The Sauer 202 Lightweight Rifle
Upon the introduction of the SAUER 202 lightweight Synthetic (LAW), most agreed that SAUER had produced yet another robust, workmanlike rifle with plenty of new designs including a new synthetic stock. A fluted barrel, glass smooth bolt, Ilaflon covering and an overall lightweight design completed the package.
Initial impressions of the 6.5x55 caliber LAW rifle I purchased were good, with ease of use and accuracy unaffected by any normal rough treatment or weather. Fitting of a scope and Zeroing were routine and groups of around 1.5 inch were printed regardless of ammunition, bullet, weight or velocities.
The new 202 Lightweight Synthetic fits into the barely affordable end of the market at a MSRP of $3400 in 2005. In it's "out of the box" condition the rifle will perform well within desirable parameters. This simple fact gives the sportsman an immediate advantage in the field, not to mention confidence and, let's face it, any advantage is a step in the right direction.
My choice of calibre hopefully requires little explanation, being both dependable and inherently accurate with a good spread of bullet weights giving the reloader adequate flexibility. Other popular calibres offered in the 202 Lightweight Synthetic include 30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester, .270 Winchester, 25-06, and .243 Winchester.
The one thing that concerned was recoil in a lightweight rifle, especially in the more potent calibres such as .270 Winchester and beyond. The 6.5x55 seemed to fit nicely in-between and so far my reasoning has held water. Looks can be deceiving but in this case SAUER have created an aesthetically pleasing rifle that also performs.
In order to cut the rifle's teeth I had to use factory ammunition. Developing reloads takes time and I was itching to put the rifle through its paces. Groups were consistent at 100 meters grouping around 1.5 inches, adequate for normal hunting. Bullets were 131 grain round nose averaging a shade under 2500 fps.
The pop on sling swivel was new to me and I didn't want to drop the rifle before I had even begun. I needn't have worried because they are superb and do the job quietly. Although my enormous scope unbalances the set-up, it still carried easily and felt unobtrusive. Unlike some of my dextrous friends, who can unsling their rifle and have it on the sticks in the blink of the eye, I seem to take an age. I was pleased to find that the new rifle, being inherently light, made this action a little easier.
The rifle's single set trigger can be used in two ways. The first by simply lifting your trigger finger upwards against a plunger to release the safety and squeezing the trigger, as with any rifle. The second is to release the safety as before but then push forward the trigger into it's set position. When set the lightest of touches fires the rifle.
I have now successfully used both methods and prefer the latter for rifle ranges, highseat work and stalking when deer are being co-operative. The conventional method remains useful for all other situations when time does not permit setting of the trigger.
De-cocking the set trigger is simply a matter of applying the safety catch before touching the trigger, which immediately clicks back into the normal position. A mechanical safety lock prevents the round being fired.
Recoil with factory 131 grain bullets was fine and I was able to hold aim and watch the fall of shot. Later, my hand loads were running several hundred feet per second quicker and recoil was more noticeable, but still acceptable. I believe that some of the reason folk like the smaller calibres is the modest recoil and ability to hold aim and see fall of shot; this gives enormous confidence.
Once the shot is taken, cycling the bolt removes the empty case strongly. Re-chambering round two is also easy and positive.
Unloading is easy but requires extra concentration due to the fact that the safety has to be released to open the bolt. The magazine pops out after having pushed a small plunger and the bolt slides out of the receiver after depressing a small lever with de-cock being via a small supplied tool.
Unfortunately, SAUER have left the problem of selecting safe alone, which is possibly an error on their behalf. In order to select safe you must first put your finger inside the trigger guard and push the safety button up. At home and on the range this action has proved both easy and faultless but on a cold rainy day with gloves on it would be well to doubly ensure the rifle is pointed in a safe direction!
Over the last few months I have shot Muntjac, Roe and Sika deer with the 6.5 and all have succumbed to its efficiency. However, many have run between 10-50m after being hit. All my bullets have exited as expected, and the blood trails are near perfect with a 100% record of follow up.
I am totally confident with both rifle and calibre. The initial £1050 is money well spent and I look forward to seeing how it performs in the field with different makes of ammunition.
Note: A complete field review of the Sauer 202 Lightweight rifle can be found on the Product Reviews page.
Copyright 2004, 2006 by Derek Kendall. All rights reserved.