This compact, fast-handling rifle from Sauer's Model 100 series suits both woodland stalking and static shooting at range, says Bruce Potts
Designed as a compact, longer-range, fast-handling rifle, the Pantera — from Sauer’s Model 100 series — is equally good in the field. The manufacturer’s Model 100 rifles range from walnut-stocked classic to laminate, synthetic and camo-clad variants, but the one on test was the dual-role Pantera in .308 Win, which doubles as a compact tactical and sporting arm.
Calibre choice is from .223 to .300 Win Mag so the gun can handle anything from foxes to big game, the barrel lengthening from 20in to 22in for the magnums with a weight increase of less than 0.1kg. It is fitted with the excellent Minox ZP5 scope and Tier One precision scope mounts.
Need to know
Manufacturer: JP Sauer & Son
Model: Model 1009 Pantera
Type: Bolt action
Overall length: 39.5in
Barrel length: 20in
Calibre: .308 Win
Finish: Matt black Cerakote
Magazine: Detachable, five shot
Stock: Adjustable synthetic hybrid
Trigger: Single-stage adjustable
Safety: Three position
Sights: None, one-piece Picatinny scope rail
Importer: Blaser Sporting UK, tel 01483 917412
- Being lightweight, waterproof and great to handle, the stock is excellent for woodland hunters, but the fact it has a wider fore-end and adjustable cheekpiece also means it is good for more considered longer shots from a static position.
- Made from a tough, durable but non-flexible synthetic, the stock has a textured surface that provides good grip in any position, even on a freezing morning stalk in Scotland.
- The fore-end has a wide beavertail-type design and a relatively flat base that holds two quick-detach swivel studs for bipod and sling attachment. There are also three slotted vents through the fore-end to allow a good degree of barrel cooling, as well as finger grooves for extra grip.
- The action is bedded using Sauer’s Ever Rest bedding method, which ensures a consistent union between the action and stock for maximum accuracy.
- I love the pistol-grip area as it is perfectly dimensioned for me. It has an open design, allowing instant hold when stalking. Nearly vertical, the pistol grip feels very natural and comfortable, whatever your hand size.
- It also has a wide form extenuated by a right-sided palm swell which, for me, gave a perfect steady grip. But its design does not preclude it from use in the opposite shoulder.
- The butt section is scalloped for extra grip from a rested position or on sticks, with a cut-away beneath so the supporting hand can be used to steady the rifle.
- The cheekpiece is of an elevating type so a perfect fit and eye alignment to the scope is possible. Simply loosen two thumb screws to the right of the stock and the 6in-long cheekpiece rises to a maximum of 1in on two aluminium pillars. You do, however, have to lower this if you want to remove the bolt from the action for cleaning.
- The curved rubber recoil pad can also be adjusted by slackening the central retaining Allen screw.
Action and barrel
- The Pantera features the typical Sauer cold hammer-forged steel barrel for excellent precision, with few, if any, tooling marks on the rifling.
- It is compact at 20in long, with a 17mm/1 thread pitch and 11° muzzle crown, and tapers to 0.75 of an inch at the muzzle.
- To reduce weight and aid cooling it is fluted from 2in from the receiver ring and 1.75in from the muzzle, with eight evenly distributed cut flutes.
- The overall finish, as with the action, is Sauer’s tough Black Recon Cerakote, which protects the underlying steel from corrosion and is highly scratch resistant too.
- The bolt is 7in long and has a smooth, polished main shaft with blackened bolt and rear-end and bolt shroud with a low 60° bolt lift for speedy and scope-avoiding operation.
- It features a bent-back 2.5in bolt handle finished with a teardrop aluminium bolt knob and cocking indicator to the rear of the bolt shroud — both visual and tactile.
- Locking is via three large locking lugs that form an inverted “A” profile with the lugs at six, 10 and two o’clock positions when the bolt is open. There is a large recessed extractor claw to the 10 o’clock lug and two sprung plunger-type ejectors inset to the bolt head at the remaining bolt-lug positions. This gives an even and powerful extraction and ejection system.
- This model has heavily-faceted side walls and was fitted with a one-piece 10 MOA Picatinny rail for scope or thermal/night-vision usage.
Trigger and safety
- The single-stage trigger is of smooth aluminium construction with an adjustment hole through the trigger-blade itself, from 2.2lb to 4.5lb. It was set at 3.15lb, which is ideal for real-world hunting to avoid mishaps.
- The three-position safety has flexible settings. In the forward position with the red indicator, the Sauer can fire. Set rearward at the first white dot, the trigger is safe but the bolt can be lifted to remove a round from the chamber. Fully rearward on the second white dot and both the trigger and bolt are locked.
- The magazine is a detachable five-shot, double-stack, synthetic affair with a wide magazine follower that allows rounds to be loaded when the magazine is fitted to the rifle, though it is tight. There is a small serrated plunger-type release button in front of the magazine, which works well.
To the bench
I sighted the Pantera in with the Minox ZP5 scope and Tier One scope mounts at 100 yards. It also came with a Sauer Titanium Pro sound moderator.
First, the factory loads.
- Browning’s BXR are rapidly expanding bullets with a large synthetic tip. These achieved 2,756fps and 2,615ft/lb for their 155-gr weight. Accuracy was superb with 0.75in to 0.95in three-shot groups.
- The Hornady is fast for a 150-gr SST bullet load due to the Superformance powder. Sub-inch groups and a velocity of 2,810fps and 2,631ft/lb energy came as no surprise.
- The Geco uses a more controlled expanding Express-tipped bullet of 165-gr and achieved 1in to 1.25in groups at 100 yards with velocity and energy figures of 2,294fps and 1,929ft/lb.
- Reloads were aimed at achieving the best performance with that shorter barrel. The lighter-weight Hornady 110-gr V-Max with 42.0 grains of RL7 achieved 3,018fps and 2,225ft/lb, making it an ideal flat fox load.
- The Nosler 125-gr Ballistic Tip with a load of 45.0 grains of Vit N135 for 2,955fps and 2,424ft/lb and 0.5in groups is another great load.
- Finally, the 150-gr Sierra GameKing shot 0.55in groups with a load of 45.5 grains of RL15 for 2,798fps and 2,608ft/lb.
In the field
I chose the Browning BXR factory load because I was keen to see the terminal ballistics on a roe-sized deer. Over Christmas in Scotland it was -3°C and a sharp frost lay on the fields, making the trees sparkle. In such conditions the roe are predictable as they rise a little later, despite the waning full moon, and tend to stick to browsing areas that are not too heavily frozen.
Slots in the bank of a small brook running through the five- acre grazing field revealed it to be a crossing point for deer and allowed me to plan a strategy.
Even with the Titanium Pro moderator fitted the Pantera was only 44.25in long — great for weaving my way through the brush without snagging on branches. The solid stock and Cerakote finish prevented any damage to the rifle during the 45-yard crawl across a soggy and marram grass-strewn field.
I set up behind one of the trees along the riverbank and scanned the field, making mental notes of the ranges at entry and exit points using the new Zeiss 8x54mm RF laser rangefinding binoculars. They were amazing and the sharp, clear, bright images and high accuracy gave the confidence to take a shot at range if necessary. I know what I’m putting on my Christmas list this year.
Soon a lone roe doe emerged from the woods and, as predicted, started browsing along areas of the riverbank that were still unfrozen. I lined up the Minox’s reticle at 117 yards exactly, according to the Zeiss rangefinders, and the Browning BXR bullet dropped the doe on the spot, though I did have to retrieve her from the fast-flowing waters.
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Sauer 100 Pantera .308 stalking rifle conclusion
Though perhaps not immediately obvious at first glance, the Sauer 100 Pantera is actually a very cleverly designed rifle. The shorter barrel and fluted design, combined with the smooth bolt action Sauer is known for, result in a handy rifle for woodland stalking. The stock design and stability allow the Pantera to be used as a static rifle for longer shots if need be, so it is a rifle that will please shooters of all persuasions.
A very cleverly designed rifle.