There is a joke among hunters who visit West Virginia. “If you flatten West Virginia and roll it out, it would be as large as Texas.” While they’re not the majestic 10,000-foot-plus peaks of the Rockies, the Appalachians started out just as high, but 480 million years of erosion have worn them down. Still, any time spent in West Virginia’s rugged terrain is sure to impress. Most people don’t realize the barrier the Appalachians presented for the first 100 years of North American settlement by the Europeans along its entire length from Maine to Alabama.
Rough Country Tested: SIG Sauer Cross
My 16-year-old son’s obsession with hunting has allowed me to revisit my own youthful memories in the Appalachian Mountains, specifically along the West Virginia/Virginia border. The rugged, steep terrain is ideal for the lightweight yet accurate and hardy Sig Sauer Cross bolt-action rifle. Highly accurate for hunting from stands or ground blinds with shots across wide clear-cut clearings, it’s also handy for spot and stalk techniques. Even with the relatively short ranges involved in thick-timber hunting, pinpoint accuracy is crucial to find the shooting lane.
With the Sig Sauer Cross, you can experience a return to the classic hunting style symbolized by this bolt action chambered in .308 Win. The Cross is also available in 6.5 Creedmoor and Sig’s .277 Fury. Instead of focusing on long-range hunting scenarios, let’s operate under the assumption that closer is better when taking an animal. This puts the onus on scouting and choosing the best ambush position. Of course, if a 300-yard-plus shot presents itself as the only option, having the ability to successfully place the round where it’s needed is an asset. There’s a distinctly different aura surrounding hunting with a bolt-action rifle in this day of the modern sporting rifle, i.e., the AR.
Best Of Both Worlds
Stagnant is not a word that applies to Sig Sauer, what with its innovative products in multiple classes of weapons: handgun, submachine gun, select-fire rifle, precision, belt-fed machine gun and now bolt action. Sig Sauer designed the Cross bolt-action rifle to offer performance not only with current cartridge designs but also with its highly anticipated high-pressure ammunition, starting with the .277 Fury. The action is incredibly rigid. Sig designed a one-piece receiver eliminating the need for bedding and action screws. This change from typical methods minimized much of the accuracy-robbing potential associated with bolt actions. Another benefit of the one-piece receiver is weight savings. The Sig Cross in .308 Win weighs a mere 6.5 pounds.
In any precision rifle, the trigger is a crucial part of the equation. Sig created a fully housed two-stage match trigger with a range of adjustment between 2.5 and 4.5 pounds. It exhibits no creep. The urge to change or tinker with your trigger will not be present with the Cross. That said, Sig Sauer recently issued a safety recall associated with the Cross trigger. Contact Sig to arrange the return of the Cross at Sig’s expense to remedy the situation.
Fully Adjustable & Folding Stock
The other noteworthy feature of the Cross, both in terms of aesthetics and performance enhancement, is the fully adjustable folding stock. Comb height, pad height, pad cant (screws on the pad assembly turn 7 degrees either way), a reversible comb and length of pull are all easily adjustable and locked in place with the Sig Cross. This allows a user to “fit” the Cross like no other production rifle. The importance of this should not be understated.
My thought with this evaluation was to make it a Sig Sauer party in terms of rifle, ammunition, optic and suppressor. I mounted a Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX 4.5-14x44mm on the Cross and decided to use a Sig Sauer SRD762-QD suppressor. It was as simple as installing a Sig Taper-Lok muzzle-device adapter. The Sig Sauer Taper-Lok is not only an ingenious mounting system for the suppressor body but also an effective flash suppressor or muzzle device in its own right. The ability to wield a suppressed Cross in a package not at all ungainly is a valued option.
I chose to use Sig Sauer’s 165-grain Elite Hunter and 150-grain Elite Copper HT ammunition with the Cross; Sig 168-grain Match was also tested to establish a baseline for accuracy. No ammunition tested produced greater than 1.5-inch groups at 100 yards. The Cross feeds from standard AICS-pattern magazines; a Magpul five-rounder arrived with the rifle. It has a proprietary sled follower for optimized single-round loading through the ejection port. The single-stack profile of the AICS lends itself to a thinner overall width for the Cross and a stiffer action due to less material needing to be removed from the bottom of the receiver.
The whitetail deer is the quintessential North American game animal, and opening day of rifle season is sacred. It is estimated that 6 million deer are taken by hunters each year across the country. In West Virginia, schools close and vacation days are burned in pursuit of the whitetail. For many of us, hunting touches our hard-wired primitive side when harvesting an animal meant the difference between life and death.
Do not let the numbers fool you. Whitetail deer are challenging prey that can be pursued in a variety of ways: stand/blind, stalking/still hunting and spot and stalk. Their sense of smell is the whitetail’s greatest asset, so wind direction and scent control must be monitored and managed by the hunter. Whitetail eyesight is strong, with movement detection being the main emphasis, and hearing is superior, with ears that are able to locate offending noises by triangulation like radio direction-finding equipment.
Hunters measure success in the field in a variety of ways, ranging from filling a freezer with delicious venison to wall-mounting a set of antlers. In America, whitetail remains king.
A Multi-Pronged Approach
We are blessed to have access to hundreds of acres in Hampshire County, West Virginia, along the Cacapon River. As part of the Potomac River watershed, the Cacapon River (which takes its name from the Shawnee word for “medicine water”) offers 81 miles of fishing, boating, wildlife and scenery. Access is by ATV and confined to foot traffic only in some of the more remote areas. A stream bisects the property we frequent.
While the rifle, optic and ammunition are important components of a successful hunt, there are other gear considerations that will increase the odds in your favor. After all, you’re on your quarry’s home turf. To this end, BOG has emerged as a great source of products such as trail cams, ground blinds and folding chairs to go along with its more well-known tripods and shooting sticks.
A Big, Rough Country Test
The woods can be a big place when you’re looking for a good buck. Weeks before rifle season’s opening day, we strategically placed game cameras to home in on travel routes and explore the potential bucks in the area. BOG game cameras enhance game-scouting capabilities: The Blood Moon and Clandestine game cameras offer technology that helps a hunter to identify game habits, which enables more efficient hunting. No one wants to hunt in an area devoid of activity. In addition, each photograph includes a time stamp, barometric pressure and temperature. With this information, hunters can get a clearer idea of whether there are certain times of the day or weather patterns with more activity.
A BOG Haymaker blind or Grave Digger ground blind setup works well after defining your deer habits. Ground blinds have become favored over the years for a variety of reasons. A ground blind allows you to get away with much more movement, without alerting your prey. One consideration often overlooked with a ground blind is scent containment—we’ve had game pass only 10 yards away oblivious to our presence.
The Cross Afield
The Sig Sauer Cross quickly became a favorite for our West Virginia wilderness hunting for not only rifle buck season but also designated doe days that extend hunting season until the New Year. Its lightweight and compact nature while maintaining ruggedness and potency is all you can ask for in a hunting rifle. The Cross carries easily in the hand. It also secures in a pack from Eberlestock, which allows for hands-free movement.
Numerous positive qualities of the Sig Cross became apparent early in our test. I have always been a fan of detachable magazines for safely and efficiently when loading and unloading a rifle. Every move into and out of transportation, into and out of the blind—which happens multiple times a day—requires weapon manipulation that the detachable magazine simplifies. The AR-like safety found on the Cross is natural to manipulate considering the rifle’s pistol grip. For Cross use in a ground blind, we either left the rifle in place in the BOG Death Grip tripod or quickly brought it to bear once we spotted an animal. Our blinds placement presented expected shots in the 100- to 225-yard range. The Cross’ MOA accuracy instilled confidence that it would do its job.
Still hunting is where the Sig Cross came into its own. As the name implies, still hunting is walking stealthily through an animal’s habitat, stopping frequently—sometimes for long periods—to scan and listen for game. As a rule, you should spend at least 10 times longer being still and observing than walking. Still hunting is stalking your prey on their own terms. The Cross’ pistol grip gives it superior carrying qualities, and one-handed carry is more feasible as well. The natural-to-the-shoulder attributes of the Cross are conducive to quick, well-placed shots when an animal presents itself. This stems from the custom fitting made possible by the Sig stock.
Rarely does a firearm get me excited anymore. That sounds jaded, I know, but I’m not reaching out for sympathy; this is just a result of evaluating numerous weapons over the last 25 years. However, with the Sig Sauer Cross, you know that something different and special is afoot. For more information, visit sigsauer.com.
SIG Sauer Cross Performance
|Load||Velocity||Average Group||Best Group|
|SIG Sauer 165-gr. EHT||2,718||1.33||0.75|
|SIG Sauer 168-gr. OTM||2.572||1.00||0.66|
|SIG Sauer 150-gr. HT||2,790||1.50||1.00|
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of American Frontiersman. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStrore.com.