While at IWA, I had a chance to familiarize myself with many fine firearms, including high end rifles from Blaser. Their newest rifle is the R8, a development of the straight-pull bolt action R93.
The R8’s action has been beefed up and is currently available in calibers up to .416 Remington Magnum, with .458 Win Mag, .458 Lott and .500 Jeffery available as special orders with a 4 month lead time.
One unique feature of the R8 over the R93 (or any other rifle, for that matter) is that the magazine and trigger blade are one assembly and can be easily taken out of the weapon, which not only removes ammunition from the firearm but also renders it incapable of being fired or even cocked. Should the user wish to lock the magazine and trigger in place, he can easily do so.
The R8 has a three-position safety that I found quite intuitive. The rifle is not cocked unless the safety is all the way forward, on “fire.” At the middle position, the bolt can be cycled, but the weapon is not cocked and cannot be fired; the rearward position locks the action and also prevents the weapon from firing.
It’s possible to change between any of the 32 available calibers by swapping the barrel and the bolt head – this is done at the end user level, so the owner of an R8 can hunt dangerous game in Africa one month and varmints in the American West the next with the same rifle.
None of the R8 models could be considered inexpensive, and the sky is really the limit when options like hand engraving, gold inlays and five hundred year old Turkish walnut stocks are added. All R8s feature cold hammer forged barrels. Models such as the Professional, which have a synthetic stock, can be found on Gunbroker for just over 3,000 USD. Other models examined at IWA had list prices of 30,000 Euros, but were truly works of art.