Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock

Review: Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock

The new Classic CL II features slim, trim European styling, a real eye catcher. A modified version of the original Steyr Mannlicher Classic, it revives that rifle’s handsome, traditional Euro-style stock — hand-chequered, oiled walnut with Bavarian cheekpiece, slender fore-end with contrasting rosewood schnabel tip.

The buttstock’s graceful hogsback comb is high with hardly any discernible drop at heel. Panels of fish-scale chequering in grip and fore-end are neatly executed and provide a non-slip grasp. The closely curved grip is oval in cross-section and has a palm swelling on the right side. A slight flare at the bottom of the grip helps keep the right hand firm to control the rifle. 

Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock
For testing, a Meopta Optika6 3-18×50 was attached using Recknagel bases and quick-detachable rings

There’s a rosewood grip cap with a silver insert carrying the Steyr logo, which matches the fore-end tip. The long, slim, tapered fore-end is rounded and can be comfortably grasped by the hand.

The walnut stock is tobacco coloured, straight-grained with dark streaks running through it. A solid rubber recoil pad and fixed one-inch sling swivels are standard fittings.

The Steyr CL II’s stock should be judged not only by its cosmetics, but also by its general utility and the effect it gives. The CL II’s stock is not only a thing of grace and beauty, but utilitarian; the comb and cheekpiece enable the shooter to get good, firm contact with the cheek for steady holding, and the minimal drop at heel allows the butt to rest firmly against the shoulder muscles to lessen recoil effect.

The heart of the CL II is the basic Steyr action which has undergone considerable refinement over the years and is strong and reliable. 

Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock
Cylindrical receiver is flat on top and has six holes for attaching scope bases. Spoon bolt handle is a nice touch

The tubular receiver, machined from oversize barstock, ends up with a rather geometrical exterior. It is flat on top (with the slightest curvature) while the sides are profile milled to an elliptical contour, yielding a pleasingly streamlined appearance while leaving a lot of metal at the mid-section for added rigidity. 

There are six scope mount holes which allow plenty of fore-and-aft latitude for scope placement.

On the right side of the receiver is a generously proportioned ejection port some 83mm long and 15mm wide. It’s doesn’t have enough room to thumb a cartridge down into the magazine, but if you drop a round on top of the follower it chambers smoothly. 

The robust receiver has a diameter of 35mm and is 215mm long.

The action screws are pillar-bedded and the barrel is free floated from receiver ring to fore-end tip. 

Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock
Steyr receiver is pillar bedded in the stock and the barrel is fully floated from receiver to muzzle

A large L-shaped recoil lug has two ribs that engage cross-slots cut in the underside of the receiver, and is locked in place with a machine screw and large hex-nut. The head of the machine screw is drilled and tapped for the front stock screw. The lug and base are a close fit in matching mortices in the stock, forming a large bedding platform.

The rifle uses Steyr’s unique Safe Bolt System (SBS), introduced on the SBS-96. It has a low 68-degree lift.

With the locking lugs being the same diameter as the 21mm bolt body, their depth is less than half that of the Mauser-type lug, resulting in commensurately less bearing surface. Steyr solved this problem by using four smaller lugs whose combined bearing surface area is equal to that of two larger ones. The pair of rear lugs are smaller than the front lugs, but all are pretty hefty for a multi-lug bolt.

A one-diameter bolt eliminates having to broach long raceway channels in the receiver, allowing a smooth, cylindrical bore. A full length longitudinal track 4mm wide by 2.2mm deep running along the underside of the bolt is engaged by the bolt stop to help guide the bolt in its travel and prevent bolt rotation.

Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock
Trigger housing and rocker-type tang safety are Makrolon. Steel trigger piece is pushed forward to set it for a light 225g pull

The bolt is a close-tolerance fit in the receiver, having an outside diameter within a few thou of the receiver’s inside diameter. Therefore, it slides smoothly like a well-oiled piston.

When a one-diameter bolt is such a close fit in the receiver, it may bind if mud or debris gets into it. To eliminate this possibility, Steyr engineers machined a ‘grunge groove’ into the bolt body. This rectangular groove is 89mm long and 1.8mm wide and 0.1mm deep with rounded shoulders. The groove is intended to collect dirt and debris as the bolt is rotated as well as during fore and aft movement.

The bolt body is electroless nickel-plated to give super-smooth operation and resist corrosion. The bolt handle is the traditional Mannlicher spoon-shaped ‘butterknife’ design. Evidently, this legendary company, which has been making guns since 1864, is loath to drop what it considers part of its heritage.

Just like the old Steyr Mannlicher Pro, the lugs lock into a locking collar inside the receiver ring, which completely encircles and supports the nose of the bolt including the counterbore. It supports the extractor and also seals off the chamber more effectively in the event of a case-head separation or a blow up.

Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock
CL II bolt has two rows of dual-opposed lugs in a symmetrical pattern, a pivoting extractor and plunger-style ejector

The bolt face is recessed to a depth of 3.4mm and houses a plunger ejector and a spring-loaded extractor 4.8mm wide.

The breech allows minimum cartridge-head protrusion. The barrel seats directly inside the receiver, rather than out at the front rim of the receiver ring. This system not only controls cartridge head protrusion with more precision, but tends to entrap and control any gas which may escape.

Not only does the receiver lack any gas ports in the walls, it is blanked off at the rear by the enlarged shoulder behind the bolt head. Any gas entering the bolt body through the firing pin hole is vented through the ejection port via two holes in the side of the bolt body. Any flow which does occur along the bolt exterior is opposed by the close fit of the shrouded steel bolt sleeve against the rear of the receiver bridge.

Dual-opposed cocking cams are located inside the bolt body to better balance cocking forces and give a smoother bolt lift.

Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock
CL II bolt has shrouded steel sleeve, spoon-shaped bolt handle and grunge groove

A bolt turndown of about 68 degrees allows enough extra rotation to overlap the cam bevels and centre the contacting surfaces for optimum bearing efficiency.

The root of the bolt handle turns down into a notch at the rear of the receiver to serve as a potential safety lug. I can’t imagine it would ever be called into play, since Steyr has proof tested the SBS with loads developing 120,000psi without any resulting damage.

The bolt is easy to strip and requires no tools.

The firing pin is extremely light and the mainspring heavy, resulting in very fast lock time.

A distinctive feature of the CL II is the multi-faceted barrel surface. Steyr was the first European gunmaker to cold hammer forge its barrels and then finish them without polishing out the spiral pattern of flat reflective surfaces left by the forging’s multiple hammer blows.

Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock
The Continental-style stock on the Steyr CL II is slim, trim and well-balanced, making the outfit very fast handling

The barrel is 56cm (22”) long and tapers from 29.5mm at the receiver to 13.3mm at the threaded muzzle. All the exterior metal surfaces boast a dull black Mannox finish resembling Cerakote.

Another safety feature is the flush-fitting detachable double-column box magazine holding four rounds. Made of Makrolon, an injection-moulded polymer, the magazines are virtually indestructible and have withstood rigorous durability tests, including exposure to extreme temperatures. The one-piece trigger guard and magazine well are made of the same material.

By squeezing the two locking tabs located on either side, the box can be removed. However, if you release these spring-loaded catches immediately after the magazine is unlocked, the box drops down just 12mm and engages a second locking notch which puts the magazine in a drop-lock position. 

This allows you to cycle the bolt and empty the chamber without stripping a cartridge from the loaded magazine below. Merely tapping the magazine from the bottom seats it back in the primary detent, allowing the bolt to engage the top round.

Weight of pull and sear engagement are set at the factory and Steyr recommends against the rifle’s owner tampering with them. The trigger face is smooth and the back is grooved. Pushing the trigger forward puts it in the set mode and pull weight is reduced to 225g. A small screw in the upper face of the trigger blade adjusts weight of pull in the set mode.

Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock
The Continental-style stock’s Rosewood pistol-grip cap is flared and has a silver insert carrying the Steyr Arms logo

The ambidextrous rocker-type safety is located in the handiest position — right under the thumb on the tang. The serrated wheel has three positions; red (fire); white (loading and blocked bolt); and a third position (locked safe) indicated by a grey pop-up button. The last locks both trigger and bolt, with a further option: pushing the bolt handle into a recess in the stock blocks the firing pin in the ‘double lock’ position, where the firing pin is cammed totally out of alignment. This is about as safe as you can possibly get, other than an unloaded rifle.

To return to firing mode, you simply press the grey button with the thumb and rotate the safety to red. Steyr’s unique Safe Bolt System is renowned for dramatically improving safe handling.

Steyr refers to this mode as ‘transport safety’ and it’s designed to make the rifle easier to carry through thick brush or to fit in a saddle scabbard. When in safety mode, you can press the wheel forward to the middle safe position, where it juts out from the stock a fair way, making it easy to grasp in a hurry when you’re trying to cycle the action with the rifle shouldered. This is another of the remarkable features unique to Steyr Arms.

Among other calibres, the Steyr is chambered for an all-time great cartridge, the .270 Winchester. When making a selection, I would invariably choose the .270, primarily because it has less recoil than its larger relatives while retaining all the accuracy and killing power needed for deer hunting. 

Steyr Classic CL II accuracy results

Influenced by the writings of Jack O’Connor, I got my first .270 in the early 1950s. I shot a large number of deer with the .270, most often using 130gn bullets.

Accuracy results are listed in the table. Without producing excessive recoil, a precision rifle like the Steyr CL II with its light-breaking set trigger is capable of scoring killing hits on deer out at 400 metres, much farther than the average hunter can reliably effect a hit under the usual field conditions.

The Steyr CL II is a practical hunting rifle with its weatherproof Mannox metal finish, and the walnut stock appears to be sealed well enough to resist warping due to wet weather.

Chambered in .270, .30-06 and .300 Win Mag, the Steyr Classic CL II Halfstock makes a fine hunting rifle, one that in the right hands ought to be adequate for everything from feral animals to big game.


  • Manufacturer: Steyr Arms, Austria
  • Type: Bolt-action repeater
  • Calibres: .270 Winchester (tested), .30-06, .300 Win Mag. Other calibres in Maintain and stainless models
  • Barrel: Cold hammer forged 56cm (22”), 1:10 R/H twist in .270
  • Overall length: 1110cm (44”)
  • Weight: 3.5kg (7.5lb)
  • Stock: Walnut; classic style; drop at comb 13mm (1/2”), drop at heel 1cm (⅜”)
  • Length of pull: 365mm (14.37”)
  • Safety: Tang-type rocking wheel, locks bolt
  • Sights: None; drilled and tapped for scope
  • Magazine: Detachable box, 4 rounds
  • RRP: $3895
  • Distributor: Winchester Australia




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.