Built on the model 85 action, with a sleek synthetic stock and a range of useful options, Sako's lightweight rifle is a winner, says Bruce Potts
The new Sako Finnlight 2 — based on the hugely popular Sako 85 action — is a leap towards stalking rifle perfection. There is still the well-proportioned synthetic stock, stainless steel construction and fluted barrel to reduce weight but with the addition of a tough Cerakote external finish.
Appealing features of the Sako Finnlight 2
The right blend of features that will appeal to many British stalkers. It is also chambered for a very good variety of cartridges and is available in left-handed version.
Visually, the stock is what hits you first and on picking it up, you are suddenly aware of how light it is, coming in at 2.6kg (5.7lb). It balances perfectly around the supporting hand in front of the action.
The original Finnlight stock was a black moulded synthetic Sporter-type and this version is improved by the addition of a new adjustable cheekpiece, which gives the choice of differing heights so you can alter it to achieve your desired eye alignment.
Adjustment is made using a single button inset into the right side of the stock. A gentle push and the comb of the stock is lifted. It moves and locks very solidly, due to the twin supporting aluminium pillars that also stop rotation or twisting.
The stock material is a fibreglass construction for weight saving and strength. It is dubbed the RTM — or resin transfer mould.
The pistol grip and the quite short fore-end provide grip, not in the form of chequering but through built-in ribbed rubber panels. These are amazingly tactile. The recoil pad is a soft black rubber and can be unscrewed to add spacers to adjust the length of pull.
You also have a very good solid bedding area that mimics the action profile. It achieves perfect harmony that translates to superior accuracy in the field and in all weathers.
Action, bolt and barrel
The 85’s action is very smooth due to the bolt guide/raceway design and positive feed system. This is via the control round feed-type bolt face design that allows direct engagement of the cartridge rim in the magazine. The cartridge is cradled into the chamber of the rifle rather than flipped up and pushed. It not only improves reliability but also reduces risk of damaging the tip of the bullet.
The bolt face has a three locking-lug arrangement that allows a low bolt lift and fast cycling of the action — these faceted lugs run in the raceways incredibly smoothly. The claw extractor and sprung ejector spur ensure a fired case is removed from the rifle without fail.
The action is made from stainless steel, as is the barrel, then coated with the impenetrable Cerakote. This is applied as a satin non-reflective grey/gunmetal and is extremely durable.
The barrel on the Finnlight is short at 510mm or 20.5in, giving an overall length of 40.5in. With the sound moderator fitment via the 14mm/1 metric thread, this helps to keep the rifle short. The rifling twist of 1-in-11in means bullets from 90-gr to 220-gr will stabilise. The slim Sporter form is further lightened with six nicely rounded flutes cut along three-quarters of the barrel length. These reduce weight, aid in barrel heat dispersion and look really good.
A decent trigger is vital and this rifle has one. You can opt for the normal two-stage unit or order a set trigger option — what we used to call a hair-trigger.
The two-stage model broke cleanly at 3.15lb with no creep and a predictable clean sear release. You can adjust the weight from 2lb to 4lb, but I’d leave it alone.
The safety lever operates in the forward position to fire, with rearmost as safe, which locks both the trigger and the bolt. The model 85 also has that handy plunger forward of the main safety lever which, when depressed, allows the bolt to remove a cartridge from the chamber while still keeping the trigger locked and safe.
Finally, the Finnlight has a detachable magazine system and in .308 Win holds five rounds in a double staggered formation. Always reliable and well made, they are released via another nice feature, the Total Control Latch, which stops any accidental premature release of the magazine.
On the Finnlight you have to press the front of the magazine in a little, while simultaneously depressing the release latch to eject the mag.
From the bench
The Sako is a lightweight rifle, so I did not want to burden it with a heavy scope or sound moderator, however good they might be. A Leupold Compact scope fitted the bill very well, as did the .30-cal Schultz & Larsen aluminium sound moderator.
Factory ammunition-wise, I had the usual suspects plus a nice subsonic load. Though .308 subsonics are not deer legal, they make an interesting fox load to keep handy. The Winchester .308 subs use a 185-gr bullet with expanding head. From the Finnlight’s 20.5in barrel it gave 1,047fps for 450ft/lb energy and 1in groups at 100 yards. With the S&L moderator fitted, the muzzle report was no more than a light cough.
From the regular deer-legal loads, the best were the Hornady Superformance, with its 150-gr SST bullet travelling at 2,816fps for 2,642ft/lb and 0.75in groups.
This was closely followed by the Norma 150-gr Ballistic Tips and 150-gr Sako Gameheads. They achieved 2,722fps and 2,714fps and 0.85in and 0.95in groups respectively.
In fact, the lead-free Federal 150-gr TSX or heavier Sako Oryx 180-gr shot equally well. Take your pick.
For reloads I liked the Berger 110-gr varmint bullets in front of 41.5 grains of H4198 powder. These make a superb small-species deer or fox load and were incredibly accurate in the Finnlight, producing 0.65in groups at 100 yards and 3,008fps.
The 125-gr Ballistic Tips with 41.5 grains of RL10X powder achieved 2,978fps for 2,462ft/lb and sub-1in groups. The best all-rounder for deer would be the Hornady InterBond 165-gr at 2,723fps and 2,717ft/lb with 45.25 grains of RL15 powder.
For all intense and purposes the new Sako Finnlight 2 has improved on what was actually a pretty perfect lightweight stalking rifle.
The overall lightness and superb handling make it ideal for all types of stalking for long treks on the hill and manoeuvrability in dense woodland or from a high seat.
Its tough Cerakote over stainless construction makes its highly practical and durable in all climates and the accuracy remains the same due to the free floated precision barrel and very good bedding of the synthetic stock. The adjustable cheekpiece is very handy for correct scope eye alignment and is there if you need it or not.
Add to this an aluminium bodied scope and moderator and the Finnlight is still a super lightweight, durable and highly accurate stalking rifle, what more does one want?
In the field
The Sako Finnlight 2 is not a range gun — it’s an out-and-out hunter and the better for it because no compromise has been made in its styling or ergonomic function. Even with sound moderator and scope fitted it’s a lightweight, easily toutable stalking rifle.
It sits low on the shoulder when slung and moving around, and it is no strain, either, when you need to manhandle it in and out or over logs, branches, hillocks and so on.
The smooth Cerakote finish means there are no worries about scratching it or rust, and equally important reduced reflections that might spook a deer.
That stock, with the cheekpiece or comb up or down just feels right and controllable, giving confidence in the shot, and those rubber inserts are really grippy.
I had a few trips with no-shows — whether it was me or the deer, who knows. Finally, the night before the Finnlight 2 had to go back, and loaded with 110-gr Berger bullets waiting for a fat Charlie to appear, out popped a muntjac.
They don’t hang around and they do fidget, so the Sako was up and on aim and the trigger squeezed before he could make his exit. Recoil was light, noise reduction very good and the rifle’s deadly accuracy inspired a confident shot.
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- Accuracy 19/20: Light weight or heavy bullets the Sako Finnlight 2 shot them all very well.
- Handling 19/20: Sublime handling, feels part of you.
- Trigger 18/20: Sako factory triggers are always good.
- Stock 19/20: Ergonomically excellent and enhanced by the adjustable cheekpiece.
- Value 18/20: Great value light weight rifle
- Total 93/100
A super lightweight, durable and highly accurate stalking rifle