Sacrilege (or building a custom Sako small action)

Discussion in 'Sako Short Actions' started by LittleMissThumper, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. LittleMissThumper

    LittleMissThumper Member

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    Recovering from a proper man cold I thought I would type down a little something on my current project. Warning: Lots of text in one post.

    Located in central Sweden, I have been spending some time fox hunting lately, at the tail end of the hunting season. Using my trusty 6,5x55 (a cartridge with the performance of the Creedmoor or .260 - but launched in 1894 ;)) I find that more often than not I blow huge holes in foxes. Call me a softie, but I don't like destroying animals, predators or not. I find it disrespectful. I want to be able to harvest at least the fur from a predator.

    During this late season fox hunts I also like to hunt the Mountain hare and the European hare when the opportunity arises, as they often cross paths with the fox which is my primary target. With varmint bullets, headshots are a necessity to preserve the meat.

    So what do I want for this particular type of hunting? A rifle that must tick these boxes:
    • Compact, light and short for carrying and maneuvering in cramped stands
    • Magazine fed, preferably without a detachable mag
    • Well suppressed, not only because I prefer it but also because this hunting takes place at night in proximity to where people live
    • Very good accuracy
    • Ability to switch optics between something with extremely good light transmission for night time hunting (thinking used Germanic 7x56 or 8x56 here - S&B, Kahles, Swarovski or Zeiss) and a competent FFP MIL/MIL sight for longish ranges during daylight stalking (most likely some "American" brand here - i.e. Japanese made - to keep costs down, like the Nightforce SHV F1)
    • Good ammunition availability - I don't want to have to order brass from halfway around the world or spend lots of time fireforming or swaging brass just to be able to practice or hunt
    • The ability to hunt roe deer with lead free bullets (Barnes TTSX, etc)
    Really small and light actions are not that easy to find. I want a proper mini action, not a "halfway there" like the Remington Seven which is a small .308 pattern action. There are some nice options in the current Howa Mini, older Kricos, but the Sakos are the nicest of the bunch. The S491 and 75 of the "I" size are fantastic but quite rare (which leads to them being expensive). They also have the fat bolt of the .308 size actions which makes them a lot clunkier than the neat L461/A1 action.

    The .222 Remington was extremely popular in Scandinavia during the 70s and 80s mostly because of the "roe deer explosion" when the numbers of these small deer skyrocketed. However, lately their numbers have declined to sane levels in most parts while the boar has become extremely common in southern and mid Sweden. The .222 is not legal for boar, so now you can have .222's for next to nothing (I got my first L461 for around $150 US) as most hunters do not want to have to pass up the opportunity to take a boar if one presents itself. I am not one of them.

    I have owned a Sako L461 with the Vixen stock before, and while I like the cute little action I had some issues with it - mostly performance (it didn't shoot well), and to me the stock was absolutely terrible to shoot with. So the stock must be replaced with something better - something like the Sako varmint stock.

    A potential issue with L461 actions is the old spring steel (unsure of the terminology here) extractor, which if it fails is pretty much impossible to replace at less than astronomical cost. Later L461 and all (?) A1 models have the newer type claw extractor which is very functional and, in case of failure, easy to replace.

    So an A1 it is. I found one online for sale and bought it after seeing one image. It's in working condition and that's good enough.
    IMG_3208-small.jpg

    What about the stock then? Turns out Canadian company Wildcat Composites builds lightweight stocks modeled after the L461 Varmint (and other Sakos, in case you're looking to upgrade). And they are even affordable (at least considering the cost of a McMillan)! All around good guy Stuart has built my stock according to my needs (including leaving a pocket for bedding a Versapod spigot in the fore end) and it is on it's way across the Atlantic as I type this.
    l461-600x224.jpg

    What about cartridge? The .222 is nice but doesn't really appeal to me mostly because I want to be able to run deer legal copper bullets in it. Sure, a new barrel with a faster twist could possible solve this, but I have already done the .222 thing and want to try something different. So I settled on the .223 Remington Ackley Improved in 1-9 twist to be able to run 40 or 50 grains V-Max bullets as well as the occasional long TTSX bullet for the roe deer. Pop in affordable factory FMJs in .223 Rem on the range and after practice I have AI cases I can load with hunting bullets.

    The barrel will be a stainless Krieger, around 20" in total lenth, and most likely in #4 Heavy Sporter contour, but my gun smith will do some calculations for me that may or may not sway me towards a lighter or heavier profile. Muzzle threaded for a Svemko suppressor (very good suppression, very light, also quite expensive but I have hearing loss already so I prefer to pay for quality suppression).


    So, that was a lot of text. Sorry for that. And perhaps this is the wrong forum for this as it might be sacrilege to collectors, but I hope you would agree that putting a Sako A1 to use must have its merits. :)
     
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  2. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Thanks for the detailed report!

    The A-I is hardly "collectible", so using one for its donor action isn't going to ruffle any purist feathers.

    Your cartridge selection will be fine in most applications, especially if you tailor your loads to your particular pursuit. But, as I understand it, you still won't be legal for boars. So here is an alternative suggestion: Chamber for the .300 Blackout. This neat little cartridge fits perfectly in the A-I action and since it is on the same basic case as the .222 the action requires no alterations of any kind to house it. I'm assuming that it would be legal for boars in Sweden, and I've seen a number of very large ones taken with it here in Texas. For fox and hares you can use either the 110 grain RN FMJ bullets made for the .30 M1 carbine, or the ~125 grain FMJ's made for the 7.62x39. A 125-130 grain soft point spitzer or a monometal like the Barnes can be boosted to around 2200 fps, which gives you plenty of energy and range for roe (and will take boar, also). And factory subsonic loads with 220 grain bullets are available which are deadly at short ranges on targets like boar as well as being eerily quiet when fired through a suppressor. A couple of years ago I rebarreled an L46 (from a proprietary non-Sako rifle) to .300 Blackout and have thoroughly enjoyed this fine little shooter.

    Alternatives which takes a bit more work would be either the 6mm PPC or the 7.62x39. Both of these have been factory chambered in the A-I action; however, your gunsmith would have to make some modifications to the bolt face and possibly feed rails to use either of these.

    I simply thought I would mention these possibilities since they might prove even more versatile than your planned .223 AI.
     
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  3. LittleMissThumper

    LittleMissThumper Member

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    Hi stonecreek and thanks for your reply.

    For me, using a rifle that is not legal for boar is sort of an upside to me. That means I don't have to deal with boars when I'm out hunting for small game, and I can focus on my hunt. Boars are heavy and cumbersome for one person to deal with and they require some special attention since they possibly (extremely low risk, but still) can carry trichinia.

    Although the .300 AAC Blackout is a .308 caliber cartridge it doesn't meet the requirements for boar (2700 Joules with a 140 grain bullet or 2000 Joules with a 156 grain bullet - same as moose). It is still an excellent caliber though - some here are picking it up as a modern replacement for the venerable 7x33 Sako for bird hunting with FMJs in particular. I imagine it would do very well as a (roe) deer cartridge too, but I am looking for something more flat shooting.

    I did consider a switch barrel solution for this projeft with both .223 AI and the Blackout, but cost is a factor and I do already have a switch barrel in my Blaser.
     
  4. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    Sounds like a good project. I have several custom L46 & L461 Sako action rifles, one of which is chambered for the 6X45mm or 6mm/223 Rem. Just run 223 brass thru a full length 6x45 die & load as you would any case. A 10 twist barrel will handle 55 grain to 90 grain bullets. The AI version is called the 6mm TCU. Another is a 221 Fireball. Lapua makes excellent brass for it. It is very fur friendly & the report is mild. My favorite is in 20 Vartarg, which is a wildcat round made by necking down the 221 Fireball case to 20 caliber. With 35 grain Berger bullets I seldom get exit holes on the fur bearing critters I hunt. Just a joy to shoot. Both the Fireball & the Vartarg suppress very well with their smaller powder charges. Good luck with your build.
     
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  5. Chris Anderson

    Chris Anderson Well-Known Member

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    I'll take TWO!


    Good choice ;-)
     
  6. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    2000 Joules is about 1475 foot pounds, which you would have to push a 165 grain .30 caliber bullet to 2,000 fps to achieve -- that's a tough go for the little .300 Blackout. I suspect that you could coax that out of a 7.62x39, but since you don't really want to shoot boars with your A-I, anyway, it is something of an academic question.

    Our "wild" boars are considered pests, so we shoot at them with whatever we've got whenever we see them (however, I've found that they are not very impressed with a 28 gauge shotgun loaded with #9 shot). As the say, "If you don't have a gun at least throw a rock."
     
  7. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you should just keep a couple of Brenneke slugs in your pocket? Even from a 28, that would make a considerably bigger impression than a load of number-nines.
     
  8. kevinlg

    kevinlg Well-Known Member

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    A "true" short action......the Sako L461/AI is my favorite for small varmint cartridges.

    Although I assembled the rifle below in the 17 Predator cartridge for coyotes....................I'd think the 17 Mach IV would be ideal for fox.

    Hope this helps.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
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