Test: SIG Sauer Cross bolt-action rifle – Bridging the gap between a utility gun for the hunter and a precision firearm for the ambitious sport shooter

In 2020 SIG Sauer caused a stir twice with its Cross bolt-action rifle: the first time when it was unveiled by top U.S. shooters of the factory team at the "SIG Media Day at the Range" as part of the SHOT Show; and the second time by a recall that ordered freshly shipped models back to the New Hampshire factory, located at the U.S. corporate headquarters, for inspection due to a problem with the trigger of a customer's firearm. The fuss over the Cross is easy to understand. After all, SIG Sauer fans had to wait a very long time before the three large letters “SIG” could be seen again on the action of a new bolt-action rifle. The Cross is intended to represent the seamless transition between hunting and precision repeaters, and not just in name.

The concept of the SIG Sauer Cross rifle 

At first glance of the left side of the SIG Sauer Cross, you could mistake it for an AR.

At first glance, the Cross resembles an AR-type rifle. There is no denying that the U.S. manufacturer deliberately based its design on the Black Rifle, which is more than common in its home country. On the one hand, even SIG has such models in its catalog. On the other hand, there is also a huge range of accessories and tuning parts. But although there are parallels to the popular semi-automatic rifle, the Cross bolt-action rifle also brings some elements developed by SIG Sauer itself. Common to all variants of the Cross, for example, are the one-piece receiver (unlike the AR) and the folding stock, both machined from a forged aluminum block. Even the M4-style grip features the rough and very grippy texture on its sides, familiar from the grip modules of SIG Sauer pistols. On the other hand, the design of the receiver, including the magazine well itself, originates from the common ARs. The Cross is fed from an AICS-compatible PMAG 5 from Magpul. The AR was even the inspiration for the barrel removal system and you can use the same tools as on the AR-15. In addition, there is an M-Lok handguard in the form of an octagonal aluminum shroud around a free-floating barrel, as is found in principle on many ARs today. The safety selector, which can be operated from both sides here, is also in the AR style. Unlike the popular gas-operated rifle, however, the magazine release is located in front of the trigger guard.

The equipment of the SIG Sauer Cross Rifle

SIG Sauer 18" Cross Rifle: the Cross's interchangeable bolt head with its three lugs arranged at a 60-degree angle. 
SIG Sauer ships the Cross with an AICS-compatible PMAG 5 magazine from Magpul that holds five rounds.

In European countries, the Cross is currently only available in .308 Winchester caliber and, like the test gun, in 6.5 Creedmoor. The .277 Fury caliber developed by SIG Sauer itself and also offered in the USA, is not available there due to the lack of C.I.P. approval. With the Cross, by the way, customers have the choice of whether they prefer to have the aluminum parts protected by a matte black hard anodized coating or an Armakote coating in brown and sand tones called FLC (First Lite Cipher). The matte black versions are priced at around 2,700 euros each, with the FLC finish costing an additional 330 euros. The .308 Cross comes with a 16-inch barrel, with a 1:10” twist. In 6.5 Creedmoor, the rifle has an 18-inch barrel and a 1:8" twist. SIG Sauer manufactures the barrels from rust-resistant stainless steel and adds a UNEF thread (5/8 x24) on the muzzle to accept a silencer or compensator. The Cross bolt locks into the barrel extension by means of three lugs with a 60-degree throw. Because the rifle is designed as a multi-caliber rifle, as engraved on the receiver, the bolt head can be changed if necessary. The designers designed the bolt handle in such a way that its curved shape leaves sufficient room for the hand to cycle the action. A conical handle knob, which can also be replaced, serves as the handle grip. The manufacturer has positioned the bolt catch centrally, directly above the action at the rear of the receiver. A Picatinny rail with 18 slots sits on the receiver as standard, also extending about three fingers over the handguard. The 375-mm long handguard features M-Lok interfaces at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o'clock. The surfaces in between are generously ventilated.

The folding stock of the SIG Sauer Cross Rifle 

SIG Sauer 18" Cross Rifle: the skeletonized stock offers the shooter many adjustment options. Here, the corresponding elements are each adjusted up to the maximum range.
With the stock folded, the SIG Sauer Cross with 18" barrel shortens to a compact length of 70 cm. The bolt handle does not interfere with the folding.

Although the stock of the Cross, which can be folded to the right of the receiver, looks quite delicate at first glance, it surprises with its stability and firmness. When folded out, it sits bombproof, does not wobble and locks with only a little play on the hinge axis. However, releasing the lock is a bit tricky. While the thumb presses the lock button into the hinge, the other fingers have to lift up the shoulder rest slightly to separate the hook-like latch on the opposite side. Only then the part can be folded, shortening the overall length of the test gun to a handy pack size of 70 centimeters. The skeletonization and the adjustment parts of the stock do not get in the way of the bolt handle in any setting. The bolt handle fits perfectly through the largest opening in the skeletonized stock. When folded, the stock also prevents unintentional opening of the chamber. The designers have thought of almost everything at this point: what we miss, however, is an option that allows the folded stock to be locked down reasonably. Unfortunately, the button on the hinge side is not enough to lock the folded stock without play, and the whole thing flaps around rather loosely. However, the functionality of the stock makes up for this shortcoming in a big way. This leaves little to be desired in terms of individual adjustment to the shooter. The support for the buttpad is a good 2.5 mm thick and 46 mm wide steel plate with three guide grooves, which is also guided through the rear end of the skeleton frame. The two outer grooves each have ten counterbores for a locking bolt. This allows the length of the stock to be adjusted by a total of 50 mm in 5 mm increments after loosening a screw. This also allows the length of pull of the Cross to be varied between 325 and 375 mm, measured in each case from the trigger to the end of the butt plate. The screw leads through the middle groove in the plate, which can be tightened extremely firmly with its wing head and presses on a clamping piece that extends over the entire rail width. Here, nothing really wobbles anymore. The height-adjustable rubber buttpad sits on the angled end of the plate. After loosening two Torx screws, this can also be moved to the side or tilted a few degrees. The height of the pad can be adjusted from the center position by three clicks upwards on a plastic rail and thus by a total of 60 mm. A spring-loaded pushbutton takes care of the locking here. Those who are familiar with the current pistols of the 320/365 series from SIG Sauer will note with a smile that this pushbutton with its three-sided contour and ribbing apparently corresponds to the magazine release of these pistols. And why not, in both cases the part basically fulfills the same mechanical function.  The most pleasing feature of the stock, however, was the comb, which is continuously adjustable in height by about 2.5 cm. It rests on two longitudinally slotted and spring-loaded shafts. After releasing an additionally secured clamp lever by pushing a button, the shafts automatically move out of the frame of the stock to the upper stop. Now you can bring the rifle into the aiming position and by light pressure of the cheek on the stock comb move the latter comfortably in the individually optimal position to fix it there by swinging the clamp lever up absolutely wobble-free. Overall, the stock of the Cross is one of the best thought out, which we have encountered so far – Chapeau!

On the shooting range with the SIG Sauer 18" Cross Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor

At its 2020 premiere in Las Vegas, top shooters from the SIG Sauer team showed off the Cross, including Lena Miculek.
SIG Sauer 18” Cross Rifle: a 5/8x24 UNEF muzzle thread is hidden under the protection cap.

Before we continue with our impressions of the SIG Sauer Cross gained on the shooting range, a few words about the rifle trigger: after about two millimeters of smooth pull, the trigger finger feels a clearly defined wall, and from there it drags on for about half a millimeter before the trigger breaks at around 980 g on average and then travels another 1.5 mm.

Since the whole procedure is creep-free, however, this is hardly noticeable when shooting and is probably less reflected in the accuracy of the average shooter, although there are certainly better match triggers here. 

To check the accuracy of this SIG Sauer 18" Cross Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor, we made our way to a 100-meter indoor shooting range that offers ideal testing and shooting-in conditions. On the shooting range, the Cross did a good job and produced very respectable groups both with and without the A-TEC Hertz 2 silencer. The best grouping of 0.86”/22 mm was achieved with the 140-gr Match from Winchester. The best hunting cartridge in the test proved to be the 93-gr Evo Green from RWS with a  1”/25 mm grouping. This was helped by a Noblex N6 5-30x56 scope mounted on the Pica Rail using an EAW block mount. For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that the Zeiss scope pictured here was not available at the range date for organizational reasons. While accuracy remained about the same with or without the silencer, it provided a lower point of impact for all loads. While the average point of impact for the 129-gr Hornady SST and the Winchester's 140-gr bullet slipped down by about a centimeter on the 100 m range, it was 40 mm lower for the 93-gr bullets of the RWS EVO Green. After a very short break-in period, the Cross performed without any problems. Only during the first two magazines did the gun accept only one magazine loaded with four cartridges each instead of the possible five. After the third magazine, the PMAG 5 could be used at full capacity even with the bolt locked and all cartridge types. What unfortunately did not change throughout the test was the excessive force required by the magazine release.

SIG Sauer 18" Cross Rifle specs and price 

SIG Sauer 18" Cross Rifle 
2,679 euro
6.5 Creedmoor
Magazine Capacity:
5 rounds
Overall Length:
925 to 975 mm
Running length:
18”/457 mm 
Barrel Twist:

203 mm (1:8"), 6 RH

Trigger Pull Weight:
965 g
3,208 g
Features: adjustable folding stock, 2-stage match trigger, one-piece receiver, Picatinny rail, 5/8x24 UNEF muzzle thread

Our test conclusion on the SIG Sauer 18" Cross Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor

The SIG Sauer rifle fully meets the requirements of a combination rifle for hunting and the shooting range. However, if you want to really score on the range, you should go for a thoroughbred rifle for sporting use.

 What we liked: What we liked less:

- Unfolded stock does not wobble

- Stock adjustment options

- Smooth action

- Too lax locking of the folded stock

- Sluggish magazine release

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