Show Report - Sakos Seen at SAR Show

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by icebear, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    Just got back from Phoenix, where I spent the weekend at a three-day gun show sponsored by Small Arms Review (the magazine for collectors of Class III items). This is the biggest gun show in Arizona and is said to be the second biggest in the West after Tulsa. One thing is for sure - it's huge, and you can't see it in one day. It occupies four buildings and a tent city at the south end of the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

    Arizona is not a great place to look for Sakos or any other higher-end European sporting arms. Our tastes around here seem to run to old lever guns for older collectors and AR/AK variants for younger shooters. There were so many AR-type rifles at the show, and so many parts and accessories, that if I had been looking for an AR I have no idea how I would choose one.

    I did, however, see a dozen or two Sakos there. The biggest display was on tables set up every year by members of the Browning Collectors Association. Condition and prices were both high. Offerings included a number of Deluxes in various calibers, but nothing that I wanted. Prices for most of the Deluxes were in the $2000 range, and I'd seen them all before, at the same show last year. There was one Super Deluxe with a super deluxe price tag on it. I don't recall for sure, but I think it was 3500. There were a couple of Finnwolfs with price tags above $2K, one each in .308 and .243, and an assortment of L461 and L61R sporters in the $1200 ballpark. There was an L461 heavy barrel with nice wood and a Mannlicher-stocked Finnbear carbine in .338 WinMag at two grand apiece. No Sako-Brownings or FN-Sakos. On other tables I saw another Finnwolf at 2200, a few L61R and A-series sporters in common calibers, and that was about it. Not a single L46 or FN-Sako. I was slightly tempted by an L61R sporter in .30-06 with a Zeiss Conquest on it for $1050, but I already have two Sakos in that caliber so I passed. I did not see a single Ithaca LSA or Tikka M55/M65. There was one Finnish rarity, a Valmet Hunter in .30-06 priced at $2200. The Valmet Hunter is basically a Kalashnikov/Valmet redesigned as a hunting rifle, in the manner of the Russian Saiga sporters. They are not common in any caliber and the long actions especially are seldom seen. I did not find my Holy Grail of a Valmet 76 in .308 with a wood stock.

    Apart from Sakos, there were relatively few nice European sporting rifles. I did consider a Steyr-Mannlicher 1956 model in .270 at $1500, but I didn't like the honey-colored wood so I passed. One dealer from Tempe had an absolutely spectacular custom .416 Rigby on a Brevex Magnum Mauser action. It had gorgeous wood, very fine checkering without silly embellishments like skip-line or fleur-de-lis, and light engraving on the action and floorplate. It had one standing and three folding express sights on a quarter rib, with a full-length matted rib on the barrel. It was a work of art, but simple and well-designed as a working game rifle. I resisted the temptation by asking myself what earthly use I could possibly have for a .416. The elephant, rhino, and buffalo are seldom found in Arizona (we have bison, but unlike Cape buffalo they do not need a cannon to put them down). So, I passed, thereby saving myself $5,000.

    There were acres of guns to drool over, even without many interesting European sporting rifles. The SAR building was a revelation, with a major assortment of belt-fed machine guns, transferable and DS full-autos, and an amazing variety of stuff that I couldn't begin to identify. One table had a dozen or so original military sniper rifles, including an Israeli, a Czech, and an assortment of other Mosins and Mausers. Lugers and Broomhandle Mausers were everywhere, most of them rare and expensive. BS was on display. One vendor told me that a .45 ACP Shansei Broomhandle was actually a contract gun from Spain. I don't think so. I can read a little Chinese and I know the Shansei Arsenal mark; where the guy got his story is anybody's guess.

    I did buy a few things. On Friday morning I picked up two WW2-era Finnish military rifles, a Civil Guard model 28 and a Soviet model 91-30 that appeared to have been put together by the Finns from assorted Russian parts, with a Finnish stock. It bears both the 41 capture mark and the SA property mark on the barrel shank. The barrel is a 1941 Izhevsk product married to an Imperial marked receiver that the seller told me was an antique Sestroryetsk. (The manufacturer's mark and date on a Mosin are on the bottom of the tang so you have to take the gun apart to see them.) Curiously, the gun has an original Russian front sight rather than the usual Finnish substitute. The 91-30 set me back all of $275, and the m/28, in decent shape as m/28 rifles go, was a reasonable $485. If anyone is interested, I can post photos in the military discussion area. I also found a 30-round box of Sako 7.62x39 ball, in what appears to be export military packaging. It's marked in English that it isn't to be used in 7.62x51 Nato arms: M14, M60, etc. I'll probably keep this as a curiosity, although I do have the Valmet m/62 the ammo was intended for. I'll post a pic in the ammo section when I get time.

    On the second day I got lucky with scopes. I found a pair of compact Leupolds, a glossy 3-9x and a matte 2-7x shotgun scope, at a very reasonable 300 for the pair. The shotgun scope has more eye relief than a regular rifle scope but less than a scout scope, making it ideal for one particular rifle I have, a postwar custom Sako-Mosin with a Sako scope base on the front receiver ring. The prize of the day came a bit later when I walked away with a 3-12x56mm Meopta for $500 and a Leupold pistol scope for #50. Both are like new in original boxes and the Meopta is mounted in a nice set of high-quality Picatinny rings. Can't beat that with a stick. The Meopta will probably replace the 2-10x Steiner on my Steyr SSG-69; the Steiner in turn will replace a Burris on an AR-15 SPR I built a few months ago. The Leupold is destined for a High Standard Space Gun that I picked up cheap because somebody had drilled and tapped the receiver for a Weaver rail. Some days Bubba is your friend. The H-S has no collector value, but it's fun to shoot with the open sights or a red dot and it should do even better with the 2x Leupold. And with the barrel weight and compensator, recoil is about nonexistent.

    And so went my excellent adventure at the SAR show. I even found a spare magazine for my French Unique .22 pocket pistol, a near impossibility. I happened to ask a seller of mags if they had one for a Unique, and one of the people behind the table said, "I think there was a Unique mag in the box of stuff we bought yesterday." And sure enough, there was.

    This was a pretty good year for me at the SAR show, as has been the case in the past. Previous acquisitions have included an Australian L1A1 on a good DSA receiver, a Swiss K11 carbine, a Swedish military Mauser target rifle restocked by famous Swedish custom builder Folke Dahlberg, a CZ-527 in .22 Hornet, and a few other goodies. Probably just as well that it's a once a year event.

    Kindly excuse the length of this post. There was just a lot to describe. And then I had to go through it and fix all the errors introduced by the auto-correct. Cheers.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019

  2. deergoose

    deergoose Sako-addicted

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    thanks for the show report, icebear. I haven't been to a show in several months, but will hit them again during the cold months here in VA and after the New Year kicks in.

  3. douglastwo

    douglastwo Well-Known Member

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    Excellent GS report Icebear. Sad to hear the trend continues toward the AR/AK guns for the younger shooters. However, isn't it nice that the Small Arms Review steps up to the plate to sponsor such a large and important GS. Shows we lovers of the older classic stuff need them too to help support our 2nd amendment rights.
  4. L61R

    L61R SCC President Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Thanks for the report Icebear!

    A real U.S gun show has been on my bucket list for quite some time now and I hope to visit one soon.

    I have a dream of SCC setting up a stand one day and I will take that up with my Sako contacts when the timing is right.
    Maybe a joint venture with them in the future?

    Well, we’ll see? Dreaming is free at least!:p

    Again, a big thanks for a great post!


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