One way to spot a junkie is they can never say no. I myself am a rifle junkie. I know I am because, despite my extremely picky preferences and exotic taste in rifles, it’s rare that I pick one up and don’t want to rationalize a reason why I need to take it home with me. But my addiction and preference notwithstanding, this one struck me as well worth my time.
J.P. Sauer & Sohn is a manufacturer of fine firearms, with a history that goes back to pre-war Europe. Their firearms are imported to the U.S. market through Blaser, and there is a great assortment of rifles to choose from. Today, we will focus on the Model 100 Classic chambered in the .30-06 cartridge.
The Model 100 Classic: A Feature-Rich Rifle
When I first opened the box, I was unsure what to expect. The Model 100 Classic is a traditional-style, detachable box-fed, 60-degree bolt-action rifle. The beautiful wood grain first caught my eye as I dug it from the packaging. My attention quickly turned to the elegant look of the action bedded in the walnut. The satin finish and the satisfying cuts and angles of the action seemed very European to me, sort of reminiscent of a Sako TRG or something similar. It’s a classy look for sure. I wasted no time in feeling the action and trigger to see if they matched the looks of this rifle.
The Sauer 100 features a three-lug design, but it’s double stacked and actually a six-lug bolt. The two layers of three lugs make the throw of the bolt shorter. It only needs to be lifted 60 degrees versus the 90 degrees that two-lug bolts require. This makes the bolt operation faster and easier. The bolt uses a sliding extractor mounted in the bolt face. It has double ejectors to firmly throw the spent cartridge cases clear of the action.
It also features a bolt-mounted safety that is slightly different than most. The three-position safety is engaged by using your thumb to pull the selector down, where it is locked in place by a button detent. Removing the safety is accomplished by pushing in on the button in the center of the selector and rolling your thumb out as it pushes the selector forward. The bolt is easily removed by pushing a small button on one side of the bolt handle while pulling the bolt to the rear. The button must be depressed to reinstall the bolt as well.
The Magazine, Trigger, and Mounting Optics
The Sauer features a detachable box magazine that holds five rounds in 30-06. The magazine and follower are made of polymer. The magazine fits snugly to the bottom of the rifle, with almost no room for wobbling around. The release button is just in front of the magazine, and it was very easy to release. So easy in fact that I thought it might be an issue with unintentional magazine releases, but I found that even trying to accidentally hit the button would not release it. I was also impressed with how little force was required to seat the magazine, loaded or not. Just a gentle press would seat the magazine with a soft clicking sound.
The trigger on this rifle was just outstanding. It’s a single-stage, adjustable trigger with a smooth shoe. My first impression was how light and short it was. I love good triggers whether they be single or two-stage. This single-stage is immaculate and has no creep at all. The only thing you notice is when it breaks. I tested the pull weight, and it averaged just over 1.5 pounds. Some may consider it a bit light for a hunting rifle, I do not.
Mounting a scope on the rifle seemed a bit sketchy at first, and I feared I would have to use some strange mounting system. But after a little research, I was happy to find that the Sauer 100 action uses the same pattern scope mounts as the extremely popular Remington 700, so it was as simple as going to my local shop and picking up a Leupold long-action 700 base. I mounted a Nikon Black 4-16x50 scope that I had kicking around in some Warne rings. It turned out to be a good fit and a near-perfect height for me.
On the Range
First things first, only accurate rifles are interesting to me. If a rifle can’t repeatably shoot sub-MOA or preferably better than 1/2 MOA, then it’s not one I’d care to keep around. I couldn’t wait to see what kind of accuracy this rifle could deliver with its great trigger and some good ammo.
The safety selector did take a bit of getting used to. The positioning of it is perfect if you’re the type of shooter that removes the safety as you bring it up from a carrying hold. If you are already in the shooting position it can be a bit awkward to try and remove the safety. That’s one of the reasons I don't care for bolt or bolt shroud-mounted safeties. This is a minor detail, as I rarely use safeties much anyway, I prefer to keep an empty chamber until it’s go time.
The rifle performed what I believe most would consider to be average as far as accuracy. Shot groups averaged under an inch. I certainly wouldn’t consider this the best that the rifle is capable of doing. Perhaps I could have found something that shot better if ammo wasn’t quite as scarce.
The ejection pattern of the Sauer is very predictable, throwing spent cases well clear of the action with its double ejectors. It did this regardless of the speed at which you stroke the bolt.
Perhaps the only sincere complaint I could come up with is that the stroke of the bolt is not quite as smooth as I expected it to be. Everything about this rifle is slick and effortless, so I just expected it to be the same. I also have a couple of similar rifles, like a Sako 85 and a Tikka T3, which both have a smoother feeling bolt stroke. Perhaps it is the longer 30-06 cases and the friction they create. But regardless of the cause, it is not even close to a deal breaker to me. I’ve certainly felt worse on more expensive rifles than this one.
I think that J.P. Sauer has made a fantastic rifle here. While my personal style of rifle may be completely opposite to this one, I found so much about it to be intriguing. It’s a handsome rifle that almost anyone would be pleased to show, and its function is just as clean as its looks. Plus, it shoots as good as it looks, making nearly everything about it perfect for your next hunting trip.