SIG Sauer CROSS: Best New Hunting Rifle of SHOT 2020
The gunmaker set out to make a bolt gun ideal for PRS competition and backcountry hunting—and they’ve done it.
There’s always a lot of top-notch new guns on the floor at SHOT Show, and this year is no different. Most of those guns are tweaks and updates on existing designs, adding new elements to make them lighter or more accurate. However, one bolt-action hunting rifle stood out this year for its pure innovation—the new SIG Sauer CROSS.
The CROSS is SIG’s first deep dive into the hunting market. According to rifle product manager Patrick Hanley, many of the company’s employees are former military and special forces—and many of them also hunt. They started talking about developing a bolt action rifle that would have the accuracy and reliability they expect from a precision rifle while also being compact and lightweight to meet the needs of backcountry hunters.
That planted the seed of motivation to build a hybrid rifle designed specifically for hunters, thus the name CROSS.
This is an ultralight rifle of around 6.5 pounds built on a chassis system with a folding stock that, when folded, brings the overall length of the rifle down to 25 inches, allowing it to fit neatly into most backpacks. Additionally, the folded stock also serves as a bolt lock to prevent the action from opening when being transported.
The buttstock is also fully adjustable, no tools necessary. By activating a lever while your cheek is on the stock, the comb can be adjusted for height and eye relief. The length of pull can be adjusted in the field if you shed layers during the day and the cant of the butt pad can also be adjusted vertically and horizontally.
Perhaps most unique is the rifle’s one-piece forged aluminum receiver that allows for a lighter overall weight and also provides increased accuracy. Without the bedding screws found in most modular chassis, nothing moves when the gun is fired.
The CROSS comes with a 2-stage match-grade trigger designed by SIG that can be adjusted from a 2.5- to 4-pound trigger pull. Around the free-float barrel is an M-LOK handguard that allows the mounting of any accessories a hunter might want, and the safety is ambidextrous.
The bolt is a locking three-lug design that is set at 60 degrees for clearance with a scope mounted on the top Picatinny rail and smoother bolt throw. The bolt handle is designed to be ideal for PRS or for hunting purposes.
The rifle comes with a special Magpul AICS magazine with a custom foldover that provides improved singular feeding into the chamber—the rifle will also accept standard AICS magazines as well.
The barrel is stainless steel with a length of 16 or 18 inches depending on the chambering. It features taper lock technology that allows the use of a suppressor without misalignment.
On top of the receiver is a removable Picatinny rail that can be removed so that mounts can be attached directly to the receiver if desired.
Currently, the CROSS is offered in black or First Lite Cypher camo that is applied as an ARMAKOTE finish that promises to be four times more durable than other finishes and creates a more repeatable and accurate camouflage pattern.
Out of the gate, the gun will be available chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win., two favorites of precision shooters and hunters—but the rifle’s innovative design elements are specifically designed to work well with the company’s new .277 SIG FURY cartridge, officially released in December, 2019. This proprietary ammunition is a 140 grain bullet that screams at 3,000 feet per second.
That’s why the specially forged aluminum receiver and lug system can withstand nearly 80,000 ft. lbs. of pressure—which is what this new magnum load will generate—and it can do it with the aforementioned ultralight frame and a 16 inch barrel. That’s impressive. This makes it fast, hard hitting, and capable of consistent accuracy at long ranges.
But even with the innovation found in the CROSS, it’s fair to wonder: how will this innovation function in the field for real world hunters? Well, SIG has some data on that.
The SIG team took the CROSS out this past fall on a nine-day backcountry public lands hunting trip in Colorado to test it out. The hunters averaged about 10 miles every day and learned a lot about the gun’s durability and utility. When they returned, the team made design changes to areas they felt needed improvement based on what they learned from the excursion—and that revised design is the rifle that is coming to the market.
With this kind of dedication to design and testing, it’s clear SIG is taking this big leap into the hunting world very seriously. This was made obvious even on the SHOT Show 2020 floor with the company’s new SIG Hunting booth—dedicating significant real estate on the show floor for an entire line of products shows that the company is in it for the long haul. The launching of the CROSS rifle and the .277 SIG FURY cartridge and pairing them with SIG’s extremely popular BDX line of electronic optics creates a true modern hunting and precision shooting package that is hard to rival at the moment in terms of versatility and features.
Hanley says this is the first of many new products to come and that the company is excited to be bringing innovation back into the hunting category.
Every component of the CROSS is engineered and built by SIG and it is 100 percent made in the U.S.
The rifles are expected to be available in summer 2020 for an MSRP of $1776.
SIG plans to offer the CROSS rifle in a package that includes a rangefinder and a pre-mounted BDX scope already programmed for the rifle and caliber priced at $1999.
Video by Michael R. Shea