The Best Sau­er of all ti­me

Put­ting a Sau­er to the test and lo­ving it.

SA Jagter Hunter - - INHOUD - Paul Ek­steen

To hunt is an an­cient hu­man in­stinct. To track a wild a­ni­mal and bag it by ap­plying kno­w­led­ge and de­ter­mi­na­ti­on is a true chal­len­ge. And w­hen you do that with one of the best bolt-acti­on rifles e­ver ma­de, it is a pri­vi­le­ge.

I own a w­ho­le ran­ge of Sau­er rifles and ha­ve or­de­red a Sau­er 404 for my col­lecti­on but w­hen Hel­gard of L&O, the a­gents for Sau­er, as­ked me to do an ar­ti­cle on the Sau­er Mo­del 404 in .308 ca­li­b­re, I glad­ly accep­ted!

I ha­ve fi­red a Sau­er 404 on a pre­vi­ous oc­ca­si­on, but ne­ver had the chan­ce to test all the new fe­a­tu­res on t­his gun or to ta­ke it out hunting.

The first thing that caug­ht my eye was the high-gra­de wal­nut stock of the test mo­del. The stock’s comb slo­pes up­wards to the re­ar to sig­ni­fi­cant­ly re­du­ce felt re­coil. A­not­her ni­ce fe­a­tu­re is the cast-off for rig­ht-han­ded shoo­t­ers. T­his, com­bi­ned with a ne­w­ly-de­sig­ned cheek­pie­ce, gi­ves the shoo­t­er mo­re po­si­ti­ve con­tact with the stock. A wel­l­de­fi­ned palm swell on the pis­tol grip is stan­dard on the Mo­del 404. The­se fe­a­tu­res help re­du­ce re­coil sig­ni­fi­cant­ly and al­so gi­ves

the rifle that “cu­stom-fit” feel.

The fo­re-end can be re­mo­ved within 30 se­conds by re­mo­ving the front s­ling swi­vel which dou­bles as an Al­len key wrench. In or­der to get to the Sau­er’s ad­jus­ta­ble trig­ger it is ne­ces­sa­ry to re­mo­ve the fo­re-end. Sau­er calls t­his new trig­ger the Sau­er Qu­at­tro which me­ans that the trig­ger is ad­jus­ta­ble for four dif­fe­rent trig­ger pull weig­hts: 550g, 750g, 1 000g and 1 250g. Ad­jus­ting the trig­ger to your de­si­red pull weig­ht can be do­ne in se­conds.

The sa­me s­ling swi­vel/Al­len wrench is al­so u­sed to re­mo­ve the bar­rel w­hen you want to switch to a­not­her. Yes, the Mo­del 404 is a switch-bar­rel rifle!


I de­ci­ded to test the rifle with Nor­ma Oryx 165gr am­mu­ni­ti­on (which I will use on my hunt) as well as with so­me Fe­de­ral Ma­tch 168gr am­mu­ni­ti­on on the shoot­ing ran­ge.

I set up my Kongs­berg Tar­get Sy­stem at 100m and pro­cee­ded to shoot so­me groups with the Nor­ma am­mu­ni­ti­on.

For the tes­ts I set the trig­ger to the lig­h­test set­ting (550g or 1.2lbs). In ad­di­ti­on to the trig­ger-pull weig­ht set­tings, the S404 al­so fe­a­tu­res set­tings for the length of pull of the trig­ger and the trig­ger bla­de it­self can swi­vel a­bout fi­ve de­grees on the trig­ger (so­me pe­op­le pre­fer a trig­ger that s­lants to one si­de). The test rifle fit­ted me per­fect­ly as it ca­me from the fac­to­ry so I did not fi­dd­le with the ot­her set­tings.

My first three-shot with the Nor­mas group me­a­su­red 16.3mm which is mo­re than a­de­qua­te for hunting pur­po­ses. An­to­nie S­mith from Le­ka­na Guns­hop, who ac­com­pa­nied me, tried his hand with the Sau­er and shot a 9.3mm group!

An­to­nie im­me­di­a­te­ly fell in lo­ve with the rifle and ur­ged me to mo­ve the tar­get to 200m and we pro­cee­ded by u­sing the Fe­de­ral am­mu­ni­ti­on. My three-shot group at 200m me­a­su­red 21mm and An­to­nie’s 19.2mm. An­to­nie fi­red a fourth shot which o­pe­ned the group up to 21.5mm. We we­re re­al­ly im­pres­sed by the Sau­er’s accu­ra­cy.

Af­ter ex­pe­ri­menting with the ot­her trig­ger-pull set­tings I sett­led on set­ting num­ber three (1 000g/2.2lb) for the hunt. Be­cau­se of the cle­an, crisp bre­ak of the trig­ger, e­ven the 2.2lbs set­ting feels lig­ht.


My hunt would ta­ke pla­ce on our fa­mi­ly farm ne­ar Mu­si­na »

» and I plan­ned to try for im­pa­la and so­mething big­ger such as ku­du or gems­buck. T­his would al­so be a pro­per walk and stalk hunt be­cau­se I wan­ted to car­ry the rifle in the bush to test how it hand­les and car­ries. I was al­so cu­ri­ous to see how the Nor­ma Oryx am­mu­ni­ti­on would per­form.

The test gun was fit­ted with a Ger­man Mi­nox ZX5 3-15x56 sco­pe with a fi­ne plex re­ti­cle. L&O u­sed Sau­er’s new u­ni­ver­sal quick-re­le­a­se moun­ting sy­stem. Quick-re­le­a­se moun­ting sy­s­tems are han­dy w­hen you disas­sem­ble the rifle for tra­vel­ling pur­po­ses. I u­sed a cu­stom Sau­er ca­se which wor­ked very well in­deed.

T­his sco­pe wor­ked to per­fecti­on on the shoot­ing ran­ge, and I was keen to try it out in the bush.

A­not­her ni­ce fe­a­tu­re of t­his tho­roug­hbred Sau­er is the pa­ten­ted sa­fe­ty con­cept. The cocking s­li­de on the bolt shroud al­lows the rifle to be coc­ked both com­for­ta­bly and si­lent­ly sin­ce the sound of the de­tent but­ton in the re­ar thi­rd of the s­li­de is au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly muf­fled by the soft flesh of your thumb. In ad­di­ti­on to the ma­nu­al cocking fe­a­tu­re, an au­to­ma­tic fi­ring-pin sa­fe­ty works in­si­de the S404 to pre­vent it from fi­ring w­hen the bolt is not ful­ly clo­sed.

Not being u­sed to the new cocking fe­a­tu­re, I car­ried the 404 in the sa­me way that I nor­mal­ly car­ry my Sau­er 202 – ma­ga­zi­ne fil­led with car­trid­ges but with an emp­ty cham­ber. Upon spot­ting im­pa­la, I cy­cled the S404’s bolt si­lent­ly and stal­ked with the bolt half clo­sed. The Sau­er S404 has a de­fi­ni­te “half­cock” set­ting which pre­vents the bolt from s­li­ding o­pen ac­ci­den­tal­ly, but the rifle will not fi­re in the half-cock po­si­ti­on.

The S404 co­mes with a threes­hot ma­ga­zi­ne. W­hen hunting I nor­mal­ly use two ma­ga­zi­nes; one ful­ly lo­a­ded that g­oes in­to the rifle and a­not­her ful­ly lo­a­ded one that I car­ry in my poc­ket.

I took the im­pa­la with a so­lid shoul­der shot and the 165gr Oryx bul­let ful­ly pe­ne­tra­ted the bo­dy, so I was ob­vi­ous­ly u­na­ble to re­co­ver the bul­let. On day two, I fi­nal­ly got a chan­ce at a gems­buck and shot it whi­le the a­ni­mal was quar­te­ring s­lig­ht­ly a­way from me. The bul­let hit be­hind the ne­a­rest shoul­der and we re­co­ve­r­ed it un­der the skin on the op­po­si­te shoul­der. It mushroom­ed per­fect­ly, the co­re and jac­ket did not se­pa­ra­te and the weig­ht re­ten­ti­on was 91% of the o­ri­gi­nal.

W­hen hunting the gems­buck, I tried the “one-up” met­hod of car­rying the rifle with the cocking s­li­de on the bolt in “sa­fe” mo­de. T­his wor­ked very well, but is so­mething you need to get u­sed to. It is, ho­we­ver, de­fi­ni­ti­ve­ly a ni­ce sa­fe­ty fe­a­tu­re.

A va­ri­e­ty of ca­li­bres and op­ti­o­nal ex­tras are a­vai­la­ble for the Sau­er. The S404 co­mes in 13 dif­fe­rent ca­li­bres in va­rying bar­rel lengt­hs and pro­fi­les. Op­ti­o­nal ex­tras in­clu­de in­cre­a­sed ca­pa­ci­ty re­pla­ce­ment ma­ga­zi­nes, muz­z­le thre­a­ding for a si­len­cer, a choi­ce of wooden stocks (10 dif­fe­rent gra­des of wal­nut). Po­ly­mer stocks are al­so a­vai­la­ble. Left-han­ded ver­si­ons, la­dies’ ver­si­ons (S404 Ar­te­mis), stan­dard as well as cu­stom hand-en­gra­ved ver­si­ons are a­vai­la­ble too.

I am con­vin­ced that Sau­er & Sohn Gm­bH is one of the top ma­nu­fac­tu­rers in the wor­ld w­hen it co­mes to hand-fi­nis­hed, first-class hunting rifles.

The Mi­nox 3-15x56 sco­pe moun­ted on the S404.

Sau­er S404 rifle.

ABOVE: The S404 bolt in the “half­cock” set­ting.


The cocking s­li­de on the S404.

Sau­er Qu­at­tro trig­ger set­tings. The four set­tings ad­just the trig­ger pull from 550g to 1.250kg.

The in­te­gral Sau­er SUS u­ni­ver­sal key.

I u­sed my Kongs­berg Tar­get Sy­stem to test the Sau­er on the ran­ge. The Kongs­berg al­lows you to see and plot your shots wit­hout ha­ving to go for­ward to in­spect the tar­get.

Nor­ma Oryx bul­let re­co­ve­r­ed from the gems­buck I hun­ted.

The sa­me Nor­ma bul­let from a­not­her an­gle.

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