1. Our test gun had a 28", stepped-rib barrel, although 26" and 30" tubes are available. The black-matte-finish barrel is chrome-lined, and a red fiber-optic sight screws into the rib near the muzzle. Five flush-mounted choke tubes are included: Cylinder, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified and Full. Each is identified by notches in the end and an inscription on the side. A small plastic storage case has space for four chokes and a wrench and contains screw-in swivel studs for attaching a sling. The gun has a 3" chamber, and shell capacity is 3 + 1.
2. The two-part receiver has a black matte finish and a squared back, which is why it might be mistaken for a Benelli. To take weight out of the gun, which tips the scales at 7.4 pounds, the lower portion of the receiver has been engineered with aluminum. The upper is a separate steel piece that slides over the bolt. “Engraving” consists of “Sauer SL5” lasered into the lower and “J.P. Sauer and Sohn” into the upper. Trigger pulls averaged 4 pounds 9 ounces—not overly heavy for a field gun—and there was a bit of creep. The crossbolt safety is located on the rear of the trigger guard.
3. The pistol-grip stock has the following measurements: 14½" length of pull to a rubber recoil pad, 13/8" drop at comb and 21/8" drop at heel. The walnut stock has enhanced “laserline grain,” and there is shallow checkering on the grip and forend. The forend also has finger channels along the top for additional control. The rubber recoil pad is a half-inch thick and did a fine job taming recoil on 2¾", 11/8-ounce Federal Top Gun Target loads, but when we stepped up to 3", 15/8-ounce shells, we could feel the sting.
Most gun enthusiasts are familiar with J.P. Sauer & Sohn, the German firm that has been building shotguns and rifles for more than 250 years. In recent times the gunmaker has focused mostly on bolt-action rifles, but now Sauer has teamed with Italian firm Breda to produce its first semi-auto smoothbore. The 12-gauge we tested is the SL5 Select Wood, an inertia-driven gun that utilizes the same operating system as Benelli autoloaders.
If you think the SL5 resembles a Super Black Eagle 3, you’re not wrong. Breda once owned part of Benelli before selling to Beretta. The frame of the SBE line remained much the same for years after the Beretta purchase. Breda actually attempted to bring this gun to market in the US more than a decade ago, calling it the B12i. It didn’t gain much traction, but that certainly wasn’t due to the quality of the gun.
We started by patterning the SL5 on paper with the heavier 1⅝-ounce ammo at 40 yards through the Full choke. The gun produced a 60/40 pattern. Moving in to 25 yards (clay-target distance), we switched to the Federal target loads and the Cylinder choke. The pattern result was the same. The SL5 was nicely balanced, and at the range we dropped only a few targets in multiple rounds of 5 Stand and skeet. The gun did not reliably cycle some of the 1-ounce loads we used on clays, but Sauer stipulates that 1⅛-ounce payloads are optimal. (This is typical of inertia guns, since they require recoil to operate.) A padded plastic hard case is included with the SL5, which sells for $1,479 and comes with a 10-year factory warranty. For more information, contact J.P. Sauer & Sohn, jpsauer-usa.com.