Rupert Blackwall tries the brand-new Sauer 100, a rifle that may be an entry-level price, but doesn’t compromise on quality
Overall Rating: 80%
Pros: Nothing to complain about in the accuracy stakes and the lack of recoil is impressive
Price as reviewed: £750
Cons: The stock has a more plastic feeling, and doesn't come with soft-touch coating, but that is reflected in the reduced price
Sauer is a well-known manufacturer that commands a lot of respect in the hunting world. The company formed in 1751, making it the oldest firearms manufacturer still active in Germany today. Producing high-end pistols, rifles and shotguns, J. P. Sauer und Sohn is certainly a company with expertise.
Since 1993, Sauer had built its reputation on the 202, a rifle that was seen as a premium rifle in the UK market and around the world. It could be said that since then, in the UK market at least, the make was somewhat pushed aside by Blaser and Mauser.
Then came some new and exciting changes, with the launch of the 404 in 2015. And now Sauer has developed another rifle to fight back: the Sauer 100, a new entry-level rifle. Editor Kate Gatacre and I had the great honour to be the first in the UK to see and test the Sauer 100.
Kate and I met Maruan Al-Hammoud, head of marketing and public relations at Sauer, and John Carrington, who is part of the Blaser, Mauser and now Sauer group, at the West London Shooting School. The West London very kindly let us use their range for the test, and we were accompanied by Steven Paul-Walton, one of the instructors, who was just as eager to see how the rifle would perform.
First impressions do count
So what were our first impressions of this bolt-action .30-06 Sauer 100? There are certain similarities to the 101, with action shape and floor-plate, and the cleverly designed recoil-reducing stock, which I will talk about later. This new rifle might be appearing on the market at an entry-level price, but Sauer most certainly hasn’t skimped on quality of build.
The barrel and stock dimensions are all sensible; small-face calibre and medium- face calibres come as standard with a 22in barrel, while the magnum calibres come with a 24.5in barrel. The Sauer 100 has a length of pull of 14.5in and the overall length from pad to muzzle on small and medium calibres is 42in, with magnum calibres at 44.5in.
The stock is ambidextrous, with palm swells on both sides, and the height of the comb is designed for a scope rather than open sights. The comb is cleverly designed, with a taper, and this helps to reduce recoil. Compared to the 101, this stock is a bit more plastic feeling, and doesn’t come with soft-touch coating, but that is reflected in the reduced price. We found no movement at all in the bedding on the stock and the action seats in firmly. The rifle’s build certainly gives positive foundations for accurate shooting.
Action and barrel
The action is made of forged steel and the barrel construction is cold hammer-forged steel, all cnc made in the Sauer factory. These are some those true Sauer qualities that I was hoping for. The bolt is a three-lug locking bolt and has twin ejection plungers which certainly help with a consistent throw to the ejecting brass. For a quick reload the bolt lifts on a 60-degree angle, with smooth close tolerances on the machining, making this bolt very slick and positive.
The safety on this rifle is more akin to those used by Sako and Tikka, though Sauer has used a three-position safety catch. The rear setting allows you to lock the bolt and engage the safety, the middle setting allows you to cycle the bolt, but still have the safety on and the forward position is the firing position. This safety is more advanced than a Sako or Tikka, as it completely locks the sear, rather than just engaging a block to hold the trigger back.
The trigger unit on this rifle is externally and easily adjustable, with the lowest setting being 2.2lb all the way up to 4lb. On the test we had the trigger set at 2.5lb, and it was very crisp, with no creep – giving us a confident feeling. If I was going to tweak anything on this rifle, I would probably have had a trigger that adjusted from 1.5lb to 3lb, as I haven’t come across many shooters who want a 4lb trigger.
The mounts are an area that I always thought Sauer should develop further and with this rifle they have certainly done that! The rifle had the new QD Sauer Hexa-Lock performance mounts. They are similar to a MO3 mount but in reverse, with three lugs on each base and a collar that sits over it and rotates 30 degrees, which then pulls tight. They certainly looked simple and well machined, and I was curious to see how they behaved on the range.
The weather was not exactly ideal – it was just when Storm Imogen was hitting, and so we had really very windy conditions, with tremendous gusts. However, there was no time to wait for a nicer day, as this is one of 12 prototypes, and the only one in the UK!
We shot the rifle at 100m and had six zeroing targets on a board. I locked on the mounts, which had a Minox X5I 2.5-10×50 scope attached, and the mounts engaged nicely. I had selected three types of factory ammunition to test with this rifle, starting with RSW 184g Evolution, Geco 165g BT, and Norma 180g Alaska. These are all standard bullet weights for a .30-06 and would hopefully give some realistic performance results for the calibre.
I started with the 184g Evolution. The rifle shot to the left of zero with its first, but as this exercise was more about grouping than about zeroing, we decided not to worry about that. The next three shots were a bit higher and slightly to the right, but with two of them going through the same hole and the third only increasing that hole by 3mm, the results were very acceptable indeed – even a custom rifle maker would have been happy with that! The first shot being a bit off could be explained by the QD mounts settling in, and considering the rifle had that morning been picked up from Heathrow after its journey over hardly surprising that the first shot didn’t group!
The following two makes of ammunition both shot inch groups, perfectly respectable, but it was pretty clear that it was the rWS Evolution that this rifle really liked. By the time we were testing the second and third ammunition types, the wind had got up even more, and was definitely having an effect despite trying to time shots to avoid the gusts. John, who was spotting, could barely keep the spotting scope steady enough to mark the shots! I’m absolutely sure that had there been no wind, those group sizes would have been smaller.
Smooth and easy
The rifle shot really smoothly considering we did not have a sound moderator, with recoil that was hardly noticeable. So the cleaver of the butt and the shape of the comb really does work and effectively reduces the recoil, transferring it through the stock – a great advantage is that this also reduces muzzle flip.
The bolt was smooth to feed and it extracted the empty brass fluidly and consistently. My preference has always been for a very light trigger-pull, but this was crisp and worked well. For me, the three-position safety is a really big improvement over the 101. it is instinctive to use, and has a good positive “click” to it when engaged. There were no glitches with the magazine, or feeding, and it was easy to remove and load.
Verdict on the Sauer 100
The Sauer 100 is most certainly worth looking at. If you’re going for a stalking set up, it’s competitors would be Tikka, Howa and the Browning A-Bolt, and I’d say it has advantages over all of those.
The lack of recoil really impressed me, considering it was an unmoderated .30-06. And there’s most definitely not much to complain about in the accuracy stakes: a sub ¼in group with the RWS Evolution is seriously good shooting from cold. The three-position safe, which holds the sear back, meaning there is no way it can be fired, is more advanced than the majority of rifles in its price bracket.
Sauer mounts had been a bit of a bugbear of mine, and I felt that Sauer needed to something about it, which they have. I found them easy to use and we took the scope off and put it back, with the rifle going back to zero. You can use a remington style mount on this rifle if you want, too. Overall I think rifle performed really well – for the money, this is very well made and it’s certainly the fight back that I was hoping for.