Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle


Recognised for precision, reliability and accuracy, Sauer is one of the world’s most highly esteemed gunmakers. It enjoys a well-earned reputation for innovation that has been confirmed once again in its latest version of the S100, the Stainless Classic. 

This attractive blending of a traditionally shaped laminated timber stock with up-to-date stainless metalwork in a classic hunting rifle results from modern engineering methods and up-to-date manufacturing concepts.

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle
The Sauer’s well-designed stock is very comfortable to hold and brings the scope in line with your eye

Sauer’s value-priced Model 100 complements the Model 101 and top-of-the-range Model 404 but is more affordable and equally reliable.

Most shooters would expect any design from Germany’s oldest gunmaker would have Continental styling with hogsback combs, Bavarian-style cheekpieces and slim schnabel-tipped fore-ends, but the appearance of the Model 100 took everyone by surprise. It is quite different in appearance. 

Stocked in a style that I’d rate as neo-classical, it has graceful lines and is a slimmer, trimmer version of the American classic configuration.

Too, European rifles tend to be loaded with subtle refinements and features that most Australian hunters have little use for. Only a few aficionados tend to go into raptures over them. Sauer realised this and in 2016 attempted to increase sales worldwide by introducing the Model 100 with features aimed at impressing traditionally minded hunters in Australia as well as America.

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle
The matte-finished stainless steel contrasts nicely with the dark timber of the laminated stock

The action and locking system are different from the 101. Both have a precision-machined receiver with similar dimensions, but the 100 has a three-lug bolt whereas the 101 is a six-lug design in a dual array.

Model 101 styling extends to the 100’s receiver and metalwork. The precision-machined steel receiver has a length of 218mm (8.58”) and a diameter of 35mm (1.38”). The ejection port is 85mm (3.35”) long and 18mm (.690”) wide allowing enough room to thumb in a round. There is plenty of action-stiffening metal in the robust receiver.

Instead of having lug abutments cut into the receiver like almost every Mauser 98 derivative, Sauer machines a recess inside the receiver and then installs a breech ring with sections cut out at the top and on both sides. 

The bolt lugs enter through these cutouts and turn 60 degrees to lock behind the solid segments of the ring.

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle
The Sauer 100 has a cylindrical receiver that takes Remington 700 mounts. The bolt is a piston-pike fit into the receiver

When the barrel is being fitted, it is threaded into the receiver until it touches the ring. The rings are made by precision tooling with a tolerance of 0.013mm (.0005”) and the front of the breech ring gives the barrel a known stopping point in relation to the lug abutments to ensure headspace is the same every time.

This type of construction adds to the cost, but this is offset by the savings made on assembly time and by eliminating the extra series of milling operations needed to form integral lug abutments.

The bolt is a one-diameter design with three locking lugs spaced equidistantly around the bolt head. Positive ejection is guaranteed by having two spring-loaded ejectors in the deeply recessed bolt face. A 4mm wide T-slot extractor held in place by spring tension moves perpendicular to the bolt in a channel cut in the right lug.

A distinct feature of the bolt is the scalloped knob and the raked-back handle which offers additional clearance for those who prefer the sleeker profile of a low-mounted scope.

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle
Zeiss Conquest V4 3-12×56 high range variable is ideal for long range varmint shooting with the Sauer 100 Stainless Classic .223

The bolt appears to have been borrowed from the Sauer 404 which has switch-barrel capability. It has the same diameter and length, but the space for the bolt-head release catch in the bolt body is left empty, revealing two holes.

Sauer uses a cocking stud underneath the bolt shroud that rides up the cocking ramp when the bolt handle is lifted. Having a single cocking cam makes the bolt heavier to lift than that of a two-lug bolt, and lift of the 100 is too stiff to allow the shooter to get off a fast follow-up shot without first removing the rifle from his shoulder. Cams milled on the locking lugs advance the bolt approximately 1.5mm (1/16”) during closing and aid in primary extraction.

A longitudinal slot in the bolt body ensures smooth cycling. As the bolt is drawn back, its piston-like fit in the receiver provides guiding support.

Instead of having the 101’s Dura-Safe firing-pin safety in the bolt sleeve, the 100’s safety is incorporated in the trigger with the button sliding back and forth on the side of the tang. The safety has three positions — safe, unloading and firing.

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle
Flush fitting polymer magazine holds four .223 Rem cartridges. Bottom metal is silver-anodised aluminium alloy

The .223 version has the bolt stop shortened and the flush-fitting detachable box magazine blocked off to handle the short round. Feeding is consistently smooth and positive.

The durable Dura-Beech laminate stock has a dark oil finish and is a real eye-catcher. The different layers of wood form an attractive pattern and being dark hued it looks like walnut. 

Formed under heat and pressure and impregnated with resin, the stock is impervious to moisture and resistant to flexing or warping. This inertness is important in ensuring the rifle maintains a constant point of impact during extreme weather conditions.

The barrel is free-floating to within an inch of the receiver ring, which is a plus.

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle
Alloy bottom metal is silver which contrasts nicely with the black polymer magazine box. Magazine release catch is a serrated button

The stock has a modern profile. It comes with a solid black rubber buttpad 19mm thick. Generous panels of miniature diamond-like dots in grip and fore-end offer a firm grasp to wet or sweaty hands. 

The straight, thick comb is deeply dished on each side and slopes upward toward the heel to reduce felt recoil and suit a low-mounted scope.

Any shooter who handles and shoots the Sauer can’t help but be impressed by its ergonomics. With a drop at comb of only 19mm and 6mm at heel, it shoulders nicely, points naturally and balances beautifully. 

The unusual checkering provides a secure grasp, and the slender fore-end and mild palm swelling on the ambidextrous grip position your hands comfortably.

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle
The front action screw threads into this 10mm nut that in turn is threaded onto a screw under the receiver ring and through a hole in the bedding platform (see below)

The Sauer 100 has a different bedding system from anything I’ve seen before, described in detail in previous Model 100 reviews. It’s simple and foolproof as well as effective. Tensioning a 10mm nut ensures the assemblage is tightly stabilised within the stock.

The recoil lug is a square block coated in some kind of clear plastic. It is a close fit in a matching recess in the floor of the stock and the front action screw threads into a nut on the bottom, pulling it down into close contact with the sides and bottom of its mortise.

The 56cm (22”) Sauer premium-grade stainless barrel is cold hammer-forged in a sporter contour which tapers to 17.3mm (.680”) at the muzzle cap. The barrel and action have a matte-silver finish that contrasts with the stock’s darker colour.

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle
Ever Rest bedding system ensures receiver-to-stock stability for a constant zero and consistent accuracy

Having had previous experience with hammer-forged barrels made at the Isny plant for Blaser, Sauer and Rigby rifles, I was confident that accuracy was likely to be better than good.

The trigger is adjustable from 0.8kg to 1.6kg (1.75-3.5lb) via an Allen screw in the upper part of the trigger shoe, which is accessible without removing the stock. The 1.36kg let-off on my test rifle was crisp without the slightest trace of any creep or backlash.

Review: Sauer 100 Stainless Classic hunting rifle
The three-position safety is part of the trigger, which is adjustable for weight and screwed into the round-bottomed receiver

The Sauer Stainless Classic weighs just over 3kg naked, which increased to 4kg when the rifle was set up with a Zeiss Conquest V4 3-12×56 with German No 4 reticle cradled in Nikko Stirling Zero-Lok rings. The Zeiss scope has plenty of magnification for fine aiming at small varmints as far away as the .223 is capable of reaching out to tag them.

Before carrying out any range testing for accuracy, I checked the pitch of the Sauer’s rifling twist. Many .223 sporters have the standard 1:12” twist, but quite a few have faster twists to handle longer, heavier bullets for target work and larger game. The Sauer has a 1:10” twist.

The recommended twist for S&B and Aussie Outback ammo loaded with the 69gn Sierra is 1:7” and 1:8” respectively. Four suitable loads for the 1:10 twist include OSA’s 62gn Sierra SMP, Hornady’s 53gn V-Max Superformance Varmint and 55gn V-Max Varmint Express; and Federal Power Shok with a 64gn bullet.

Heavier projectiles from Hornady and Sierra list the twist rates on the boxes — 1:7 to 1:10 for Sierra 65gn spitzers, 1:8 for the Hornady 75gn BT, 1:7 to 1:8 for the Sierra 77gn HPBT, and 1:6.5 for Sierra’s 90gn HPBT. So I counted them out.

Conditions at the range were ideal — a cool day with not the slightest breeze to disrupt things. The full-diameter bolt cycled smoothly in the receiver and cartridges chambered easily.

I didn’t encounter a single glitch during the testing; the rifle functioned reliably, all loads fed, extracted and ejected cleanly. The safety is easy to use and the bright, clear optics of the big Zeiss gave a sharp image and fine aiming point. Accuracy results are listed in the table.

The Sauer 100 Stainless Classic lives up to the company’s reputation for excellence. The rifle is a nicely proportioned combination of stainless steel and timber, it is well-made, holds steady and is capable of outstanding accuracy. What more could any discerning hunter ask for?

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Manufacturer: JP Sauer & Sohn, Germany
  • Type: Push-feed bolt-action repeater
  • Calibre: .223 Remington (tested). Also .222, .243, 6.5 CM, 6.5×55, .270, .308, .30-06, 8×57 IS, 9.3×62, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag
  • Barrel length: 56cm (22”, or 62mm/24” in magnum); rifling R/H twist 1:10” (.223)
  • Overall length: 106.5cm (42”)
  • Length of pull: 35.5cm (14”)
  • Stock: Dura-Beech laminate; drop at comb 19mm; drop at heel 6mm
  • Weight: 3.05kg (7.5lb)
  • Safety: Trigger assembly, 3-position
  • Sights: None, drilled and tapped for Rem 700 mount bases
  • Magazine capacity: 4 rounds (5 in std calibres)
  • Features: Muzzle threaded for muzzle brake or suppressor
  • Price: Typically about $1450-$1600 (2024)
  • Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies

 

 

 


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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.

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