Those in the market for a ‘one gun does everything’ rifle need look no further than this durable, highly accurate Sauer, says Bruce Potts
The Sauer 404 Synchro XT is everything you’d expect from a brand with a reputation for elegant, highly accurate, ultra-smooth-operating bolt-action hunting rifles.
The modular system on the 404 series allows shooters to change a stock or barrel in seconds. Calibres from .222 Rem to the mighty .375 H&H can be accommodated. In fact, up to 16 calibres can be exchanged within the Sauer 404 platform, making it a highly versatile ‘one gun does everything’ rifle. Changing the barrel and bolt head size to accommodate different-sized cartridges and magazines means that you are good to go after fox, deer or elk. Different barrels and cartridges can be used thanks to the removable bolt head section, and there is a 15x1mm muzzle thread for a sound moderator
Sauers are built for hunters who require a rifle that can handle any weather conditions or punishment and still remain accurate. Hence this new 404 Synchro XT version sports a popular thumbhole stock design for better handling in any shooting position.
Its synthetic and soft-touch feel helps you to achieve a good grip in spite of bleak weather, while the metalwork is clad in a Nitrobond-X finish that forms an impenetrable coat compared with traditional bluing. It is hard-wearing, chemical resistant and it does not scratch easily or reflect light – all excellent properties for a stalking rifle. In short, the rifle represents old-world quality but with all-new, modern-day technological advancements and comfort – that’s the 404 Synchro XT.
I love thumbhole stocks. Most of my rifles wear them and they look good. Better still, they add strength, especially across the pistol grip area. This version has a typically large thumbhole cut-out for ease of access and the polymer injection-moulded core is finished with a soft- touch textured rubber finish in forest green and charcoal-coloured inserts that maintain maximum comfort and positive handling.
The length of pull is 14.25in and it has an elevating cheekpiece with a tactile soft-rubber finish. This is raised by using the SUS universal tool, neatly stored in the fore-end and protruding as a sling swivel stud.
This Allen key adjusts the trigger pull, as well as the height of the cheekpiece via a hole in the recoil pad. It is a tight fit and a faff to operate, to be honest.
All Sauer stocks come in two sections, so the rear can be removed to produce a very short rifle for storage.
The Sauer 404 series incorporates the barrel- change system the firm is renowned for. Remove the fore-end, loosen three Allen screws and exchange the barrel. The bolt has exchangeable heads to suit differing cartridge sizes. As this is removable, it is excellent as a safety device.
The ultra-smooth bolt, with a 60-degree low opening, has twin plunger ejectors and a single claw extractor. The jewelled finished surface to the bolt simply glides into the CNC-precision action.
Barrels are Sauer’s expertise. These cold hammer forged barrels are precision-made at its facility in Isny, Germany, and are guaranteed to produce less than one inch at 100 yards.In .308 Win and 19in long – perfect for this calibre – the barrel is free-floating and has a 15x1mm muzzle thread for a sound moderator.
The trigger and safety are well thought out units. I like the four-position trigger adjustment system, which allows four weight settings (550g, 750g, 1,000g or 1,250g). I would use 550g for range work and 750g or 1,000g for hunting where a little more pressure is a safer thing. You can also adjust the orientation and position of the trigger blade to suit your needs, which is handy.
The manual cocker and decocker firing mechanism at the rear of the bolt allows a silent safety system with minimum movement but maximum safety.
The magazine is three-shot detachable, although five- or eight-shot mags are available. The release catch is a bit fiddly.
NEED TO KNOW
- Manufacturer J P Sauer & Sohn
- Model 404 Synchro XT
- Type Bolt action
- Overall length 39.85in
- Barrel length 19in
- Length of pull 14.25in
- Weight 3.26kg (rifle only)
- Finish Nitrobond-X
- Calibre .308 Win
- Stock Black synthetic thumbhole (left-hand option)
- Magazine 3-shot detachable, 5 and 8 optional
- Scope mounts Integral to action, QD
- Trigger Single stage, adjustable
- Importer Blaser Group Ltd, tel 01483 917412
Field testing the Sauer 404 Synchro XT
An initial sight-in with the Blaser 2.8-20x50mm IC rail mounted scope proved that this Sauer 404 Synchro XT was exceedingly accurate.
Hornady SST 150gr factory .308 Win – at 2,851fps and 2,708ft/lb energy and sub-inch groups – would be my choice but it also digested the Norma 170gr Tip Strike and Winchester 150gr Ballistic Silver Tips very well (2,571fps and 2,496 ft/lb and 2,798fps and 2,608 ft/lb respectively and inch groups at 100yd).
The best reload was the Nosler Accubond 125gr bullet with 45.5gr of Vihtavuori N135 powder to achieve half-inch groups and 2,944fps and 2,406 ft/lb.
It’s one thing to test on a rifle range but you need to go and stalk game in the field to test a rifle like this truly. That is the environment where all the little things come together to achieve a trophy as a conclusion.
With the COVID-19 restrictions lifted, we headed to the woods after roebucks. I appreciated the slim and lightweight nature of the 404 while stalking. Its weight was neither a strain or a bother, whether dealing with wet leaves or crawling through foliage. The soft-grip textured stock was tactile and the thumbhole allowed a secure and well-aimed shot. The overall short length was a benefit in some of the overgrown Surrey woodlands.
On a fine, fresh early morning stalk, it was the new plantation that showed the 404 Synchro XT’s true abilities. A roebuck was bedded down, chewing the cud, in among the new trees, so a slow and deliberate stalk was necessary to remain unseen from tree to tree.
At 80-odd yards, the clear Blaser optics lined up on the buck’s neck. He rose slowly, shook himself and never felt the Hornady SST that grassed him.
Quality will out. That pretty much sums up the Sauer 404 Synchro XT. The accuracy and ultra-smooth bolt operation have long been a Sauer hallmark and the new thumbhole stock design is both visually and practically excellent for field use. A tad expensive, but real quality.
- Star Rating 4.5 out of 5
- Accuracy 19/20
- Handling 18/20
- Trigger 18/20
- Stock 18/20
- Value 17/20
No surprise, accurate with a variety of bullet weights and styles.
Perfect balance, even with a sound moderator and scope fitted.
Smooth and positive, which is another Sauer trait.
Highly ergonomic thumbhole design, excellent finish and construction.
Quite expensive, but this sort of quality costs these days.
Delivers on build quality, accuracy and comfort, with added versatility.
The Sauer 404 Synchro XT is a well thought out hunting rifle, offering great accuracy, excellent build quality and a superb thumbhole stock design