The newish Sauer S 303 semi-auto rifle

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

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
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • Raleigh Koch Raleigh Koch on May 18, 2011

    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 Lucian on Jan 16, 2012

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