Herter's versus Sako ammunition

Discussion in 'Sako Ammunition' started by stonecreek, Jul 22, 2018.

  1. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I have had a stock of old (circa 1965) Herter's ammunition in .222 for some time and have noted here on the forum that it is marked "Made in Finland". This begs the question as to whether it might be a Sako product.

    Recently, SCC member Douglastwo generously provided me with some Sako factory .222 ammunition from about the same time period and suggested that I check it on the chronograph (an Oehler Model 35). I was also curious to see if it might show signs of having the same origin as the Herter's ammunition.

    Here is a photo of each box and a representative 50 grain round:

    DSC01501 (1024x576).jpg

    And here is a close-up of the actual ammunition:

    DSC01502 (1024x576).jpg

    The Herter's ammunition appears to have a wider extractor cut and also a bit less exposed lead. This doesn't mean that they are not from the same factory since they may be several years apart and the cases from different drawing machines as well as the bullets from different dies.

    I shot and chronographed three rounds of each in two different rifles: A Beretta-Sako Model 500 with 24 inch barrel and a Sako L461 Mannlicher with a 20 inch barrel.

    Here is the Beretta target with the Herter's group on the left and the Sako group on the right:

    DSC01499 (1024x576).jpg
    The rifle was not zeroed with either ammunition, but it showed a definite preference for the Herter's ammunition, with that group going just under 1/2 inch C to C. The Herter's ammunition and the Sako ammunition turned in virtually identical velocities at 3190 fps and 3195 fps respectively.

    Here is the target for the Sako L461 Mannlicher with 20" barrel:

    DSC01498 (1024x576).jpg
    This rifle didn't show as much preference for one over the other and the groups were approximately the same place on the target, but the velocities were a surprise: The Herter's went 3202 fps -- actually faster than the 24" barrel, while the Sako fell off to 3116 fps, or about what you would expect. This indicates to me that the nature of the powder in the two is somewhat different.

    I can't draw any real conclusions from this effort, except to say that it is still possible that the Herter's ammunition is from Sako. But as I've mentioned before, it could be a Lapua product, or, taking into account how much license George Leonard Herter tended to take with the truth, the Herter's ammunition could just as easily be from Lithuania or Illinois. Regardless, in reloading the Herter's fired cases they have proven to be excellent and long lasting.

     

  2. douglastwo

    douglastwo Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info. The velocity result for the Herter's is interesting.
     
  3. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I'm going to check out the velocity in a Marlin 422 with Microgroove barrel, a Sako L461 with "multigroove" barrel, and an early Sako L46 with 1-16" twist. Just as soon as the weather turns cooler:D. It was 104F yesterday and is suppose to make it to 107F today. But I understand that the area of North Texas from Dallas to Wichita Falls should easily make it to around 112F.
     
  4. alpine hunter

    alpine hunter Well-Known Member

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    It might be interesting to pull a projectile from each and weigh the powder as well as a visual check for differences.
     
  5. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I agree, so that's what I did right after running a series of chronograph tests with four different rifles earlier today. The four rifles were a Sears Model 52 (L46 action) with 26" conventially rifled barrel; L461 Bofors with 23.6" "multi-groove" barrel; Early L46 LH safety with 1-16" twist; and Marlin 422 (L46 action) with 24" Microgroove stainless steel barrel. Three shots were fired with each make of ammunition in each rifle. Here are the results (instrumental velocities at about 8 feet, so you can add six or eight fps for true muzzle velocity):

    Sears 26":
    Herter avg 3262, ES 13, SD 7
    Sako avg 3296, ES 28, SD 14

    L461 23.6" Multigroove:
    Herter avg 3223, ES 30, SD 15
    Sako avg 3242, ES 31, SD 17

    L46 23.6" 1-16 twist:
    Herter avg 3253, ES 37, SD 18
    Sako avg 3233, ES 32, SD 17

    Marlin 422 Microgroove:
    Herter avg 3238, ES 47, SD 24
    Sako avg 3205, ES 18, SD 9

    Average velocity for four rifles:
    Herters, 3244 fps
    Sako, 3244 fps

    Now, having the average of 24 shots (12 of each brand) come out EXACTLY the same is pretty freaky. The Herter's ammunition was faster in two rifles while the Sako was faster in the other two. As would be expected, the 26" barrel turned in the highest velocities with both brands, but not by all that much.

    Now for the cartridge breakdown. I pulled the bullets on just one round each and found that the powder in both was a very fine, very small-grained tubular powder that looked identical in both. In the Herter's it weighed 19.6 grains. In the Sako it weighed 19.7 grains -- well within the variance for two rounds out of the same box.

    The brass case with in-tact primer in place weighed 93 grains for the Herter's and 93.5 grains for the Sako -- again, amazingly close.

    The bullets both had a square-edged cannelure in the same place, with the Herter's bullet weighing 49.4 grains and the Sako weighing 49.6 grains.

    All of these figures are closer than you might find for two rounds made by Remington and coming from the same box. These facts, along with the uncannily close velocity figures, tell me that it is reasonable to conclude that the Herter ammunition really is, as George Leonard Herter claimed on the box, from Finland, and further more, from Sako.

    I'll post the targets from the ammunition tests when I have time to take some photos of them.
     
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  6. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    So here are the rifles. The Sears Model 52 on top is equipped only with a Sako slide-on peep sight. All of the others have Leupold 3-9X Compact scopes. From top to bottom they are Sears 52, Sako Vixen L461, Sako L46 left-hand safety, and Marlin 422.

    DSC01503 (1024x614).jpg

    I shot a three shot group with each rifle with each brand of ammunition, the Herter's on the left bull of each target and the Sako on the right. I was more interested in the chronographing, and although there was little wind, there was a lot of mirage on the 90F morning. So, the groups are secondary to the chronograph results. Here are the targets:

    First, Sears Model 52 with Sako Aperture sight. I only shot a group with the Sako ammunition as I used the three from the Herter's to find out where the devil to try to point it at a hundred yards. I'm pretty proud of this 1.75" group with 67 year-old bare eyes and a front sight that subtends almost a foot at a hundred yards!

    DSC01504 (1024x576).jpg
    Next, the Sako L461 Bofors with "multi-groove" barrel. This rifle is exceedingly accurate with the right ammunition, but doesn't particularly like either the Herter or the Sako. Note that the Sako grouped lower and further right than the Herter.
    DSC01506 (1024x576).jpg

    The L46 left-hand safety with 1-16 barrel was the big surprise of the bunch. The LH bull with Herters has two shots through one hole, while the RH bull with the Sako has four shots as I neglected to reset my chronograph and had to shoot a fourth shot to get the three velocity readings I wanted. Even the fourth shot (not sure which it is) didn't enlarge the group from its rougly half-inch size.
    DSC01507 (1024x576) (2).jpg
    Likewise, the Marlin 422 exhibited very good accuracy with both brands. Again two of the Herter's went through one hole, while the "operator" again failed to reset the chronograph and had to shoot a fourth one of the Sako brand.
    DSC01508 (1024x576) (2).jpg
     

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    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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  7. douglastwo

    douglastwo Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a lot Stone. I appreciate you doing this. And this hot weather had to make it a little less fun.
     
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