By Kevin Madison, WHJ Shooting Editor
The 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) has been steadily gaining in popularity since Hornady introduced it in late 2017. Shooters aren’t the only ones who have been paying attention either. More and more hunters are learning of its effectiveness and versatility. As a result of the demand, rifle manufacturers are bringing options to the table. In late 2018, SAUER was the first to offer a mass produced rifle chambered in this new cartridge. SAUER, a highly respected German gunmaker, has been producing guns for over 267 years (yes! that is correct), worked with Hornady to chamber a rifle in 6.5 PRC that is rapidly gaining a following.
There is plenty of good reason for this rapid gain in popularity. Modeled after Hornady’s extremely popular 6.5 Creedmoor, the 6.5 PRC offers many of the same characteristics that shooters and hunters love about that cartridge. It is highly accurate, shoots 6.5mm bullets that offer plenty of extremely efficient, high ballistic coefficient options. Moreover, it’s easy to handload and at the same time there is ample supply of factory ammunition. It also delivers a reasonable amount of recoil appealing to just about any individual pulling the trigger (from kids to adults; both men and women). The 6.5 PRC notches up the velocity significantly above the Creedmoor, allowing hunters to extend their effective range and become comfortable using the round for larger big game species like elk and bear.
For hunters in the West who encounter a myriad of weather and environmental conditions, from the dusty plains of early season Wyoming antelope hunts to late season backcountry Montana elk and mule deer hunts, the S100 Ceratech presents a crucial, yet affordable, lightweight rifle that is resistance to corrosion that is ideal for those long mountain hunts.
BARRELED ACTION: Built onsite at the Sauer factory in Isny, Germany, the receivers are made using the latest in CNC milling technology, helping produce Sauer’s renowned smooth bolt operation. Barrels manufactured in the same plant are cold-hammer forged and come with a guarantee of sub MOA five-shot performance. The 100 Ceratech model also comes coated in a Grey Ice colored Cerakote, providing ultimate corrosion and scratch resistance.
STOCK: Ultra rugged ERGO MAX stock, featuring checkering in crucial places on the grip and fore end for better control in any weather conditions. The stock also features an EVER REST action bedding to ensure an optimum fit for the barreled action in order to produce shot after shot repeatability.
TRIGGER: The Sauer 100 sets itself apart from most factory rifles thanks to a crisp, easy user adjustable single stage trigger, ranging from 2.2 to 4.4 pounds of pull.
SAFETY: A 3-position safety is standard, combining ease of handling with maximum reliability.
MAGAZINE: The magazine on the Sauer 100 holds 5 rounds of standard ammunition and 4+1 on magnum rounds like the 6.5 PRC.
PERFORMANCE: As a longtime shooter of another 6.5 cartridge (.260 Rem), I was anxious to see what this rifle and new round had to offer. I tested the gun with Hornady factory ammunition in both the 143gr ELD-X Precision Hunter and the 147gr ELD-M Match.
TEST: Because the rifle was brand new when I received it, I used the first 32 rounds to do a bit of a barrel break in process. Between each of the first 10 shots I cleaned the rifle, then followed that up with four cycles of three shots that ended with cleaning the barrel. Finally, I finished with two, five-shot cycles with cleaning afterwards. Using the ELD-X ammunition during this process, the barrel cleaned up easily each time. When I finished with the break-in process I was ready to move on to more serious testing. I should also point out that during this process the precision of the rifle and ammunition was showing very strong potential.
Sauer rifles come with a performance guarantee of 1 MOA or better at 100 yards and both the ELD-X and ELD-M ammunition far exceeded the guarantee. I executed five shot groups much closer to .5 MOA. The 143 ELD-Xs averaged right at 2,950 fps and the 147 ELD-Ms were at 2,800 fps. This is a very significant jump over the velocities that are standard with the .260 Remington and the popular 6.5 Creedmoor. While recoil was definitely more prevalent than my .260, it was by no means what I would classify as significant. With the barrel coming threaded with a protector as a standard option, it is very easy to add a suppressor or muzzle brake should you so desire, which is exactly what I did when I moved from the 100-yard bench to the field for further testing. When I added my SilencerCo Harvester to the Sauer 100 the recoil was virtually eliminated.
Moving to my favorite field shooting spot, and away from the solid concrete bench, where I had steel targets to choose ranging from 200 to 800 yards, I knew I would get a better feel for how this rifle and ammunition combination would perform in hunting situations. Switching between prone with a bipod, to prone over my pack, and lastly to sitting off shooting sticks, I found the rifle easy to maneuver and I was able to get into a comfortable shooting position. Shooting prone off the bipod and pack, I was extremely steady out to the farthest targets. As I moved to shooting off the shooting sticks, I did find that I was not ultimately as stable as I would prefer at ranges past 500 yards. This is very likely due to the extreme lightweight nature of the rifle, which is something to consider. It makes it extremely handy for packing around in the mountains, but you will sacrifice a bit in the stability department when attempting to shoot longer ranges off less than perfect shooting positions.
BOTTOMLINE: The 6.5 PRC is quickly gaining popularity amongst shooters from different areas, including hunters and competitors and for good reason. With Hornady’s backing, you can feel secure that their quality factory ammunition will be readily available for both pursuits. The Sauer 100 Ceratech is a great rifle for the prospective big game hunter. It is light enough (weighs just under 7 pounds) to carry effortlessly on even the most strenuous of hunts, yet durable enough to withstand any weather conditions one might face hunting throughout the fall and winter here in the West. Couple that with quality components that equate to a very accurate shooting rifle at a very attractive price point, I would suggest this is a rifle that should be on anyone’s short list when shopping for a new all-around lightweight rifle. Not only would this be a great application for high mountain sheep or mule deer hunts, the power that this new 6.5 PRC brings is a very worthy consideration for elk at moderate distances.
Model Sauer 100 Ceratech
Manufacturer J.P. Sauer & Sohn
Action Sauer 100
Offerings .222 Remington, .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×55, 6.5 PRC, 8x57IS, 9.3×62, 7mm-08, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum
Tested 6.5 PRC
Scope Used In Test: Leupold VX6HD 3-18x44mm
Magazine Capacity 3+1
Barrel 22” Cold Hammer Forged
Overall length 48”
Weight (no scope) 6.7 lbs.
Length of pull 14.5”
Trigger User adjustable 2.2 – 4.4 lbs.
Sights/scope mounts None; drilled and taped for Rem 700 style mounts