Price / Value: B-
What’s this? A new semi-automatic rifle with nary a bit of plastic in its construction or combat DNA in its pedigree? And decorated with nicely checkered wood and chambered in the stodgy .30-06?
Yes, the Sauer 303 bucks every recent trend in rifle development (and is more modern than any “modern sporting rifle”—an odd term for a 50-year-old design). It is an exquisite bit of engineering—fast, smooth, elegant, accurate and expensive. This large gun (its length of pull was a bit much for some of our testers) handles like a well-
balanced sporting clays shotgun. It’s designed to swing on moving targets and has an undeniable heft that helps it recover quickly between shots.
At the bench, it delivered solid sub-MOA performance, but it was during our dynamic testing—shooting multiple targets rapidly from field positions—that it really came into its own. The controls on the 303 work quickly and intuitively, from the magazine and bolt releases to the quick-detach scope mounts, though the cocking mechanism/safety does require a bit of thumb strength.
As a boar or “brush” gun, it doesn’t have many equals, yet long-range shots wouldn’t pose much of a problem, either.
The lovely wood on our sample got dinged a bit around the ejection port by spent brass as it was kicked out, but those little marks became badges of honor. I imagine every 303 will sport them soon enough, because this rifle is too enjoyable not to shoot.