My three favorite Panteras include the De Tomaso, the Texas metal band, and the Sauer 100 Pantera seen here. Okay, not the band. I prefer my metal nicely fluted, threaded 5/8×24, rocking a Picatinny rail for an optic, and installed in a sweet stock with dual front sling studs. So equipped, the Sauer 100 Pantera, available in seven calibers, looks even cooler than 80’s glam metal hair and is far more affordable than a glam metal Italian sports car.
I liked this rifle a lot, so let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first. Well, just one unfortunate incident:
The bolt handle on my loaner rifle was loose from the factory. Naturally, I didn’t notice this until I was out on the range warming the gun up for the first time, sighting it in, and shooting some accuracy groups. Man, is shooting groups annoying with a bolt handle that spins freely.
Thankfully, the Sauer 100’s bolt handle is bolted in rather than pinned or welded, so it wasn’t broken; just loose. At home I disassembled the rifle’s bolt, removed the bolt handle’s bolt, cleaned it, added a drop of blue Loctite, and snugged it back down. Zero issues after that. Obviously it should have been tight from the factory, but this wasn’t the end of the world.
TTAG’s two other Sauer review rifles (JWT has already reviewed the Cherokee here) had no such issue.
When it isn’t loose, the bolt gets no complaints. It’s adorned with a large, smooth knob (Sauer calls it a “tactical cone” shape) that provides plenty of purchase with no bite. Only 60 degrees of lift is required to unlock the action, which is fast and feels pretty darn good.
A left-side button on the action allows the bolt to be removed easily.
Dual ejectors and a small-ish extractor adorn the face of the Pantera’s tri-lug bolt.
The right-side, three-position safety lever will be familiar to many shooters. It offers fire (forward, as seen above), safe with ability to manipulate the bolt (middle), and safe with the bolt locked (rear). The safety snicks precisely into each position, aided by the sharply-knurled knob.
A red line on the protruding striker indicates “cocked” status.
Pretty slick, eh? The Sauer 100 Pantera is a good looking gun in a cool and unique, laminate wood stock.
Simply loosen the two thumb screws to raise or lower the cheek rest, then snug them back down to hold it solidly where you want it. This is almost as high as it goes.
And this is all the way down, of course.
The big triangle-shaped notch in the bottom of the shoulder stock is a handy place for, well, a hand. Hook that support hand into it to stabilize the rifle while shooting off a bag or bipod. Or, it’s a great place to stuff a rear bag and slide it forwards or rearwards to help raise, lower, and/or snuggle the rifle in.
A really great feature, the recoil pad can be adjusted sideways as well as up and down for a custom fit. Spacers can adjust length of pull. I came to like this curved pad, as it forces a certain level of consistency in placement that a flat pad doesn’t. You’re almost guaranteed to find a natural shooting position with the S100 Pantera.
Nearly vertical, the pistol style grip offers a nice palm swell and is very comfortable. As long as you’re correct-handed. With this particular stock, lefties need not apply.
Decorative cuts in the forend provide cool looks and barrel cooling airflow. I mean, at least a little bit, right?
The 20″ cold hammer forged Sauer barrel is fully free-floated. There’s plenty of clearance all the way around it from the end of the chamber straight to the end of the stock.
Though black-painted wood doesn’t usually scream “quality” to me, the Pantera’s laminate stock is plenty stiff and the slightly pebbled texture feels nice. Flexing the forend enough to make it contact the barrel had to be done deliberately and firmly — there’s no way loading up a bipod or pressing down onto a rest or pulling in a sling will make that happen here.
At the very front bottom of the forend are two sling swivel studs, allowing the use of a bipod and a sling simultaneously. In 2018, I’d rather a short M-LOK or Picatinny rail section for a bipod and a QD socket(s) for a sling, but dual studs’ll do. Better than a single stud. Though if this were my rifle I’d likely add a thread-in QD socket to the side of the forend centered underneath the front two speed slots.
At the muzzle of this German-made rifle are U.S.-standard 5/8×24 threads. Whether running a suppressor as the gun gods intended or a muzzle brake or the included thread protector, the threads are clean and precise and the shoulder sufficient. A short, non-threaded section helps align a muzzle device before attempting to engage the threads.
As simple as a thread protector may seem, Sauer’s is one of the best I’ve encountered thanks to a great design feature. It’s only has about a quarter inch of threads at the extreme muzzle end, so it slides most of the way down the barrel threads and then needs only a few turns to tighten fully.
I realize this is about the silliest thing to praise, but three-ish rotations versus 20-ish feels like a big difference when you want to get shooting or want to get packing up and you’re stuck standing there twist-twist-twist-twist-twist-twisting forever.
Loading up the 5-round, polymer magazine, I set the Sauer 100 Pantera on a rest.
It shipped bore-sighted with a very-nice-indeed Minox ZP5 5-25×56 scope in a [too-tall] Warne mount clamped to the Picatinny-equipped action, so we were ready to go right out of the box.
With Winchester’s excellent 142 grain Expedition Big Game Long Range 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, the Pantera kept putting up 3/4 Minute (or just tighter), 5-shot groups like the 0.741 and 0.744 MOA examples above. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but in six of the last seven 6.5 Creedmoor rifles in for review, this ammo has been the most accurate out of the five or so different loads fired through each gun.
Hornady BLACK 140 grain BTHP was also good for 3/4-minute groups like the 0.745 MOA one above.
Federal Gold Medal Berger with its 130 grain hybrid projectiles did okay. It squeaks in as sub-MOA, which I guess is just “okay” by today’s standards? Well, maybe it’s more like exactly 1 MOA with this 0.97-minute group.
At a bit over 1 MOA, Hornady’s 120 grain ELD Match performed the worst through the Pantera. Not that 1.171 MOA is bad. In other rifles, this ammo really shines. Could be a slight preference in the Pantera for heavier projectiles or it could be a preference for standard-shaped bullets rather than these modern secant ogive super high BC jobs. Or maybe a little of both.
The Pantera’s trigger is user-adjustable — and easily so — from 2.2 lbs to 4.4 lbs. It’s excellent. Creep-free with a crisp, sharp break aided by a wide trigger blade with a comfortable curve. Like JWT said in his review of the Cherokee, there’s no need to upgrade this trigger. It’s right at home whether shooting groups from a rest, reaching out to a mile (which you absolutely can do with this S100 Pantera), or hunting.
After a couple hundred rounds sent downrange from 100 to 450 yards, I was very happy with the Sauer 100 Pantera. No complaints at all after that little ol’ loose bolt handle incident.
The S100 Pantera is smooth, accurate, confident, and good looking. Like me! Ha. But really, what more could you want?
SPECIFICATIONS: Sauer 100 Pantera
Caliber: tested in 6.5 Creedmoor. Also available in .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, and the very hip 6.5 PRC (Hornady’s new Precision Rifle Caliber)
Capacity: 5+1 rounds (in standard calibers, 4+1 in mini and magnum calibers)
Barrel Length: 20″ standard, 22″ magnum
Finish: Cerakote “Black Recon” on barrel and action
Trigger: adjustable single-stage trigger (from 2.2 lbs to 4.4 lbs)
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * * *
I like it. The only thing I’d change is to black out the bolt. Nitride that sucker and the Pantera is black-on-black-on-black, with a cool looking, angular stock.
Ergonomics * * * * *
The adjustable cheek piece, sculpted pistol grip, and fully-adjustable recoil pad make for a highly ergonomic gun. As long as you’re right handed. Which I am! So five stars.
Customization * * * *
Though the aftermarket for Sauer isn’t big, the Pantera comes out of the box with lots of customization options built right in. There’s everything mentioned in “ergonomics” above plus a Picatinny optics rail, adjustable trigger, dual front sling studs, and threaded muzzle.
Accuracy * * * *
Sauer guarantees sub-minute accuracy and the S100 Pantera delivers. Easily.
Reliability * * *
Zero issues after that loose bolt handle was taken care of. Not that you’d expect any from a modern bolt action rifle made in Germany.
Overall * * * *
The Sauer 100 Pantera is a solid rifle for the money. It’s good looking and accurate, threaded, railed, adjustable, and good-to-go for everything from long range shooting to hunting.