Testfire by John Herbert
Sako Quad Range
CALIBRE: .22LR with .17 Mach 2, .17HMR and .22WMR as options. STOCK: Laminated with adjustable cheek piece.
BARREL: Heavy Varmint/Target 1/16 twist 6 groove.
ACTION: Sako P04R Twin Lug separate bolt release, standard “Tip Off” rimfire scope rail.
TRIGGER: Sako Single stage adjustable 2 - 4 pounds. (Set trigger optional)
WEIGHT: 4.5kg (10 pounds)
LENGTH: 1025mm (40.35 inches)
BARREL LENGTH: 560mm (22 inches)
MAGAZINE: 10 rounds (5 optional)
Reviewed by NZ Rod&Rifle Magazine's Technical Editor,
The Mix & Match Master
Sako is almost a family name in hunting circles, and the combination of European design and high levels of workmanship have made Sako an aspirational brand in New Zealand for a number of years now.
When it comes to rimfire rifles though, Sako’s heritage is less well known. There was the Finnscout built in two versions, the P72 and M78; and the beautifully made Finnfire. Both these rifles are uncommon in NZ, and even though there is a Finnfire II available it shares more in common with the Sako Quad, a rifle that on its release in 2005 quickly jumped to the top of the list of desirable rimfire rifles.
The Quad was in all fairness an attempt by Sako to make a quality rimfire rifle at a more affordable price point than the previous Finnfire. They also innovated with a very clever and simple-to-use interchangeable barrel system. The Quad was available in 4 calibres: .22lr, .22Mag, .17 HMR and the much-underrated .17 Mach 2. I sold quite a few Quads in the first few years after their release, and reports from both the field and the bench rest were very positive. The Range version of the Quad is aimed at the shooter who wants a rifle that can shoot small groups in sport and competition events but can also perform as a serious mid range varmint rifle. We saw recently with the Lithgow Crossover rifle that these multipurpose varmint rifles can successfully fill more than one role – so how does this offering from Sako stack up?
Visually the Range is unmistakable among its stable mates, mainly due to the adjustable laminated stock. In fact the stock is the key feature on the Range and its adjustability and ergonomics elevate it above the run-of-the-mill rimfire. For guys like me who are a bit bigger than most the stock is very desirable, as I can get my head and hands in just the right position to make a clean trigger release without having the stress of a poor cheek weld or unsupported trigger hand. With the supplied Burris Droptine scope I didn’t need to raise the cheek piece, but if I were to run a bigger scope for varmint or competition work then the adjustability would be useful. The superior ergonomics of the stock became evident on the first outing to the range, where bench shooting was very comfortable. The stock has Anschutz-style rails that allow you to attach slings and sling swivels. It’s a bit Old School in these days of Picatinny Rails, but the system works well and the adjustability is useful.
The action is the P04R, which is also the basis for the Finnfire II; the action has a short 50 degree bolt lift and two locking lugs. The bolt throw is designed to accommodate longer cartridges like the .17HMR and the .22 WMR, and has a separate bolt stop. This last point is noteworthy, as many rimfire rifles have the bolt stop/release built into the trigger – but because Sako uses the same trigger system on the Quad as it does on its centre fire rifles, a separate bolt release is necessary. The trigger on the Range is adjustable from around 4 pounds down to 2 pounds; the trigger had a small amount of creep, but when adjusted down to its lightest setting the creep was reduced to a barely noticeable level. The action cycled very smoothly and the shape of the bolt handle made quick follow-up shots a breeze. Even though it is a .22LR and the action length was designed to accommodate longer cartridges like the .17HMR and .22 magnum, the extra bolt throw is not noticeable. The magazine in the Range is a 10 rounder and it loads easily and feeds smoothly.
The barrel on the Range is a true heavy barrel, and like all the Quad barrels it is colour-coded for identification (in the case of the .22 this is a green band around the chamber). The magazines are also colour coded; but with two colours, indicating that they can work with cartridges of the same length. In this case the .22lr magazine would work with the .17 Mach 2 cartridges. If you had a .17HMR this would also work with the .22 magnum.
The beauty of the Quad system is that there are lighter-weight barrels available as well. If you ordered this rifle in .17HMR where it might be used more as a prone varmint rifle the heavy barrel would be fine, but you could order a lighter .22 LR barrel from other versions of the Quad (and have it shortened as well) and likely save a pound in weight for a lighter walk-around .22 LR rifle.
I was eager to see how well the Quad Range would shoot and as usual the Wellington weather decided to rain and blow. After 3 sessions at the range I managed to shoot some groups that were not too affected by the wind. The rifle was supplied with a Burris Droptine 3-9 x 40 scope; this has a ballistic holdover reticle and most importantly has the parallax set for 50 yards. I set up my targets at 50 yards and sighted in, using my old standby budget CCI Blazer; the Quad showed a liking for the Blazer with groups starting at 1 inch and finishing at .6 inch. Next up was Winchester Power Point Max and this round shot consistent 1 inch groups. CCI Subsonic shot into .6 inch, Kilwell Whisper shot some nice groups with a .4 inch group being the highlight, and Eley Standard shot a number of very tight groups with .24 being the best. It’s worth noting that groups can become smaller with .22LR ammunition once the wax from the projectiles evenly coats the barrel. When changing ammunition this process may need to repeat itself, and some experienced .22LR bench rest shooters believe that it can take 50 or more rounds to season the barrel when changing ammunition. Considering that I was changing ammunition every 10-15 rounds, and the wind was always present, I would say this Sako has some serious accuracy potential.
I liked the Sako Quad from the second I opened the box until I put it back; it’s a quality rifle and unlike the many budget .22’s available, has a level of fit and finish that few others can come close to. Although the stock dominates this rifle it’s the interchangeable barrels that give the Range its real defining point. As good as this rifle is, as a .22LR the weight makes it slightly awkward as a field gun – but fit a .17 HMR barrel and it becomes a different animal altogether. As a .17HMR the weight becomes less of an issue, as you’d be taking prone shots out to 250 yards and the ergonomics of the stock would become very beneficial. As the rifle sits it weighs 4.5kg or just on 10 pounds; add a bipod and scope and you have 12 pound setup for the field. The weight does make offhand shooting very steady if you can hold it, but for long walks in the hills a few pounds less may be preferable. The good news is that Sako have this covered with a selection of Quad Rifles, from the lightweight synthetic to the Mid Weight Varmint, so whatever your need there is likely a calibre and stock option to suit. My notes on testing the lighter Quad rifles a few years ago, show that just like the Range, they are also accurate rifles. If you are after a premium rimfire rifle that has both accuracy and versatility, put the Sako Quad Range on your shopping list.