Custom Sako in .358 Win

Discussion in 'Sako Medium Actions' started by icebear, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    I've always been sort of intrigued by the .358 Winchester cartridge, and I've always sort of wondered why Sako didn't chamber at least a few rifles for it. The cartridge never caught on with the shooting public, but it has some distinct virtues. It's basically a necked-up .308 in the same way a .35 Whelen is a necked-up .30-06. I'd think it would be an especially good cartridge for woods hunting of moose and bear, chambered in a Mannlicher-style carbine.

    .35 calibers have never gotten much traction. The .35 Whelen is probably the most popular. The .35 Remington and .348 Winchester,both lever-gun cartridges, have had their day. Charles Newton (father of the .250-3000) designed a .35 Newton that was comparable in power to the .375 H&H. Newton was a believer in high-powered cartridges and lightweight rifles. I once had a .35 Newton; it had a vicious kick. Imagine a 7-pound .375 and you'll see what I mean. A buddy of mine bragged about his immunity to recoil. I let him shoot the Newton; he declined the offer of a second shot. He looked pretty shook up. The stock on mine had been replaced with a good copy of the original. Few .35 Newtons survive with the original stocks; most of them cracked from recoil. The Newton rifle was unique; it had a multi-lug cannon-style breech. The cartridge is a giant pain to make cases for. You have to either turn the belt off of .375 cases, or put 8x68S cases through an arduous series of forming and trimming operations. After shooting a few rounds, I got bored with it and sold it, complete with dies and handmade brass.

    OK, back to the .358 Winchester. A fair number of custom Sakos have been built in .358, and every few months one shows up on Gunbroker. I've considered bidding several times, but never pulled the trigger until this one came along. The nice wood and excellent stock work talked to me, despite a lot of wear, dings, and scratches. Besides, it was cheap - I paid a bit over $700, plus shipping and transfer fee. Still under 800 out the door.

    The seller didn't know much about the rifle, but posted plenty of photos. It turned out to be a lot more interesting than I anticipated. On close examination, I found the barrel was marked "The Atkinson & Marquart Rifle Co." Some Google research uncovered the fact that A&M, located in Prescott, Arizona, was a highly regarded custom gun builder in the early 1970's. Atkinson made the barrels for the Sako-based O'Brien .17 caliber varmint rifles. Marquart designed a number of .17 caliber wildcats, including the .17 Javelina (named after a wild peccary found in Arizona). Atkinson & Marquart came apart in acrimony in the mid-70's when Marquart sued Atkinson, alleging that he had used the name and equipment of A&M for a side business benefitting him exclusively. A trial court found that Atkinson had breached his fiduciary duty to the company and awarded damages. Atkinson appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, which upheld the judgment, and that was the end of Atkinson & Marquart.

    My "new" (old) rifle shows some typical A&M features. They apparently liked the Sako action, as they used Sako actions for a lot of custom rifles. The stock is similar in style to a Sako Deluxe, but has fine-line flat-top checking in place of the skip-line style used on Sako and Tikka deluxe grades. The 22-inch barrel features a Lyman front sight on a wrap-around band. There is no rear sight; apparently the buyer wanted the option of using a removable Sako peep.

    The rifle's condition is, shall we say, experienced. The wood has numerous dings and scratches and needs to be refinished. The Pachmayr white line pad should be replaced at the same time. Fortunately, the checkering is in good shape with just a couple of dings that need correction. The metal has quite a bit of handling wear and a couple of nasty scratches on the base plate and trigger guard. I should be able to improve this considerably with buffing wheels and cold blue. I'm not aware of anybody in my area that I would trust to do a full refinish; there's one smith who probably could do a good job but his prices are astronomical. The scope is an ancient and well-worn Lyman All American 4x. Optics are in good shape but it's not my cup of strong Finnish coffee. I've got several candidates for a replacement; the most likely is the 3x steel Weaver that came off my P72 Hornet. The original Sako medium rings have a lot of finish wear but, thankfully, the ring screws aren't too badly buggered. They'll need a bit of work but should clean up OK.

    Here are photos of the rifle as received. I'm going to do an initial cleanup and then I'll post the results in a couple of days. Now to find some ammo...


    358-1.JPG 358-2.JPG 358-3.JPG 358-4.JPG 358-5.JPG 358-6.JPG 358-7.JPG 358-8.JPG 358-9.JPG
     

  2. Murkula

    Murkula Active Member

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    Great find icebear!

    Figure on the wood looks quite nice and should make for a very rewarding refinishing project. I'm interested to see how this project comes along.
     
  3. Paul B.

    Paul B. Well-Known Member

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    Excellent! I'm a fan of the 358 Win as well. Mine is an older BLR. Best of luck with the new acquisition!
     
  4. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Chapter 2 - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

    First, the Good. I took the action out of the stock and went after the barreled action with Lucas Metal Polish. The good news is, it's cleaning up better than I expected. Some grayish areas that I thought were worn bluing actually seem to be some kind of deposit that is coming off with the polish. I gave the stock a good rubdown with Birchwood Casey Stock Sheen and that improved the appearance quite a bit. The wood still needs a complete refinish, and the dings and scratches are still there, but getting the dirt and crud out of the finish has made a definite improvement. The checkering needs some touch-up, but less than I had feared.

    And then we get to the Bad, and the Ugly. When I pulled the scope rings, my mind boggled at what I found. It looks like somebody didn't trust the Sako dovetail system to hold the scope in place under recoil. So, they put a locating pin in each ring and drilled corresponding holes in the bases. Also, there are cuts in the front base and rings that seem to relate to a previous attempt to do something or other with locating pins - you can still sort of see the remains of the pins. The whole thing is just plain weird, and of course it it is just butt ugly when you take off the rings. My choices are essentially to clean everything up and put the existing rings back with my choice of scope, or install some kind of all-covering base like a Redfield, Conetrol, EAW, or Kuharsky. I think I'll probably just clean things up and keep the existing setup - with everything in place, you can't tell there's anything wrong.

    I'd say this renders the front sight pretty useless; if you remove the scope to attach the Sako peep sight, it exposes a mess. I imagine the sight is sweat-soldered on, which would mean that removing it would probably necessitate rebluing the barreled action. On the other hand, if it's only been heated and then allowed to shrink onto the barrel, maybe I can get rid of it.

    Here are photos of what I found. I've never seen anything like it in 25 years of collecting Sakos. I don't know if this was a common practice by Atkinson & Marquart, or if this was a flight of fancy by some client. I'm still in shock.

    Holes drilled for locating pins. Note the cutouts in the front base, matching cutouts and pins on the ring.
    Scope Base.JPG

    Rear ring at left, front ring at right.
    scope rings.JPG
     
  5. kevinlg

    kevinlg Well-Known Member

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    Keep.......or not???

    If keep.........project rifle.

    Weld up/re-checker receiver(there are some pretty fair gunsmiths over on the AR board)........re-blue barreled action.. Lose scope and rings. Keep front sight(maybe add hood). Re-finish stock(new rifle pad) and clean-up checkering.

    BTW.......the stock appears to be from Royal Arms Co. of Calif., back in-the-day. A&M and O'Brien used them.

    Hope this helps.......or confuses!! :) :)
     
  6. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    It is unbelievable what people who don't understand the tapered dovetail concept are capable of perpetrating on the Sako mounting system! It appears that they used two rear rings (according to the indexing lug on both rings). They then used the claws from a front ring in order to allow it to open wide enough for the front dovetail. But the ultimate insult was the divot drilled in the dovetail top and the chunks crudely chewed out of the side grooves. Whoever "gunsmithed" this arrangement is the kind of guy who would fix a watch with a sledge hammer and construction glue.

    However, I think that Kevin's suggestions are a bit extreme. I'd use Redfield-type bases to cover everything. It's like the wall stud that doesn't lap with the sheetrock -- you just scab on a piece of 2x4 to nail to and no one will ever know it's there. After all, do you really ever intend to use a centerfire bolt action rifle with irons instead of the scope?

    I'm thinking that the front sight is just shrink-fitted to the barrel and can be removed fairly easily.

    Regardless of these flaws I'm betting you've got a diamond in the rough that some love and affection can restore to a less humble state.
     
  7. kevinlg

    kevinlg Well-Known Member

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    Stone.................maybe........

    But!!...........every time I'd pick the rifle up........I'd "KNOW" those awful scars would still be there...............even though "covered".

    I guess it would depend on what level of rebuild one was expecting/looking for................AND......be satisfied with.

    BTW..........there ain't NO WAY.........Bill or Paul would have done that to a nice Sako action.
     
  8. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Actually, that is a front and a rear ring. Both have been fitted with locating pins that are larger in diameter than the original rear pin. If you look closely at the rear base, you'll see that there's a hole drilled for the new pin, distorting the shape of the original cutout. And I'm completely mystified by those nicks in the front ring and dovetail. Obviously intentional, and if you look closely there appear to be the remains of some kind of attempt at locating pins under the cutouts in the rings. For the moment, I'm inclined to put it back together as is. The rings are aligned and you can't see any of the damage with them in place. For a coverup, I could use Conetrol bases - I have two extra sets of rings, but I'd have to get a set of bases because the only bases I have are for an AIII. Or I could use EAW pivot mounts. You can get a rear sight insert for the rear base, which would allow use of the front sight. The disadvantage there is that the EAW system puts the scope higher than I like. I do have an EAW setup for Sako in my box of goodies, so I could at least try it out and see if I like it. I also have a kazillion Redfield-type bases that I replaced with real Sako rings, but I've never been a fan of that setup.

    I would be reluctant to try to find a smith who would weld and re-checker the bridges. It would be hideously expensive, and the amount of heat applied could affect the heat treatment of the receiver. I suppose I could buy a junk .243 and have a smith switch out the barrels, but that would also be costly.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that the barreled action is full-length bedded into the stock. Unlike a certain Deluxe i was looking at on Gunbroker, the bedding job was done right and you can't see it when the gun is assembled. There were a couple of paper shims at the forend tip, which I saved. That is a typical practice from "back in the day."

    I've decided to put an El Paso Weaver V9-II on it. It's a bit large for appearance, but the optics are brighter and sharper than the older K3 I was thinking of. I do want to stick with a period scope rather than use a newer Leupold or Burris. For the moment, I'll use the rings as is while I consider whether to try something else. I might test-mount the EAW setup first, just to see now it looks.

    Thanks for the comments. I'll keep you posted. It will be a while before I get around to refinishing the wood, as I have several projects in line ahead of it. I do want to get some ammo and see how it shoots, if I can get up early enough in the morning to beat the line at the range.
     
  9. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    When I checked about 10 months ago the Leupold Custom Shop would still build you a 3X scope just like the old ones with the long tube. I put one on a Coltsman in 30-06 in vintage Sako low rings. It's the fastest rifle on target I own & would be a perfect compliment to your 358!! Just food for thought. I'd see how it shot before I decided what to do about the dovetails.
     
  10. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    You mean like this one? I like the old 3x Leupold too, and I've got one on my pre-64 Model 70 in .300 H&H. That would, indeed, be an excellent choice for the .358 - but I shudder to think what the Leupold custom shop would charge to build one. Last time I looked, their price just for changing a reticle had gone up to the point where I dropped the idea. Besides, I have so many extra scopes that I hate to buy any more if I have something in the box that will do. However, I'll keep it in mind and if I happen to run across an older 3x Leupold at a reasonable price, I might just grab it.

    I agree about postponing any decision on the dovetails until I see how it shoots. I expect it will shoot quite well with an Atkinson barrel that appears to be in excellent shape.
    M70-3.JPG
     
  11. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    Last I checked a 3X out of the custom shop was $400, but they shut down their custom shop last winter to "retool". Things have & are changing @ Leupold & I'm not sure it's all for the good for us.
     
  12. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Adding Insult to Injury:

    I'm continuing to work on the .358 custom as I find the time. The latest discovery is that the added aligning pin on the rear ring isn't even centered! Obviously this was not done at Atkinson & Marquart (at least I hope not). I haven't measured the front one yet but it looks to me like that one isn't centered either. My thinking is to grind the added pins off of the Sako rings, which will restore them to something close to original condition. The rear one will be lacking the aligning pin, but that is more a convenience than a necessity. The clamps on the front ring are missing some material, but they will work fine if I clean them up. I may have a replacement set of clamps; I have some Sako ring parts but I'll have to see what all I have. For the moment, I'll use those rings, minus the added pins, to mount a scope and see how it shoots. In the longer run, I'm thinking maybe I should go ahead and put Conetrol mounts on it. That would completely cover the mess on the dovetails and go with the overall custom look of the gun. I already have an extra set of Conetrol rings so I would just need the bases. Get rid of the front sight (hopefully Stonecreek and I have guessed correctly that it's just a shrink-fit and will come off with a bit of heat). I found a Leupold 2-7x compact in the magic box of old scopes. It won't work with the existing rings, but the Conetrol mounts put the rings closer together and I think it would work with them. That power range would be excellent for the .358, a short to medium range round. Another alternative is the Schmidt & Bender 1.5-6x now sitting on my Krico .30-o6. That's already in Conetrol rings. The disadvantage there is that it would require me to fit another scope to the Conetrol bases on the Krico, meaning I would be facing two difficult and frustrating Conetrol installations rather than just one. Not, perhaps, the most attractive of choices.

    I checked the trigger pull with a digital gauge. It's between 2 and 2.5 pounds. Not bad, although I'd prefer it a bit heavier, around 3#.
     
  13. Rogan Kinnear

    Rogan Kinnear Well-Known Member

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    Cheers to sharing. Loving the detail and the finds. Keep em coming
     
  14. Kev1Doggy

    Kev1Doggy Member

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    Here is my .358 Win with S&K rings IMG_20190515_201450 sako358.jpg
     
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  15. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Nice wood. Have you mounted a scope and shot it since the photo was taken?
     
  16. Kev1Doggy

    Kev1Doggy Member

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    yes Burris 1.5x6
     

    Attached Files:

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  17. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Excellent. Interestingly, I have a 1.5-6x Burris Signature that I've considered putting on my .358. It's a perfect match for the caliber. The only reason I haven't is appearance - it's a matte-finish scope and my rifle is high-polish blue. For the moment, mine has a 2-7x Leupold Compact.
     
  18. Kev1Doggy

    Kev1Doggy Member

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    That is probably the same scope i have. My rifle has been rebarreled by someone, along with an aftermarket stock so its not a collector item. Just a neat little shooter.

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
     

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