It’s hard to believe Sauer S100 bolt-action centrefire rifles have been in production since 2016. Once the domain of European hunters with models like the Sauer 90 and 200 now collectable in their own right, Australian hunters for more than 20 years have been able to source such classics as the 202 and 404 switch-barrel and the S101, Sauer’s re-entry into the conventional rifle (non-switch-barrel) market.
The S100 came about because Sauer needed a quality entry-level model to compete in the hotly-contested sub-$2000 bracket. While the S101 is an excellent rifle, its price point was probably beyond what most hunters would consider but the S100 put Sauer quality, reliability and pedigree within reach of the average hunting sportsman.
Outdoor Sporting Agencies (OSA), Australian importer and distributor for Sauer rifles has been stocking all models of the S100 since 2016 and they’re highly sought after. Models such as the Classic, Classic XT, Ceratech, Atacama, Fieldshoot and more are testament the S100 has been embraced as a serious hunting rifle in Australia and it continues to sell well.
But Sauer and OSA know product lines need constant refining and to do this have released a new model in the S100 Stainless XTA. As the name implies it’s an S100 XT with polymer ERGO MAX soft touch stock, adjustable comb (‘A’) and stainless-steel barrelled action. Australian Shooter received a review rifle in .308 Winchester topped with a superb optic in the Zeiss Conquest V4 4-16×44.
At a glance
The rifle arrived in a cardboard carton complete with user manual and warranty card. It’s of a full-size sporter configuration, measuring 1063mm and weighing 3.2kg bare with length-of-pull of 370mm, the most obvious addition being the adjustable comb fitted to the buttstock.
This is fashioned from a single piece of circular stainless bar stock, the front receiver ring retaining its circular profile but the receiver top immediately rearwards is of a flat profile, which forms part of the ejection port and leads back to the rear receiver ring and bolt handle notch. The left side has a scalloped flat dominating the profile with ‘Sauer 100’ etched into the stainless steel. The serial number, country of manufacture (‘DE’) and year (2020) are engraved on the leading left edge of the front ring and to the rear left the bolt button permits the removal of the bolt.
The top is drilled and tapped to accept Remington 700-style bases and took the supplied Nikko Stirling Steel-Lok two-piece bases. The receiver has a breech ring (locking bush) rather than the bolt lug recesses milled into it, which ensures more precise fitting of the barrel when screwing it into place and guarantees correct headspace. This system of fitting a breech ring is common among many rifle makers as it simplifies the manufacturing process while maintaining headspace integrity and design safety measures. The rear tang of the receiver slopes from the edge of the ring and blends in with the rear of the bolt shroud, inletting perfectly into the top of the grip.
Bolt, trigger and safety
The bolt is a substantial design with the body running the full diameter and terminating in three locking lugs cut into the leading edge. The bolt body matches precisely with the tubular receiver and gives slick bolt travel without any hint of snagging or binding. Three bolt lugs make for a 60-degree lift and case ejection is via two plungers through the bolt-face together with a claw extractor recessed into one the lugs. Operating the bolt when firing, cases are positively ejected without any issue.
The trigger is superb and identical to other S100 models reviewed here. It’s fully adjustable between 1-2kg and straight out the box was spot-on at 1.2kg. Its single-stage design gave no creep, the trigger broke cleanly and is certainly one of the best factory-fitted trigger groups in the market.
The safety mechanism is standard fare offered on the S100 model, being of a three-position linear manner located to the rear of the bolt notch, the three positions marked ‘S’, ‘SO’ and ‘F’. The most rearward (S) locks the trigger and bolt, while sliding the lever forward to ‘SO’, the trigger remains locked but the bolt can be cycled and moving fully forward to the ‘F’ position enables the rifle to be fired. Additionally, there’s an exposed cocking indicator which protrudes from the rear of the bolt shroud for added security.
This is of a detachable nature and made from tough polymer. It’s of a twin-stack design and hold five rounds in the standard calibres, is easy to load and clips into place well, sitting flush with the bottom of the stock. Removal is by pressing a button just forward of the magazine well.
Like the receiver this is stainless steel and of a sporter configuration measuring 22” (560mm) and tapers from the knox-form to the muzzle where it’s threaded to accept any accessories, a stainless-steel cap covering the threads to protect against accidental damage. The crown is finished in a concave fashion, conducive to accuracy when matched with the cold hammer forged manufacture of the barrels and S100 rifles all come with a five-shot sub-MOA guarantee.
This is identical to the one on the S100 XT, largely polymer-made on a classic American pattern, devoid of ‘pancake’ cheekpieces and with a well-designed grip and Schnabel-styled fore-end. The stock is termed the ERGO MAX by Sauer, in that its ergonomics are well suited to both left and right-handed shooters, with its neutral cast.
The stock has a soft-touch feel which affords a positive grip in any conditions, while the well-placed textured panels either side of the grip and fore-end add visual appeal and accentuate the grip. The stock has QD-sling swivel studs fitted as standard and the buttstock terminates with a rather hard rubber recoil pad. For general use this pad will suffice but when range testing or firing quite a few shots in a day, a sorbothane-style pad would be welcome. The most obvious external feature of the stock is its adjustable comb, tweaked using the single triangular-shaped knob on the right of the stock and allowing for up to 40mm of movement.
For those using large-objective scopes which need to sit higher above the bore, ensuring proper eye-alignment and cheek-weld is imperative. This adjustable comb is positioned on two guide rods and works well (once set in position it remains there). Internally the ERGO MAX stock uses Sauer’s Ever-Rest system which consists of a solid alloy bedding block epoxied into the floor of the stock, this alloy block mating up with a recoil lug and tension bolt protruding from the front receiver ring. It works, though removing the stock from the barrelled action does require initial know-how.
At the range
Several sessions were needed to put the S100 Stainless XTA through its paces in .308 Winchester, the supplied Zeiss Conquest V4 optic a perfect match for the rifle and once bore-sighted and ‘on paper’ at 100m, accuracy testing began.
Firing five 3-shot groups, factory loads from PPU, Hornady, GECO and Australian Outback were duly assessed and the barrel cleaned between brands. With the exception of the PPU ammunition (tested first) all others turned in group averages of less than 1.5 MOA. The PPU would probably shoot better than it did as the rifle was brand new and required some settling down and the PPU ammo had to do this first-up.
As always it’s imperative that if choosing factory ammunition, find a load which performs in your rifle (as required) and stick with it, always shoot slowly and let the barrel cool down between shots. Sauer guarantees ‘five shots sub-MOA’ but this is done in controlled conditions with premium ammunition (what this entails only Sauer would know). But our sessions were conducted in strong wind and rain, weather usually encountered in the field and a good test for both ammo and rifle.
Table 1: Sauer S100 Stainless XTA in .308 Win Accuracy testing at 100m
|Ammunition||Best group (mm)||Worst group (mm)||Average group (mm)*|
|PPU Rifle Line 150gr Soft Point||41||53||50|
|Hornady GMX 165gr||23||51||32|
|Australian Outback 168gr Sierra Tipped MatchKing||9||40||31|
|Australian Outback 165gr Sierra GameKing
|GECO Teilmantel 165gr||14||42||28|
* Average group size calculated from five 3-shot groups at 100m from a benchrest.
This addition to the Sauer S100 stable will only strengthen the model’s presence in the Australian market and the stainless barrelled action to the XT ERGO MAX stock and adjustable comb makes for a great hunting and shooting rifle. It’s available in various calibres and retails for around $1585. More at www.osaaustralia.com.au
Rifle: Sauer S100 Stainless XTA
Action: Bolt-action with 60-degree bolt lift
Trigger: Single-stage, adjustable for weight
Trigger pull: 1-2kg (1.2kg as tested)
Calibres: .223 Rem, .308 Win (tested), .30-06 Springfield, 6.5 CM, .300WM
Capacity: Five-round detachable polymer box magazine (four Magnum calibres)
Barrel: 560mm (Std), 620mm (Magnum)
Muzzle: Threaded M15x1 or M14x1
Sights: Compatible with all Remington 700 bases/rails
Stock: Sauer ERGO MAX synthetic polymer, Ever-Rest bedding system
Weight: 3.2kg (as tested)
Length: 1063mm (as tested)
Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies