Inexpensive German hunting rifle. These words do not go together. Sauer manages to pull it all together in their entry level hunting rifle, the Sauer 100.
When many folks think of Sauer, they automatically assume the fine wood stocks most of their rifles are known for. There are 100’s in Beechwood stocks, but most are composite, like this one, the Cherokee.
The bedding is a little different than most others. It looks like a version of pillar bedding, and, since the composite stock is poured just for this action, the entire receiver sets firmly inside the stock material. I would prefer to see a full aluminum bedding block, like on the newer Savage 110 Varmint rifles. On the other hand, that’s a heavy gun, while the Sauer bedding is light weight, and light years beyond other low-to-mid-market offerings.
The barrel is free floated up to the recoil lug. Note that the channel is just big enough to pass a business card on each side and that both sides are even all the way up. The stock material is also stiffer than many other composite stocks, and no matter how hard I leaned on it, it did not flex the forend. That has not been the case for several other low to mid priced rifles I’ve reviewed.
These rifles come in a wide variety of chamberings, including the unfortunately now hard to find in the US 9.3X62. This particular one came in 7mm Remington Magnum, one of my all time favorites. That’s mostly because I just love the in-flight and terminal balistics of a 7mm bullet, but also because, for the home reloader, there is an extremely wide variety of bullet weights and types, as well as a wide range of speeds available to push those bullets. At full pressure with a heavy bullet, there’s nothing in this hemisphere that the 7mm Rem Mag can’t handle. With a lightweight starting load, it’s a low recoiling gun that can easily take White Tail deer at 300 yards.
With those lightweight loads, the 100 Cherokoee barely sneezes. The full power loads, or those in the heavier grains from the factory, do tend to push back considerably more. Still, I had no difficulty at all sitting through 100 rounds of accuracy testing for this rifle over the course of a few days. This isn’t the rifle that will start you flinching.
This Test and Evaluation sample came with a Minox ZL3 4-12 optic included and the entire package weighed in at 8 lbs. 3oz. That’s a great middle ground, heavy to enough to shoot comfortably without a muzzle brake (which has no place on a hunting rifle) and light enough to carry all day.
For the 100 Cherokee, the 24-inch cold hammer forged barrel, the entirely of the action, and the bolt knob are all Cerakoted Tundra Green. The stock is covered in Woodland Digital camo. I didn’t think digital camo looked good on my ACU’s, I don’t think it looks good on the Marines or Navy uniforms, and I don’t think it’s particularly attractive on a rifle.
But it does work. The darker pattern breaks up the lines of the rifle well and is especially good under shadow or cloud cover. All around the world, with the exception of the high desert, these colors work well in most the environments you’d hunt in. They also have a desert camo model.
The shape of the stock, from the toe of the stock to the swell at the end cap, is reminiscent of the carved wooden stocks of earlier years. No, it doesn’t sit as flat on a front bag, but holds well off hand or at the kneel.
I am particularly pleased with the bolt handle itself. Like the stock, although it is not traditionally finished, the bolt handle retains the traditional shape of many fine German sporting rifles. It’s a nice tip of the hat to the style to Sauer’s more traditional finely stocked and finished guns.
The bolt moves as it should, a little bit loose at the far back, tightening to rock solid when fully pressed forward. The movement inside the raceway is smooth, and the lugs lock in tightly. If anything, maybe a little too tightly. The bolt handle’s vertical movement is fairly short at just 60 degrees. The action would be quite fast, except for the fact that it takes a bit of effort to get that handle driving up in the first place. I expected this to loosen up by the end of the review, but there was no discernible difference at the beginning of the review than at the end.
Once cocked, a red post is visible from behind the rifle. You won’t necessarily know if you have a round chambered, but you’ll know if the firing pin is pulled back and ready to be released by the trigger.
The bolt is a stout 3 lug model with dual ejectors and a large claw extractor. Although I wasn’t pushing particularly hot loads through the gun, (if you’re pushing hot loads through a 7mm Rem Mag, you’re wrong) I wouldn’t expect there to be any issues with bolt failure, extraction, or ejection, even with a steady diet of max pressure rounds.
Considering the fairly low price tag, I was quite surprised with the trigger. The 100’s trigger comes adjustable from 2 to just over 4lbs. This one was set from the factory just under the 4lb mark. If you would have asked me, I would have guessed lighter. It’s crisp and clean, with no creep at all. I found it quite simple to get the trigger down to just below the 3lb mark. There’s absolutely no reason to swap out the trigger for an aftermarket model on this rifle.
In search of some spikes to cull, I loaded up a starting load (equal to a 7mm-08) and went for a walk in the Hill Country. Of course, if I was hunting mature bucks with full racks, I would have had ample opportunity, but I was hunting spikes, so none showed. Still, I got a good chance to spend some time walking the hills and the brush with the Cherokee. It carries great in the hand, comes to the shoulder quickly, and the overall shape and balance allows for a firm purchase on the stock and a steady muzzle.
Sauer guarantees sub-MOA accuracy in the entry level Sauer 100. I tried three different commercial loads, as well as several versions of my own hand loads. Of all of the rounds I tried, only one did not meet the sub-MOA guarantee.
The Remington Core-Lokt 175gr rounds scored an average of 1 1/4″ five-round groups over four shot strings. In looking at my past reviews, this was the worst performing round, precision wise, in other guns as well. But that’s the worst this gun shot. Three-quarters inch average groups were far more common, and the rifle shot this accurately with both the Hornady American Whitetail 154gr round as well as the Federal 160gr Nosler Partition bullet. All groups were shot off a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest using the supplied Minox optic at 100 yards.
The Sauer 100 ran problem free. For some reason, the 154gr Hornady American Whitetail round required a little harder of a push to chamber than any other round I put through the gun, but still, just a bit more. Nothing failed to load, fire, or eject cleanly. The detachable box magazine dropped cleanly and locked in place easily.
I tried three different commercial rounds in varying weights, as well as my own hand loads using moderate pressure charges with bullets ranging from 120 to 180 grains. I had no problems loading the magazine either detached or while still in the gun. I also had no issues when loading single rounds in the chamber.
The first two positions of the three position safety are fairly close together. The movement between the two started a little squishy, but actually sharpened up with a little lubricant and a couple dozen cycles. The third position, “off,” is set much farther forward than the first two, the first of which prevents firing and bolt movement, the second firing only. The differing distances between the positions provide an obvious tactile clue to what position the safety is on, without eyes on the actual safety itself.
This is an awfully crowded market space Sauer has decided to enter, but they’ve done so with a solid offering. There are no bells and whistles on the gun. The only thing that’s adjustable is the trigger, which is, again, excellent. What you get for under a grand is a rifle that delivers a round with authority and accuracy. It also handles well and won’t kill your shoulder during range days getting ready for that elk or mule deer hunt.
Specifications: Sauer 100 Cherokee
Caliber: 7mm Remington Magnum (223 Rem.; .243 Win.; .270 Win.; 7mm-08 Rem.; 6.5×55 SE; 6.5 Creedmoor; .308 Win.; .30-06 Spring.; 8×57 IS; 9.3×62, 6.5 PRC.; .300 Win. Mag. available)
Finish: CERAKOTE coating on barrel action and bolt knob
Barrel: 24″ Cold hammer-forged
Safety: Three-position thumb safety
Trigger: Adjustable trigger from 1,000g up to 2,000g
Muzzle thread: optional
Weight: 7lbs, 3oz empty
Overall length: 44.25″
MSRP: $1,100 (found online from $839 and up)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
The traditional German styling, even without the traditional finish, puts this gun slightly ahead of its competition. I don’t think the camo finish is pretty, but it is effective.
Customization * *
There’s much less out there to modify these guns, at least when compared to US companies like Remington, Savage, and Ruger. Note, however, the wide range of finishes and chamberings available from the factory. Plus, the factory trigger is excellent as it is.
Reliability * * * * *
Unsurprisingly, no failures of any kind with a wide variety of commercial and home-brewed ammunition.
Accuracy * * * * *
They claimed sub-MOA performance and they definitely got it. For a relatively inexpensive magnum caliber in a field weight rifle, 3/4 MOA with multiple commercial rounds is great.
Overall * * * *
Sauer has done well with their entry-level rifle. No, it’s not blued steel and there’s no gorgeous wood, but it’s not supposed to be. For under a grand you can get a rifle that caries well, shoulders fast, is easy and fun to shoot, and can ethically and reliably take any game in the western hemisphere at extended ranges. Sehr gut.