Sweet and Sauer
Stainless XT rifle a tasty treat, writes Con Kapralos
JP Sauer & Sohn based in Isny, Germany have produced some excellent sporting rifles in the past decade and, being part of the Blaser/Mauser/Sauer consortium, their rifles continue to cater to all facets of the market from the classic Sauer S404 switch-barrel platform to the entry-level S100. Yet the term ‘entry-level’ doesn’t do justice to the Sauer S100, which has been available in numerous applications from hunting models to more specialised rifles in the Pantera and Fieldshoot.
The S100 bracket has embraced all manner of metal and stock manufacture materials with satin black, stainless and Cerakoted finishes adorning firearms with the ErgoMax designed riflestocks which consists of glass-filled polymer stocks in various colours and finishes to a timber option in the beechwood (no walnut option’s available in the S100).
One thing missing was a standard polymer stock (no soft-touch) with a stainless steel barrelled action and while the S100 XTA with adjustable cheekpiece, soft-touch polymer stock and stainless metalwork came close, many Australian hunters on hard terrain want a rifle that’s tough and impervious to the elements. The standard polymer stock and stainless steel is just the ticket and Sauer distributor Outdoor Sporting Agencies sent Australian Shooter the S100 Stainless XT for review in the venerable .308 Winchester calibre topped with a fine Zeiss Conquest V6 riflescope.
At a glance
The bare firearm weighs 3.07kg and is 1060mm long, right on the money for a serious hunting rifle where overall weight is important once a scope has been mounted.
This is made from a single piece of stainless barstock with the front receiver ring maintaining a circular profile. The top then takes on a scalloped flat profile which forms part of the ejection port bridge and continues as a flat segment to the rear receiver ring and bolt handle notch. Scope-mounting is easy as the front and rear receiver rings are drilled and tapped to accept Remington 700-style bases and are a perfect fit for the supplied Nikko Stirling Zero Lok scope-mounting hardware.
The left of the receiver has another scalloped flat in circular profile with ‘Sauer 100’ neatly engraved into the steel, other markings on the left of the front receiver ring bearing the rifle’s serial number, country and year of manufacture while on the rear left receiver ring is the bolt-release button. This is designed with ease-of-use as a priority and also servs as the bolt guide with an internal lug mating with a milled slot on the bolt body to ensure silky-smooth bolt travel.
Internally a breech ring (locking bush) is where the bolt lugs achieve lock-up once the bolt is closed, a deviation from having lug recesses milled into the receiver ring, the breech ring system ensuring more precise fitting of the barrel when screwed into the receiver and guaranteeing correct headspace is set. The rear tang of the receiver, where the bolt raceway opening is, has a curved profile which slopes down to the head of the stock and blends in seamlessly with the bolt shroud for a clean look, only interrupted by the black cocking indicator which gives both a visual and tactile appearance when the bolt is cocked.
This is also stainless steel and of a sporter profile measuring 22” (560mm). It’s made by the cold-hammer forging process which gives an excellent finish both inside and out as well as delivering in the accuracy stakes with all Sauer S100 rifles carrying a five-shot sub-MOA guarantee.
Externally the knox form shows the usual proof markings as well as calibre, maker’s name and country of origin and the barrel tapers down to the muzzle where it’s threaded to accept any accessories, a stainless steel cap fitted to protect the threads when not in use. The crown has a neat and slightly concave finish that should enhance accuracy of the one-in-11” twist barrel in .308 Winchester, which should be suited to most common .30-calibre projectiles in the 130 to 180-grain weight range.
Bolt, trigger, safety
The first of these is a ‘fat-bolt’ design with the body running the full diameter, terminating with the bolt-head and three locking lugs cut into the leading edge. A slot machined into the length of the bolt body mates with a lug integral to the release button which acts as a guide for the bolt to travel on, giving smooth action along its cycle. The locking lugs offer a 60-degree bolt lift and case ejection is via two plungers through the recessed bolt-face together with a claw extractor fitted to one of the lugs, this system ensuring that cases whether fired or not are positively ejected without issue. The bolt handle and knob are neatly designed with a steel handle shank attached to the bolt body which kicks out perpendicular before sweeping back slightly, the polymer bolt knob providing the means for holding on to. It’s comfortable to grip and serves its purpose well.
The trigger is the standard unit found on all Sauer S100 models and is excellent, being of a single-stage design, fully adjustable between 1-2kg with the review rifle having release at 1.4kg. The trigger gave virtually no creep, broke cleanly and can be adjusted to suit the user, though as supplied was spot-on for a hunting rifle. The trigger shoe is aluminium with a smooth finish, protected by a one-piece triggerguard/magazine shroud which blends in superbly with the lines of the stock.
Likewise the safety is an absolute joy to use being of three-position linear travel, tucked in behind the bolt-notch with markings of ‘S’, ‘SO’ and ‘F’. The most rearward setting (S) locks the trigger and bolt, sliding the lever to the middle (SO) allows the bolt to be cycled with the trigger blocked and moving it fully forward (F) enables the rifle to be fired.
This is a detachable box design and made of tough polymer, a twin-stack arrangement holding five rounds in standard calibres. It’s easy to load when removed from the rifle and clips into place well, sitting flush with the bottom of the stock. The magazine is detached by pressing a small button in the recess just forward of the magazine well and additionally can be smoothly top-loaded through the ejection port.
The ErgoMax stock would have to rate as one of the most comfortable on the market with excellent ergonomics and clean lines suited to both right and left-handed shooters. The classic American pattern with its simple layout and absence of cheekpieces or combs is further enhanced by an open pistol grip with ambidextrous palm-swells and well laid-out panels of chequering either side of the grip and fore-end, complemented by the Schnabel fore-end tip.
The polymer unit is dark grey which accentuates the stainless steel barrelled action and aluminium triggerguard/magazine shroud. Other S100 models have a similar polymer stock with ‘soft-touch’ finish which is essentially a rubber coating applied to the polymer to enhance grip and while soft-touch stocks give a nice tactile ‘feel’ they can be easily marked if pursuing quarry through scrub and brush.
I’ve seen other manufacturers who use these rubber coatings on polymer stocks encounter issues with the surface becoming ‘sticky’ to the touch and while I haven’t heard of Sauer S100 stocks having this problem, owners should be aware it could happen to any ‘soft-touch’ stock. The polymer stock has a normal synthetic feel and it’s an excellent material for a rifle that’ll be put to use in Australia’s climatic extremes, easily washed with warm soapy water and the chequering can similarly be cleaned with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
The stock’s fitted with QD sling-swivel studs and a firm rubber Sauer recoil pad. Internally, Sauer’s Ever-Rest bedding system is again used and consists of an aluminium bedding block epoxied into the floor of the stock, the block having an integral recoil lug which mates with a slot machined into the underside of the front receiver ring as well as providing access for the tension bolt that’s captive to that front receiver ring.
This front tension bolt anchors the front receiver ring to the stock using a separate 10mm nut with another 4mm hex-head bolt anchoring the front portion of the stock to the bottom metal by screwing into the opposite end of the 10mm stock nut. The rear stock/action fastener is a 4mm hex-head bolt which similarly screws into the rear trigger unit fastener.
At the range
The rifle was put through its paces in the usual 100m accuracy test using factory hunting ammunition covering the 130 to 180-grain projectile weight bracket. The superb Zeiss Conquest V6 2.5-15×56 made shooting accurate groups much easier, target frames crystal clear with the scope set at 15x.
Sauer S100 Stainless XT: .308 Winchester – Accuracy test at 100m
|Ammunition||Best group (mm)||Worst group (mm)||Average group (mm)*|
|Federal Power-Shok 130gr Speer HP||22||38||29|
|Sako Gamehead 150gr SP||18||29||24|
|Hornady InterLock 150gr SP||25||46||36|
|GECO Express 165gr||15||30||21|
|Winchester Super X 180gr SP||28||52||41|
*Average group calculated from five 3-shot groups at 100m from a benchrest.
All ammunition shot well with three brands averaging around 1 MOA (Federal, Sako, GECO) and the other two around 1.5-1.7 MOA (Hornady, Winchester). Pleasingly, all five brands would make an excellent load for shooting out to 300m as anything further is pushing the boundaries of ethical hunting and shot placement.
In the field
A winter deer hunt was a suitable opportunity to take the rifle afield and it was dialed in with the GECO Express load and sighted-in 60mm high at 100m. The rifle and Zeiss V6 scope, at around 3.8kg, carried well while stalking but if this was my rifle I’d fit a lighter 3-9×40 scope to cut the overall weight to around 3.5-3.6kg, my ideal weight for stalking. The rifle performed as expected when duty called, harvesting a couple of fallow deer spikers in prime condition for the freezer with consecutive shots at just over 200m – hunting with the S100 Stainless XT is indeed a pleasure.
The Sauer S100 continues to be well received in Australia and is an excellent option for the first-time buyer or seasoned hunter after an additional calibre. The S100 Stainless XT is available in seven calibres from .223 Rem right up to .300 Win Mag with an RRP of around $1395. More at www.osaaustralia.com.au
Rifle: Sauer S100 Stainless XT
Action: Bolt-action with 60-degree bolt lift
Trigger: Single-stage, adjustable for weight
Trigger pull: 1-2kg (1.4kg as tested)
Calibres: .223 Rem, .243 Win, .270 Win, 6.5CM. .308 Win (tested), .30-06 Sprg, .300 Win Mag
Capacity: Five-round detachable polymer box magazine (four in Magnum calibres)
Barrel: 560mm (std), 620mm (Magnum)
Muzzle: Threaded M15x1 or M14x1
Sights: Drilled and tapped to accept Remington 700 bases/rails
Stock: Sauer ErgoMax synthetic polymer, Ever-Rest bedding system (beechwood stock option on S100 Classic Stainless)
Weight: 3.07kg (as tested)
Length: 1060mm (as tested)
RRP: $1395 (S100 Classic Stainless $1495)
Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies