Sauer 100 Ceratech in 308 - in depth test & review
- Credit: Archant
Superior manufacturing quality, a great trigger and a reliable action meant this Sauer 100 Ceratech in 308 came out of its test with Chris Parkin glowing!
AT A GLANCE
LIKES: Great adjustable trigger; Ideal stock ergonomics; Reliable action and magazine versatility; Manufacturing quality is superior at this price point; Took some HARD knocks with minimal fuss and retained zero
DISLIKES: Lightly sprung, slightly too large safety catch lever; I like the bolt handle on the “Keeper” – it is so good it leaves all others a little in the shade
VERDICT: The 100 is a fine rifle and shrugged off a few hard knocks on test with no detrimental performance noted, just a few scratches and far less than I would have expected. A sound buy and a pleasure to hunt with!
TECH SPECS - Sauer 100 Ceratech in 308
Calibre: 308 Win (223 Rem.; .243 Win.; .270 Win.; 7 mm-08 Rem.; 6.5×55 SE; 6.5 Creedmoor; .30-06 Spring.; 8×57 IS; 9.3×62, 6.5 PRC; 7mm Rem. Mag.; .300 Win. Mag. Available)
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Overall length: 1065mm (42”)
Weight: 3.05kg (6 3/4 lbs)
Stock Material: Ergo Max Polymer
Magazine capacity: 5+1
Trigger: single stage, 1000-2000gr (2.2-4.4lbs) pull weight
Barrel length: 560mm (22”0
Blaser Sporting 020 76222116 www.sauer.de/en/
Federal Fusion 150gr 308 ammunition
GMK 01489 579999 www.gmk.co.uk
The latest Ceratech rifle from Sauer is a welcome addition to the growing 100 range. I have used these before in multiple formats and found them to be an excellent basis for further stylised models such as the Pantera, with a modernised stock, which is selling faster than it can be made.
The 100 Ceratech’s forte is its corrosion and abrasion resistance, using the now industry-respected Cerakote finishing. This ceramic coating is baked hard over the barrel and action in a Grey Ice colour that many will assume to be bead-blasted stainless steel, so close is the colour.
At a modest price, with a durable and stiff synthetic stock and moulded fish scale chequering, you won’t wince too much if you drop or scratch it. It should stand up well to rough handling, and Sauer loaned me a rifle that got a good battering in Ireland when I fell with its stock and optic buffering me well against a rock. The result was just a few scratches that to me advertise its toughness but, even more importantly, it retained zero without a doubt! Knowing a gun will handle this action can be the difference between a ‘safe queen’ and a trusted hunting companion with which you don’t doubt a distant adventure.
Sauer’s cold hammer-forged barrels are some of the best in the business, and I have yet to experience one that won’t shoot. This rifle was unthreaded but neatly crowned and is available with either 14x1 or 15x1 thread for a sound moderator. The 17mm profile from the crown to reinforce on the gently swamped profile sporting barrel is perfect in length and weight, for ideal balance on a stalking rifle in light to moderate calibres, a group for which the .308 must lead by example. It’s an accurate cartridge, kills reliably with minimal fuss and, importantly for a tester like me, shows enough recoil to illustrate stock form and handling under fire without becoming onerous.
The solid action frame with threaded holes for a Picatinny rail, or any Rem 700/Mauser/Sauer mount, is always going to become a solid basis for any sighting addition, and in this case was fitted with Sauer’s QR Hexalock mounting system. They can be a little tricky to set up correctly first time, but for twin bases they hold zero within one or two clicks on all the encounters I have had with them.
I do like the Sauer triple lug action with 60° bolt lift. They lock directly into abutments within the action, rather than the barrel tenon, to maintain integrity under the pressure of firing. It is in my higher echelon group for manual operation reliability and speed from the twin-stacked five-round polymer magazine.
One factor this does illustrate is that bolt knob design, your tactile interaction with the rifle, varies between models and has a significant effect. The bolt knob added to the UK-specific ‘Keeper Package’ is one of the best in the business. In comparison, I’m not a huge fan of the segmented 20mm grenade-like feel of the knob on the standard rifle – not because they are bad, but just because the Keeper’s handle is so damn perfect.
Bolt lift is light and smooth with a very sound engineered feel through the handle to all operations, paired with superb surface finishing for a slick, noise-free and unjammable stroke. It won’t stutter when rushed, even if deliberately encouraged.
A bolt-handle too long is not a dream come true, so be careful what you wish for! The length has to be balanced (it is well balanced here with a 60mm extension) to that of the bolt’s shaft and diameter, which in this case has three recessed lugs and a single raceway for the bolt release catch at the rear left of the action, with which to maintain rotation and allow removal from the gun.
This shows a push-feed bolt-face, with twin ejector pins throwing cases well clear during the hunt, and never feels weak when first heaving those expanded brass cases from the chamber. You can top-load the mag through the ejection port or remove it from the rifle via a single button to its front on the underside. The polymer magazine is the same as that seen on the Sauer 101, Mauser M18 and Mauser M12 – very reliable and quiet to handle, load and feed ammunition into the breech from. It also feeds single rounds cleanly that are dropped in on top of it and not clipped into it, so realistically it is a Jack (and master) of all trades – full marks!
The L&O group (owners of Blaser, Sauer and Mauser, among others) seem to show few weak spots in their armouries from any of the household brands at the moment, yet triggers are one thing they continually impress me with in particular. A single-stage pull, adjustable from 1,000-2,000g, is perfect on a sporting rifle whose trigger guard is spacious enough for cold, gloved fingers in winter with a break that is 95%+ crisp in my opinion. The curved 8mm blade allows your index finger pad to sit centrally, with perfect reach from the grip on the stock. So, totally consistent, easily judged and, on a sporting rifle, only really beaten by its big brother, the Blaser R8, whose trigger is close to perfect.
Contrary to that, I’m not a total lover of the safety catch. It is a three-position knurled lever above your firing hand’s thumb – forward for fire with rearmost to ‘safe’ the gun with a locked bolt. The intermediate position allows bolt operation with the action ‘safe’, but my concern is not over safety. Rather, it is the fact that the long lever and lightly sprung catch, although operable silently on the hunt, does seem to get accidentally applied when cycling the action.
On occasion, I found myself squeezing the trigger to find that the catch had been unknowingly applied. Yes, there is nothing unsafe about this, but I had bare hands and short sleeves, and if you add gloves and cuffs on a bulky winter jacket it will exacerbate the matter. So, Sauer, pretty please make the safety catch lever a little smaller with a slightly stiffer spring!
The stock follows the ergonomic delights of its Sauer brotherhood, with a slender comb rising gently upwards from the action towards the firm, grippy rubber buttpad on the heel. This subtle tweak keeps the recoiling stock moving slightly away from the pressure your face exerts on the comb, to minimise the effects of felt recoil, and it does work. At maximum extension, the bolt remains 9mm clear of the comb, which, given the likelihood of scope mounting, seems 5mm more than is necessary. Sauer’s 365mm length of pull (14¼”) suits me perfectly, with a medium grip radius and reach to trigger. It mounts up well and remains neutrally balanced.
Sling studs are fitted front and rear. Removing the 4mm Allen screws in the bottom metal drops the assembly out, but the action is retained in the stock by a 10mm nut, threaded onto the M6 stud emerging below the action at the barrel interface. An aluminium Ever Rest bedding block is bonded into the otherwise simply injection-moulded polymer stock, which is stiff and shows reinforcement ribs along the whole length of the slender forearm.
Transmitted recoil showed no intrusive noise reverberation signature or irritating ‘clonk’ if knocked when being carried, and was easy enough to wipe down, resisting being marked too easily. This rifle is a tool at the end of the day.
The barrel floats minimally in the stock so watch out with lateral hand pressure. No left-hander is offered but the minimal palm swell and neutral cast to the butt and comb make the gun acceptable from either shoulder, and, frankly, on a hilly, rocky, arduous hunt I found the gun a pleasure to carry and use. Zeroing with the provided Federal ammunition at the range showed me sub-inch groups at the 88m zeroing distance (just under 91m, that equals roughly 100 yards) before the hunt. Decent 3” groups at 270m from seated and prone positions led me to feel relaxed and confident, with no multi-positional zero shift with both shot from a bipod, which would be our likely hunt requirements. I have shot identical ergonomics in the past from standing, sticks and improvised positions with Sauer 100s in several calibres, so was not surprised by this hunting appropriate performance.
I’ll end the article with my fall… Well, the scope took it pretty badly and the stock got a few scratches on the underside of the polymer butt, with some deeper gouges around the magazine area too, but the Cerakoted barrel took some heavy abrasion against granite and was only just marked, so to me the Ceratech did exactly as promised.