June 14, 2023
With just days to go before the moose hunt, I received a phone call that would transform those champagne wishes and caviar dreams of an easy, “comfortable” hunt into reality. The call also affirmed that while the old adage “luck favors the bold” is often true, one of my personal favorites holds even greater weight: “Sometimes even a blind squirrel can find a nut.” Eddie Stevenson, my good friend from the Lone Star State was on the line. Over the course of the last year, I’d schemed with Eddie (a consummate outdoorsman and my go-to guru for all things Trijicon) on the logistics for getting him up to Alaska for a maritime black bear hunt.
Without even attempting a New York, Chicago, or Philly accent, Eddie pre-empted these plans, assumed the role of a New York syndicate boss, and telephonically “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” It took a second or two to digest his proposal, but my answer was an unequivocal “yes” ... proof positive that a friendly Texas accent goes a lot further these days than an overdone, coarse “New Joisey” Soprano’s brogue.
It was settled. Shortly after returning from my quest for lower Yukon moose, I was headed to the great state of Texas for a western white tail hunt. It wasn’t lost on me that Eddie used the phrase “gentleman’s hunt” more than once during our conversation, so I initially had the urge to pack some cardigans, smartly polished riding boots, moustache wax, and one of those snappy Irish tweed hats like the ones worn by sophisticated fast-food fish peddling restaurateur Arthur Treacher and those stabby street gangsters in the TV series Peaky Blinders. I ultimately wimped out, however, after googling “south-western fashion sense for men” and opted for old jeans, Sitka Gear outer wear, and my favorite piratical do-rag…because the last thing I need is a scathing review in GQ or Esquire.
Thanks to Strasser Rifles and Trijicon, the journey south from the sub-zero frozen hinterlands of the 49th state would not be made alone. I would be packing a handsome, walnut-stocked Strasser RS Solo Evolution straight-throw bolt action rifle in .270 Winchester topped with a Trijicon Credo rifle optic as my partners in crime for this adventure. I was also stoked to try a new lot of white tail busting 130 grain Norma “White Tail” ammunition already staged at the ranch.
The Strasser RS Solo Evolution is a handsomely designed rifle with the appearance of fine art and the ergonomics of a well-tuned deer harvesting machine. One of the most important moments during the testing and evaluation of a new weapon occurs when the firearm is unboxed. While it sounds shallow, this initial phase of the weapon assessment is primarily appearance-based. When a newly arrived firearm’s fit and finish are shabby, it is often a symptom of deeper, potentially catastrophic issues. “Fit and finish” shortcomings aren’t worrisome due merely to cosmetic considerations…they serve as a harbinger of something far more problematic and potentially dangerous: sloppy workmanship and sub-standard engineering. If the ergonomics of a weapon make for clumsy handling characteristics in the sedate, clinical environment of an office or shop, logic dictates that the weapon is destined for hard times or absolute failure in the field.
Strasser RS Evolution Photo Gallery
150 Grain Winchester “Super X” Power Points
Old school is sometimes the best school: 150 Grain Winchester “Super X” Power Points!
A “J.C. Penney’s Catalog” pic for Mom and a “Crusty the Pirate” shot for my friends!
Winchester Ammo Accuracy
There’s no school like the old school: Winchester Super-X Power Points score a 2.25 inch group at 200 yards.
Solo Evolution Features
Suppressor-ready Lothar Walther barrel (muzzle thread: 5/8 24) (top left). The Solo Evolution’s walnut foreend complemented by a quick-release sling mount (bottom right). Batten down the hatches: the Solo Evolution’s straight throw bolt in the closed/locked position (top right).
Trijicon Credo Scope
The Trijicon Credo in the blind.
Trigger and Magazine
Solid fit...the Strasser’s trigger group snaps into place with a pleasing, cathartic “click!.” A perfect partnership...the Solo Evolution’s magazine and mag-well.
Norma Ammo Accuracy
Norma “Whitetail” one-inch string from the 100-yard line (left). “Excuse me, madam, would you like that placed into the deer’s left ventricle or right ventricle?” A 1.9 inch group from 200 yards courtesy of Norma (right).
Shooting from the prone with a straight-pull bolt rifle means less movement and fluid follow-up shots.
Strasser RS Solo Evolution
The Solo Evolution’s ‘plug and play’ picatinny rail topped with the Trijicon Credo.
The Solo Evolution’s straight-pull bolt...second place winner for smoothness only to Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman transformation from Dianna Prince! Strasser’s exquisitely perplexing (to those with an aversion to reading directions) but smooth as silk bolt and upper receiver.
Resale value is also of key importance to firearms purchasers, and it doesn’t take a degree in economics from Oxford to understand key element in this equation: If a rifle falls into the “Sotheby’s of England” auction firm’s least coveted qualitative classification (known formally in posh, stiff upper-lipped aristocratic circles as the “You can’t polish a turd” grade), the purchaser should not expect much from the piece as an investment.
It was readily apparent the Solo Evolution was not in jeopardy of losing any fit & finish/appearance points during its unboxing. I was joined in this event by a long-time friend, coworker and firearms aficionado hailing by the call-sign “G.K.” G.K. is a former Washington D.C. metro-cop and DEA Task Force operative, but more germane to this review, an experienced shooter with the uncanny ability to pick out even the most minute shortcomings of a weapon with blazing speed. In that regard, his skills at immediately identifying cosmetic and engineering flaws within seconds of getting his paws on a brand spanking new, freshly unboxed firearm are legendary.
G.K. and I removed the newly arrived Strasser rifle from its factory case and scrutinized it with expert intensity. In the spirit of transparency, it must be said that our mutual affection for the newly arrived Strasser didn’t actually manifest itself in full until nearly fifteen minutes after the unboxing. The issue that impeded our immediate gratification was our inability to fit the rifle’s bolt into the receiver. The reason for this delay can be attributed to two primary factors:
- The Solo Evolution’s uniquely engineered action
- Our collective disdain and contempt (and a time-honored mantra held near and dear by most real men) for reading those ridiculously tiresome and boorish things called “directions”
However, thanks to the cooperative application of our combined quarter-century worth of firearms experience, we ultimately triumphed and successfully installed the RS Solo Evolution’s straight-throw bolt into its action. Unlike the vast majority of traditional bolt action rifles, the Strasser’s straight-throw design provided it with a sleek, seamless appearance and feel. The bolt assembly melds into the rifle’s receiver in nearly monolithic fashion. Operation of the bolt proved to be swift, smooth, and safe. Once locked forward, the rifle’s action can be unlocked by pushing the bolt release co-located on the rear of the bolt with the safety. Firing the Solo Evolution also unlocks the bolt for cycling and follow-up shots.
The best description of the Solo Evolution’s bolt is “Teflon-smooth.” In fact, the act of operating the Strasser’s straight-throw action nearly usurped the long-time 1st place title holder on my “guilty pleasures list”: Watching the action-sequence in the original 1970’s television series Wonder Woman when Lynda Carter whirls around and transforms from her nerdy, awkward alter-ego into everyone’s favorite “lasso of truth” wielding, “tights of justice” clad super-heroine (with the theme music turned up, of course). It was a list-topper I shared with my good ‘ol dad until he swore it off in 1978 after my mom called him into the kitchen for a chat about something called “a hussy” and then, in hushed tones, about the dangers of cast-iron skillets and “blunt force trauma” ...whatever that was about.
Ok...where were we? Oh yes...Strasser’s high-speed action. The Solo Evolution’s operation is swift, smooth, and employs an economy of motion not commonly associated with standard bolt action rifles. When it’s ‘go-time,’ the bolt handle freely travels a short distance rearwards, to .458 Winchester magnum, my model was chambered in a tried-and-true white tail deer hunting caliber: .270 Winchester. This cartridge has proven itself as an adequate but non-overkill caliber for white tails game animals with similar chassis since its introduction to the market in 1925. The rifle I would hunt with in Texas utilized a detachable three-round magazine that fit cleanly and seamlessly into the Strasser’s magazine well.
My final attaboy for the rifle’s design concerns its picatinny rail optics attachment point. The rifle’s bomb-proof integrated picatinny rail is ‘plug and play’ ready for the operator’s choice of rings and optics. The Solo Evolution still had to prove itself at the range and in the Texas outback, but my initial evaluation identified traits one would expect from a firearms manufacturer whose credo includes stringent standards and forward-thinking designs principles. By no small coincidence, “credo,” “stringent standards,” and “forward thinking design principles” are terms and descriptors that segue perfectly into our introduction of the optic chosen to accompany the Solo Evolution on its Texas mission: The Trijicon Credo HX 2.5-15 x 42 rifle scope.
Trijicon’s Latest and Greatest Illuminated Rifle Optic: The Credo
I’ve always thought of the designers at Trijicon as geniuses. Their iconic lineup of ACOG and AccuPoint optics incorporating dual illumination systems (fiber optics/tritium) are a case in point. Trijicon’s 2.5-15x42 Credo further bolsters my confidence in the collective cerebral horsepower of their talented team of designers and engineers. The Credo features several practical and tactical attributes, but the model sent north for me to test exhibits a stand-out: Its magnification range.
I have little doubt that many a campfire debate has spawned from differing opinions on “what’s enough” and “what’s too much” when it comes to the topic of magnification options for variable power rifle scopes. I’ve hunted for decades for nearly every big game species in North America (those devilish little prong-horned antelopes received a pass), and this is where I stand on the matter: The vast majority of big game animals I harvested went to their happy grazing (or preying) grounds at the distance of 150 yards or less. Nature abhors a vacuum, however, and there have been rare instances where distances stretched out to the five-hundred-yard marker (particularly during Dall sheep and mountain goat hunts). The 2.5-15 x 42 Credo sent north for me to knock around during the Texas hunt was gifted with a magnification range capable of satisfying the requirements for short, intermediate, and long distance big game hunting.
On outward appearance, the Credo (SFP/Second Focal Plane) rifle optic has the same cosmetics and silhouette as many of its forebears in the Trijicon family. However, there is one bit of technology the Credo incorporates into its internals that its AccuPoint and ACOG brethren do not: a battery powered reticle illumination system. The Credo’s other features include a multi-range capable (but not overly complicated or “busy”) MRAD Center Dot reticle system and exposed elevation adjuster with “return to zero” functionality. If the lyrics to Johnny Nash’s 1972 hit were modified to read “I can see clearly now, it’s dark, foggy, and colder than a witch’s...umm...anyway, you get the picture,” the ballad would be the Credo’s anthem.
Case in point: Prior to departing for Texas, I zeroed the Strasser in South Central Alaska’s punishing -20 below temperatures. These temps were partnered up with heavy ice-fog and the dreariness common to early winter in South Central Alaska. Even under these adverse conditions, the Credo performed in the same manner as previously tested Trijicon optics and provided a crystal clear sight picture with a brilliantly illuminated reticle. Although I would be utilizing 130-grain Norma “Whitetail” ammunition for the hunt, I happily completed an initial zeroing/sight-in with locally available Winchester 150-grain “Super X” Power-Points.
The .270 Winchester round was originally engineered from the legendary .30-06 cartridge. This necked-down round was renowned for its flat trajectory and frugal recoil. This was my first experience with the .270 Winchester and I found the history books to be spot on in those regards. Cold weather and ice-fog be ding-dong-danged, the rifle/optic/ammunition trio made zeroing a breeze. It took a grand total of three rounds to obtain a “close enough for government work” 100 yard zero. The subsequent satisfaction gained from expending only three rounds during one of the greatest ammunition droughts this nation has ever labored through stoked a warm glow in my chilly heart and a wide grin on my chapped but sadly non-kissable lips. The only thing left to do was pack. The Solo Evolution was headed to Texas, and once boots dry, would tackle the mission it was intended for. If it was brown, it was going DOWN, because there was venison to
Texans, White Tails, and an Ornery Little Cuss Named Pico!
The sidekick to the Evolution’s action is its masterfully designed trigger group. The rifle’s modular trigger group may be removed from the Evolution without tools and set to three different weights (heavy, medium, and light) by the user. Re-formatting the trigger to the desired pull weight may also be accomplished without tools. If its shooter desires a set trigger, no problem...the option to transition to this mode is as easy as loading the rifle and pushing the trigger forward. To deactivate the Evolution’s set trigger, simply cycle the bolt. Fine-tuning the set trigger’s weight to your preference can be accomplished with the adjustment of a small screw inset just behind the trigger guard. I found that for my purposes (sight-in/hunting), the “medium” setting was perfect.
The Strasser’s Grade 1 walnut buttstock is handsome, but not fancy. More importantly, it is practical, showcasing a sensibly checkered pistol grip and perfectly positioned cheek piece that is part and parcel to its Bavarian stylings. Modern QD swivel sockets set into both the front and rear stocks complete the Solo Evolution’s penchant for both style and practicality.
Whenever the name “Walther” comes up within shooting circles, it tends to pique folks’ interests, so prepare to be titillated, because this iconic weapon manufacturer’s name is attached to the Solo Evolution’s barrel. Strasser wisely opted to utilize the expertise of Lothar Walther (the son of legendary weapons designer Carl Walther) and his firearms design prowess during their search to identify a worthy and appropriate barrel for their rifles. In my experience, Strasser made a wise decision in incorporating Walther barrels into their longarm lineup. This wasn’t my first go-around with a weapon sporting a Lothar Walther barrel. I discovered during previous testing and evaluations that Lothar Walther barrels, even when outfitted on rifles with extremely competitive price-points, were phenomenal.
The Solo Evolution’s receiver is manufactured from aluminum, but don’t let that throw you for a loop. The resultant weight reduction realized by Strasser’s choice of metallurgy does not detract from the rifle’s ability to safely contain the pressures generated by modern, magnum rifle cartridge pressures. The rifle’s design ensures the chamber pressures experienced by the Evolution are safely managed through the engineering of its barrel and barrel extension. While the Strasser Solo Evolution and its variants are available in calibers ranging from .222 Remington During the course of my twenty-five-year career as a DEA Special Agent, I traveled to some pretty seedy locations both domestically and abroad to sew the seeds of justice (as well as hate and discontent). By no small coincidence, I was often met by some equally seedy characters upon my arrival. My arrival in Texas was the polar opposite.
Even if I’d been blind-folded, spun around quickly 30 times, and forced to power-chug a mason jar of “West By-God Virginny” White Lightning ‘shine, I would have known I was in the right place...a good place. Everyone I met in Lubbock during my short time there immediately became fast-friends. Beginning with my Uber driver, followed by the hotel manager and even the convenience store clerk down the street, the people were awesome. This set the tone for my Texas adventure in its entirety.
I was picked up the next morning at my hotel by my local contact (call-sign: Archer-1). He was a Texan through and through…from the big, dusty Dodge pickup truck to his sense of humor and philosophy on life. Archer-1 is one of the few men you will meet during your travels who sports a cowboy hat and actually belongs in it. He was also well-prepared. In the event the previous day’s airport cuisine treated me poorly, he was ever vigilant and ready to provide me with a primary survival necessity in the event my “intestinal fortitude” flagged and/or catastrophically failed as we cruised the outskirts of Lubbock. This “necessity” came in the form of a certain type of toiletry, and while Archer-1 swore it was left in the truck by a previous hunter, it mattered not to me, because desperate times call for desperate measures!
Our first mission was to pick up legendary outdoor writer Bob Robb at the Lubbock airport. Bob was going to be a partner in crime on this much anticipated “gentleman’s hunt.” Mr. Robb’s flight wasn’t due into Lubbock until well after lunch, so Archer-1 and I set off on a knight’s quest to discover an entity of mythological, nearly divine proportions. Together, we launched a crusade to find something rarer than even a Unicorn, an original Colt Monitor automatic rifle, or an MSNBC/CNN personality who didn’t bear a strong resemblance to one of those creepy guys about to be told to “have a seat” by Chris Hansen on “To Catch a Predator.” That’s right...a fast-food restaurant willing to valiantly buck the Covid-19 scaredy-cat trend of “takeout only” by providing fine dine-in services.
Once our fast-food adventures had played out, we picked up Mr. Robb at the Lubbock airport and headed south by southeast to meet Eddie, Joshua Layall from Trijicon, “Pico” (Eddie’s gregarious Jack Russell terrier and master of comic relief), and the rest of the crew back at the ranch. We arrived at the 30,000 plus acre Hargrove Ranch, engaged in a quick “meet and greet,” then immediately went to work sighting in our Solo Evolution’s with Norma’s 130 Grain deer-slayers. It was fast work. My rifle, pre-sighted in Alaska with Winchester Power-Points, took a mere two rounds of “the new kid on the block” Norma ammunition to get onto the x-ring at 100 yards. Mr. Robb followed suit and the rifles were hunt-ready within 30 minutes.
By any outdoorsperson’s standards, the hunting portion of my Texas excursion was as easy as it gets. I hunted from multiple blinds, complete with gourmet-quality snacks, absolutely perfect weather conditions, and the complete absence of the innumerable hardships that can complicate a trip into the field. Except for jousting with some fairly aggressive “murder wasps” (they were actually Red, Mud, and Paper Wasps, but who wants to read about those wussies), the three-day hunt was exactly what I needed after seventeen years of tough Alaska hunting.
Mr. Robb nailed a handsome 5½ year old eight-point buck on day one, because that’s what consummate professionals do. It was at this point that a little Jack Russell terrier named “Pico” entered the picture. Pico was Eddie’s fur-buddy first, comic relief second, and tracking dog third. If you shot a deer and it skedaddled into the brush, Pico could unerringly locate it. Pico was a super good boy...friendly, gregarious, and intelligent. Pico also had a dark secret...one that would come to light after the harvest of Bob’s deer and continue with each and every white-tailed victim of the Solo Evolution’s wrath.
There’s no easy or delicate way to put it. Pico liked to jump and/or climb on top of deer that were harvested and “show them who’s boss,” if you know what I mean...and I think you do. If the deer’s body was still, Pico would merely leap triumphantly onto it and affect a grandiose pose reminiscent of a victorious Trojan hoplite during the initial skirmishes at Thermopylae. However, if one of us nudged the deer, dragged it a short distance, or in any way made the deer move even a skosh, Pico ceased being that cute, innocent little Jack Russell terrier and assumed a very different persona. Not unlike Ted Kennedy after a couple of highballs or Anthony Weiner when left unattended on the internet, our cute, bright-eyed little buddy transformed into a scandalous, lustful little pooch capable of acts not reflective of the little guy’s usual innocent mannerisms. It has to be said...when the deer even twitched a millimeter, Pico immediately assumed his adult film star name: “De Gallo” (pronounced “De guy-ō).
This revelation was distracting, but the hunt had to go on, regardless of the resultant mental trauma. The rest of the crew (Eddie, Josh, and I) played “Picky Pete” and passed on multiple deer during the beginning days. Unfortunately, an end to our short time on the ranch drew nigh and it was time to settle up with a buck. Eddie and Josh hammered two eight-pointers and I ultimately bagged a 6½ year old, battle-scarred buck that made the ultimate sacrifice for his brown-haired, white-tailed brother.
This...is his story.
Taking One for the Team...
My hide was located near a watering hole surrounded by scrub oak and mesquite. The buck that became a regular at my stand could have been had on numerous occasions, but I was holding out for a crusher. Over a two-day period, I watched the same tall-antlered eight-point buck quietly infiltrate the area in front of my blind and, as defined in just about any Debbie-downer Human Resources (HR) manual, sexually harass a gathering of does just trying to feed and mind their own business. My ornery morning and evening regular also sparred with and chased lesser bucks who arrived to scout out the lady situation. In fact, he generally acted as a permanent fixture to my field of fire...until the evening I decided he’d be toast due to the hunts time constraints. I was having the time of my life hunting and hanging out with Eddie and the guys during the nighttime hours, but time marched inexorably on and with only one full hunting day remaining, hard decisions had to be made on that third evening in Texas. The eight-point was a goner...or so I thought.
I arrived at my stand at approximately 3:00 p.m. and settled in. Dusk eventually closed and with the waning light, I came to the realization that my once reliably prompt buck was nowhere to be seen. I was beginning to think the spunky white tail was going to be a no-show, but with forty minutes of adequate shooting light available, he appeared...fleetingly. He approached my blind straight-on without a hint of quartering (definitely a no-shoot scenario) and with gusto. He had a good reason to do so, as there was a wonky-looking spike buck (he had that vacant-eyed, Greta Thunberg, possibly fetal alcohol syndrome look to him) sniffing and strutting around several resident does. The healthy eight-point’s aggressive approach prompted the fetal alcohol syndrome spike to bound off, but that wasn’t good enough for my intended target. In a flash, the eight point was on the run, with the intent of giving the young upstart some what-for. Approximately ten minutes passed before I saw a hint of movement in the brush in front of my position...and then my eight-point stepped out, stopped, and posed for his Cecil B. DeMille moment. I didn’t take time to peruse him with the binoculars (a rookie/overly confident move on my part) but did give him a quick once over with the Trijicon Credo. I counted four grand points on the side of his melon he gifted me with in the diminishing light. It was go-time.
I lined up the Credo’s illuminated crosshair over the buck’s heart, slowly pushed the trigger, and a 130-grain Norma White Tail express zipped down-range en-route to his ticker. I was wearing dual hearing protection and was unable to hear the bullet-strike but was certain the Strasser/Norma duo had scored a critical hit on the buck. The white tail instantaneously leapt into the air, bounded a short distance into the mesquite, and disappeared. My “patience rule” after connecting a shot on a medium or big game animal is to wait a bit before venturing forth to locate it. With bear (both black and brown), I generally wait an hour. I decided to give the deer a mere 15 minutes due to the rapidly approaching darkness. I was 10 minutes into my “sit-stay” when, much to my dismay and confusion, my eight-point appeared, calm as a cucumber, in front of my stand. He decided to add insult to injury by leisurely feeding and not showing even a smidgen of situational awareness. I glassed the buck, and indeed, it was my eight points. What just happened?!
Several scenarios played out in my head, but the most plausible one was also the most embarrassing. Could it be possible that my point of aim (low and just behind the buck’s shoulder to facilitate a humane, heart shot) combined with a marksmanship error fomented a complete miss? The shot felt perfect, but even an experienced rifle shooter can make a mistake. I struggled with what action to take. If the deer presently teasing me with his chill, lackadaisical demeanor was my original target and I missed, it was time to make things right and do better the second time around. However, if it was, through some anomaly, a new deer that merely resembled the buck I previously fired upon, then choosing to shoot would be a jerk move. I unloaded my rifle and climbed out of the blind to ascertain what the h-e-double-toothpicks just happened.
My decision to err on the side of caution was the wise and right one to make. I found a blood trail and the original deer within 25 yards of where it had been hit. A later inspection of the deer’s vitals revealed the bullet struck the heart, as intended. The larger question, however, was this: Who in tarnation was the newly deceased buck in receipt of a newly fired bullet with the name “The Mysterious Stranger” written on it? Before I answer, prepare to get solemn. This is the point in the story where it is appropriate to bow your head in reverence, play several stanzas of hauntingly sad bagpipe music in your head, and have a moment of silence for the buck and soon -to-be-venison testament to the .270 Winchester Solo Evolution and Credo’s efficacy. In layman’s terms, a deer we will refer to as “the wrong one.”
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
The strange new buck laying prostrate at my feet in that gnarly Texas scrub brush was a seven-point buck who resembled the resident eight point in every facet of his appearance but the number of tines festooning his rack. The dead white tail’s body and antler dimensions were nearly a carbon copy of his eight-point cohort. The circumstances were quite clear and the verdict was in...the seven-point accidentally became the worst “stunt-double” in recent white tail history and took the bullet intended for his eight-point counterpart. Through a fluke of bad timing, the “deader than Julius Caesar” white tail took one for the team and made the ultimate sacrifice for his buddy. No matter, though...he’d eat just the same!
Texas Goodbyes and a Frigid Range Day Back on the ‘Last Frontier.’
All good things come to an end, and my time at Hargrove Ranch concluded much too soon for my liking. Four days of good food (thanks to Binky...Archer-1’s wife and the real “Master and Commander” of the ranch), good drink, and some of the best company you will ever hope to find were all components of my trip to the Lone Star State. I bid Joshua, Eddie, Pico, and the rest of the crew good-bye and headed back north to face the rest of a good ‘ol fashioned Alaskan winter.
The Strasser, Trijicon, and their Norma/Winchester victuals still had one final task to complete before heading back to their respective home ports: Range Day. The meteorological conditions on range day were 49th State fabulous. The -25 degrees below zero temps were perfect for chilling a hot rifle barrel and the ‘glaucoma simulator’ ice-fog was frosting on the cake for range testing the Trijicon Credo. It shouldn’t come as a shocker that the Credo’s clear, moisture-free glass (and a few cranks on the illumination adjustment knob) can turn any frown upside down. As much as I wanted to shoot from the prone position, covered with a thick, warm comforter, all groups were fired from a solid bench rest position.
The Norma “Whitetail” 130-grain ammunition was first on the block. These rounds are rated for game up to and including mule deer, mountains goats, Dall sheep, and feral pigs. Norma’s loading arrives at the 100-yard line with a speed of approximately 3,051 fps and imparts 2,687 foot pounds of energy on its target. The round’s performance at the 100-yard line mirrored its performance on the Texas white tail, inflicting an average one-inch group on paper. Norma’s “whitetail murder machines” maintained the accuracy necessary to insure a clean, humane harvest at the 200-yard line with an average two-inch spread. Winchester’s 150 grain Power Points, jetting downrange at 2,850 fps, also performed well in the murk and cold. The 100 yard average groups size registered a 1.25-inch average spread. The Power Points also gave a respectable showing at the 200 yard line, averaging a 2.25-inch group size.
Unfortunately, even with the Trijicon Credo’s superpowers, the encroaching ice-fog obliterated any chance of stretching the Strasser’s legs to the 300 yard line. On the plus side, it provided me with enough ammunition to unashamedly pretend I was single-handedly holding the Maginot line against the advancing Hun and really put the Solo Evolution’s action to the test with a rapid-fire exercise. I shot thirty rounds of continuous fire through the rifle in attempt to make something ugly happen. The bolt functioned smoothly and unerringly no matter how violently I cycled it. Even by my stringent standards, the Solo Evolution and Credo survived the test with flying colors.
The Strasser Solo Evolution: Not Just a Gentleman’s Rifle
The Solo Evolution passed muster and then some as an accurate, reliable, comfortable, and well-engineered rifle. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t admit to being a bit ‘nervous-Nellie’ about the rifle’s beautiful walnut stock and foreend. While handsome, their cosmetics could be ruined in a New York minute in rough terrain or thick, scratchy foliage. That fear quickly abated after speaking with Strasser representative Jordan Hunter. He introduced me to Strasser models suitable for hunters who don’t drink Cognac carried into the field for them by their gun-bearers or use words like “Cheerio” and “Jolly-good!” If you are interested in a Solo Evolution but your hunting style mandates a rifle you can bang around a bit, check out two of its “kin-folk” from the Strasser RS 14 Evolution line: The “Tahr” and “Unic-Carbon.” The Tahr reflects the positive attributes of the RS Solo Evolution and goes a step further with the ability to swiftly transition to multiple calibers with a simple barrel change. It also sports a backwoods tough laminate buttstock with an adjustable comb. The Unic-Carbon is also back country purposed, but with an added bonus...the lightweight design of a mountain hunting rifle.
The Strasser Solo Evolution survived its time in Alaska and Texas with nary a dent or ding and performed extremely well, not only in accuracy, but in functionality. The straight-pull bolt is a winner in the “follow-up shot” department. I simulated “firing under duress” with the Solo Evolution and didn’t experience a single flaw in its ability to cycle rounds swiftly. The straight-pull bolt action also affords a shooter the ability to quickly cycle rounds without the necessity of realigning his/her stock cheek-weld.
My only word of caution for a shooter operating the Strasser RS Solo Evolution or any other straight-pull bolt action rifle model is primarily for those favoring a magnum or long-action version. In the heat of battle, especially if firing from an awkward position, there is a very real possibility of splitting your lip or chipping a tooth when operating the bolt rapidly. When the above shooting circumstances present themselves, it is imperative that the operator remember his/her proper cheek weld and where the bolt comes to a stop...unless you have good dental insurance or a solid crush on your dentist or maxillofacial surgeon!
In the optics department, the Trijicon Credo performed well in both the late afternoon hours/lengthening shadows of the Texas badlands and in the dreary, ice-fog ensconced abbreviated daylight hours of the South-Central Alaska. The glass was always clear, the illuminated reticle was capable of performing in nearly any lighting condition thrown at it, and the 2.5-15x magnification settings were perfect from “danger close” to all distances an ethical hunter would commonly harvest game at. Together, the team-up of the Strasser Solo Evolution, Trijicon Credo, and Norma Whitetail ammunition proved to be a deadly trio...especially to that Texas whitetail buck with an unfortunate sense of timing!
Strasser RS Evolution Specs
- Type: Straight-pull bolt
- Caliber: 270 Winchester (tested), also available in North America in the following calibers: .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Winchester, .30-06, .300 Winchester Magnum, and 6.5 PRC
- Barrel: 22 in.
- Muzzle Thread: 5/8x24
- Overall Length: 42 in.
- Weight: 7 lbs.
- Magazine: 3+1 rds.
- Stocks: Bavarian style/grade 1 walnut
- Optics: None, integrated Picatinny rail
- MSRP: $4,159.99
- Contact: Strasser
About the Author
Rikk Rambo is a United States Army veteran and served as a LE officer, Deputy US Marshal and over 20 years as a DEA Special Agent. He has over three decades of experience hunting, fishing and hiking in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Caribbean and Alaska and 17 years of experience hunting Brown Bear, Dall Sheep, Mountain Goat, Black Bear, Musk Ox, Caribou and Moose. He is an avid shooter and outdoorsman who brings a unique perspective to his writing.
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