I’ve always liked the German approach to light stalking rifles and was keen to get one in 243 Winchester; a good all-round calibre for Australian hunting. The light stalking rifle project was conceived at a time when a few well-known upper-echelon companies were announcing models aimed at competing with the established budget-priced market. The project came together rapidly from there. I decided on a Sauer Classic XT 101 in 243 Win and topped that off with a 3-9×40 Zeiss scope. After some shopping around, both those were obtained for less than $2000; a very good price indeed. In retrospect, the rig pretty much ticked all the boxes on my wish list.
The bare rifle is 1095mm in total length. Unscoped and bare the rifle weighed a smidge over 3 kilograms. It felt most comfortable to handle and was well-balanced and pointy.
The synthetic black polymer stock has a Soft Touch surface that makes for particularly good grip and comfortable handling. A further benefit of the Soft Touch surface that we discovered is that is silent to the scratching of twigs across it; a very useful attribute in a stalking rifle. The styling was comfortable too, right down to the Schnabel forend. The length of pull was a comfortable 14.4 inches to suit larger-framed individuals. The stock is ambidextrous with symmetrical palm swell on both sides.
The much-used “silky smooth” really does apply to this action. The bolt lift is 60o and requires minimal effort. The large diameter, six-lug bolt glides silently in and out; another ideal feature in a stalking rifle. The six lugs engage directly into the end of the barrel. The Dura Safe safety is located on the rear of the bolt and acts directly on the safety pin. It has a positive action and is well indicated, as is the cocking indicator. The receiver is of machined steel with a matte black finish to match the rest of the metalwork. The receiver is designed to accept Remington 700 scope bases. That is most convenient. Some German rifles only have proprietary mounts that can cost a small fortune.
The magazine is double-stack and removable. Even stoked-up with five rounds of 243 Win, the magazine sits flush with the stock. Although it is a rare day when you need more than five rounds in a hurry, a spare magazine is a major advantage when that does happen. I also like the safety aspect of being able to quickly unload the rifle. Unlike quite a few other factory rifles, there was plenty of length in the magazine too; enough to handload projectiles out to touch the rifling. The action is mounted into the stock with what Sauer call their Ever Rest system. It seems well designed and most secure, giving no problems during testing and field use. The slim, sporter barrel has precise rifling. It is 560mm (22 inches) in length. The trigger was crisp and set for 950 gram, 2 pounds near enough, and ideal for a stalking rifle.
At the range I shot the barrel in, cleaning repetitively. Initial factory ammo shot well in this rifle, being consistently in the 0.8 to 1.5 MOA. Later on, I had the opportunity to test Fiocchi 100 grain soft-point ammo and found it shot a bit under MOA on average. This is excellent hunting accuracy and all you need to hunt with confidence, so the Fiocchi 100 grain SPs are now the fodder of choice for this rifle. I have shot deer, boar and wild digs with it and am more than happy. The weight and balance of the Sauer XT Classic 101 make it a joy to carry, and use.