Valmet m/76s in .308

Discussion in 'Valmet and Tikka' started by icebear, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    I just picked up a Valmet m/76s in .308, acquired from a Gunbroker auction. I've been wanting one of these for a while, but they are not often seen. The m/76s is a commercial semiauto rifle built on a Kalashnikov-type action. The original m/76 was the Finnish equivalent of the Soviet AKM, which is to say it has a stamped sheet metal receiver (unlike the military rk/62, which was built on a milled receiver). The m/76 is most commonly seen in .223/5.56 NATO, but was also made in .308/7.62 NATO and (a very few) 7.62x39. The 76 was made from about 1976 through the mid-80's. The .223, the most common version, was made on the stamped receiver. Most of the .308 versions are built on a milled receiver that is somewhat different from either the stamped-receiver m/76 or the m/62. The .308 was available in three different stock configurations - plastic, wood, and a T-shaped folding metal stock like the non-folding one on the rk/62. The plastic version is the most common, but I chose to avoid it because plastic Valmet stocks have a well-earned reputation for cracking. What I wanted was wood, and one finally came along at a (semi) reasonable price, in top condition, with an original 20-round magazine. The mag is important; all Valmet mags are scarce and expensive, but the .308 mag for the m/76 is especially hard to find, and sellers on Gunbroker usually want ridiculous prices. I'm not aware of any other mag that can be converted to fit the .308 m/76; the Valmet 78 uses a different, incompatible magazine. The .308 is frequently found with only a 9-round mag - not something I wanted to deal with. The bonus is that the gun I got has very nice wood for a military semiauto. It appears to be black walnut and has more color and figure than most sporting rifle stocks. As another bonus, this is one of the few used guns I have ever bought that was actually clean. I have not yet had a chance to test-fire it; I'm hoping to get to the range tomorrow and will post a report if I do.


    The Finns made a number of improvements to the original Kalashnikov design. The forward-mounted open sight was replaced with an aperture sight mounted on the top cover, and the top cover is held in place with ears on the receiver. The gas block was redesigned and the front sight moved from the barrel to the gas block. Overall quality is vastly improved, especially the barrel. A typical Valmet will shoot groups half the size of a typical AK. It is not well known, but the Israeli Galil was designed using the Valmet as a basis. The Israelis further modified the design to fit their needs. They added a left-side thumb safety, eliminating one of the most annoying quirks of the AK design. They also added an ambidextrous cocking lever and a much-improved folding stock. If you look at a Galil, the Valmet heritage is clear in the sights and the design of the gas block. All Galils have milled receivers and folding stocks. This is not surprising; mounted troops are the heart of the Israeli infantry so the design was standardized for easy carrying inside an armored vehicle.

    Here are some photos

    My new m/76s
    M76-308-1.JPG

    Another m/76s, in .223/5.56 NATO. This one has a stamped receiver.
    M76W-1.JPG

    A case I picked up back in the 90's when I started collecting Valmets. Probably sold by the importer.
    Rifle Case.JPG

    A Valmet 76 in .308 with the folding stock. Note the longer barrel and the difference in the rear trunnion. Not sure where I got this photo, maybe from a friend. It's not my gun; I've never owned a .308 folder.
    Valmet308fold.jpg
     
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  2. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Icebear: These military-type rifles are interesting but well beyond the limits of my knowledge, however, I've always wondered: How do you properly pronounce "Valmet"? "Val-may" as if in French, or "Val-met"?

    And while we're at it, is "Franchi" properly said "Frahn-chee" or "Frahnkie" or "Frank-ee"? Your exposure to various languages in your past endeavors should be very helpful to us "Say-ko" (or is it "Sah-ko"?) enthusiasts. (By the way, some of us feel that a Sako is best mounted with a Lee-o-pold.o_O)
     
  3. Sean Hodges

    Sean Hodges Well-Known Member

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    According to my friend who works at Leupold and Stevens it’s pronounced Lew-pold or Lou-pold. Tomato, tomah-toh....
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
  4. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    It's VAHL-met, SAH-ko, and FRAHN-kee, respectively. Finnish is always accented on the first syllable, and all letters are pronounced. This is the diametrical opposite of French, where the accent is always on the final syllable and there are numerous silent letters. Pronunciation in Italian can be a bit chaotic, as can Italy itself. CH is generally pronounced as a K. C before I or E is pronounced as a CH (ciao), but before A or O it is pronounced as a K (Carlo).

    And if you ask about SAY-ko in a gun shop in Finland, they will tell you they don't sell Japanese watches (Seiko).

    Valmet is an acronym for "Valtion Metallitehtaat," meaning State Metal Works. Valmet was created in the postwar period by merging VKT (Valtion Kivääritehdas=State Rifle Factory) with other state-owned manufacturing operations. Among other products, Valmet farm tractors were known for their excellent quality. The Valmet firearms operation was eventually merged into Sako.
     
  5. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    Here's a shot of a Galil, showing clearly its Valmet ancestry. This example is a "Golani," which was built by Century Arms from Galil parts kits imported from Israel with US-made receivers, barrels, and compliance parts. Century has a well-deserved reputation for shoddy quality, but this Golani and my Century-built Czech Vz.2008 (Vz.58 parts kit gun) both run fine.

    Golani 1.JPG

    Here's the Galil safety lever, in addition to the regular AK safety on the other side. As far as I know, this and the ambi cocking handle are unique to the Galil.
    Golani 2.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
  6. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Yeah, those were my best guesses at the "accepted" pronunciations.

    My argument regarding Sako is that it is an acronym, thus is properly pronounced by the spelling conventions of whatever language is being spoken. Therefore, when speaking English, the spelling would produce a long "a", making the pronunciation "Say-ko"; in most other languages the spelling would produce a soft "a", thus "Sah-ko". The counter-claim might be that it has long-since become a word (name) and is no longer an acronym, therefore it would be pronounced however those who adopted the name choose. Bottom line: Whether it is a Sayko or a Sahko, I never turn down a nice example in a caliber or configuration I don't have if the price is right.:cool:
     
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  7. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    But how do I know you're not a collector of Japanese watches? Should we start eating TAY-cos for lunch? :confused: Hearing SAY-ko is like hearing feedback from a PA system. Sako is certainly a word in Finnish - it acquires case endings just like any other Finnish noun. To mispronounce it is the same as mispronouncing a person's name. (And here I'm being inconsistent - I deliberately mispronounce my own name, because to pronounce it correctly in its original language would lead Americans to misspell it. Some Americans with the same name spell it differently because the clerk at Ellis Island got it wrong. However, the name Sako does not have this problem.) To pronounce a foreign name correctly is to do a courtesy to the name holder and every speaker of the language. That's my opinion, no offense meant to anybody. :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
  8. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    An update: Took the Valmet to the range yesterday. Functioning was perfect with Austrian surplus NATO-spec ball loaded in 1977 (right around the time the gun was built). Accuracy seemed OK. I didn't shoot any brag-worthy groups, but then I need new glasses (on order). On the subject of surplus ammo, in addition to the Austrian surplus (made by Hirtenberger), I've had surprisingly good results with Malaysian surplus ammo. Accuracy as good as anything else, and some of the cleanest-burning military ammo I've ever shot. I'm keeping my eyes open for good deals on either of these. I've also heard good things about Lithuanian ammo (believe it or not). The big disappointment has been Federal Lake City. That stuff has given me ejection problems in my FAL's - weak ejection and some jams. I won't be buying any more of that stuff, even though it's Boxer primed and therefore reloadable.

    The trigger pull on the Valmet is kind of strange. It's a two-stage trigger. First stage is a bit over 3#, and then it's only another half a pound to bingo. Takes a sensitive finger. In practice, I'm just treating it as a single stage trigger and that works OK for combat shooting, but not the best for precision. It's still better than most AK triggers.

    One of the drawbacks of the AK design is the lack of a bolt hold-open device. Shooting on a public range, the rules quite properly say that all weapons must be locked open during a cease-fire. Most shooters use a fired case or a chamber flag, but the Finnish Army had its own unique solution. The gadget pictured below is a Finnish device used on military ranges to provide a visible safety check that a rifle is open. The device was designed for use with the rk/62 assault rifle, but it works with most AK-type weapons. I picked this up years ago, I forget where, and dug it up from my miscellaneous box to go test fire the Valmet.

    Valmet Bolt Holder 1.JPG Valmet Bolt Holder 2.JPG
     

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