The Blaser R8 straight-pull bolt action locks by a 14-lug radial collet in a 360 degrees groove in the barrel and is designed to withstand pressures significantly exceeding the Mauser 98–type bolt-action rifles. The Blaser R8 displays a locking surface of 96 mm2 (0.149 in2) compared to 56 mm2 (0.087 in2) for the Mauser 98. The stressed parts are made out of hammer forged steel and plasma nitrided to make the locking mechanism work. Compared to the preceding R93 rifle series for additional safety the barrel has been thickened at the critical part, the groove has been enlarged and the locking angle of the collets has been steepened. Further the radial collet opens differently. The thus improved lockup of the R8 series comes at the price of a less smooth operating bolt when compared to the R93 series and some weight increase.
The Blaser R8 is a truly modular system built around an aluminium alloy frame, offering differing stocks and barrels of varying length and thickness available in calibers from .222 Remington to .500 Jeffery. Aiming optics like telescopic sights mount on the barrel instead of the receiver. A sight/barrel assembly can be removed and replaced with no change in zero.
The Blaser R8 has an uncommon detachable box magazine/trigger unit. When detached it renders the rifle inoperable and safe. To avoid accidents with set triggers, Blaser offers the R8 only with a direct trigger. The compact detachable box magazine/trigger unit contributes to balancing the rifle, as the Blaser straight pull action is about 50 to 60 mm shorter than conventional bolt actions.
Parts for the preceding Blaser R93 series do not fit the Blaser R8 series rifles.