The Austrian manufacturing city of Steyr is known for its mastery of forging weapons - from muskets to modern small arms - since the 14th century. Situated where the Steyr and Ennis rivers converge, Steyr is over 1,000 years old - 500 years of which has been spent developing guns.

Austria's Steyr-Mannlicher brought the world of modern firearms such weapons as the Steyr MPi 69 and MPi 81 submachine gun (SMG), the TMP submachine gun and the AUG assault rifle.

Steyr built a .50-caliber sniper rifle that got them into hot water with the U.S. over that gun's sales to Iran - and subsequent charges that said long guns were used against U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

And from 1969 to the present, some 40 years, Steyr has developed the highly accurate SSG 69 bolt-action sniper rifle. The Scharfschutzengewehr 69, loosely translated Sharpshooter 69 (built in 1969), was adopted by the Austrian army as their standard sniper rifle. And its cold-hammer-forged, 25 1/2-inch barrel represents the culmination of five centuries of quality small arms manufacturing.

The Steyr SSG 69 is a bolt-action gun suited for sport shooting and military/paramilitary use.

The Steyr SSG 69 series of rifles - the PI, PII and PIV vary mostly in their cosmetic look.

These guns have synthetic furniture (olive green and black) and transparent, rotary mags.

And the optics are good to distances of half a mile with a Kahles ZF69 6X scope.

The Steyr SSG 69 is chambered for .243 Win. and (7.62x51mm NATO) .308 Win. (SSG 69PI); .243 Win., .22-250 Rem. and .308 Win. (SSG 69 PII) and .308 Win. (SSG 69 PIV).

The PI and PII sport 25 1/2-inch barrels; the SSG 69 PIV has a 16-inch barrel.

All three models have 5-round magazines. The PI and the PII feature direct triggers, and the PIV, according to the company's literature, has an "optional direct trigger or double set trigger."

The SSG 69 is a top-notch, precision rifle made by one of the best arms makers in the world.

Whether your rifle needs include hunting bad guys or North American Big Game, Steyr can't be beat.

For deer hunting, I really like my Remington 700 chambered in .308 Win. But the more I hunt, I have given thought to selecting a smaller caliber to dispatch south and west Texas whitetails.

For such purposes, I have given great thought to a .243 or .22-250.

In the days ahead, I may be calling Steyr-Mannlicher to take a close look at these guns.