Sauer 202 Classic XT rifle review.
Ever since rifle production started at JP Sauer & Sohn in 1751, Sauer’s reputation for building desirable and high-quality rifles has steadily grown.
The company’s rifles definitely occupy the upper end of the stalking or fox rifle market, but sensibly Sauer has many practical options to make its products available to people who want its engineering prowess, but not necessarily the fine walnut and engraved actions.
The Sauer 202 model was created in 1993 as a classic stalking rifle, but soon afterwards, professionals were asking for a hard-wearing finish to the metal work and synthetic stocks to handle the hard use that only a gillie or keeper would put it through.
The Classic XT provided the answer, with tough synthetic stock and an almost impermeable polymer coating named Ilaflon, which was applied to all the metal parts, ideally suiting a ‘real’ stalking rifle with maximum weather resistance.
The strength of the action is partly because the switch barrel locks directly into the chamber end of the barrel. Barrels can be easily changed, so it is possible to use a variety of calibres on one chassis.
To a shooter who only wants one rifle, the Sauer switch barrel system will certainly appeal, especially if you have to travel abroad and want to keep your packing light.
BARREL AND ACTION
The Sauer’s switch barrel system differs from others in that the barrel is retained in a yoke at the front of the action where three cross-bolts securely clamp the barrel in place with a precise fit.
The bolt lock-up and headspace therefore remain constant. The bolt then locks into the back end of the barrel with three large, forward-locking lugs and three smaller ones behind them in a radial position.
The single claw extractor sited on the right side of the bolt face extracts empty cases while a sprung plunger initiates ejection.
The locking lug arrangement means that either the bolt lift is shallow, or the angle at which the bolt elevates to open the action is short.
This helps to avoid the Sauer’s bolt knob coming into contact with the eyepiece of any scope fitted and makes for a faster bolt-throw; it also contributes to the Sauer’s legendary bolt smoothness.
This bolt handle has a nicely designed, round, plastic bolt knob, rather than the more traditional butter-spoon profile that is available on other Sauer models.
Scope-mounting on this model relies on separate bases and scope rings and a number of manufacturers supply these components as add-on accessories.
I used some Weaver-type bases coupled to Warne quick-detachable 30mm rings.
The barrel is 22in in this .270 calibre and has a typical Sporter profile with the muzzle end tapering to 16mm.
The barrel is threaded for a sound moderator.
Open sights are fitted, a simple blade foresight without a hood and a single-leaf notched rear-sight that adjusts for windage with a dovetail fitment.
Both barrel and action are covered with the Ilaflon coating, which forms an effective barrier against rust as well as a surface that is highly resistant to scratches.
TRIGGER, SAFETY AND MAGAZINE
There is a nice, single-set trigger mechanism that comes as standard, giving a light and positive let-off in standard trigger-pull mode.
This is also achieved by pushing the trigger-blade forward 0.5in to the set position, where only a few ounces of pressure will trip the trigger-sear.
The safety catch is unusual and allows a truly silent operation.
Sited at the rear of the action in a circular recess is a plunger which, when depressed, makes the XT safe.
As this top safety plunger is pushed down to safe, a button positioned inside the trigger-guard protrudes downward, just in front of the trigger-blade.
Pushing it up takes the Sauer off safe and it is then ready to fire.
The magazine is a detachable box with a capacity of three rounds in .270 calibre, with a single-column feed box giving a positive central feed of cartridges.
To release the magazine, simply press a small button at the front of the magazine well and the empty clip is forcibly ejected by a small spring sited to one side in the action wall.
A TWO-PIECE STOCK
The two-piece stock is a good idea, as if one part gets damaged, this can be replaced rather than changing the entire stock.
The quick-change barrel facility requires this type of two-piece stock.
ACCURACY AND TARGETS
Garlands offers the Sauer XT as a package deal with Warne scope mounts and the new Zeiss 3-12×50 Duralite scope for £2,300, this is how I tested the XT.
The Zeiss scope is superb, considering it costs only £665.
Best of the factory ammunition were the Winchester Supremes with a loading of 140 grain Accubonds that shot 1in groups.
The RWS were very close and offered better brass cases for reloading.
The reloads fine-tuned a load that worked well with the the XT and though the 110 grain V-Max bullets grouped three shots into 0.75in groups at 3,229fps, it would make a good fox load, though not one for deer.
There was little to choose from between the SST, Ballistic Tips and Partitions in terms of accuracy, as they all grouped three shots between 0.65in and 0.95in.
The Ballistic tips fractionally came out on top.
At 100 yards, the 130-grain Hornady SST bullets were 0.5in low at 50 yards, 2.3in low at 200 yards and 9.4in low at 300 yards, with a wind drift of 2.6in at 200 yards in a 10mph wind, so they are very usable.
It has a black, textured finish, with highlighted stippled panels at the pistol grip and fore-end for a good grip in rough weather, though dirt tends to stick in the groove defining the borders.
Overall, the design has a lovely feel to it, coming naturally into the shoulder, and though it is quite slender by most standards, it really felt right.
The Monte Carlo-style butt has a comb designed for scope use; in other words, it is at the correct height, allowing good scope-to-eye alignment, so a scope can be mounted low if desired.
The pistol grip gives a positive shooting hold.
It is both large and nicely raked or angled for a natural hold with a slim fore-end, comfortably contoured to fit the hand.
It ends in a semi-Schnabel with a detachable sling-swivel on its apex.
The fore-end is fully free-floated for good accuracy and minimal zero shift.
This is a rifle aimed at stalkers. Built with the quality engineering that make Sauer rifles respected the world over, the XT model makes the design a whole lot more practical.
If you want to swap the synthetic for walnut for fair weather forays, that?s fine; the beauty of the Sauer 202 system is its flexibility.
It is designed for serious use in all weather conditions and is built to withstand the abuse and neglect some owners may put it through.
Sauer 202 Classic XT rifle
Tel: 01827 383300