The Sauer 202 Select rifle is a true old-world stalking rifle but with all the modern features required to make it functional, accurate and reliable in the field, where it really performs
The Sauer 202 Select rifle is well-built and versatile, with a barrel and stock change facility. Therefore, it is popular with shooters wanting a vermin, fox and deer rifle with the option to upgrade to larger calibres or wood quality as one sees fit. The fact you can choose a synthetic or wooden stock in the target or varmint style makes it even more versatile.
The Sauer 202 Select rifle has a two-piece stock, which is secured to the action via long, threaded bolts accessed through the butt and fore-end. This has two obvious advantages. First, the rifle can be stripped down to a very short overall length for safe and convenient storage or when travelling abroad, and second, the bolts are easily accessible when you want to change barrels.
As regards styling, the Select model has a grade-two walnut stock with an oiled finish.
It suits this type of rifle and is practical. The quality can vary between stocks within the same grading band. This particular grade two was a tad plain in the butt section, with a little more figuring in the fore-end section. If you prefer better wood, order the next grade up.
The butt has a well-designed Monte Carlo-style cheekpiece, allowing good scope-to-eye alignment – as long as the scope mounts are fitted at the correct height.
The pistol grip is nicely raked and large enough to accommodate even the largest hand, while allowing for a natural hold and 14in of pull. By contrast, the fore-end is floated from the barrel and is slim and well-contoured to fit the hand with a semi-Schnabel tip, giving a characteristic European look.
Both the pistol grip and fore-end terminate with a contrasting walnut cap, finishing off a stock that is good looking and easy to handle.
At the heart of the Sauer 202 Select rifle is an all-steel action that combines strength and precise engineering. If you are weight-conscious an alloy action is available, however. It is manufactured from a single piece of steel, giving it a strength that is further enhanced by the fact that the bolt locks directly into the chamber end of the barrel.
This one-piece design forms the modular heart of the Sauer rifle, into which fit barrels, triggers, bolts and magazines. For a shooter who only wants one rifle, but who would benefit from a two-calibre option for vermin, fox and deer, the Sauer 202 would work well.
The barrel is retained by three cross-bolts that transverse the front of the receiver and clamp it securely in place around the chamber end with the aid of a locating peg. It is not as fast a barrel change as, say, the Mauser or Blaser rifles, but it is very secure.
Thanks to its precision engineering, there is no loss of headspace and accuracy is maintained when you change calibre, though you will need to re-zero your scope or have a quick-change scope mount for each barrel.
The barrel on test measured 24in. It was chambered for a 6.5x57mm cartridge and had a slim sporter profile with a 15mm diameter muzzle.
The finish on the Sauer 202 Select rifle was a really deep blue-black with the Krupp steel-hammer-forged construction being equally well-finished on the inside, which is where it really matters.
The profile was a little slim and therefore susceptible to rapid heating a factor that after several successive shots would certainly start to increase your group sizes. However, this would not be a problem when out stalking.
The bolt has a solid body with a supported head and six forward-locking lugs that lock directly into the barrel. There is a single claw extractor on the right side and a sprung plunger that efficiently expels fired cases from the rifle.
A great feature is the short bolt lift angle of 60°. This not only makes for a fast and relatively short bolt throw, but avoids the bolt knob coming anywhere near the eyepiece of the scope. The bolt handle has a distinctive and traditional butter knife profile and is known for its smooth movement.
Trigger, safety catch and magazine
The safety catch is silent, requiring minimal movement from the hand to operate it. At the rear of the action is a neat circular recess, within which is a plunger that will only operate if the rifle is cocked – when depressed it makes the 202 safe.
As this plunger is pushed down to safe, a button set inside the trigger-guard extends downward in front of the trigger-blade. To make it ready to fire, the button is pushed up with the trigger finger.
It is these practical details and the single-set trigger mechanism which sets the Sauer 202 Select rifle apart from its competitors. In normal mode, the trigger is light and positive and can be significantly lightened in pull weight by pushing the blade forward 0.5in to the set position, where only a few ounces of pressure will trip the trigger sear.
The base of the action houses the magazine, which is a detachable unit which has a three- to four-round capacity depending on the calibre, with a single-column feed box. To release the magazine, you only need to press a small button at the front of the magazine well and the empty clip is ejected by a small spring sited to one side of the action wall.
Garlands offer Warne bases and rings to mount a scope, but I opted for a set of Apel swing-off mounts from Sentry Trading.
These suit the style and price of the Sauer and are easy to take down and exchange to suit any shooting situation.
Once Apel mounts are set up precisely, they have a quick release function, which returns the sight to zero when the scope is replaced on the the rifle. I fitted a Zeiss rail-mounted 7x50T scope which complemented the traditional Sauer styling and made for a cracking package.
After an initial sighting-in from a bench, I shot some groups using the only factory ammunition I could find and some tailor-made reloads. The unusual calibre of 6.5x57mm meant factory loads were scarce, but Norman Clark Gunsmiths had some RWS 127-grain ammunition which also gave me some brass to reload with.
Based on the venerable 7x57mm Mauser round, this 6.5mm calibre version is excellent. The RWS factory 127-grain cone point cartridges shot consistent 1in groups in nice triangular formations.
For a stalking calibre this is more than good enough. Velocity in a five-shot string was: 2,780fps, 2,786fps, 2,746fps, 2,807fps and 2,802fps – an average of 2,784fps and 2,186ft/lb from the 24in barrel.
I managed to shrink the groups a little with a load of 42.5grains of H4350 powder behind a 140-grain Hornady SST bullet and a CCI magnum primer. This yielded 2,622fps and 2,137ft/lb of energy, and gave just inside a 1in group at 100 yards.
Recoil from the Sauer 202 Select rifle is mild and the rifle has an instinctive feel and pointability, making it a pleasure to use in the woods.
The Sauer 202 Select rifle is a true old-world stalking rifle but with all the modern features required to make it functional, accurate and reliable in the field, where it really performs.
Its price does reflect its high quality, making it a rifle to aspire to and different from the standard factory option. I would either buy a synthetic version or opt for the best quality of wood I can afford, as at this level the embellishments make no difference to the performance.
I love the swift yet solid barrel-change facility and appreciate the many calibres and stock options that allow you to build a unique stalking rifle according to your personal specifications. The price of £1,870 is high, but you get a lot of European gun for the money, built to give years of good service.
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For Apel mounts contact: 01494 463466