Sauer’s classic combination

Mark Stone marries a Swarovski glass to the Sauer 202 Synthetic, and is impressed with this quintessentially Germanic sporting rifle

Superbly balanced, Sauer’s 202 Classic Synthetic is best shot from a high seat or sticks

Currently supplied as a complete kit for those who want it, UK Sauer importer Garlands has packaged the 202 Classic Synthetic with a Swarovski Z3 3-10×42, mounts, a Niggeloh sling and hard camo case, all in for £2,850. Besides saving the buyer at least £150 over buying the same outfit as individual components, the outfit brings together what Garlands considers to be a near-ideal all-round system that gets the shooter up and running the moment they collect it.

Supplied in this instance in .243 – which many consider to be the best all-encompassing mainstream load, especially for those who like to combine foxing with deer stalking – the Classic Synthetic is a true working instrument. And while high-grade woodwork is always rather nice, the Classic Synthetic excels at shrugging off anything and everything the shooter can conceivably throw at it. No amount of mud or bad weather will have the slightest adverse effect on this rifle.

Finished with a tough Ilaflon or polymer coating, the fully floating 60cm black-blue barrel and alloy receiver, complete with integral one-inch scope bases, sit within – as the name suggests – a fully synthetic stock and well-proportioned Schnabel-style forend. The only real ornamentation is the Sauer name and model number embossed along the left-hand side. The comb exhibits what I’d describe as light Monte Carlo styling, and displays a noticeable right-handed palm swell. Stippled rubber inserts are let into the pistol-grip and forend – these inserts enhance the grip even when the rifle has been drenched in water or hauled through damp undergrowth. Do remember, though, that in synthetic form, bedding is not an option. The stock is finished with a soft rubber recoil pad, while QD sling mounts are fitted at the tip of the forend and halfway along the bottom of the stock.

The standard three-shot magazine can be replaced with one that holds five

The bolt action is typical of its type, with a reasonably short lift, while the bolt itself is extracted courtesy of the small lever that sits to the left of the trigger guard and just behind the magazine. Unusually, it may take a short while for the shooter to get acclimatised to the safety. To disengage, push the plunger that sits fractionally in front of the trigger upwards with your index finger. This causes the plunger situated just to the rear of the bolt and cocking indicator to rise and expose the ‘safety off’ red line. It is easy once you’re used to it – but like other European-style rifles, you need a moment or two to get accustomed.

One aspect of all 202s you need to be aware of is that although each and every one is of the switch-barrel design, the Sauer system isn’t as simple as others. I’m reliably informed that once acquainted with the procedure, you will able to change the barrel within 15 minutes. The removal of the forend section and barrel chamber section is achieved by undoing the split clamp and cross-bolts. However, it must also be noted that if the calibre is changed, a complete new bolt is also required.

Complete with the Swarovski Z3 3-10×42 scope, I zeroed the 202 using 75-grain Remington AccuTip boat tail ammo. My groups got successively smaller, coming down to around half an inch – certainly acceptable. Other ammo types could well reduce that, while fine-tuned handloads may well shrink the spacing even more.

The 202 achieved passable one-inch groups using 75-grain Remington AccuTip boat-tailed rounds

If you are looking for a quality German .243 that encompasses every virtue of a traditional rifle with the benefits of modern construction along with multi-calibre versatility – a rifle that could be used either from a stationary position or on the occasional hill or woodland stalk – then the Sauer 202 Classic would be a top choice. It is a serious piece of kit while on battue – the weight and balance more than smoothes out the shooter’s swing, and virtually eliminates snatching. But if it is agility and deftness of instantaneous handling that you are after, one of the alternative 202s – such as the Outback or the Highland – are probably the answer.

The Classic is an out-and-out working tool that’ll tolerate the most inhospitable of conditions, and you’ll go a long way to find an equally capable one, let alone a better one. Equally, when combined with the Swarovski Z3 as per Garlands’ suggested combination, it would be an unusual roe stalker-cum-fox shooter who failed to find that they had the best quality piece of kit in their hands. Many thanks to Garlands for supplying the rifle.

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Posted in Centrefire, Optics, Reviews

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