Finnish rifle maker Sako is one of those names that will always surface when considering really accurate rifles. GTW travels way up north to the land of a thousand lakes to uncover the story behind the iconic company.
When Finland declared independence in 1917, turning its back on the Russian Empire, the then newly created Finnish Civil Guard was in dire need of a workshop to repair and maintain its firearms.
In 1919, it opened its very own workshop in a former Helsinki brewery. Two years on the shop became financially independent from the Civil Guard and Sako, short for the Finnish Suojeluskuntain Ase-ja Konepaja Osakeyhtiö, was established as a company.
Originally Sako mostly repaired and reconditioned old Russian military rifles but soon it was servicing civilian guns as well.
Business boomed as, in 1927, Sako moved from Helsinki to an ammunition factory in Riihimäki, a town north of the capital where it is based to this very day.
The first civilian rifle bearing the Sako brand was the L42 chambered for the 7x33 Sako cartridge, prototyped in 1942.
Ever since, Sako has held true to its reputation of building premium rifles and ammunition while never losing sight of quality and accuracy.
Thriving with Beretta
After changing hands several times over the years, Sako has been part of the Beretta Holding group since 2000. The Finnish company thrives under the Beretta umbrella.
In a speech for the company’s 90th birthday in 2011, the nearly 200 Sako employees were said to produce 300 guns and 30,000 rounds of ammunition per day. Exporting to 50 countries worldwide, the United States remains Sako’s biggest market, gobbling up half of the company’s annual production.
The Finnish rifle maker sports an extensive product range. From rimfire to centerfire, from hunting to target shooting and sniping, Sako has a rifle, probably several, fit for the occasion. Here are some of the models it has on offer…
The Model 85 range is build around premium centrefire hunting rifles featuring different stock styles (walnut, synthetic, laminated) and barrel options combined with a comprehensive calibre selection.
There are no less than 20 different Model 85 rifle setups to choose from. What’s really interesting is that Sako 85 actions are available in six different sizes, providing the very best functioning for each cartridge size.
The barrels’ twist rates are also specifically chosen to optimally fit each specific calibre. From .204 Ruger to .500 Jeffery, Sako 85s are available in as many as 27 calibres.
The A7 models are Sako’s mid-price centrefire rifle range. All synthetic-stocked, these were created to offer a lightweight, genuine Sako rifle at an attractive price.
In the A7 model range the firm introduced its Roughtech stock technology. This has been developed to deliver a superb platform for precision accuracy while being able to withstand even the roughest handling in the most severe conditions.
Sako Roughtech stocks all have a fully integrated aluminium bedding, providing a precise and rigid chassis for the action.
The Quad rimfire model range features an innovative interchangeable barrel concept with four barrels and four calibres.
Following the four available rimfire calibres, .17 Mach2, .22lr, .17 HMR and .22 WMR, the Quad barrels are colour coded, free floating and easily exchangeable so the shooter can mix and match his rig to the specific tasks at hand.
Using the same colours, the magazines are coded to avoid any mistakes.
What’s also interesting – and this is where the Beretta group comes into play – the colour scheme is also used in the Sako Quad riflescope by Burris, another Beretta company.
This specially developed riflescope uses colour-coded adjustment dials to match the coding on the Quad barrels. One action, one stock, one scope, four barrels, four calibres – off you go.
Sako Finnfire II
As much as Sako is into trailblazing and developing new products, from time to time it also looks back to its rich past.
The old Finnfire rimfire was, and still is, a timeless classic. To honour it, this year the firm has introduced the Finnfire II.
Featuring a classic walnut stock and some of the classic design details of the original Finnfire, this model brings a breeze of retro into the line-up.
Last but not least are the awe-inspiring TRG rifles. Revered by military and law enforcement forces as well as long-range shooters worldwide, TRGs are built with only one goal in mind: hitting the target, whatever it takes.
Producing ammunition has been one of Sako’s core activities almost since the very start. Not only does it load cartridges with its own-designed bullets – the Hammerhead immediately springs to mind – the company also has a history of developing completely new cartridges. The aforementioned 7x33 Sako is one of these. The 9.3x66 Sako is a more recent example.
Some of you might already have wondered about that other Finnish rifle brand, Tikka. Owned by Sako, this is used to market an entry-level range of guns.
All Tikka rifles are, however, still designed and made by Sako in its Riihimäki factory. True to its Sako pedigree, the current Tikka T3 rifle range features 19 different models and 21 different calibres.
This Finnish company has come a long way since its humble beginning as a civil guard workshop. Today its design department is fully computerised while all steel parts are made by the latest state-of-the-art CNC machinery.
Some things have not changed, however. Human eyes and hands still do the final inspection and test shooting, ensuring every Sako leaving the plant does what it’s supposed to do.
Becoming part of the Beretta Group gave the company more resources for even better product development and market response.
The Quad rimfire rifle and matching Burris-developed scope is only one of many examples of the synergies Sako is able to profit from, today and in the future.
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