Sako Enfields

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by topgear, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. topgear

    topgear Sako-addicted

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    Well this post has been a while in the making and before I get into it I have a few people to thank - SCC members L46, L61r, Stonecreek and Timo (of the sako, Arma Fennica book fame) who have all helped greatly in putting this puzzle and info together!

    For me this all started a while back during a visit down to L46's place to have a bit of a hunt and pick up a rifle. L46 has an amazing collection of everything sako and its always good to chew the fat with him for hours talking about sako's. Its sort of like being a kid in a candy shop! Anyway at one stage he pulls out an old sako hang tag for a rifle that he once had and showed it to me.
    SE1.JPG
    Wow! I read it a few times and couldn't believe my eyes. A Sako enfield! I'd never heard of such a beast in all the material I've ever read and definitely never laid eyes on a rifle. The ex military enfields were very common over here after the war and most people had an old .303 or .303-25. A .303-25 was all my grandfather ever used apart from a .22. Anyway we talked about it for bit and things moved on but it sort of stuck in my mind to keep an eye out for one. Now it was on the radar!

    A fair while later I came across this advertisement looking at an old sporting shooter magazine late one night. I nearly choked on the cup of tea I was drinking.
    SE2.JPG

    Yes that's right an advertisement for the sako enfield and also even better they also came in a standard and deluxe version! This was getting really interesting. Anyway after a lot of searching I managed to track down not one but two of these in the flesh, which believe it or not were for sale from the same guy. He actually had three but wanted to keep one for himself. Having never seen one in the flesh and only hearing about the one L46 had I jumped at the chance and brought both just before christmas. Anyway fast forward to this afternoon and I finally had them in my hands. So I present to the forum a pretty rare sako. The Sako Enfield.
    SakoEnfield.JPG
    Both the ones I managed to buy are the standard version. From what I can make out the deluxe version had a stock made by sako in the style of the L series rifles. But as yet I've never been able to see one or photo's of one just the image in the advertisement above. I suppose on the surface all you really notice is the sako sights and it would take a good eye to pick one at a distance. But up close you see the sako markings.
    SE3.JPG
    The proof stamps and inspector stamps above. The ones I have seen have all been stamped SE. which I assume stands for sako enfield. The two I have are serial no. 12XX (Not the same as the hang tag above) and 11XX. But more on that later.
    Below is the rear ramp site - standard sako issue and same for the front site. The barrels are sako barrels with multi-groove rifling common for those era barrels. I'll post some more photo's later of the barrel markings but they are different on each rifle slightly, although both have sako .243 stamped.
    SE4.JPG
    The magazine has been modified to a single stack to take the .243 rounds as shown below (holds 5). I thought this might have been a bit dodgy but from the small play I have had with them they both feed like butter into the magazine.
    SE5.JPG

    Along the way I've tried to find out all I could about these rifles. Unfortunately they are not in the SCC records which have been digitised. However, Timo was able to find a mention of them in some of the material he had access to which is below.

    Mainittiin vuoden 1959 kohdalla seuraavaa:"Australiaan uusittiin lisäksi Lee Enfield kivääreitä kaliiperille .243 ja .308 yhteensä 677 kpl."
    = Mentioned year 1959 folow :" To Australia renewed 677 pc Lee Enfield rifles kaliber .243 and 308, total 677 pc".
    Next year one pc. So the total amount is 678 pc.


    So we know that a total of 678 rifle were made and in both the .308 and .243. I have never seen or heard of a .308 so far. Also all the rifles (which is only 4) that we know about all have serial numbers in the 1000-1300 range so I am guessing they started numbering at 1000 most likely. So the serial numbers probably range from 1000 to 1678.

    Anyway I've found it really interesting tracking down the history of these old rifles and just hopefully someone reads this and lets us all know of more of these that are out there. Wouldn't it be nice to see a deluxe version with a hand crafted sako stock!


    Cheers John
     
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  2. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    That's absolutely amazing! Thanks for the wonderfully detailed report!

    It appears from the very little you've been able to find of their origin that all of them went to Australia. Would you agree? I wonder if they were Australian Enfields to begin with? Perhaps someone who is a Lee Enfield enthusiast might look at the two you have to determine which version the original rifles were and where the original rifles were made (I think that Britain, India, and Australia are the three places were Lee Enfields were manufactured, but I'm not well-versed on Lee Enfields).

    I'm curious as to how the bolt faces were adapted for the rimless cartridges. As I recall, the Lee Enfield has a removable bolt head, so perhaps Sako simply manufactured a replacement bolt head for them.

    I believe that some of the Indian (Ishapore?) Lee Enfields were built in .308, however, they may have been converted. But other than how the bolts were fashioned I would think that the Ishapore Enfields would be unrelated to these.

    At any rate, this Sako anomaly is an outstanding discovery! Makes you wonder what else might be out there in the nearly 100 years of the Finnish Civil Guard Armory?
     
  3. Branxhunter

    Branxhunter Well-Known Member

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    Well I never thought I would hear "Sako" and "Enfield" in the same sentence - fantastic find Topgear!

    What are the bores like on your new toys? Have you touched off any rounds yet?

    Marcus
     
  4. wombat

    wombat Well-Known Member

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    Great find top gear, that is very interesting, I am surprised this has not been brought up befor? Maybe it is a Sako rifle that was for the AUstralian market. I will be keeping an eye out now in case one of these comes by?! Yes the SAko markings are the thing that to look for and maybe this is what the "average" guy does not know about , ??? I hope to see more on this great story / find..... Jay
     
  5. David_S

    David_S Well-Known Member

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    That's very interesting, Topgear. Who would have thought Sako would make an Enfield in .243? But then Enfields have appeared in all sorts of configurations and calibres from 22 training rifles to 7.62 not to mention all those Aussie wildcats, and the NZ Charlton fully automatic conversion.

    Stonecreek, Enfields were also made by Long Branch in Canada (I have a No 4 Mk1*), by Savage in the US (the ones marked US Property) and Pakistan, not to mention the (in?)famous Khyber Pass copies . There were a no 0f 7.62 conversions besides the Ishapore one. Even the British Army used one (designated as the L42A1) as a sniper rifle till the mid 80s.

    So a Sako conversion for Australia is probably not that surprising after all. - David
     
  6. topgear

    topgear Sako-addicted

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    OK guys a little more ......

    I'm no Enfield expert at all so I will just state what I believe to be correct about the two rifles. Both are Enfield No.4 rifles. As mentioned one is serial no. 11XX (bottom in photo below) and one 12XX (top in photo below).
    SE_full.JPG

    Now what is interesting is that that 11XX is a Enfield No.4 Mk1 from the Fazakerley Factory and 12XX is a Enfield No.4 Mk1* from the Savage Factory!
    They have slightly different ways of releasing the bolt as shown below. A good video of these differences can be found here


    SE_Full_2.JPG

    The rifles are as they came to me and the 11XX has no top wood. The barrel is a multi-grove sako barrel with standard deep sako bluing and marked Sako .243 with the inspector and proof stamps.

    SE_marking0.JPG

    Its covered by the ring that would have held the topwood. With the stock removed and the ring moved forward its got the standard Sako barrel markings and inspector stamps as shown below.

    SE_Marking1.JPG

    Its also got Made in Finland stamped directly at the bottom of the barrel. What's interesting is that it isn't stamped Bofors steel.

    Now serial no. 12XX has the usual Sako and .243 calibre stamping as above but also has Forester stamped as well. On this rifle the calibre stampings are not at the top of the action as shown. I'm guessing this is a forester barrel that has been pulled for whatever reason at the factory and used on this rifle. Note this rifle has a topwood so all stampings are covered until you pull the topwood off.
    SE_Marking2.JPG

    This barrel has the Bofors Steel stamping as shown below as well.
    SE_marking3.JPG

    Now go to your cupboard and pull out one of your Forester bofors era rifles and look at the stamping. You will soon see that the stamping above has been a stuff up if they were to be used on a Forester! The made in Finland and Bofors stamps are in the wrong place. Hence I think sako have used this one up in this rifle as the barrel markings are all covered by the top wood and there has been an error stamping the barrels originally. Well that's my theory!

    I would love to find a few more of these. There should be 600 more odd rifles out there so to see some more would be really interesting. I really want a deluxe version with the sako factory stock!

    To answer a few more questions:
    Yes Stonecreek that's what the records indicate that Timo could find and I believe to be correct. maybe something might show up if the rest of the SCC records get digitised at some stage with some more information. But considering the popularity of the Enfield in oz I reckon they would have all come here.

    Yes I think your right. It actually even looks like sako bolt steel! That's it on the left below with recessed rim.
    SE_bolt heads.JPG

    No rounds through them yet. Hopefully will get a chance in a few weeks time. Both barrels internally were really good. I'd rate them close to excellent. Will be interesting to see how they shoot. Must admit I'm not that keen on something like a .243 on an Enfield but the no4 was meant to be stronger. I'll run some mild reloads through them I think!

    My guess is that it was a one off with sako agreeing to do a "run" of these just for the Australian market. Anything I have seen in relation to these rifles comes out of Queensland so I believe it may have been a one off to International Firearms Queensland as shown in the advertisement in the 1st post.

    Anyway hopefully some more people see this and a few more of these pop up.

    Cheers John
     
  7. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    More great information!

    There has always been an assumption that the Lee Enfield is a bit weaker action than Mauser-style turnbolts. I've never seen any failure tests done on the Lee Enfield, but since thousands were converted or produced in .308 that have undoubtedly digested many rounds of 7.62 high pressure military ammunition, I wouldn't be leery of firing full house .243 loads in one.

    Your speculation that Sako may have used a lot of "spare" or "blem" Forester barrels seems logical. We all know how Sako never discarded a usable component. Their taking on this project might have been prompted by an accumulation of otherwise good but unusable Forester barrels. By the way, does anyone know how the threads on an L57 or L579 compare to those on the Lee Enfield? I'm curious if a barrel already threaded for a Sako could be rethreaded (or used as is?) on a Lee Enfield.

    Thanks to David_S for filling in the holes I left in where Lee Enfields were manufactured. I owned one of the Savages briefly so shouldn't have forgotten that one!

    Topgear: Keep us enlightened as you find out more about these unique Sako products!
     
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  8. cwmech

    cwmech Active Member

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    What an intriguing bit of history!!

    Congratulations Topgear, and thanks for all the vintage info this group gathers and shares.

    cwmech
     
  9. NRE01

    NRE01 Member

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    Welcome to Australia, many a beat up old .303 down here!

    An old cocky (farmer) I knew as a kid had an old .243 No4 based rifle with very similar features.
    The bolt face was recessed, the charger bridge removed, similar sights and it had that magazine.
    I very clearly remember the magazine, always thinking that the magazine looked like a Tikka 55 magazine with a longer follower had been fixed into a gutted No4 Enfield magazine housing.
    I always presumed the rifle was a Sportco conversion and wonder if these rifles could be mistaken as a Sportco conversion in Australia.

    I have always wondered what on earth that old rifle was.
    Great topic!
     
  10. Mark Bailey

    Mark Bailey Member

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    John, I have one of these, a serial number quite close to the end of the run.

    It was gifted to me by a good friend last year, as a keepsake to remember him by. He died shortly afterwards. He had it for about 20 years but rarely used it. As the old scope was useless (basketball groups at 50m) I have replaced it.

    it is an excellent rifle, and I have been quite pleased with it, especially since it's my friends gift.

    I have been tracking information down via the defence internal firearms forums, and you have assembled a lot of information here. I have also located one other bloke with one, so this means we have knowledge of four of these highly unusual rifles.

    Mine might just be the 'other' type, or it might have been refurbished: it is in superb condition yet the wood looks like fully refurbished original. Certainly the recoil pad is rock-solid with age.

    It has no standard ladder sight and the topwood is not penetrated for a ladder sight hole. It has the usual foresight, and a peep sight added at the extreme rear of the action. Both mine and Bob's have the same scope mounts.

    Mine has 'the Bofors steel'marking on the RH side of the barrel. I have only removed the topwood. The other markings are identical to yours as illustrated.

    I have your email via Bob - who is the man who sold them to you. Do you mind if I contact you about these rifles so we can compare notes? We'd seem to have a set of four now, mine, the one Bob kept, and your two.

    I have never seen another one in the steel, and people are quite surprised by it at the range.

    We should be able to work out a bit more, maybe what the two different versions were, or if there were actually more variants. I'd like to know, for example, if mine is an original variant or a refurbish. Studying the advertisement, I wonder if I have a 'standard model' with a scope purchased at the same time?

    Yes, it came from Queensland.

    Cheers: Mark
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
  11. cmjr

    cmjr Well-Known Member

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    Interesting thread, seems like Sako went the same route as the M39. Take a proven battle rifle, replace barrel and sights, freshen up and send back out. Main difference was the M39 went back into the fray where this Enfield was groomed for the hunter/sportsman. Can't wait for a report on how well they shoot.
     
  12. Bowne1

    Bowne1 Well-Known Member

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    Wow, a new chapter in Sako history. Thanks guys for all your efforts.
     
  13. topgear

    topgear Sako-addicted

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    Welcome to the forum Mark. Its always good when a post like this brings in a new member! I was really hoping someone out there would see this and respond!

    I've sent you a PM with my contact details as requested. It would be great to get some photo's of your rifle to see the differences. Is yours a No4 mk1 or No4 mk1*?

    Will get there soon cmjr. Must admit I'm not a fan or rear lockers but we will see how they go! barrels look the goods though so fingers crossed they are at least minute of pig!

    I think we were lucky to pull this one together. If L46 didn't have that hang tag I think we would have never pulled all the pieces together. This allowed us something to go on and enabled Timo to find reference to them in his records.
    Australia seemed to get a few special sako's i.e. commemorative Finnwolfs, small action super deluxes etc, factory re-barrel options etc. I've always wondered if maybe there was a special relationship between the sako factory heads and Australia in some way? i.e. through marriage, they just liked visiting here etc? Our market would be so small its just strange they did so many small run things.
     
  14. Mark Bailey

    Mark Bailey Member

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    Thanks Topgear. I am a bit of an atavist with my rifles which is one reason I very much like this rather rare Sako. My favourite heavy hunting rifle was a sporterised P-14 (.303), but it simply wore out. I had to replace it with a utilitarian Howa .308. I am hoping to be able to use the .303/.243 to partially replace the Howa for medium-range game. I'll report on how well she shoots with the new Redfield scope.

    Johm - sent an email to your gmail address with images of the .303/.243. Feel free to post here (I do not know how).

    Cheers: Mark
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
  15. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I've always been amazed at how many unique Sakos seem to have been exported to Australia. While these Sako-Enfields are hugely interesting, I still regard the "long shroud" bolts found on some Australian Sakos from the L-series to be the most fascinating and unexplained feature unique to Australia.

    As far as the variety of factory models, I think that is mostly the doings of the D.W. Custer company. It appears that they had a very good relationship with Sako and were much more aggressive in ordering special editions than any of the American importers were.

    Also, although the U.S. has by far the largest absolute number of Sakos, I suspect that the per capita number in Australia is even higher.
     
  16. Mark Bailey

    Mark Bailey Member

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    Topgear, that may be possible, they are certainly very visible at the ranges, and they are a popular range in the gun stores. The politically motivated, ridiculous and fiscally wasteful 'gun buyback' of the Howard government in 1996 swept the board clear of semi-automatics here (well, except from the large percentage that found a new home in buried poly-pipes!), and the bolt actions were left with the long gun entire market. Sako reacted quickly by spiking imports, from memory. Others here will know better than I.

    The great irony of Howard's imbecility in punishing the law-abiding people who were not responsible for doing anything wrong was that it ticked off people like me. So when I left the regulars, about the first thing I did was get a license and start training those of my sons who were interested in the sport.
    Of note, when Howard did that, about 9% of the population were registered firearms owners. Now it's about 15%. Sako seems to have grabbed a disproportionate market share.

    (Of course, the country is awash in illegal semi-automatics imported for and owned by criminals who - oddly enough - do not obey the law....)

    Cheers: Mark
     
  17. applecracle

    applecracle Member

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    Hi All,

    I am the "other bloke" Mark mentioned above. I too coincidentally came across this forum searching for some more info. Mine is in a bit rougher condition than the ones pictured above as I have been using it as a bit of a "knock around" rifle. It's also in pieces as I am refinishing the stock.

    Some pics:
    2016-01-30 20.45.34.jpg 2016-01-30 20.48.05.jpg 2016-01-30 20.48.25.jpg 2016-01-30 20.46.51.jpg 2016-01-30 20.47.43.jpg 2016-01-30 20.46.40.jpg 2016-01-30 20.46.24.jpg 2016-01-30 20.51.25.jpg 2016-01-30 20.49.16.jpg
    Cheers
    Peter
     

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  18. Mark Bailey

    Mark Bailey Member

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    Pics of mine
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Cheers: Mark

    (The ancient hand axe was found regionally.)
     

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  19. topgear

    topgear Sako-addicted

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    Thanks for posting those photo's up. That is really something. Its interesting your rifle Mark at the end of the run 16XX doesn't have the rear ladder site and doesn't have the charger port and bridge removed like the others. Front ramp site also looks like its built up to match the rear peep. Really interesting stuff.

    Peter what really interested me was your serial number stamping. The 11XX rifle I have also has two dots after CAL. i.e. CAL..243. The 12XX rifle only has one dot as shown in the 1st post of this thread. Also the Serial number and calibre stamping are in reverse order. Did your barrel have ''bofors steel'' stamped on it? Would love to see some pictures of your stock when you get it completed.

    Anyway guys welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing some photo's of your rifles. Many here I think will like seeing them just as much as me!

    Enfield serial.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
  20. applecracle

    applecracle Member

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    I am away for a few days so will have to check for the 'bofors steel' but I can't recall seeing it.
     

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