I had the good fortune to recently receive one of the long-awaited Zephyr II rifles from my friends at Steyr Arms USA in Bessemer, AL. I am sure many of you are familiar with the original Zephyr that Steyr came out with in the 50’s. While originally rather plain, in later years Steyr offered some versions with nicer wood and finish. No matter what they looked like, they were a fine example of a well-made .22 LR firearm. Not many were made, so if you’re like me, I am very happy that I can now own one of the Zephyr II’s. It’s also nice that in today’s market, they cost about half of the original so you can buy two in different calibers.
Steyr Arms USA (SAU) is the US arm of Steyr-Mannlicher in Austria. In addition to Steyr firearms, they also import the Merkel line of shotguns and rifles, and some lines of clothing. SAU contracts parts to be made in the USA where a certain percentage of US content is required and then it assembles those firearms. They have an outstanding show room in Bessemer and good inventory so you can handle what you are thinking of purchasing and then take it with you. You can also order most of all their products online and have it shipped to you or your FFL when ordering firearms. There is also an expert gunsmith on staff to answer questions and walk you through minor issues.
Well, let’s get into talking about the Zephyr II. When you open the very substantial and well-padded box you will see a very sleek and beautiful rifle with no sights to interrupt its lines. The wood is high grade and the satin oil finish is excellent. When you pick it up you notice the wonderful feel of a palm swell in your hand. The gun slips around in your hands because it has a very functional and stunning fish scale checkering on the forearm and grip. Your cheek settles into the cheek rest that has a water fall design and you’ll think you are driving a fine sports car or handling one of the best small caliber rifles you’ve ever picked up. The gun feels solid but not too heavy to carry in the field for extended periods. Its metal parts also have the very popular matt black bluing. Like Steyr’s other high-end rifles, the barrel still has some of the hammer forging showing. In fact, the entire rifle looks like a smaller version of the SM 12 that costs almost 3 times as much.
Naturally, I could not wait to get it out to the range and shoot some groups. I noticed that the barrel had a very nice recessed crown and I hoped it would be a good indication of potential accuracy. But first I had to mount a scope. The only small one I had was a Burris Full Field 3-9x32 that was on my full stock CZ. Typical of a European .22, it has the 11mm dovetail. And since the CZ had the same dovetail, I could use those rings. Not many local places have them, so I’m glad I didn’t have to source any locally. Several companies make 11mm rings but I like to use the Warne Maxima Fixed rings. They are well made, come in 3 heights, will work on 3/8” and 11mm and reasonably priced. Another well known scope company had 11mm rings that were a little more stylish but only came in high polish and cost about twice as much with no improvement in functionality.
To be continued