(Welcome to the Gun Crush. After coming to work for Petersen's HUNTING and Intermedia Outdoors 10 months ago, I realized I was falling in love with a new gun of some sort or the other about every week or two, with so many firearms being reviewed and written about here at HQ. Like any new romance, I feel compelled to gush about my crushes, so they're letting me do it in my new blog if I promise to not get to lurid about it.)
Normally, a gun crush will start to burn once you've seen some sweet-looking firearm for a while, learned what it is capable of, and played with it a bit. All that went right out the window when I spotted this tiny single shot Mannlicher (how fun is THAT word to say) by Merkel Firearms. Some guns just don't require that awkward getting-to-know-you dating period.
With a "you gotta see this," Mike Nischalke (hunteroc.com) dragged me past the rows of pricey German rifles and handed me the Merkel K3 Stutzen in his booth at SHOT, and I could not believe my eyes.
Well hello, gorgeous€¦A feathery full-blown .270 fit for a light-gun fetishist, a little magic death wand of a rifle that reminded me of that tiny Browning SA-22 autoloader.
With a lustrous stock running clear to the end of the barrel, it still barely weighs 5 pounds and comes in 13 calibers with standard fiber optic sites, but begs for a compact scope to get the most out of that elfin barrel. This wasp-waisted single-shot marvel is all German steel and sex appeal, still thin as a flashlight handle in my favorite caliber€¦and in modern Superformance-style loads I consider the .270 to be something of a light magnum.
We tend to think of mountain or sheep hunting rifles in terms of bolt guns, typically fugly, with carbon this, titanium that and in short-action-only calibers.
But not the Merkel. A 5 pound gun just 36 inches long with movie star looks and lacking an action that requires extra length, it's pretty as a figure skater and equally proportioned, at 36 inches long with a 20-inch pipe. This is the Mila Kunis of hunting rifles.
The clincher? It breaks down in three pieces, the longest being the barrel, and fits in a briefcase-sized travel box so you can travel like a business exec to your planned meeting with that mule deer.
Like so many guns that come through our office for a photo shoot, I never did shoot the Merkel, but am quite sure with that German barrel it only would have broken my heart, probably punching holes that touch with any decent ammo.
Broken, my heart, alas, because I don't have $3,000 laying around. Yes, it's a pricey unit. And I might get a shorter caliber.
Party pooper Payton Miller, the Guns & Ammo gun guru who works here in Peoria, who has forgotten more about just about any gun than most of us know about our favorite, says 20 inches is just not enough pipe for a .270. "It'd be a f*#king flame thrower. You need at least 22 inches."
So yeah, this one might be better in a 6.5 Creedmore, .260 Remington or .308. Then you could add "laser" to the magic death wand title.
COMING SOON: Building the .475 Turnbull