Sauer SL5 Select Wood 12 Gauge Semi-Auto

By Randy Wakeman

The J.P. Sauer & Sohn SL5 is a joint venture between Sauer and Breda of Italy. As the story goes, Breda of Italy was a 50% owner of Benelli when Benelli refined the Civolani inertia operating system that has made Benelli a familiar brand. This is what Sauer has to say.

Option of 26”, 28”, or 30” Stepped Rib
• Chrome Lined Barrel
• Receiver made with steel upper for strength & durability
• Aluminum lower for lightweight & balance
• Inertia Driven System
• Extended Bolt Handle & Release Button
• LPA Front Bead Sight

Sling Attachments
• Cervellati Recoil Pad
• Capacity 3+1
• 10 Year Factory Warranty
• Made in Italy

The tested SL5 26 inch weighs 6 lbs. 15 oz., with a trigger that breaks at 6 lbs. The 'Select Wood' has added grain via laser, although I'm not familiar with the exact process, it thankfully feels like walnut, not a plastic decal. After the laser treatment to add figure, it is oil-fnished. It feels like walnut as that is exactly what it is. MSRP is $1479, with the usual dealer discounts available.

With the SL5's all-metal constriction, those who have great disdain for plastic trigger guards have a competent option here, with a steel upper receiver to boot. The gun has a very solid, sturdy feel and appears to be extremely well-built. The choke tubes are of the familiar “Crio Plus” style. The ejection with target loads is superb, with 1180 fps 1 oz. loads showing reliable and positive ejection, the best I've seen from a 12 gauge inertia gun.

As far as the weight, it isn't the lightest, but it isn't the heaviest 12 gauge 3 inch chambered inertia gun I've reviewed. Here are a few examples.

  • Sauer SL-5 Select Wood 6 lbs. 15 oz.

  • A5 Hunter: 6 lbs., 8 oz.

  • Impala Plus Emerald walnut / cerakote 6 lbs. 13 oz.

  • Girsan MC-312: 7 lbs., 2 oz.

  • Retay Arms Masai Mara Camo 6 lbs. 15 oz.

  • Vinci, Max-4 Camo: 7 lbs., 1 oz.

  • Franchi Affinity 7.0 lbs.

  • Weatherby Element Waterfowl Camo 7 pounds, 4 oz.

Although I certainly have chased wild pheasants with heavier guns, 7 lbs. is about the limit for an enjoyable all-purpose 12 gauge. If you go super light, they are less and less fun to shoot, but as you get heavier and heavier, they are less fun to carry. In the case of the SL5, the metal trigger guard and steel upper more than justifies its 6 lb. 15 oz. weight. The SL5 is also quite easy and smooth to load.

My quibbles are the heavy trigger and the smallish cross-bolt safety: both areas could be substantially improved. The Sauer quick-release swivel studs are superb. Far too many upland guns have cheap permanent sling studs embedded into what was once a nice, unmolested stick of walnut.

The Sauer shoots to point of aim, I really like the stepped rib, the light target load cycling is exceptional, and the entire gun emanates a feel of rock-solid, top-shelf quality. The machining, and overall fit / finish is just plain excellent. More info is available at .

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Copyright 2023 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.