The Macnab Challenge is no easy feat and having the right kit is essential. Graham Downing explains why Merkel makes the perfect hillside companion

The Macnab Challenge is the ultimate sporting test, requiring fortitude, skill and a generous dash of luck. But having the right kit certainly helps. Graham Downing explains why Merkel is the perfect hillside companion.

The 2020 Field Macnab Challenge is in partnership with Merkel from Viking. For more information, tips, tricks and how to enter, see The Field Macnab Challenge.


Merkel has been making rifles of distinction in the German gunsmithing town of Suhl since 1898 and its Helix straight-pull magazine rifle is built with uncompromising German precision. Its well-thought-out ergonomics make this a particularly fast handling rifle and reduce the need to take your head from the stock whilst reloading when a quick follow-up or second shot is needed.

A take-down rifle that is ideal for travelling, the Helix action can accept a range of barrels in different calibres, which is a big advantage for those who hunt in a variety of theatres, from the dark, cold forests of Europe to the harsh heat of Africa. The tight engineering tolerances on the rifle ensure that when a new barrel is fitted, return to zero is guaranteed.


Merkel Helix Speedster, one of the four Helix models.

Each of the four Helix models – Alpinist, Speedster (pictured), Arabesque and Noblesse – can be configured in .223Rem, .243Win, .270Win, .308Win, 30-06Spr or 9.3×62 as standard, but a further five calibres are available on request. The Helix really is a fully functional platform that can deliver exceptional performance.

For those who require a lighter rifle, the single shot Merkel K3 and K5 are break-action rifles that lock with the same classic system that Franz Jäger patented in 1906 and that has since been considered one of the most rugged actions for single-shot rifles. The K3 is available in .243Win and .308Win as standard. It is ideal for steep terrain where lightness and responsiveness are essential. The new K5 rifle has a slimmer profile than the K3, bringing it down to just 2.3kg in weight, and is available in all common UK and Continental calibres. The adjustable trigger ensures a better fit to the user’s index finger while the firing bolt is on a tilted block that can be removed from the gun to ensure that it is rendered unfireable whilst travelling.

Leupold Optics is an American company founded in the 1940s on the manufacture of scientific equipment; its riflescopes have proven themselves both in the demanding US market and worldwide, amongst civilian rifle shooters of all disciplines as well as amongst military personnel.

As the lightest and most rugged riflescope in its class, the VX-5HD offers a fast focus eyepiece and a two-turn zero lock dial that enables the user to adjust for elevation between shots as required. With a standard 30mm tube, it provides the lightweight, compact solution needed for single-shot rifles such as the Merkel K3 and K5.


The VX-6HD offers optimum low-light performance and high optical clarity.

The VX-6HD (pictured, the 2-12×42 CDS-ZL2) has been developed to provide optimum low-light performance and high optical clarity. The custom dial system zero lock ensures that the elevation and windage dials are locked in place and cannot be rotated back to their zero accidentally. This ensures that point of impact is maintained until actively changed by the user.

Both the Leupold VX-5 and VX-6 range of scopes are available with illuminated reticles to suit every shooting situation.

For more information on Merkel or Leupold products, call 01423 780810 or visit: