Sako A7 Roughtech Range review

Discussion in 'Sako 75, 85 and A7' started by 6MT, May 27, 2019.

  1. 6MT

    6MT Member

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    I thought I'd post a review of my latest rifle. It's my first Sako factory offering. It is the A7 Roughtech Range, chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. The barrel is a 25" 1:8" twist medium heavy contour fluted design. The weight (without optic and bipod) is 9.25 pounds.

    I really didn't need another 6.5 to load for, since I already have a precision custom build in 6.5x47 Lapua. But I kind of fell into this rifle deal and just could not pass up the absolute bargain on an unfired rifle.

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    What I've added is as follows. A Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50 (moa) scope. I upgraded the original aluminum scope rails with steel Warne bases. Those rings are by Burris and have the 20moa inserts installed. You can see a very nice ATRS brake. I also had the sling swivels on the fore end replaced with a picatinny rail for more mounting options. And in this picture, I have one of my Atlas bipods (which got replaced - more on that later).

    My first impressions were that the rifle felt comfortable on my first outing. I added a couple of spacers on the butt stock and got the length of pull satisfactory for me. The scope eye relief was also very nice, so I was off and running.

    Load development followed. While there are a lot of people that say the Creedmoor round is easy to load for, it didn't go without some issues to begin with. The virgin Lapua brass, I have found, doesn't yield satisfactory results on the first firing. At least for me. While I have never had problems before, this time the neck tensions were very tight. Oh well, I had planned on annealing after round one anyways, so my first outing consisted of barrel break-in and scope zero. Which went as planned. The factory trigger is very nice. There is no creep and zero take-up. It breaks clean and crisp with a pronounced "snap". My estimate on the weight of the trigger pull is probably less than 3 pounds (damn, I really need a trigger pull gauge).

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    I did 6 different weights of Varget for my OCW tests. And then when the field narrowed, I also did two depth tests. What I came up with was a very nice node.

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    Here's my load information;

    Brass: Lapua
    Bullet: Lapua Scenar-L 136gr
    Primer: CCI BR4
    Powder: Varget 37.2gr
    COAL (ogive): 2.281" (.010" jump)
    Shoulder bump: 0.0015"
    Speed: 2697fps -10 shot average, S.D. 4.3, E.S. 13
    EDIT: Speed update 2715fps - 10 shot average, S.D. 3.5, E.S. 9
    (Speeds will show an increase after a few hundred rounds. This is normal.)


    The results at 97m were 1/2moa. Temperature was 19c and R.H. was 43%. Wind was negligible. I was confident and headed off the short range to see what it could do a little longer out.

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    I entered the speed into my Kestrel and backed up the Applied Ballistics software with shots out to 300m, 500m and then 800m. Everything seems spot-on, at least to 800m. I will be taking the rifle out to the mile range to see just how it performs to a kilometre and beyond.

    My impressions are favourable for this, my very first Sako factory rifle. The action was very tight to begin with but after 200 rounds, is as smooth as silk. The Sako bolt is a 3 lug design. The bolt handle has a nice large knob that is easily cycled. The safety has a pretty cool function too. When you have a round chambered, you can engage the safety which disables the trigger. But, you can manipulate the bolt and eject a live round without fear of the trigger breaking. You can also load another round, if you so choose. And the trigger will still be cocked.

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    What I don't like about this rifle is small. That stock. While I think it looks pretty and functions very well, the fore end is very flexible. It is almost to the point of being like a wet noodle. This gave me problems with the Atlas bipod to begin with. I ended up replacing it with an LRA Light Tactical, and the "flexy" fore end issue seems to have cleared itself up. The larger footprint and weight of the LRA solves this issue.

    I also got a factory muzzle brake from the previous owner. But being from the "Swiss cheese" design bureau, I quickly sold it. I got ATRS in Calgary to install one of their big open gill designs. I have one of these on my .50BMG (quite a bit larger) and it works very well.

    [​IMG]

    So my first Sako has potential. While I'm not yet finished stretching her legs out, I can say that I would offer a 8 out of 10 as my rating. As I mentioned before, I need another 6.5 calibre like a hole in the head. But I guess I can now join the masses and extol the virtues of this very popular caliber. For me, this is only a target rifle, as I'm not a hunter. But, I believe it would make a great deer or medium sized game gun. Or even a great varmint gun.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
    Sean Hodges, ricksengines and sakojim like this.

  2. sakojim

    sakojim Well-Known Member

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    Very nice. Enjoy this one for many years. Just curious- what was the bullet drop at 300m? Sakojim.
     
  3. 6MT

    6MT Member

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    With my zero at 97m, the elevation was 4.85 minutes at 300m.
     
  4. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    The A7 is Sako's attempt to market a more "affordable" rifle & compete with other rifles in that price range to capture a bigger market share. Most seem to shoot very well, but they have issues with the magazine & feeding. Don't top load the the DBM or you will spread the mag lips & eventually your whole magazine with dump all the rounds out the top at once when you cycle the bolt. Best to pull the mag & "slide" the rounds in from the front. The Creedmoor will perform extremely well to 1000 yards & even to a kilometer, but it will go subsonic a little further out & your performance is likely to fall dramatically. At least that's what happens when my Grendel goes subsonic. Nice looking set up!! Thanks for sharing your experience. FYI, if you are really into Long Range stuff, check out the Sako TRG rifles.
     
  5. 6MT

    6MT Member

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    Actually, at one time I did consider a TRG. But I decided on the issue Canadian Forces rifles in both .308win & .338LM. I hope to get a bit better performance than 1000m. My 6.5x47L custom build fires a capable 1500m load (139gr Scenar).

    We shall see. Thanks for the comment!
     
  6. Sean Hodges

    Sean Hodges Well-Known Member

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    Nice review,

    Question: is your stock black on black? Here in the USA the Range rifle stock is green with black webbing. The Roughtech Pro stock is black with gray webbing. Both are by Bell and Carlson. Maybe yours is green, but it looks black in the photos when viewing on my phone.

    I’m pleased with my A7 although it has/had some concerns/issues. I’ve worked through them and basically changed out items which to me were unacceptable. Most notable is the junk stock it came in. Mine is a standard stainless rifle in .270 WSM. I bought it cheap several years ago as I was looking for light mountain rifle for high country mule deer. The Range and the Pro were not in production, and nothing was available in 6.5.

    I shot the rifle with premium factory ammo to determine if further investment was warranted. Accuracy was amazing, so I restocked it in a McMillian edge, then I replaced the bases and the polymer shroud. Honestly, accuracy wasn’t affected but improvement wasn’t necessary. Typically it’s one ragged hole. The rifle is a high country tool - carrying it all day in the mountains is such a pleasure.

    Paulson eluded to the magazine. I agree it is a POS. I don’t top load anymore. I bought a second and a third magazine. In a hunting situation this made sense. Magazine changes are done quickly. Perhaps someone will develop an acceptable alternative.

    It’s topped with a Zeiss 3-15x42 RZ 800. I’ve rung steel at 1000 yds, but that’s not realistic for mule deer in the mountains-period. 600 yds is my max based on many factors, however, 600 yds is very doable with this setup, no problem.

    Thanks again your review was a good read.
     
  7. 6MT

    6MT Member

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    Yes, that stock is black. It's my first Sako, so I'm not familiar with the different options. This one has the black stock.
     
  8. 6MT

    6MT Member

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    So I managed to get a fellow on another forum to give me a link to upgrade the bolt knob. I ordered one from here: https://www.boltknobs.com/sako-a7/ .

    Installation was very easy and slick! It took all of a minute or so to do.

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    Fit, form, and function are flawless. Now, no more slippery knob.
     
  9. 6MT

    6MT Member

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    So, I took the A7 out to the mile range to see what she could do. I walked it out from 600m. Good solid hits right out to 1300m, then it seemed to peter out. The biggest thing was the scope. That Zeiss just doesn't do well past a kilometre. The reticle etching is quite large and tends to obscure smaller targets past 1000m. There was not enough elevation in the turret past 1300m. I did try a few shots out to 1500m and estimated my hold at 10moa with the scope topped out. Unfortunately, no joy. The glass isn't the greatest either. But for most things up to 1000m, it will do. (BTW, I was shooting steel. Mostly 12" gongs.)

    The 136gr Scenar-L performed quite well. But because I loaded this round on the moderate to low charge weight side, the speeds I am getting combined with the somewhat lighter bullet weight mean the dreaded transonic transition is occurring. I didn't document where this occurred, but I am almost certain it is just past 1200m.

    The weather conditions were almost ideal. The temps were in the mid 50's and the wind was variable and light. My windage holds were 1 to 1-1/2 moa at 1000m, just to give you an idea what the winds were like.

    So, I am pleased. For comparison, I also shot my custom heavy barrelled 6.5x47L. It easily stepped out to 1500m. With a much better scope, more velocity, and a heavier bullet (139gr Scenar) I wasn't surprised.
     

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