If you value the true essence of hunting, this great-looking rifle is for you, says Bruce Potts
In the field
I was itching to take the No.1 to the woods as it arrived, with open sights only, for a spot of retro stalking at close quarters in the Sussex Weald. With the foliage on the trees being early and dense this year, and intermittent heavy showers, it was perfect for some silent old-school woodcraft. Loaded with the factory Sakos, I knew the furthest distance would be 50 to 60 yards down a clearing or, at best, 100 yards across a field margin.
With the safety on and the rifle slung, you notice the barrel-mounted sling-swivel band sits the rifle low on the shoulder, so it does not snag on branches. Its light, superb handling form allows a swift mounting and sighting either free-hand or off sticks.
After peering around and under all the understorey of bushes and brambles, I spotted a roebuck fraying a small sapling 40 yards to the right. The trouble was a yearling buck, tagging along behind this mature specimen, was also looking at me. I was stuck.
We had a face-off for a few minutes, then the older buck stopped his fraying and looked in my direction too. It was at this point that maturity won out and that good-quality buck was having none of it. Off they bounded, both barking loudly.
I headed to the wood’s edge where the new crop was growing fast, as fallow often feed here, but they soon disappeared as daylight strengthened. Also, they were all casting antlers, with only two weeks to the end of the season.
As I crept out of the wood and along a hedgerow, a fallow buck, still with antlers, was leaving the crop and heading back to the sanctuary of the undergrowth. In a split second, the sticks were deployed and I rested the No.1 from a seated position and aligned the open sights, put the bead on his chest and fired.
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He lurched forward and then slowly dropped to his knees and lay motionless. The Sako 123-gr deposits a lot of energy where you want it and concluded a nice stalk.
Accuracy 17/20: Dependable but find a load it likes.
Handling 18/20: Really handles well.
Trigger 16/20: Slow lock time
Stock 17/20: Classic with nice figuring.
Value 17/20: Prices are rising
Old-looking but reliable and accurate