In 2006 Sauer, a 257 year old German company, produced their first semi-automatic rifle the S 303
(Sauer should not be confused with Sig Sauer, which is the American arm of the European conglomerate that owns J. P. Sauer & Sohn).
In the January 2009 issue of Guns Magazine they review the S303 and call it a “new” rifle. I think they mean “new in the USA”.
The rifle is a high-end elegant rifle (in other words: a non-evil non-black rifle) designed for European drive hunts. In drive hunts game is flushed out towards hunters and quick shots are needed as they run past; at least that is my understanding of drive hunts, never having seen one.
The S 303 includes some interesting features. It has a feature called the Silent Cocking System (SCS) which Guns magazine describes:
With the magazine in place if the cocking lever is pulled back and allowed to go forward the firearm is cocked and ready to go. However, if you allow the lever to go forward slowly, it stops about 1″ shy of actually closing and then can be pushed into place silently.
I can’t quire figure out what this mean in practice. Walking around with the bolt open 1″ with a round not quite chambered seems to me like asking for a jam but I am sure there is more to it than that.
The S 303 also features a innovative detachable mounting system called isiMount. The scope can be move into two different positions, depending on desired eye relief, without effecting point of impact.
The under barrel gas system, Smart Tube, has been designed with accuracy in mind.
Models: Classic (least expensive), Elegance, Individual (most expensive)
Barrel length: 510 / 560 mm – 20″ / 22”
Total length: 1065 / 1115 mm – 41.9″ / 43.9”
Weight: 3.25 / 3.35 kg (7.16 / 7.38 lbs)
Calibres: 7x64mm, .30-06, 8x57mm IS, 9.3x62mm, .300 Win. Mag.
Magazine: 2 rounds (optional 5 round magazine available)
Guns Magazine says that the price will be $3999 (presumably for the least expensive Classic model).
With its elegant non-threatening appearance I think Sauer have a winner on their hands. While the rifle is expensive, it is not when compared with the double rifles it is competing with. It also has many advantages compared too double rifles such as decreased recoil (semi-auto action) and increase accuracy (one barrel).
It is available in 9.3x62mm which is the minimum African dangerous game caliber so it should be more than sufficient for any animal found in Europe or North America. Due to import restrictions on semi-automatic rifles it is unlikely that many (if any at all) will end up hunting the Big 5.
(Photos and diagrams from Sauer-Waffen.de)