There are many rifles available in the market but Sako is one of the highest quality and accurate ones present. In fact, it has always been known for its accuracy. The wee stocked rifle is a Finnish made firearm and the Sako 85 variant comes with a price tag of more than $1,500. With more and more shooters craving for a much cost effective Sako rifle, the Finnish manufacturer has ultimately come up with the Sako A7 rifle variant, whose price is almost half of Sako 85, ranging between $850 and $1,000. Two important aspects of Sako A7 are that it carries forward the legacy of quality and accuracy of the Sako rifles, on one hand, and offers hunters with amazing affordability. As A7 rifle is one of the most talked about mid-priced rifles available for the hunting community, the expert team of Scopelist has decided to test its performance and write a comprehensive review on it.
Was Sako A7 launched to Compete Popular Tikka T3?
When Sako launched its A7 line up, everyone was a bit surprised by this. In fact, Sako 85 was doing fine. The niche shooting community of Sako lovers was more than happy with Sako 85. However, the company was witnessing an increasing purchasing trend among the shooters of buying Tikka T3 rifle. It must be mentioned here that Tikka T3 is also manufactured by the same company as Sako 85. However, the company was more interested to fill in the gap between these two rifles, where Tikka T3 rifle was far more affordable.
This is how Sako A7 came to existence. It was a brave move by Sako as it is really tough to match the pricing of well functioned Tikka rifles. Though it was tough for Sako to beat Tikka T3 in the category, the resultant A7 has come up as a revelation in itself. As Tikka T3 rifles come with handful of undesirable attributes, it was interesting for Scopelist’s team of reviewers to find out whether the new Sako rifle had indeed surpassed the former. If you think that A7 will produce the same quality standard of rifle as Sako 85, which is much costlier than the former, you will be a fool to believe so. You can’t expect the same standard features or quality from a rifle whose price is almost half of Sako 85. This is the reason why reviewing the new incarnation becomes so much difficult and at the same time interesting.
Before we get started with our analysis of the entire rifle, let’s have a sneak peek of the rifle. A7 is available in two lengths. While the longer cartridges are available in 300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, 30-06 Springfield, 270 Win, and 25-06 Rem, the shorter version is available in 300 WSM, 270 WSM, 308 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, 243 Win, and 22-250 Rem. In both the lengths, two variants are available. While one variation comes with stainless steel, the other is made up of blued steel.
Interestingly, both these variants come with synthetic stock. This stock has been manufactured of copolymer polypropylene, reinforced by glass-fibre. You will also find integrated stippling here and on the wooden stock you will find chequering. This aspect is surely one of the better aspects we have found in A7 when compared with the Tikka’s cheap-feeling stock. You will find it to resemble more with the synthetic stock offering of Sako 85. However, you will miss the rubberised inserts, found in 85.
24 inch barrel is available with all magnum cartridges. However, 22 inch barrel is available with rest of the cartridges. 14 inch long pull is available with all the rifles and 3 rounds of detachable box magazines are also available. Sako A7 is a well balanced rifle with accompanied other profile features such as pointable characteristic feature, in-hand comfortable feel, and slim profile.
Sako A7 comes with a similar magazine as Tikka, where it is made of plastic. However, here in Sako, you will find metal reinforced feed lips. In addition, A7 comes with “Total-Control Magazine” release latch. This is an impressive technique involved to remove the magazine. The process involved is that it has to be pressed inwards towards the action that will hit the release latch. Though you will not find this feature in Tikka T3, you will find it in Sako 85. Main benefit of this feature is that this will prevent any kind of accidental bumping, during strong recoil, on the latch. Therefore, there is no chance of accidentally losing the mag during strong recoil.
Unique blend of features of 85 and T3 can be seen in Sako A7. Receiver of A7 has close resemblance with that in Sako 85. However, the tail area of bolt is similar to that in Tikka T3. The blend is more interesting in case of bolt face, which in A7 has lots of similarity with Sako 75. However, the ejector is plunger styled, which can be found in Sako 85. Similarly, the three locking lugs present in A7 rifle is just like the one found in 85. In case of Tikka T3 you will find plunger styled ejector as well as locking lugs. While you will find controlled round feed action in 85, you will find push feed in Tikka T3, Sako 75, and Sako A7.
When it is a rifle, the most important aspect is accuracy of shot. One of the features that I loved a lot is the accuracy guarantee aspect. This ensures even in market of mass produced rifles, you get guarantee from a manufacturer that accuracy of every rifle is checked and then only released in the market. Now, the question comes, how good is the accuracy level?
Per the guarantee of Sako, A7 is able to put all 5 shots within a circle of 1MOA from a distance of 100 yards. This is where A7 rifles surpass credibility of Tikka T3. The latter ones don’t come with any guarantee on shot accuracy. However, we looked into the literature of Tikka (also produced by Sako) and found out that it mentions about testing of T3’s shots in one inch group. However, mentioning this aspect is not same as guaranteeing each and every rifle. The only rifle accuracy guarantee we found out in the market is that of Weatherby, which guaranteed accurate 3 shot placement within 1.5 inches at 100 yards distance on Mark V as well as Vanguard rifles.
What about the Action?
Sako has manufactured A7 rifles with either stainless steel or blued finish. While the former is maximum corrosion resistant, the latter protects the rifle from all kinds of abrasive wears and harsh weather conditions. The usual Sako range of actions comes with sizes that fit the cartridge length. However, Sako A7 has two action lengths only. This approach of A7 is different from the rifles of Tikka line because in the latter one-action-fits-all approach is followed.
There are many reasons for you to like the new Sako A7 rifle. It is comparatively lighter in weight where the weight is roughly 6.5lbs. This is coupled with commendable guaranteed accuracy. If you are a pro shooter, you will get all these features at moderate price, not priced as much as standard Sako rifles.
A7 comes with a detachable box magazine where you can load as well as unload quickly. This feature is especially important because a hunter who has to take a quick shot by getting on or off a vehicle quickly. For minimizing the probability of losing magazine or bumping the mag latch accidentally, Sako has incorporated a new latch system. For .25-06 to .30-06 loads and magnums including 300 Win Mag and 7mm Rem Mag, medium action is available. You will get short action for .300 Win Short Magnums, .270 Short Magnums, and .22-250 to .338 Federal loads.
During the test, Scopelist’s team of reviewers used a rifle that came with .243 short action. It also had three-lugged bolt locking system, thereby allowing short bolt lift to open. Here, the bolt had a straight profiled handle and is smooth for operation. The spent case is gripped by a single extractor and the empty case is ejected forcefully by the plunger. In the stock system, you will find a separate recoil lug. This works well and is preferred by many. However, some shooters also love the lug attached to receiver ring, which is the older styled one.
Is the Trigger Good Enough?
Just like any other Sako rifle, A7 also comes with a good single-stage trigger unit. A shooter can adjust the trigger by adjusting the screw in the trigger housing. You can find the trigger housing by removing the stock. You should note that the pull weight varies from 2lb to 4lb. While testing the rifle, we found out that the pull weight of the trigger (factory setting) is 2.85lb and it worked fine for us. You can also fit a set-trigger unit that comes with an amazing lightweight trigger pull, ranging from 7oz to 9oz. One of the very good features of Sako A7 is the lever type. It comes with an additional plunger, which helps the shooters to load as well as unload the rifle even when the safety is on.
You will be elated to know that Sako has opted for Weaver picatinny mounting system, which gives shooters more mounting options. Therefore, you will not find any tapered dovetails, a trademark aspect, here. However, it should also be reiterated that Tikka mounts or even the OptiLock Sako mounts work excellently. You will find the weaver rings to work excellently because with the help of these you can use standardized ring mount system on a Sako rifle. You will feel the benefit especially when using a scope either having a different tube size other than 1 inch or large objective. Therefore, this move helped in fitting more mount ranges with Sako A7. In fact, Optilocks can also be used for Weaver mounts.
However, there are some aspects that we found not that flattering. The stock in A7 is the same as Tikka T3. Though we are not saying that it is a bad aspect, we are just referring to the fact that the stocks we find on other Sako models or on Finnlite are better. Another thing that we particularly didn’t like is the plastic mag. Though Sako has added steel feed lips for making it more reliable, the plastic build of the magazine is not particularly a good aspect.
What is our Recommendation?
The first thing we liked about Sako A7 rifle is the price point, which is surely going to give Tikka T3 rifle some really hard time. If you are expecting the manufacturing prowess of Sako 85 out of A7, you should better stick to your brand itself. It is simply not possible for any manufacturer to give you the same quality rifle by almost halving the price. That’s not practical. However, you will definitely get the feel of superior Sako 85 rifles in Sako A7 rifles. One of the aspects every pro shooters will like in this new Sako rifle is the incorporation of standardized scope mounts. Though many would have preferred seeing A7 in a laminated or wood version, the existing proposition seems good considering the mid-level price of A7.
There are two aspects that we felt are the show stealers and they are guaranteed accuracy, followed by dual-action release mechanism of the magazine. While testing the rifle we found out that the ammunition shots were significantly good. Rather than getting too much carried away by the shot placements, it is important to take note of velocity figures. A7 can be handled in a better manner than Tikka because of the presence of a better stock.
There are enough additional features available in the new Sako A7 rifle and that’s why its higher price to Tikka T3 is absolutely justifiable.