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Sauer Silence 404 XTC

Sauer Silence 404 XTC

Sauer’s 404 arrived in 2014 and this latest update combines handmade carbon fibre furniture with an integral sound moderator. As the use of moderators worldwide has increased, it’s great to see manufacturers almost always offering muzzle threads, yet here, they go the extra mile with a fully integrated system.

Integration

The 404 Silence wears a 31mm diameter, hard anodised aluminium sound moderator. It’s 535mm long and screws securely over the underlying 420mm barrel’s 15x1 muzzle thread. It’s easy to unscrew for barrel cleaning and although not immediately obvious, there is a 10mm Allen key socket at the muzzle. This might allow disassembly, but I didn’t dismantle it personally. The moderator is tapered where it meets the barrel’s reinforce at the action, this aligns the unit with the action for a slender visual appearance that adds to the aesthetics of what must be considered a deluxe rifle.

Action dynamics

The bolt’s 6 lugs lock directly into the barrel. The receiver itself is not pressure bearing and barrels are interchangeable. They are clamped in place with three Allen bolts, accessed underneath the forend. The front and rear sling studs are quick-release and fold-open Allen keys remove the stock, swap barrels and alter the trigger pull. Sauer’s spigot bipods can also fit in the forend’s QR slot.

Changing the barrel requires loosening the three bolts on the action’s right side and dropping the lever, it will then slide out. Reverse the process to fit a new one, tensioning the bolts in Sauer’s described sequence. The chamber headspaces accurately within the barrel’s lug abutments, it is indexed to maintain rotational position. Bolt heads can also be swapped on the shaft, which offers a 123mm stroke to accommodate the larger cartridges if necessary. It’s a 60º lift to cock and when opening, there’s strong primary extraction force to draw the case from the chamber. There’s a single extractor claw on the push feed bolt face and twin plungers for enthusiastic ejection from the rightside port. Bright steel engine turning gives the bolt a slick finish that will retain fractional lubrication. It shows a 21.2mm diameter and the stroke is very smooth, plus it is hard to jam. Sauer’s 404 handle is 55mm long with a 22mm ball tip and it has the defined rearward curve I always associate with fast, instinctive handling dynamics.

There’s a de-cocker on the shroud, so forward to cock for FIRE or press the button and allow it to slide rearward to de-cock the action for complete safety. It also locks the bolt closed. A half press forward allows you to lift the bolt handle to unload the chamber safely when necessary. Overall, it’s pretty faultless.

The bolt’s discreet release catch hangs adjacent to the left of the spacious trigger guard. The curved trigger blade is 9mm wide and grooved for grip. It breaks crisply followed by less than 2mm of overtravel at its tip. The blade can be adjusted to alter the reach from the grip’s throat for a perfect 90º index finger angle. The single-stage mechanism is adjustable through four breaking weights (394, 548, 723 or 905-grams) and the firm detents mean you can switch between preferred settings without counting rotations, plus there’s a visual indicator too.

Sauer’s single-column steel magazine holds three rounds, plus one in the chamber if required. The mag has to be removed for loading, but singles dropped in the ejection port will load smoothly in an emergency. The release button is in front of the well.

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Sauer uses their proprietary scope mounting solution, which is machined as part of the hard anodised aluminium action’s structure.

Carbon magic

The visually stunning stock shows the chequered warp and weft of the carbon fibres, but the real magic lies within. The forend locking mechanism is actuated with either sling stud tool, and when slid off, reveals the handlaid carbon fibre. It’s still a hand-filling external contour with finger grooves and remains free-floating without becoming overly bulky. Both the forend and buttstock interlock the receiver like a shotgun’s woodwork and similarly, the accurate 3-dimensional junctions from carbon to metal are mechanically seamless to transfer recoil forces without stress concentration. The butt is anchored behind the receiver by a single hidden bolt in the thumbhole’s throat, behind the almost vertical pistol grip. There’s no stippling anywhere on the stock but the matte finish repelled moisture and remained grippy. There’s a slight ambidextrous palm swell and the comb/recoil pad are also symmetrical for shots from either shoulder. The underside taper enables hand support when prone and the minimal drop at heel with slight Monte-Carlo shape transfers recoil in a linear fashion. Just 2mm separates the bolt shroud’s underside sear from the comb’s surface, minimising wasted space to ensure good head positioning. Inserting the sling tool through the upper hole in the recoil pad allows adjustment of the comb height as desired. It’s a slim profile, so fits under your cheekbone without lateral jaw displacement. The 15mm thick recoil pad is medium/hard rubber and offers secure shoulder grip. The length of pull measures 14.125”.

Shot from bags

I didn’t have the specific Sauer fit bipod, so I shot from a rest bag for precision tests. Also, taking into account the short barrel on this .308, it was going to be interesting to see what muzzle velocities and energy levels were achieved. In use, the rifle was quite simply consistent and accurate with all the ammunition used. Not just because of the barrel or action, but because of everything. It’s more than the sum of its parts and was simply a gun I found easy to get the best from. The stock ergonomics enable refined trigger control and recoil transfer and the underside of the forend offers a versatile position to rest on in hunting scenarios. I shot with the rifle handheld, supported (on a rucksack), from a tree stand and from sticks, which illustrates dynamic hunting handling to me.

The gun isn’t actually super light, which you might assume given the carbon fibre furniture. It tips the scales at 3.3kg, so will inherently absorb some recoil, yet the rifle incorporates its own moderator within that mass. Mods usually add 300 to 500-grams way out front and instead of making a long, slim barrel whippy, this moderator encapsulates and tensions the barrel as it is screwed in position for more rigidity, which is part of what impresses on paper, like a heavy barrelled rifle might, showing lesser harmonic variation between different types of ammunition.

Performance was sub-MOA from all types, yet what delighted me most was how linear the recoil transfer was, with minimal muzzle flip and effective noise moderation. The carbon fibre allows controlled stiffness throughout the structure, yet inherently dampens recoil further, without any resonant noise generation through firing, bolt operation or physical contact. The control layout and bolt operation caused minimal disturbance to the gun’s point of aim while cycling the slick bolt, which fed ammunition without jolts.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the 404 during my first encounter 8 years ago, but I’m suspicious bolt and action coating changes with perhaps a fractional variation in tolerances have loosened the feel perceptibly. The early ones were just a little too tight when water, dust and gunshot residue got involved in the real world.

Approximate calculations reveal the short barrel is roughly 8% down on advertised velocities, with the lightest most significantly punished. As expected, the heavier bullets retained decent energy figures in this short barrel. The twist rate of 1:11” is a good compromise that’s going to handle most of what’s on offer in a market that’s steadily moving away from lead.

Conclusion

I cannot deny that this is an expensive rifle and certainly more than the tool you may require or even desire to do a job, but as a showcase of a gunmaker’s art, it is rather pleasing. The mechanics of the 404 are well proven and although I’d like to see the twin column magazines (as used elsewhere in their range) brought here, I appreciate that some will always prefer durable steel mags. The inclusion of a moderator for sound and recoil reduction is welcomed, as it performs both tasks well, with minimal handling disturbance and a retained central balance. The fact the forend is super light offsets the mass, yet it’s still stiff enough to retain a true free float on the barrel/mod. This is a true testament to Sauer’s technical approach to the versatile benefits of carbon fibre. This rifle displays wonderful handling ergonomics and three-dimensional styling that is quite rarely still 100% functional as well as visually stimulating and very exclusive.

  • Sauer Silence 404 XTC - image {image:count}

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  • Sauer Silence 404 XTC - image {image:count}

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  • Sauer Silence 404 XTC - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Sauer Silence 404 XTC - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Sauer Silence 404 XTC - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Sauer Silence 404 XTC - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Sauer Silence 404 XTC - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Sauer Silence 404 XTC - image {image:count}

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gun
features

  • Name: Sauer 404 Silence XTC
  • Calibre: .308, .30-06, 8x57 IS, 9,3x62, 300 Win Mag and 8.5x55 Blaser
  • Overall length: 44.5”
  • Length of pull: 14.125”
  • Weight: 7.26 lbs
  • Stock Material: Carbon Fibre
  • Magazine Capacity: 3+1
  • Trigger: Single-Stage, 4-Way Adjustable
  • Barrel Length: 16”
  • Twist Rate: 1:11”
  • Moderator Length: 21”
  • Sound Suppression: 28.5 dB
  • Price: £8095
  • Contact: Blaser Group www.blaser-group.com
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