The newish Sauer S 303 semi-auto rifle

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”.

Sauer S 303 Elegance model with scope.

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 cocking/decocking lever can be seem at “1”.Click to expand.

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.

isiMount bottom diagram. Smart Tube gas system top diagram.

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).

The top end Individual model. Look at that wood!

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.

More info available at Sauer and Guns Magazine (Jan 2009 issue).

(Photos and diagrams from

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • If you let the bolt fly forward it is loud. If you want to not be loud you have the option of easing the bolt forward and pushing the last inch by hand.

  • Axel Nordberg

    I believe the silent cocking is a feature that is typically European. Let me give you some background on that; Semi-Autos are considered new-fangled, wannabe military, poorly built novelty weapons for hunters who spend more time on gun magazines than in the woods. A typical aspect of the semi-auto rifle that causes the more conservative european hunter to frown at it is the fact that most are built to be cocked by letting the handle loose from the rearmost position. If you’re already close to the scene of the hunt when you’re loading your weapon (as all responsible hunters are) the noise will work against you. The SCS is meant to let hunters relatively silently load their weapons and thus removing a reason for bias against semi-autos amongst responsible hunters.

    I’ve done most of my hunting (in Sweden, where this kind of thinking is the wide-spread norm) with a Browning BAR. That rifle won’t let you load it silently if you do it the way you’re supposed to, but it’s still very easily done by carefully pushing the bolt forward instead of releasing it.

    As far as I’m concerned the SCS is a gimmick, but I do like that the safety acts as a cocking lever. And that it has a mount on it when you buy it. I’d really like to have a 303 in .308…

  • Rick

    This is an excellent rifle. The SCS is a gimmick, as Axel has stated, but it does give us a better name among the traditional European hunters. The safety is also silent, provide you keep half of your thumb over the pop-up indicator. The really nice part about the safety mech, is that you can check status of your rifle in the dark. Just run your thumb over the safety and if you don’t feel the pop-up, it’s on safe.

    The downside to this rifle is the same issue with all semi-autos. Trying to find the brass can be a real pain in the backside.

    I’ve used this rifle for 1 1/2 years now, and wouldn’t sell it for anything. It’s accurate, quiet, heavy enough to keep recoil down, but light enough to hike through the woods with.

  • OMG…. I’ve 303 friends on Facebook. so I wanted to change the Profile Picture to something that resembles my character. A 303 rifle was a good idea. Via Google Image search, I landed here. Ideally wouldn’t have done this, but looking @ this impressive gun “Sauer S 303 Elegance model with scope”, I could not stop myself. Nice gun. Some day, when I retire, I would want to spend time in the woods, hunting some wild animals some day. My retirement plan … ho ho ho ho…! I would need one such then …!

  • Raleigh Koch

    I have a Sauer 303 and hunt with it in Germany (I’m an American). Let me clarify the SBS. I think there is a little translation problem with this system and how it works. Sauer is not referring to the bolt when it talks about the “lever”, it’s really what us Americans would refer to as the safety or safety switch lever. It’s a great system, and once I figured it out, it works great. If you cock the rifle with the bolt, and then place it on safe, you can uncock the rifle with the safety by pulling the trigger and easing the safety switch forward. After you release the trigger you will see that it now cannot fire. If you slowly ease the safety switch down, or back towards the safe position (the red dot), but stop just before it, the weapon will now be uncocked. Move it slightly down, and it puts the weapn on safe AND cocks the hammer. Now all you have to do is push the safety switch forward normally to fire. It’s essentially a way to uncock the hammer with out dry firing the rifle, and you can do it with a round chambered. A very nice function actually.

  • lucian

    bitte ,was kostet Sauer S 303 semi-auto,30-06.