Sauer SL5 Waterfowl Fred Bear Camo

By Randy Wakeman

The Sauer SL5 is imported into the United States by Blaser Group, currently headed by industry veteran and international Man of Mystery Jason Evans. The Sauer name has changed hands countless times over the years, as has the named manufacturer of this 3-1/2 chambered inertia gun, Breda. This shotgun is essentially the Breda B3.5SM.

According to Mr. Evans, it is an established partnership of Breda and JP Sauer. The original 2015-2016 Sauer SL5 Select shotgun began as a project between Blaser/Sauer engineering and product management combined with Breda’s proven action and Italian production. “Breda does fully engineer and produce all steel/aluminum components as well as Deep Drilling barrels for all Sauer models. Only polymer and wood components are sourced from trusted existing Italian suppliers.”

It is unclear to me if Breda currently has a manufacturing facility of their own: I've never so much as seen a picture of it, if it currently exists. Breda, maker of machine guns for WWII, was at one time ahead of their time. Breda had 3 inch magnum 12 gauge and 20 gauge long recoil models before Browning did. The Breda long recoil shotguns were not only well made, but they featured a two piece receiver, tool-less disassembly, and interchangeable chokes. All of this was available in the 1950s, long before anyone else. Breda has also been through several buyouts and has had relationships with several other gun manufacturers. I owned a Beretta 303 20 gauge that had a Breda receiver. I've been told that Beretta-Benelli makes the barrels for Breda currently, but personally I don't know either way.

This Sauer SL5 Waterfowl Fred Bear Camo 26 inch barrel model is clearly a duck and goose gun, for it weighs in at a hefty 7 lbs. 13 oz. The trigger is on the heavy side, breaking at 5.5 pounds, but it isn't as problematic on this shotgun as it would be on a lighter shotgun. The SL5 come with five extended choke tubes and is generally very well finished. The only blemish I found was a rough patch of camo film on the bottom of the barrel, which is covered by the forearm when the gun is assembled. It isn't a deal-breaker, but I expected better.

The gun has a stepped rib and a rubber comb insert, both of which I like, and a solid recoil pad which is better than many, but not quite as generous as I would expect on a 3-1/2 chambered 12 gauge. The charging handle and bolt release are super-sized, but the cross-bolt safety is truly dinky as shown above. It works well enough, but it is tiny-- too small for gloved or partially frozen hands.

This 3-1/2 inch 12 gauge cycles 1-1/8 oz. 1200 fps loads with no issues, something that several 3-1/2 chambered guns struggle with. The SL5 is very, very easy to load. Also, the SL5 is beautifully balanced and shoots to point of aim. It is softer shooting than most inertia guns, likely due to its 8 pound plus loaded weight. Sauer USA gives the SL5 a ten year warranty. This specific model has a $1679 MSRP with street prices running about $1500 and change.

This shotgun is what I'd call excellent. In fact, if it was not for the ridiculously small safety, I'd call it outstandingly good. I'm perhaps easily puzzled, but to have a super-sized charging handle, over-sized bolt release, yet still retain this dinky safety is a head-scratcher. It makes no sense to me at all. If the safety is dealt with, it would be an ideal duck blind or goose pit shotgun.

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