Sako 85 Grey Wolf .300 WSM

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by CidGrad90, Nov 25, 2020.

  1. CidGrad90

    CidGrad90 Member

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    First time on this forum. Just got lucky to find it. I have been hunting with a Sako L61R Finnbear Deluxe in .270Win since I was about 12 years old. That was 50 years ago. My father was in the Air Force and bought this rifle along with a couple of others to include a 7mm Rem Mag and a .223 Deluxe Vixen. Since then, he has been trying to fill out a collection of the older Sako Deluxe rifles and probably has about 8 in total. That's the background story. Here is my current issue.

    This past weekend, I was checking zero on my rifle before a hunting trip I leave for on Friday. On my fifth shot, I had a failure of the bullet casing around the primer. The load actually blew a hole through the brass next to the primer. The blow back disengaged the extractor from the bolt and stuck it to the wall of the chamber. That opened a channel for the powder residue to pump right back towards my face (if you ever questioned wearing eye protection while shooting, let me tell you don't question it, do it). After getting home and actually investigating the failure, the extractor detent and spring were still in place. I was able to dislodge the extractor from the chamber. I put the extractor back on bolt and I am able to cycle rounds through the chamber. I do not know if the firing pin was damaged. I will not shoot this rifle again until I can get it to a gunsmith for inspection and he confirms the rifle is safe. That me scrambling for a rifle to use this coming week, but I have that worked out now. It will be either the aforementioned 7mm or my nephews Savage in .300WSM.


    This also left me with a desire to have a second hunting rifle in my inventory in the event this ever happens again or if the .270 is damaged beyond repair. I have been researching the .300WSM for some time. Slightly better performance than the .300 Win Mag, but a bit higher cost per round. That isn't so much an issue since I plan to reload (if I can ever find the components). Down the road, I want to mount the new Swarovski DS scope. Orginally, the scope had a 40mm tube and only about 2 companies made rings to fit. The new scopes have the Swarovski SR mounting rail. I have been looking at how to mount this and there seems to be few companies that support the SR mounting rail and Sako dovetails. But this leads me to my ultimate question. Does anyone know the length of the receiver ejection port opening on the Sako 85 in .300WSM? Sako says size S/SM, but not all companies reference that sizing. Some use the actual metric distance in millimeters. If you know that distance, can you please let me know. I am trying to do as much research as possible before committing to this purchase.
     

  2. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    If by better performance you mean higher velocity then you have been misinformed. The WSM achieves velocities close to the .300 Win Mag with the same weight bullet, but does so at the expense of somewhat higher pressures. Factory .300 WSM loads often exhibit excessive pressure. Some I tried in a Kimber I briefly owned (having bought it primarily for the Leupold scope mounted on it) cratered primers and were difficult to extract.

    Your Finnbear is not likely damaged. I have experienced blown primers or a defective case a couple of times over the years in Sakos which knocked the extractor off but did no harm otherwise.
     
  3. CidGrad90

    CidGrad90 Member

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    I do hope you are correct on this. But for safety, I will not shoot the rifle again until it has be checked by a gunsmith.

    As for slight improvement over the .300 Win Mag, I know the it is marginal. Slightly faster, and only inches in drop at 500 yards. I have pored over the ballistics on these two rounds for quite sometime. And while I have been shooting my .270 for deer hunting for 50 years, it's not the only bolt rifle I shoot. I have hunted or target shot with .22, .223, .243, and few others. I have shot lever actions, pumps, and semi autos. There is a good chance that I will be using a .300 WSM on this hunting trip. While not the 85, it will give me some feel for the action. That being said, I am not against the .300 Win Mag, but I hope to get back to elk country some day and the smaller WSM and my getting older body would be a better match for moving around in those mountains.
     
  4. P04R

    P04R Well-Known Member

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    You should discard that lot of 270 Win cartridges. Very likely the brass is weakened by age and/or chemical effects from aging (decomposing) powder. Usually it doesn't wreck anything, maybe burns a divot in the bolt face, but nothing that would make the rifle dangerous to shoot. In any case taking it to a gunsmith is the smart move.

    The ejection port opening on SM receiver is 74 mm.
     
  5. South Pender

    South Pender Well-Known Member

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    I'd be interested in learning more about the cause of the blown primer/damaged case. Was the faulty round a handload? I haven't heard of this kind of failure with factory ammo.

    As for the .300 WSM vs. the .300 Win. Mag., I don't see how the WSM can produce higher velocity since the WSM case is smaller than the .300 Win. Mag. case--with a capacity about 10 gr. less than that of the Win. Mag. Perhaps published factory-load velocities (generally overstated) appear to favor the WSM, but that must just be marketing. Stonecreek's earlier comments on excessive factory load pressures may help explain the apparent anomaly. If, however, you plan to handload (as you've indicated), you will get a 50 - 100 fps. MV advantage with the Win. Mag. over the WSM with equal barrel lengths and at acceptable pressures with both.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
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  6. CidGrad90

    CidGrad90 Member

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    Thank you, this is the info I needed.
     
  7. kevinlg

    kevinlg Well-Known Member

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    In a previous post, I asked for a pic of the damaged case. I'm wondering if the failure might have actually been a primer metallurgy failure.

    Perhaps a picture is forthcoming?
     
  8. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    I believe the marketing ploy behind all of the "short" magnums introduced by Win & Rem was the claim that they gave the "equivalent" ballistic performance in a shorter action, which made them a few ounces lighter & about an inch shorter. The craze died in a relatively short time as people realized they really didn't offer anything appreciable, if at all, over the existing magnums. Some have been completely dropped from new rifle production & the ones that still are produced are not selling to most knowledgeable hunters as their demise, whether right or wrong, is anticipated. The accompanying ammo availability problem is always an issue with cartridges that fail to capture a solid market following. The Olin Corp. (Winchester branded ammo), U.S. Repeating Arms, FN/ Herstal ( the current maker of Win. branded firearms) & Remington (a bankrupt company recently sold by the Freedom Group) have shown a remarkable propensity to embark on marketing "schemes" to grow & enhance sales rather than build on what their predecessors created. I guess that's what happens when the bean counters control innovation & creativity, not to mention quality control.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
  9. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    The "short magnums" have several particularly vexing problems, at least in my view:

    Their geometry makes feeding from the magazine somewhat difficult and more subject to jamming.

    Related to this, being larger in diameter than even the belted magnums, magazine capacity is limited to not more than three and sometimes only two, depending on what action they are built on. Four shots (if you include a round in the chamber) sounds like plenty for most hunting situations, but I can recall three instances where, but for that fifth shot, the animal would have gotten away wounded.

    Being built on shorter actions (otherwise there would be absolutely no justification for them), their overall length is very limited. This makes them problematic for heavier or longer bullets. Achievable velocities drop off quickly compared to other "magnum" rounds when heavy/long bullets are used.

    One "good" thing about them is that the brass cases are built very thick and strong. They have to be to withstand the pressures they are loaded to. However, as I mentioned earlier, the factory pressures are sometimes high enough that sticky bolt lift and difficult extraction is encountered -- not a recipe for a great hunting round.

    Of course, those thick brass cases, as well as loaded ammunition, are rather more expensive than other rounds, and as Paulson alludes to, when you can find them. I've never been one to worry much about widespread ammunition availability since I handload everything I hunt with, but situations arise when the gun and ammunition are separated when you're a long way from home and other ammunition has to be obtained or the hunt is a loss. Popular rounds like the .300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, or .270 Win (all of which have a "short magnum" competitors) can be found in just about any back country hardware store or even convenience store. WSM ammunition? Not so much.

    Is the pending obsolescence that Paulson anticipates a real problem? Yes and no, depending on your personal situation. I own rifles in .25-20, .218 Bee, .25 Remington, .25-35 Win, .32-20, .244 Rem, and even 7x33 Sako. With a little effort and patience I have enough cases and ammunition for each of them to last a couple of generations. But if I had to depend on finding factory loads, several of those guns would be nothing but curiosities and wall-hangers. And unless and until a rifle chambered for an obsolete and out-of-favor cartridge becomes scarce enough to be a collector's item, its marketability is greatly handicapped.

    Every shooter/hunter should buy and use whatever rifle in whatever chambering suits him. But he should also be aware of the potential shortcomings and potential pitfalls that go along with that choice.
     
  10. RangerAV

    RangerAV Well-Known Member

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    I think I've not seen any significant advantage to a "more powerful" (magnum?) cartridge in a lighter-weight rifle.

    With the earlier "magnum" cartridges (e.g., 338 Win Mag), more weight in the rifle is a good thing, at least for me. If I start looking for less weight in the rifle (lots of legit reasons for that), I'm also looking to a cartridge that will generate less recoil from that platform.

    But then again, I'm old... and my shoulder sometimes feels even older. :)

    And then too, if I'm looking at only one rifle, I'd like the cartridge to be suited toward widest "range" (of critters) possible without beating myself up on smaller stuff (7mm Mag?)... but if two rifles, then cartridges with the widest range possible and as little overlap as necessary (.300 Win Mag + .243 Win?). Or some such. Lots of zen involved in my ruminations...

    And I realize it's possible to justify a short magnum for probably some specific purpose or other...

    But mostly that means I can only offer a big yawn for the very short magnums. Even while agreeing that "whatever floats your boat" can be a fine choice if it resonates somewhere within your own zen.

    -Chris
     
  11. CidGrad90

    CidGrad90 Member

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    That’s the casing. The pick tip is where the hole is.
     

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  12. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Hard to say what went wrong there.

    It doesn't appear to be the result of excess pressure since the primer edges are still nicely rounded. They would be flattened if the load generated enough pressure to cause a primer blow out.

    I would lean toward a defect in the case itself. I don't know what vintage the ammunition was, but there have been a lot of complaints about Remington ammunition made during the last "shortage" (the one before this one). It seems that they hurried to get volumes on the market and quality control went out the window. Lots of instances of .22 rimfires stuck in the barrel were reported and it is said that Remington paid the repair bills for quite a few damaged guns.

    Your Sako .270 is not likely to be damaged. If you wish, you might post a photo of the bolt face so we could see what, if any, mark the gas leak left there.
     
  13. kevinlg

    kevinlg Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the picture! :)

    Since Stone and I agree on everything............I'm thinking, since the primer is NOT flattened,that the boltface corner of the primer failed. Is there a hole through the brass, or the primer.........can't quite see in the picture?

    BTW.........an enlargement of the pic, showing the primer indentation, appears to reveal damage to the firing pin tip. A close inspection may be in order.

    Hope this helps.
     
  14. CidGrad90

    CidGrad90 Member

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    The rounds are hand loads. IMR 4350, 52 grains, pushing a Nosler 150gr partition.

    bolt face picture.
     

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  15. kevinlg

    kevinlg Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the second pic!

    The boltface doesn't look too bad........black carbon deposits and a little brass flashing. A little cleaning will reveal any damage.

    Wipe Away cloth was originally made for cleaning revolver cylinder faces(except nickle or chrome plated)..............but it is also great for cleaning boltfaces. A small patch of it, backed by a popsicle stick, works very well.

    What does the firing pin tip look like?

    edit: BTW......a primer cup metallurgy failure......will not care what load one is using. A close-up picture of the removed primer will perhaps give more info.

    Hope this also helps.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
  16. CidGrad90

    CidGrad90 Member

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    I don’t know what the firing pin looks like. I have never disassembled a Sako bolt and don’t know how to take a look.
     
  17. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    Just uncock the bolt & the tip will protrude from the bolt face. There is a thread here on how to re-cock it if you have difficulties.
     
  18. CidGrad90

    CidGrad90 Member

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    that will have to wait until I return from hunting trip.
     
  19. South Pender

    South Pender Well-Known Member

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    CidGrad90's experience with escaping gases out the rear of the bolt with his L61R would seem to highlight the benefit provided by the A-series Sakos with respect to safety from this kind of failure. Had his 270 been an AIII or AV with the fully closed-off bolt shroud, presumably the gases jetting back would have been diverted away from his face. CidGrad90 doesn't mention whether he was injured by this incident (and, of course, we hope not), but this kind of injury seems possible with the L-series open bolt sleeve.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
  20. CidGrad90

    CidGrad90 Member

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    No injury, just a peppering of particles on my cheek. I was wearing glasses so nothing in my eyes.
     

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