twist rate. In the .30-06 under review it is 1 in 10". Best of all, after machining the barrels are hand lapped to remove all burrs, marks and imperfections, so the bore is as good as it gets.
The bolt is large but has a bright polished finish with three locking lugs. This has two benefits, as the bolt is incredibly smooth to operate and the three lugs allow a shallow bolt lift to disengage at a lower angle, so it is super fast. Extraction is achieved by a large single claw in the lower right locking lug and positive ejection is via the sprung plunger in the bolt head. Equally as good is the detachable box magazine, well constructed from steel and holding three rounds of .30-06 ammunition. It fed all the test ammo without a hitch.
The silent and efficient safety is a three-position type: forward is fire, the central position locks trigger but the bolt opens, the rearmost position locks both bolt and trigger. The trigger itself has to be the best on any factory rifle, as it uses a direct sear engagement that is adjustable for weight and pull, set here at 2.85lb. It breaks cleanly and with total prediction. Perfection.
Scope mounting is via S&L’s own design that uses the company’s Slide and Lock mounts. The rifle came supplied with a Swarovski Z6 5-30x50 scope with ballistic turrets.
The .30-06 is a diverse round, capable of shooting light 110gr bullets for foxes up to 220gr projectiles for larger game. This Victory performed well with bullets of all weights.
Loading the magazine is a breeze despite the release button being quite tucked away in the floor plate. I ran a selection of factory ammunition first after zeroing in at 100yd off the bench. Sako 123gr Gamehead achieved 0.85" groups consistently with a 2,987fps velocity and 2,437ft-lb energy. Its Gamehead bullet is ideal for both fox and small species of deer and in my view is one of the best all-round .30-06 rounds for British deer.
Upping the bullet weight to 150gr, the Norma Ballistic Tip shot 2,804fps for 2,619ft-lb energy and again 0.85-1.00" clusters. The Eco Strike 165gr version shot 1.25" groups at a velocity of 2,813fps and 2,900ft-lb – not as accurate but good for use in lead-free areas.
Getting a bit heavier, a good all-round load were the Hornady 180gr SST, which shot 2,804fps/3,143ft-lb. That’s very fast and all groups hovered around the 1" mark.
With all the factory ammunition – and this is very unusual – most of the three-shot groups did not exceed 1" at 100yd, and most were better. Very impressive.
It seemed a bit superfluous to test some reloads, but that’s my guilty pleasure in life. A Hornady 110gr V-Max bullet for foxes and a load of 55gr of Vit N150 powder achieved 3,172fps/ 2,463ft-lb and 0.75" groups. You could substitute that for a lead-free 110gr E-Tip if you wished. A little more weight and a less frangible bullet was the 125gr Sierra Pro Hunter, which is a great choice for deer where a dependable expansion is necessary. This time 52.5gr of Reloder RL 15 powder gave a velocity of 2,969fps and 2,447ft-lb energy with 0.35" to 0.5" groups! In fact two shots almost went through the same hole and then one slightly off, consistently.
Switching to some lead-free options such as the Hornady GMX 125gr resulted in 3,330fps and 2,709ft-lb from a load of 58gr of RL 15 powder. I really like this bullet as it seems to work well in a number of .30 cal barrels and at .30-06 velocities expands well and shot sub-MOA groups.
The excellent Barnes 130gr TSX projectile grouped at 0.95" for three shots with a load of 59.5gr of Swiss RS50 powder for 3,108fps and 2,788ft-lb.
Pressures rose a little when I upped the lead-free weight to Nosler E-Tips at 150gr. I have noticed this with the E-Tips; their shank or bearing surface is quite tough. But accuracy was okay at 1.25" at a velocity of 2,880 and 2,763ft-lb energy with a load of 54gr of Vit N150 powder.
The heavier Hornady 165gr Interlock were also very good and 54gr of IMR 4007 SSC powder achieved 1.0" groups, but 56gr of RL 17 gave sub-inch groups and 2,876fps for 3,030ft-lb.
The 180gr, bullets especially the Barnes TTSX, shot well at 0.95" with a load of 56.5gr of Ramshot for 2,729fps and 2,977ft-lb but bullet length was critical at a COL of 3.335".
The Victory is not that short or light, but slung on the shoulder in barrel-down mode it posed no complications while stalking, my only concern was not scratching that lovely stock! Among the Surrey Hills, a favourite haunt for nice roe bucks, a pre-4.00am arrival already had three roe out feeding. I was after cull bucks, so I slipped back into the wood and slowly stalked the overgrown track that wound its way through the undergrowth.
At 125yd the Swarovski scope defined a younger buck gently browsing his way to the field edge, so I rested the S&L on the sticks, slowly released the silent safety, and waited at an opening between cow parsley, young oaks and buddleia. The good handling characteristics of the Victory shine here; it feels part of you and the trigger is so good that the Sako 123gr Gamehead was on its way just as my brain thought about it. Felt recoil was hardly noticed and the meat-shot sound indicated a good hit. Victory was mine, quite literally.
If synthetics are more to your liking in a hunting rifle, then go for the S&L Thumbhole or Classic synthetic. But this Victory is all about old-fashioned good looks, an ultra smooth bolt, excellent build quality and superb accuracy. Why buy anything else?
Manufacturer: Schultz and Larsen
Type: Bolt action sporter
Barrel length: 23.5"
Overall length: 44"
Calibre: .30-06 Springfield
Stock: Walnut sporter
Trigger: Adjustable single stage
Magazine: Detachable, three-shot
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