Merkel RX.Helix. Worlds fastest bolt action?

Merkel’s answer to the new Blaser R8 is the Merkel RX.Helix. This takedown rifle makes use of a straight pull bolt action.

Its name is derived from the bolt’s rotation system. The bolt is rotated in a helical motion at a 2:1 ratio (of forward motion to rotational motion). Apparently this allows for a smooth and fast bolt operation. This video shows the rifle being shot at 1 round per second. Pretty impressive!

The gun will be available chambered in 222 Rem., .223 Rem., .243 Win., 6.5x55mm SE, .270 Win., 7x64mm, .308 Win., .30-06, .308 Win., .30-06, 8×57 IS and 9.3×62. The magazine capacity is 3+1 rounds. The rifle weighs 6.4 lbs.

Takedown demonstration of the RX.Helix

I have not heard anything regarding pricing or availability.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Julio

    The Helix is an interesting rifle, and IMO a real step forward from their KR-1. It’s introduction may also be timely, since Blaser’s replacement of the R93 by the R8 is bound to alienate some R93 owners -on account of the lack of interchangeability between the two systems- who may plausibly consider the new Merkel as an alternative. As regards speed, clearly the RX Helix is fast, but I prefer the placement of the bolt handle R93 and R8 and suspect that both Blaser models offer a slightly shorter “throw” than the Merkel. A good try by Merkel, then, but I think Blaser still lead the game.

  • Sean Sorrentino

    Am i the only one who can’t see the point of this? If i want to shoot quickly, I will buy a semi-auto. i won’t have to move my hands around and spoil my aim, and an AR has 30 round mags, meaning that i am not empty after 3.02 seconds and 4 shots. who’s this for, anyway? Australians who can’t own semi-autos? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just work on changing the stupid law?

  • Matt Groom

    Finally! A bolt-action that’s as fast as a pump action, and I bet it only costs US$10,000!

  • Paul

    Fastest centerfire bolt action maybe. The Fortner action has been around for years in the rimfire world and it’s just as fast.

  • SpudGun

    What Sean Sorrentino said. If you want a long range bolt rifle that you can shoot pretty quickly, just buy a surplus Enfield for a fraction of the cost. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Taliban…

  • Don

    That’s a clever design. I always wondered why bolt-actions didn’t use a helical mechanism. My guess was that it made the machine process go from something that can be done with 2 axes to 3 and incurred extra manufacturing costs.


  • Jesse

    On one hand I completely agree with Sean, what’s the point of a fast bolt action when you can you can buy a semi auto gun. But there are places like Australia where semi auto guns are illegal and it’s bolts or pumps only and in those places this gun would makes a lot of sense.

    Also isn’t this helical cut straight bull similar to the Swiss Schmidt Rubin series of rifles? I have a K31 and the bolt is definitely a bit stiff but it’s a lot quicker to operate compared to the average bolt.

  • Chris S.

    I’ve seen video (predating YouTube) of a bolt action shooter hitting an 8″ gong at 100 yards – three times in one second. It was shot from a rest by a right handed shooter using a left hand bolt. The bolt was actuated by the left hand rotating around the forearm, with the bolt handle in the “slot” formed by the thumb and index finger. The right hand pulled the butt into the shoulder and pressed the trigger. I doubt it would be much faster with the “helix” bolt system.

  • dogon1013

    I guess in a country with socialized medicine (Merkel is German, right?) there is no need to wear eye protection when firing guns….since it’s covered.

    or was the video made in the USA?

  • rubbershotgun

    Sean Sorrentino

    semi auto rifles are not legal everywhere, and even in places where they are legal they are sometimes not allowed for hunting.
    also some of us just don’t like semi-auto rifles for a whole host of reasons.

  • I don’t have my K31 handy, but don’t they work with a rotating bolt?

  • steve b

    …you would think so wouldn’t you!

    The law here (UK) isn’t going to change, semi autos will likely never be an option for us again, so I for one can see the advantage.

    Besides, there’s something very novel about a well crafted piece of german engineering, as opposed to a mass produced AR

  • Mu

    Sean, this is a hunting rifle, and unlike you some people think 4 rounds is plenty to go hunting with, maybe because one round of 9.3×62 will take down things that walk off the 223 from your AR. As for semi vs. auto, this thing gives you the reliability of a bolt at the speed of a semi and the safety of a hand cocking system. As for price, my guess will be under $3k for the base model to stay under the Blaser.

  • Maigo

    Pull the piston out of an AK and you’ve got a straight pull bolt action. Seems to me they took all the fun parts out of a semi-auto and called it new

  • Ian J

    The idea is hardly new; the Schmit-Rubin 1889 rifles had straight-pull bolts well over a hundred years ago. It’s interesting to see it in more common calibers and as a takedown, but I wouldn’t call a straight-pull bolt a revolution.

  • Josh

    What’s the point of firing fast if you can’t hit anything? Does anyone think he’s accurate with anything other than the first shot? Not the way he’s, I’ll call it, “actuating” the trigger as he moves his hand back to the stock. At least with a semi-auto you don’t have to move your grip from the stock and your finger remains on the trigger. What a stupid demonstration. The third and fourth shots are especially bad; he’s just letting his finger grab the trigger as part of his hand’s motion back to the stock. They should be embarrassed to put that video out.

  • Jonathan

    The point of this gun is to make the bolt action a lot smoother and faster then a traditional bolt acton rifle. Although it is not as fast as a semi-auto, it should retain all of the benefits of a blot action like good reliability and accuracy.

  • Robert

    or you could just go buy a K31! I have one and it is one of the most accurate rifles I have ever owned.

  • shawn

    there are a lot of countries that do not allow semi-auto’s
    ie Great Britain and Australia i know for sure.
    and when our country bans semi-auto’s we will be thankful companies make fast bolt guns

  • RC

    Meh. I can shoot that fast with a regular bolt action…

  • Will W

    My thoughts exactly Matt!

  • Cameron

    I don’t really think what this rifle showcases is the actual gun but rather the new technology. Assuming this bolt system could be applied to another form of firearm it would be really great. Imagine a pump twelve-gauge with an action like a .22, or a mini14 that feels like your charging a 10/22, which equals more speed in every respect (chambering a round, cycling, etc).

  • Dynamo

    Merkel is an H&K groupe subsiderie

  • B Woodman

    Is this a take off from the Swiss K31?

  • mmathers

    @Matt Groom:
    This isn’t the first straight pull rifle to be available commercially.
    I’m willing to bet that a sportsterized Schmidt-Rubins K31 in 308 will be significantly cheaper than this gun.

  • Whatever

    Browning made the Acera for a while, which if I understand correctly was essentially a BAR lacking a gas system, turning it into a straight pull rifle. It didn’t exactly sell like gangbusters.

  • Whatever

    If I was in the market for a rifle with a straight pull action, I prefer this design over the Blaser. I don’t like the Blaser design because it looks like if it lets go, there’s nothing stopping the bolt from coming straight back into your face. At least with this design the bolt seems to be enclosed so a failure of the bolt to keep the breech closed isn’t necessarily a total disaster.

  • snmp

    The Merkel SR1 (or HK SL2000: same rifle with tag price and name) semi auto Rifle have the same structure . If you put out the gas piston and you have straight pull action

  • El Duderino

    Very nice rifle. The stock in the video has to go though. I think it’s laminate made from LA Looks gel dispensers from 1990.

  • Syed240

    this is a good system: straight pull bolt action is far more convinient from old bolt system.
    it wld be more easy to reload, after all bolt action rifles has their own height against samiauto.

  • Some times reading the comments of my fellow gun enthusiasts really makes me shake my head.

  • Redi-Mag

    You can’t get something for nothing. A shorter activation stroke requires more force to operate the mechanism. If a round of higher than normal pressure, such as happens in high temperature environments, made the bolt sticky, it would be difficult to open.

  • Robert

    “Am i the only one who can’t see the point of this? If i want to shoot quickly, I will buy a semi-auto”

    How can you think there is no down-side to a semi-auto?

    Bolt actions are potentially more accurate because you can make things tighter. They are potentially more reliable because you can force the action closed if it gets stuck. They are quieter with silencers because there is no ejection port noise.

  • snmp

    @ Robert
    For exemple in Autralia, you can not own a Semi automic. And then, in some country of Europe you need a special licence for autoloading rifle or you could have technical restriction in size like limitation of 2 round & non removal mag

    Lothar Walter (in germany) start production of barrel in .308 for Schmidt & Rubin 1911 and K31

  • Redchrome

    Another advantage of the bolt gun is that there’s no piston system. The advantages of this are:

    – Lighter weight
    – Easier cleaning
    – No piston above the barrel means lower sights, which effectively makes the gun shoot ‘flatter’ because the trajectory of the bullet isn’t angled up as much to rise to the sightline.

    All these are reasons why Jeff Cooper advocated a bolt action in his ‘scout rifle’ concept. (Well, not the ‘easier cleaning’ part per se; but cleanliness is part of reliability).

  • jacob kenworthy

    It’s just a straight-pull mechanism
    It’s already been done

  • Jack

    Merkel has made falsestart! The promised Helix available to sell to the end of 2010. But in their Polish dealer is still not available. Merkel send only two pieces od Helix to Poland!
    Merkel makes good rifles but have not got any experiences in rifle bolt actions, so I think that they should not start produce rifles they have no idea how to do it well and as soon as possible!

  • Rick

    Very interesting rifle system. Does anyone have accuracy results? I’m tossing up between this Merkel RX Helix, a Blaser R8 and a Mauser M03. Which is inherently the most accurate? The balance of reports suggests the M03 wins – perhaps due to the twin locating bolts in the steel receiver. The Helix’s clamp is not retaining the barrel along as long a section of the reinforce as with the Mauser and Blaser, nor is the tension as great (it seems). But, the proof is in the shooting.

    The ergonomics, safety and balance of the Helix look great.

    Any comments from users?