Sauer’s German precision sheer perfection

Daniel O’Dea

J.P. Sauer & Sohn are recognised as Germany’s oldest manufacturer of hunting firearms, having been in business since 1751. My early memories of Sauer were that it was one of those boutique European companies which made fancy high-class firearms often with a price to match, such as three-barrelled ‘Drillings’ combination for which I understand they held the patent and won a gold medal at the 1881 World Exhibition.

Likewise, they made high grade traditional bolt-action rifles of typical German quality and features such as finely engineered claw-type mounts and ‘butter knife’ bolt handles. At the other end Sauer was also prevalent in military manufacturing during both world wars so it was not uncommon to come across a Sauer-made K98 Mauser in times of abundant surplus.

These days Sauer & Sohn still make high-quality traditional rifles but also offer a large variety using the latest metal finishes and polymers of modern design – and at surprisingly affordable prices. One such rifle is the Sauer S100 Ceratech and local distributor Outdoor Sporting Agencies sent Australian Shooter one for review.

The Sauer 100 series has been with us for several years and no doubt was designed with more thought towards the huge US hunting market than just local European supply. It uses modern manufacturing processes such as a breech ring (locking bush) as opposed to bolt lug recesses being cut directly into the receiver. This provides an index point for the barrel when mated (screwed) into the receiver in production, and being a more precise process of manufacture as opposed to cutting bolt lug recesses into the receiver it all but guarantees correct headspace. The system is similar to what Lithgow Arms uses on the LA102/5 and is quickly becoming the standard with modern bolt-action rifle production.

As a result, the Sauer has a ‘fat’ bolt where the body runs the full diameter and multiple bolt lugs (three in this case) are cut out of the leading edge. This, combined with a matching tubular receiver in which the bolt slides, seems to be the trend over more traditional receiver designs. In the case of the Sauer 100 the tolerances are extremely tight and there’s no hint of binding, the three-lug bolt design also providing a 60-degree bolt lift for sharp, swift operation on the reload. The bolt head has two ejector plungers instead of the usual one and a generous claw extractor recessed into one of the bolt lugs. Extraction was positive while the ejectors literally launched fired case when cycled from the action.

The Sauer S100 has a trigger adjustable between 1000-2000g (2.2-4.4lb) and out of the box I found this factory trigger to be excellent. It’s single stage with absolutely zero creep and broke cleanly and precisely at about 1200g (2.6lb) as measured on my Lyman trigger gauge.

The rifle has a squat double stack polymer magazine which sits flush in the stock and holds five rounds in standard calibres. The magazine release is a push-button design just forward of the front edge and is deeply recessed into the floorplate to prevent accidental activation. I noted the magazine, which is full length, had an integrated block to control cartridge length for short action calibres. As the magazine is squat, the well is quite cavernous and easy to locate for insertion without looking.

Moving to more specifics for the Sauer S100 Ceratech, the name is a direct giveaway, the main feature being that all metalwork (barrel, action, floorplate) are Cerokoted in a ‘Grey-Ice’ finish. Cerokote, which is applied almost like spray paint and oven baked, is a ceramic coating which provides outstanding wear and durability properties in all hunting conditions.

The rifle is fitted with Sauer’s Ergo Max synthetic stock, claimed to be ‘ultra-rugged’ and featuring a neutral cast to suit right and left-handed shooters. It certainly looks rugged enough and includes all the internal ribbing and bracing expected on a modern quality polymer stock. Raised stippled panels on the fore-end and pistol grip also provide tactile gripping surfaces and the Ergo Max stock uses Sauer’s Ever Rest bedding system with a solid alloy bedding block epoxied into the unit which mates perfectly with a recoil lug and tension bolt coming off the receiver ring.

The stock also features a generous black rubber recoil pad, QD sling swivels and, in keeping with its European heritage, a ‘Schnabel’ styled fore-end tip which I haven’t seen before on a polymer stock but it sure looks the part. Neat finishing features have the Sauer logo embossed on the pistol grip cap, fore-end tip and recoil pad.

The test rifle was chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor which, in recent times, has been heralded in terms of a long-range rifle calibre but it should not be lost that it’s an effective hunting round, closely mimicking 6.5x55 ballistics in a more modern and efficient case design. The 6.5x55 has long been a popular hunting round in Europe and while perhaps underrated in Australia, it saw plenty of use on pigs when many M96 Swedish Mausers were sold as surplus in the 1980s and ’90s. I remember Fuller selling rifle/scope packages for $199 and recall they proved a popular and successful budget option with many Aussie farmers.

The Sauer S100 Ceratech comes with a 22^ (560mm) tapered barrel stretching to 24^ (actually 620mm) in Magnum calibres, the barrel also threaded to accept a muzzle brake or suppressor where permitted. Sauer barrels are cold hammer forged and known to produce good accuracy and the rifle comes with a five-shot sub-MOA guarantee.

Sauer S100 models will accept standard Remington 700 rails and bases for scope mounting purposes which gives a myriad of mounting options. OSA supplied a set of one-piece ring bases along with a Whiskey 3 Sig Sauer 4-12x50 scope and I’d note that at time of writing there were some deals going around with the one-piece ring bases being included in the price. After mounting the scope it was off to the range bench for testing, where I fired several groups using a selection of Hornady factory loaded 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition I had on hand including 140gr ELD Match, 143gr ELD-X Precision Hunter, 129gr InterLock American Whitetail and 140gr HPBT American Gunner.

There wasn’t much between the ammo types with all shooting around one MOA or better for three-shot groups. The 140gr HPBT American Gunner was a standout, shooting several three-shot groups at half MOA or just 12.5mm at 90m, this ammo continuing to impress as I’ve used it in a couple of reviews and it always shoots tight. In my book it’s the best value 6.5 Creedmoor ammo currently on the market.

Apart from the smooth bolt operation, a three-position safety is well positioned to the right rear of the receiver with three raised semi beads, two green and one red, which indicate both the safety position and rifle status. All the way back is safe with both trigger and bolt locked, two beads forward is safe with the trigger locked but bolt operational and the last red bead is the fire position. The raised beads can be felt with the left thumb when operating the safety and give a good felt reference in lowlight (or no light) conditions. Likewise there’s an exposed red cocking indicator protruding from the rear of the bolt shroud, again giving both visual and tactile references to the load condition.

The rifle feels slick to use and is well balanced, relatively light as set up with the Sig Sauer Whiskey 3 scope and would make a great general walk around hunting rifle. I found myself easily able to walk around carrying the rifle single-handed for swift presentation to the ready position. Apart from 6.5 Creedmoor the Sauer S100 Ceratech is available in a selection of calibres including all the popular options such as .223, .243, .270, 7mm08, .308, 30/06, a few magnums in 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag and even a few Euro exotics such as 6.5x55, 8x57IS and 9.3x62, although I’m not sure OSA will stock many of those in Oz.

One of the biggest surprises of the Sauer S100 Ceratech is the price, a quick search online finding them for around the $1100 mark, remarkable value for a German-made quality shooter but, based on the Aussie dollar pre-COVID 19, that may have changed by now. More at osaaustralia.com.au.

Specifications

Rifle: Sauer S100 Ceratech.

Action: Bolt-action with 60-degree bolt lift.

Trigger: Single stage, adjustable for weight.

Trigger pull: Adjustment 1000g-2000g (1200g as tested).

Calibre: 6.5CM (tested).223Rem, .243Win, .270Win, 7mm08Rem, .308Win, 30/06 SPRG, 6.5PRC, 6.5x55, 8x57IS, 9.3x62, 7mm RM, .300WM.

Capacity: Five-round detectable polymer box magazine (four Magnum calibres).

Barrel: 560mm std, 620mm Magnum.

Muzzle: Threaded M15x1 or M14x1

Sights: Compatible with all Remington 700 rails and bases.

Stock: Sauer Ergo Max synthetic with Ever Rest bedding system.

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