Fat Bolt actions

The Affordable Fat Bolts

The Sauer 100 Classic XT is handsome by American standards and breaks new ground with regard to the pricing of German-made rifles.

What I most look forward to at each year’s convention is meandering the aisles and seeing all the new stuff. That’s because there’s always some guns and related products that debut there at SCI that were not seen at the SHOT Show, which always precedes our event by a couple of weeks. This year I saw three new rifles there that I found highly interesting on several levels, one of which is the Sauer 100 Classic XT.

Now normally when we see any new rifle coming out of Germany–or just a variation of an existing model (“line extension” in industry parlance)–we’re prepared to see a price tag of $3,000 and up, right? That’s one of the things that makes the Sauer 100 so interesting, for not only is it a super rifle boasting lots of great features, it carries a price tag of $699!

The 100 belongs to the “full diameter bolt” family that we’re seeing more and more of these days. The basic design and function of this rifle is virtually identical to that of the Ruger American, Thompson-Center Venture and the Winchester XPR. Apparently it’s easier, i. e., less expensive, to produce a fat bolt rifle action than a Mauser type. That’s because when you don’t have locking lugs that protrude beyond the diameter of the bolt body, both bolt and receiver can be simple tubes. Not having to machine lug raceways into the inner

Fat Bolt actions
The “fat bolt” family continues to grow. From left are the Titan 3 and 6 bolts, the Sauer 100, Ruger American and the T-C Venture. Missing is the Winchester XPR.

sidewalls of the receiver saves a lot of machine time; you only need a round hole! The net result is a fatter than normal bolt, but the tolerances between it and the receiver can be held to within a few thousandths of one another, and that means an extremely smooth, wobble-free bolt glide. And with three locking lugs on 120-degree centers, only 60 degrees of bolt rotation is needed to cycle the action. A shorter handle lift speeds reloading and provides more clearance between the hand and the scope’s ocular bell.

The styling of the stock is American classic at the butt end, with a slender, Euro-style forend with a Schnabel tip. I find it to be quite a handsome rifle. The gun sent us for evaluation was chambered in .308 Win. and as it came from the box weighed 6 lbs., 13 oz. This gun has one of the best staggered column detachable magazines I’ve seen, and I’ve seen ’em all. It’s of one piece polycarbonate with

Sauer-100-Classic XT
Among the several excellent features of the highly affordable Sauer 100 Classic XT is its one-piece polycarbonate magazine.

integral feed lips, and the follower is of like material. It’s a snap to charge, and cartridges slide out from under the feed lips so effortlessly you wonder if you’re actually reloading! And the magazine fits absolutely flush with the belly of the synthetic stock. The user-adjustable trigger broke like a glass sliver at 2-1/2 lbs. As for the other features of the 100 Classic XT, there’s an aluminum bedding block molded integral into the stock which acts as a recoil lug abutment and a bedding surface for the first half-inch of barrel just ahead of the receiver ring.

Like all J. P. Sauer firearms, the 100 Classic XT is manufactured at the Blaser factory in Isny, Germany and is imported here by Blaser USA located in San Antonio. Calibers offered are .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×55, .270 Win., .308 Win., .30-’06, 8x57mm and 9.3x62mm.

The Austrian-made Titan is another European rifle available with a stock styled to suit American taste.
The Austrian-made Titan is another European rifle available with a stock styled to suit American taste.

Another of the rifles that caught my attention was the Titan 3 and 6 from the Austrian gunmaker Roessler Waffen. Not a new rifle per se, but fairly new here in the States. The guns are being imported by TR Imports of Keller, TX. Like the Sauer 100 Classic XT, the Titan 3 is yet another example of the full diameter bolt genre. The difference, however, is that this gun offers barrel/caliber interchangeability across cartridge families, but limited of course to suitable action lengths. That means interchangeability of bolts and magazines as well as barrels. The Titan 3 is the short action version, while the Titan 6, its sister model, is the standard/magnum length action and it differs in that it has two rows of three locking lugs, hence its “Titan 6” designation. With the Titans, you get the whole bolt assembly rather than a switchable head.

Shown here are all the components needed to have a Titan 3 chambered in .223 Remington, and a Titan 6 in .308 Winchester.

Like most rifles coming out of this part of Europe, there is a myriad of combinations of stocks, metal finishes, barrel lengths, contours and embellishment available, but the basic rifle with a synthetic stock starts at around $1,390, which for a switch-barrel rifle made in Austria is rather amazing. The example sent us was configured in .223 Rem. with an optional barrel, magazine and bolt to convert to .308 Win. The barrel slip-fits into the receiver and the same hex key that fits the action screws also fits the two transverse machine screws that tighten the split receiver around the barrel shank. There’s an index slot that ensures proper barrel installation; otherwise the bolt won’t move fully forward or allow the locking lugs to engage. To switch barrels takes about five minutes. The whole operation is idiot proof.

Austrian Titan Rifle
The Titan, like every other modern rifle coming out of Germany and Austria today, employs a minimal-sized ejection port which adds rigidity to the receiver.

The test gun was also fitted with a pre-mounted Vortex 4-16×50 30mm scope in Leupold rings and bases (Savage 110 bases). Like all fat-bolt rifles, the bolt glide on this gun is exceptionally smooth–like on bearings. The two-position tang safety blocks trigger movement when engaged and does not lock the bolt. The bolt handle protrudes at a less acute angle than all other rifles I’m familiar with–about 45 degrees–which gives more hand clearance and makes it less likely you’ll miss it on the upsweep of the hand when trying to get off a fast follow-up shot with the gun shouldered. Longer, target style bolt handles accomplish the same thing.

The Titan 3 and 6 are available in a surprising number of calibers–some 24 in all–ranging from .222 Rem. to .375 Ruger, many of which are European metrics.

Lastly, the third rifle to make our list is the new Remington R25 Gen II. Here’s a rifle that should send the hearts of AR platform fans aflutter. The Gen II represents the first substantial redesign of the original Stoner-designed AR10. There are many improved design changes on this gun, but the most significant is the reduction in the size and weight of the upper/lower A3-type receiver to where it is exactly the same depth as that of the AR-15, and only ½” longer in the front to accommodate the longer magazine needed for the .308 cartridge family. Compared to the original R25’s receiver it’s 5/8” shorter.

Remington’s new R-25 Gen II MSR is as civilian-looking as one can make an AR platform rifle. An increasing number of guns like this are being seen in hunting camps throughout America.

Other design changes include a new elastomer extractor spring and the composition of the extractor itself. They’ve also added a second ejector and a new steel feed ramp that allows for a smaller barrel extension. The new extractor is said to be nearly unbreakable and that under rigorous testing it endured thousands of cycles without showing any fatigue. And now with the redundancy of a second ejector being added, it can’t help but be more reliable. The forged, monolithic bolt carrier is lighter than before and features an integral gas key tower rather than having it bolted on as on the Gen I action. And lastly, they’ve made the gun “friendlier” by rounding out the edges and corners of the upper and lower receivers so that the gun’s not as prickly as the original design. All these changes have resulted in a Modern Sporting Rifle that weighs just a tad more than 7 lbs., which is no heavier than your typical bolt-action rifle. I think Remington has done a fine job making this rifle look as “civilian” as possible. It is being offered in .243 Win., 7mm-08 and .308 Win. at the MSRP of $1,697.–Jon R. Sundra

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