SIG Arms' SSG 3000

by Gary Paul Johnston

The letters are not new; they've been used to designate high-performance rifles for decades. Standing for the German words Sharf Schutzen Gewehr (Sharp Shooters Rifle), SSG defines what this new rifle imported by SIG Arms is all about. As for the number 3000, it eludes to a quantum leap in bolt-action rifles through the next century.

Made by the century-old firm, Sauer, of Germany, the SSG 3000 certainly boasts some features that render it a departure from some established principles while incorporating many proven ones as well. Offered in .308 Winchester caliber, the rifle comes with a 23.4-inch semi-heavy, cold-hammer-forged barrel with a built-in muzzle brake. Weighing in at 12 pounds, the rifle's recoil comes nowhere close to the level of discomfort, but the muzzle brake serves to keep the sharpshooter on target for rapid follow-up shots if necessary. Blocked on the bottom, the muzzle brake does not kick up a dust signature when fired.

Unlike most European precision fifles, the SSG 3000 uses U.S. quick-detachable bases and rings, in particular, Warne Q.D. Premier mounts, or Warne Q.D. Maxima (Weaver-style) along with an optional Weaver Rail adapter. With a Harris Bipod adapter, the rifle will also use any model Harris bipod. While some may prefer a heavier bipod, I find the lightweight Harris Bipod to do everything I want a bipod to do.

Modular in design, the SSG 3000 allows all major components to be easily removed for service, or caliber conversion as described below. Taking advantage of proven synthetics, the rifle uses a proprietary ambidextrous black McMillan Fiberglass Tactical Stock. Designed in a semi-target-style, this stock has a competition-style pistolgrip, an adjustable cheekpiece and a non-slip rubber butt pad adjustable for length of pull using the spacer system. Along the bottom of the forend is an accessory rail, and Michaels of Oregon's flush sling mounts are also molded into the stock.

Using a modernized Mauser-type bolt, this part is rigidly contained in the SSG 3000's steel receiver leaving only the oblong ejection port to gain access to the breach. Using a Sako-type extractor, the bolt has a standard plunger-style ejector, six interrupted forward locking lugs, and a large, round, plastic bolt knob.

Located on the upper right side of the receiver, the safety transcends down through the rifle to protrude into the center of the trigger guard just forward of the trigger. To put the SSG 3000 on SAFE, simply depress the safety from the top. To ready the rifle for firing, push the safety up with the trigger finger inside the trigger guard. The safety locks the bolt closed when applied, and must be taken off SAFE to open the bolt.

To remove the bolt, put the safety OFF and lift the bolt handle. Now put the safety ON, pull the bolt back and remove, making sure that the adjustable checkpiece is low enough for it to clear. To replace the bolt, simply insert it into the receiver and close with the safety ON or OFF. lf the safety is in the ON position, the bolt will close and lock in that position on SAFE.

To disassemble the bolt, remove it and turn the cocking piece counter-clockwise until the striker rests at the bottom of its channel. Now retrace the striker with a flat instrument and continue to turn it counter-clockwise (I used a key). When the striker is resting atop the rear of the bolt body to the right of its channel, continue to turn it a few degrees until the striker assembly unlocks and is free of the bolt. The striker spring will remain captive, but the striker group can otherwise be disassembled for cleaning and lubrication. Reassembly is in reverse order, and can be accomplished without tools with moderate effort.

Atop the front of the receiver is a steel stud for use in attaching a mirage deflection ribbon. The manual depicts dual prongs at the front end of the ribbon that hook into the muzzle break. During high temperatures such ribbons help prevent heat waves from interfering with one's view through a scope.

Most different about the SSG 3000 is its unique detachable box magazine. Rather than being of the now conventional double column, 2-position feed-type, this magazine is an in-line type of single column, single-position feed. Although this magazine holds only 5 shots, it extends as low as the bottom of the trigger guard in a magazine housing that is part of the stock. To release the magazine from the rifle, use the index finger to depress the ambidextrous button release just forward of the bottom of the magazine. A spring-powered magazine ejector will cause the magazine to eject downward into the hand.

In addition to its simple bolt disassembly, the SIG SSG 3000 can be further disassembled with relative ease. After removing the two action hex bolts, the entire barreled action can be removed from the stock. Although it would be almost never necessary to do so, the barrel can then be easily removed from the receiver by unscrewing three hex bolts at the front of the receiver, removing a locating pin, and pulling the barrel out the front of the receiver by hand. Instructions for this procedure are in the owner's manual.

Perhaps the only reason one might want to remove the SSG 3000's barrel is to convert the rifle to fire .22 Long Rifle ammunition for practice or competition. This requires a .22 caliber barrel, bolt, magazine well insert and .22 rimfire magazine. However, this capability also allows easy conversion to cartridges compatible with the .308 Winchester such as the .243, 7mm-08 and others.

Capable of being fine adjusted, the SSG 3000's match-type trigger is of the two-stage variety which 1 prefer to any other. The trigger on our sample rifle breaks at a clean 3 pounds from the factory.

Offered in three basic packages, the SSG 3000 can be had as the Level I, II, or III Tactical. Although the rifle remains the same throughout, it is the accessories that make the difference in designation and price. Furnished with only a carrying case, the Level I Tactical SSG 3000 comes with no scope or bipod. In addition to the carrying case, the Level II Tactical comes with the Leupold Vari-X III 3.5-10X40mm Duplex Reticle Scope and a Harris bipod. SIG Arms' top-of-the-line Level III Tactical comes with the Leupold Mark 4 M1 10X40mm Mil-Dot Scope and Harris bipod along with the carrying case.

In addition to the three packages, SIG Arms offers a variety of accessories for the SSG 3000 including both Leupold scopes, both types of Warne bases and rings, Harris bipod and adapter, Ultra Black Sling, Q.D. swivels, and carrying case, and spare magazines.

Upon receiving the only Level III SSG 3000 in the country, I was limited in time I was able to keep the rifle for testing, so I wasted no time in doing just that. Equipped with a Leupold Vari-X III 3.5 -10x40mm Duplex Reticle scope, our sample is designated by SIG as the Model JE5SR-2. This scope will allow the rifle to do anything one could ask out to 200 yards.

Test firing the SIG SSG 3000 with several established Match Grade .308 Winchester cartridges proved it capable of high precision accuracy. Extremely smooth in operation, the rifle demonstrated total reliability, its single-position-feed magazine leaving the cartridge no place to go but into the chamber. Equally pleasing was its fine two-stage fully-adjustable trigger that let off at a crisp 3 pounds, an ideal all-around weight.

With the majority of our 100-yard three-shot groups running well under one inch our test sample averaged just below one MOA overall. A thorough breaking in would no doubt improve this accuracy substantially, making the SSG 3000 worthy of filling any precision rifle role.

If you're looking for a high-grade bolt-action rifle, check out SIG's brand new SSG 3000. For information on all their fine firearms, contact SIG Arms, Inc., Dept. SOF, Corporate Park, Exeter, NH 03833; phone: 603-772-2302.

SIG Arms SSG 3000 Specifications
Caliber .308 Winchester
Operation Turn bolt repeater
Barrel Length 23.4 inches
Overall Length 46.5 inches
Weight 12 pounds
Feed Device Five-shot, detachable box magazine
Safety Thumb safety
Stock McMillan Fiberglass black target grade stock with adjustable cheekpiece and spacer system
Finish Matte black
Price Level I (w/o optics) $2,560.00; Level II (with Leupold Vari-XIII 3.5-10X40mm Duplex Reticle scope, Harris Bipod, and carrying case), $3.490.00; Level III (with Leupold Mark 4 M1 10X40mm Mil-Dot Scope, Harris Bipod and case), $4,500.00 (sugg. ret.)

first published in the November 1999 edition of Soldier of Fortune Magazine