New for 2013, Sauer launched the new 101 with the slogan: "Old School, New Rules," and that sums it up well: Old world craftsmanship meets new technology.
At first, the 101 looks like most other bolt rifles, but a second look surprises. A safer sliding cocking lever replaces a traditional safety and a 6-lug, 60-degree full-diameter bolt is incorporated for strength and smoothness. The trigger is set at an ultra-crisp 2 pounds and rivals most custom units
A revolutionary bedded aluminum block with two inset pins secures the barreled action. Available in synthetic or walnut, the biggest surprise is the price — it is the least expensive Sauer ever introduced!
I put several hundred rounds through the Sauer 101 under a variety of conditions from the bench at 100 and 200 meters, as well as running target practice at the Sauer indoor shooting facility. During the test, I noted a couple of things. First the German engineers require this rifle to hold 1 MOA with factory ammunition and not some special high performance "secret load." Its regular run of the mill fodder and the 101 is expected to perform with a selection of it, not just one manufacturer. Also, they require the 101s to hold MOA for five shots, not just three. Hmm, the test just got interesting.
We shot the rifles with Federal Classic, Federal Fusion, Hornady and Norma. While some rifles liked some ammo better, all of them passed the MOA test with all of the ammo. And our testing equipment was nothing fancy — a solid bench, sandbag rests and a Zeiss Duralyt scope set on 10 power. We would shoot five shots, not let the barrel cool and shoot another group. We did this for hundreds of rounds until the rifle was so hot it would literally burn skin if you touched the barrel. This is something I normally wouldn't do with my own rifle, but the engineers said, "Keep shooting, this is a good test." So we did, taking turns loading and literally burning the rifle up. The result? After hundreds of shots of .30-06, the gun would still hold MOA and there was no perceptible point of impact shift from when we started with a cold barrel. That is a testament to a quality barrel.
As a final test, Sauer's Julian Wengenmayr said, "I want to show you something that differentiates our bedding system from other systems on the market. Go ahead and fire a three shot group." I did, and they were right under an inch. Then he broke loose the bedding screws and tuned them several rotations to ensure they were loose.
"Ok, fire two more shots to complete your group." I looked at him like he was mad; there was no way the shots were going to be anywhere close. I did as instructed and was shocked to see not only were they close, but they were well within the group. "That is the difference between just using a bedding block and using the steel pins in conjunction with a bedding block. The action stays welded to the stock even if the screws were to come loose in the field."
From the indoor bench range, we headed to the Sauer indoor shooting gallery, which uses videos projected on a screen. Scenes of running boars and other game can be shot at multiple angles and speeds with a computer tracking the hits — and unfortunately the misses. We spent the rest of the day pounding through box after box of ammo. The gun pointed naturally, swung well and felt like the fine piece of machinery it is. The bolt — hot, dry and dirty — still cycled smoothly, and we did not receive one failure to fire, eject or any other hiccup even though we put more ammo through it in an afternoon than most hunters will put through it in a lifetime.
So in a nutshell, what you have with the new Sauer 101 is a great rifle that is safe, handles well, points naturally, is smooth to cycle and is phenomenally accurate. None of this is revolutionary or extremely groundbreaking for longtime Sauer enthusiasts, but what will surprise them is the price; with a street price in the U.S. around $1,400, it is not the least expensive rifle on the gun store rack, but then again, it is not much more than what an average, no frills, American working rifle costs either. All added up, I'd say it is a heck of a buy for a lot of rifle.