Sauer 202 Take-Down Rifle
- By Pete Moore
- 12 Comments
- Last updated: 27/01/2017
In terms of switch barrel rifles Sauer’s 202 is probably the oldest and today is having to make headway against other European designs. It is however still popular and has a large following. I have tested a few 202s, but this is the first time with their Take-Down model.
Sauer offers two versions, both with the ability to switch barrels/calibres, but approach the job differently. What I would term the standard rifle, which we are more familiar with, uses a high strength aluminium alloy receiver with the barrel chase (parallel chamber section) sliding into the front of the action where it’s retained by cross bolts acting on a split clamp. Barrel retention is achieved by the bolt as it locks up. When I spoke to a Sauer technician he said they did not really consider this model as being readily converted by the user; though it’s simple enough.
What he considered a true switch barrel is the Take-Down, which offers a quick change/no tools system. Though using the same principle of the bolt lock-up holding the barrel in position the swap is simple and elegant. Having tested other, European, switch barrel rifles, it’s safe to say that Sauer approaches the process a little differently…
Blesbok to Buffalo
UK importers Garlands sent me a Take-Down with 270 Win and 375 H&H Magnum barrels sets in a neat carry case. These two calibres would suit the African plains game hunter with the 270 more than enough for the majority of antelope and the 375 a good choice for Eland and buffalo.
In terms of controls both versions are identical, though the Take-Down has a steel receiver and is noticeably heavy by comparison. The 202 uses the receiver as a chassis with the stock in two pieces fitting to it. Feed is by a single column box magazine with the release button at the front of the well. Capacity varies according to calibre but three (standard calibres) is the normal figure though extended mags are available. Operation is easy with the empty falling into your hand as you push the button.
The safety consists of a two button system. One is recessed into the tang, which pushes down for SAFE and is easily operated by the thumb without breaking your shooting grip. As this happens a second deploys inside the trigger guard (in front of the blade) and to select FIRE you push it up with your finger. All very practical! Typically when on SAFE the bolt is locked.
The trigger is good with a crisp break of around 3lbs and also offers a single-set facility, which pushes forward to activate. This drops the weight considerably and I always urge caution when using it in this mode, as it leaves little room for error in the heat of the moment - though it is useful for zeroing.
The forend locates to the receiver by a stud and sprung détentes, and is removed by pressing in on the forward QD sling swivel in the tip and has no contact with the barrel. The oddest aspect of the barrel change is the fact that the chase is slightly tapered (cone plug) and is only a friction fit with a locating (anti-rotation) key for alignment. OK a very precise one, but what holds the gun together is the 6-lug bolt engaging. The tolerances between bolt and receiver are tight and most noticeable is the smooth action stroke, which it needs to be as it has to hold the barrel in the same place for consistency. Sauer says the rifle will go back together with no loss of zero; we shall see…
Barrel removal is odd and requires you to be quick with your hands. Take off the forend and magazine and open the bolt, then hold the barrel so the rifle is pointing upwards with the butt just off the ground. Push the bolt forward, but don’t lock it down then let it drop back a couple of times and the action drops away from the barrel. Here you have to be ready to catch it as it detaches…
Using the bolt to lock the barrel precludes the use of interchangeable heads as Blaser and Mauser do, as the 202 needs a solid assembly to take the pressure. This means that if you change calibre to a different head size you will need a whole new bolt.
The general feel and look of the gun is pleasing with a cheekpiece, medium comb and large grip. This gives a comfortable head/shooting position whether you are using a scope or irons. The forend offers a decent hold and though it fully floats the barrel it’s a little springy, so I would not bother with a bipod.
The Take-Down is available in a number of calibre group options; medium, magnum and big game for example 270 Win is in medium and the 375 H&H is big game. As I said it’s heavy with a medium weighing 7.9 lbs and the big game at 8.4 lbs and that’s without a scope on top! Barrel lengths vary with 20, 22 & 23.5” in medium and 23.5 and 25.5” in magnum/big game. There are a number of models offering both plain and decorated options etc.
The test rifle was the Standard model with a nice walnut stock with black forend cap and well cut chequering; both barrels came with iron sights. Good is the fact that the 202 does not use dedicated scope mounts as it will accept standard bases etc. I put a Meopta 3-12 x56 Meostar on top in Warne QD rings. This means you’re not paying £350+ for a set of QD mounts. But if you want to swap scopes you’ll need to consider if they will return to zero!
Ammunition went to 140-grain PPU SP and Winchester 130-grain Silver Tip in 270 Win and PPU again with a 300-grain FMJ/RN in the 375. My two major interests were accuracy as some 202s I’ve used in the past showed poor performance, and more importantly return to zero on barrel change.
The test rifle had obviously been used before as both barrels were noticeably fouled; however let’s see what they can do. Shooting prone at 100 yards the PPU 270 shot around the inch, with the Winchester just acing that and going sub-1”; not too bad, but then again Sauer make some very good tubes! As you might be aware I’m not a big fan of 375 H&H as I got badly mauled by one a few years ago and it has made me a little shy of the calibre…
Shooting with iron sights standing (mama didn’t raise no fool) I was pleasantly surprised; as the 300-grain load though obviously big and a little jumpy was well behaved enough, a 350 might have been a bit snottier. Shooting off a bag over the bonnet of my Landy showed the 375 tube could easily hold 4” with the irons, so I assume that would be 2” or less with glass. So more than good enough for closer range work on bigger animals, which is what 375 is really all about! For the test the 270 came with an extended 4-shot mag, with the 375 showing the standard (flush-fit) version, which only holds 2-rounds and one in the chamber.
Now the acid test and the biggest hurdle for any switch barrel system; will it return to zero? The answer to that was no and yes; let me explain. I used the 270 set for this test and simply shot for group (1” high @ 100 yards) which suits the calibre well and took off and re-fitted the barrel in the prescribed manner. Firing again saw the first shot go 4” high at 1 o’clock, the next two snapped back to the zero point with no change in group size, if anything the dirtier the barrel got the tighter it shot…
In all I repeated the test eight times with both the PPU and Winchester with almost identical results; shot-1 3-4” high around 1 to 12 o’clock with shots 2 and 3 back on the money. I can only conclude that the recoil of the first round seats and positions the barrel. Once bedded-in the gun shoots tight and to point of aim all day long; curious. As I said I do not think this is a new gun and it might be that over time things have got a little smoothed…
However, with this sort of equipment it’s no hardship to check zero, which as responsible hunters we should do anyway pre-hunt; especially if you are going overseas with a switch barrel. Though I was a little surprised at the symptom of the barrel change, I have no serious complaints on the 202 Take-Down’s performance. My one niggle is that it’s a bit on the heavy side.
• Accurate, good looking and recoil friendly
• Test gun did not immediately return to zero after barrel change
• If you’re looking for a switch barrel well worth a look, but if you’re not then go for the normal 202
Equivalent in 270 Win £4420
Conversion kit 202 Magnum to Medium £1355. Inc barrel, bolt & magazine
Gun case £400