Explain pre garcia

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by Jeeps-And-Guns, Sep 24, 2021.

  1. Jeeps-And-Guns

    Jeeps-And-Guns Member

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    When looking around at Sako rifles, I see this pop up quite often, however I can not find out what it means and no one ever explains it either.
    So can someone enlighten me as what pre garcia means?

     

  2. marlin92

    marlin92 Well-Known Member

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  3. dustinga

    dustinga Well-Known Member

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    In south Georgia, it's pre-garcier. To me, it's simply defined as a rifle imported to the USA by firearms international
     
  4. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    That about sums it up.

    There were some changes gradually being made in Sakos both before and after Garcia took over importation to the U.S. from Firearms International. These include beefier stocks and heavier barrels in sporters, as well as slightly less polished bluing on standard grades. There were other cosmetic changes like dropping the Bofors Steel mark on the barrel and replacing fixed sling swivels with quick-tach studs.

    Although none of these things happened at the same time or because of Garcia some people inaccurately associate a whole range of changes with Garcia, thus the somewhat meaningless term "pre-Garcia" came into errant usage.

    You can find Sakos in the 1969-1971 range with identical features marked both F.I. and Garcia. Thus, knowledgeable Sako enthusiasts largely eschew the term.
     
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  5. Jeeps-And-Guns

    Jeeps-And-Guns Member

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    So it is simply a way to try and pin it down to a time period.
    I had never heard of garcia, so I was not aware they were a importer.
    So when did stoger take over?
     
  6. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    Garcia , or maybe better to say ABU/Garcia was a major sporting goods distributor..especially fishing gear.
    I think Stoger took over around 1978

    Bloo
     
  7. Jeeps-And-Guns

    Jeeps-And-Guns Member

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    Well I can say that both my M78 AND my P72 both have stoger import stamps on the bottoms of the barrels.
    So either my P72 was a late import, or they took over imports earlier than 1978.
    We will probably never know for sure.
     
  8. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    "Firearms International" (F.I.) was the original U.S. importer of Sakos starting in the late 1940's and going into the year 1970. They were located in a suburb of Washington, D.C., but despite the "Washington, D.C." postal address assigned to their physical location, it was just outside of the District in Maryland. I suspect that importing and warehousing firearms inside the District might have been more complicated than in Maryland.

    F.I. imported a number of firearms lines including some inexpensive "off brand" makes, as well as F.N. and Beretta, which was in no way connected with Sako in those days. F.I. also handled the Sakos imported as actions and finished rifles for Colt. It is not clear why F.I. went out of business, but it appears that the principles probably wanted to retire, so sold their import rights of the various lines.

    Garcia, which was in the sporting goods business (mostly fishing equipment), but never before in the firearms business, decided to form a subsidiary ("Garcia Sporting Arms") and obtain the rights to Sako, FN, and maybe one or two other lines (the cheap lines went to an importer in Florida). By chance, I met the man who had served as president of Garcia Sporting Arms many years later who told me a little about how this happened. He was retired military and working for Garcia. The Garcia CEO above him simply selected him -- without prior notice -- to serve as president of the new firearms business because he was ex-military and assumed he knew a lot about guns -- a subject with which he was only marginally familiar. For whatever reason, Garcia formed another subsidiary called "Impecco" which handled the majority of their imports.

    Anyway, both FI and Garcia overlapped in importing Sakos during some of the year 1970, thus it is possible to own a rifle marked "FI" which is technically not "pre-Garcia" -- another reason that term is somewhat useless. Garcia's tenure as importer was a bit star-crossed. The main problem they had was that at that time the Secretary of the Treasury set the exchange rate of the Dollar vs. foreign currency. In order to boost U.S. exports and limit imports to help the lopsided balance of trade, the Treasury devalued the U.S. Dollar twice in 1972-73. The effect of this was to make imported goods much more expensive to the U.S. consumer, which made Sakos, already more expensive (justifiably) than Remchesters, more expensive, still. U.S. sales slowed and eventually, in 1978, Garcia exited the gun business and Stoeger, the long-time New York - New Jersey company, picked up the Sako line.

    Eventually, Beretta bought controlling interest in Sako and created its own U.S. subsidiary -- Beretta USA -- to handle imports. To my knowledge, the Stoeger subsidiary, Stoeger Canada, still handles Sako imports to Canada.

    Bottom line: "Pre-Garcia" is shorthand for something that inaccurately describes various modifications to the Sako products over time and which most people don't know what those modifications are, but use the term to somehow indicate some kind of superiority to something that is not "pre-Garcia". The worst abuse of this term I've ever seen was a Gunbroker offering in which the seller stated "Must be pre-Garcia because Garcia is found nowhere on it". In the photos you could see the import stamp which read "Stoeger".:rolleyes:

    By the way, the ex-president of Garcia sold me the P72 I now own from his small personal collection. He said that he was opposed to importing it since "Who would pay nearly $500 for just a .22?" I think you'll find that almost all of the P-series rimfires came Stoeger.
     
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  9. Jeeps-And-Guns

    Jeeps-And-Guns Member

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    Very informative post and it clears up a few things, but makes new questions.
    So from what I have been able to find online, the P72 was introduced in 1972, (hence the 72 in P72). And then also from what I can gather, the M78 came out in 1978 (hence the 78 in M78).
    So then lets assume the P72 was made from 72-77.
    If stoger did not take over imports until 78, then how would my P72 have a stoger import stamp?
    I would just have to make a wild guess and say there was a large stock of them in Finland that had been made between 72-77 but had not been imported yet, and then were imported after stoger took over?
    So were they importing P72's and M78's at the same time?
     
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  10. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    Yes, they overlap.
    If you think it’s hard to sort out now…wait till you run across a Sako that has been imported by a small unknown importer. I had a L 461 full stock a few years back with an import etch on the receiver side ahead of the L461 stamp. It was a modern etching like what you find on Kimbers and such. I can’t recall what the importers name was, but was not any of the three that have been in discussion.
    Bloo
     
  11. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    The 1968 GCA requires all imported firearms to be marked with the name and address (often greatly abbreviated) of the importer -- even those imported by or for an individual. Simpsons, Ltd. of Galesburg, IL imports a lot of European guns for resale or on behalf of individuals who have purchased them overseas. All of the Simpson imports are so marked. The L461 you mention was probably imported and marked in this manner.

    Note: Not certain, but this marking requirement may not apply to what we commonly call "GI Bringbacks" -- firearms purchased by U.S. military personnel stationed overseas and shipped home as part of their personal belongings.

    Regarding small or obscure importers, the Fjestad Blue Book is famously inaccurate when it comes to Sakos. They used to list a U.S. importer as "Rymack". It took me years to figure out that this was an erroneous corruption of the stamping "Riihimaki" on the L46's, which someone compiling the Blue Book mistook as an import mark.:confused:
     
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  12. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    Bingo! Thanks Stone for jogging my fogging Hippie memory! Simpsons LTD was it…bloo
     
  13. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Just one example of how little the Garcia vs. pre-Garcia vs. whatever distinction actually means, I have two, new in the box, L61R actions. Both are marked Garcia. One has the early third "safety lug," the other does not. The third lug is allegedly a characteristic of pre-Garcia guns. (fyi they are in Orvis boxes. I got them when Orvis went out of the custom gun business.)
     
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  14. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Yep, there are plenty of "Garcia" L61R rifles floating around with third "pre-Garcia" locking lugs. They are mostly numbered between 50,000 and 99,000 -- along with a lot of two-lug bolts in that same numbering range. I have a three-lug with a number in the 74,000's, and I've seen even higher.

    By the same token, there are lots of FI-marked Sakos with heavier barrels and stocks. Not all features match with one-another, but by coincidence those with an open-centered crossbolt nut usually have the slimmer barrels/stocks while those with the solid center nut have the heavier ones. The same is frequently true of "s"-shaped magazine releases vs. plunger releases. I've never seen a Bofors-marked barrel with the heavier sporter contour, but that doesn't mean there aren't some out there. I could go on and on about mixed "pre-non-maybe-Garcia" features, but you can see what I mean.

    Besides, to Sako enthusiasts outside of the U.S. this is all totally irrelevant.
     
  15. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    According to the shipping records the first P72's were shipped in 1973 and Impecco (Garcia's importing subsidiary) received only 11 of them. There were no more P72's shipped to the U.S. until November of 1977 when 98 in .22LR and 114 in .22 Hornet were shipped to Stoeger. In 1978, 428 .22LR, 99 22LR HB, and 331 .22 Hornets were shipped to Stoeger, all marked "P-72". (Our records end in 1978, and the only ones marked "M78" that had been shipped by that time were a special target model which all went to European outlets.)

    This would explain why virtually all P-72's in the U.S. are marked "Stoeger" instead of "Garcia". And, it validates the comment of Garcia's former president on the P72 that "Who would pay $500 for a .22?" Apparently, due to such doubts, Garcia only took 11 of them and bought no more until Stoeger took over and decided that lots of people would "pay $500 for a .22".

    There were several variations of the P72/M78 like the "Junior" and some specially configured target models which were never imported to the U.S. The "Junior" is a neat little economy rifle with a shorter barrel and uncheckered stock which is found in Europe fairly often. Similarly, there were large numbers of the P46 and P54 produced in a number of variations, but none were ever commercially imported to the U.S.

    Curiously, the shipping records record no shipments of the "P-75" model. I have seen a couple marked this way, all in .22 Hornet, but it remains a mystery model.
     
  16. Jeeps-And-Guns

    Jeeps-And-Guns Member

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    Wow, so my heavy barrel P72 is one of only 99 ever imported into the USA? Now that is very cool. Never thought I would own something as scarce as that.
     
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  17. Jeeps-And-Guns

    Jeeps-And-Guns Member

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    Ahh, ok. I got ya.
    Still, based on the above numbers, it looks like the heavy barrel models were imported in the smallest numbers.
     
  18. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    No, there were just 99 HB's imported as of 1978. Since our records end in 1978 we have no handle on how many might have been imported in subsequent years -- maybe none, or maybe hundreds. Although the M78 eventually supplanted the P72, remember that Sako often continued to produce an earlier model even after a later model (or designation) had been introduced. But we can say that only 11 P72's were marked "Garcia", so if you have one of those you have a rare bird.

    I should mention here that the P72 I own which came from the former president of Garcia (the guy who said no one would pay $500 for a .22) has no import mark and its serial number isn't found among the 11 imported in 1973. It also has a gloss, rather than oil or matte finish. I have to assume that it was something of a prototype which the boss took personal possession of and was never duly recorded in either export or import documents.
     
  19. gowyo

    gowyo Sako Junkie

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    One other avenue to watch for are Sakos with no import marks. Many of these were military/ personal bring backs. Rifles purchased in Europe, possibly at the base PX, then shipped to the states. I have 4 such beasties. Three late model AII's- .243 std, .308 Satin finished Deluxe (both with Iron sights) and a .308 benchrest/ varmint model (repeater) HB with the externally adjustable br trigger. The other is an AI .223 that came over the pond with the deluxe. It also has the oil finish, Irons and the 23.5" std bbl. I would imagine many hundreds of rifles came here this way. Possibly thousands.

    Gary
     
  20. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Yes, it seems like Sako was perhaps the most popular gun purchased by GI's in Europe. As many as I've seen, some with documentation, you're correct that they must have numbered in the thousands.

    Someone with military experience would know the procedure better: While I'm not sure about officers, enlisted personnel required a sign-off by their commanding officer to purchase a firearm. I've seen GI bring-back Sakos offered for sale with all of the attendant documents including this sign-off.

    Does anyone know if U.S. GI's stationed overseas can still purchase and bring home firearms?
     

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