Charles Smith Jones looks at the Sako M591, whose accuracy and reliability meant it was one of the best action rifles ever produced
Sako was formally established during the 1930s and in 1983 it merged with Tikkakoski, another Finnish manufacturer, owners of the Tikka brand. Things changed again rather more quickly when it was bought in 2000 by Beretta, the doyen of Italian firearms manufacturing.
Although the company was initially set up to meet military requirements, it quickly reached out to the civilian market. The Vixen was the first rifle to appear and by the early 1960s the full-bore Finnbear, Forester and other sporting models were also in production, as well as rimfires such as the Finnfire and Finnscout. Many of these can still be found in regular use today, a testament to the longevity of Sako’s products.
In 1992, a new range of Sako rifles started to appear to replace the venerable older models. The M591 was one of these, a replacement for the Forester built in a medium action intended for the .308 Winchester and similar cartridges. It featured a separate recoil lug and a Tikka trigger assembly and was also offered in a left-hand configuration. A longer action rifle, the M691, was also produced at around the same time to chamber lengthier cartridges as well as some of the magnum calibres. Production was short-lived and the Sako 75, which was produced to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the company, replaced them in 1996.
Sako rifles have always enjoyed an enviable reputation for both rugged dependability and above-average accuracy straight out of the box. Sako has always been mindful of its special reputation in this respect and no rifle ever leaves the factory before being test-fired. The M591 was offered in a variety of configurations ranging from Hunter, Deluxe, Super Deluxe (both largely reflecting the quality of woodwork), Carbine, Battue and heavy-barrel Varmint versions with 24in or 26in barrels. Wooden stocks in varying grades and blued barrels are standard, these rifles having been produced at a time before the proliferation of stainless/synthetic alternatives. The stock came alternately oiled or lacquered, and the quality of the wood itself was generally high and attractively figured.
All M591 models had fixed magazines with a hinged floorplate, accommodating five cartridges in addition to one in the chamber. A catch in front of the trigger guard allows the floorplate to be dropped so that unfired cartridges can be removed without any need to cycle the bolt. A simple on/off sliding safety catch is in the usual place to the right of the handle end of the bolt. Open sights, either standard or battue, came as standard, although many owners have since had foresights removed to enable the fitting of a sound moderator. Attaching mounting rings for a telescopic sight is a simple matter and was catered for in the manufacturing of the receiver.
The rate of barrel twist varied according to calibre: 14in for 22-250 Rem, 10in for .243 Win, 9.5in for 7mm-08 Rem and 11in for .308 Win. These calibres were the only ones offered in new factory rifles but a number have since been rebarrelled by their owners and it is possible to encounter examples in other calibres.
The Tikka trigger unit came factory set and gave a clean, crisp break at around 3lb, although adjustments are possible once the stock has been removed to access a simple screw, which is moved clockwise to increase the desired pressure and vice versa. A single-set trigger was also offered as an optional extra on all models of the M591. Pushing the main trigger forward sets the mechanism so that only a slight pressure of around 7oz is required to fire the rifle. To unset, the bolt needs only to be lifted with the safety catch applied. As with all set triggers, however, great care needs to be taken when handling the rifle as it might take only the slightest knock or vibration to fire the rifle.
Most Sako owners tend to hang onto their rifles as trusted and dependable sporting firearms, and many will argue that the M591 is still one of the best rifle actions ever produced. If you are looking for a used rifle in one of the limited (though still highly popular) calibre options that are likely to be available, this may just be the one for you. Accurate and reliable, it is unlikely to disappoint.
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Tech specs Sako M591
- Country of origin: Finland
- In production: 1992-1996
- Action: Bolt
- Stock options: Wood only
- Barrel length: 22½in (standard) to 26in (varmint)
- Magazine: Floorplate
- Left-hand version: Yes
- Weight (bare): 6lb 14oz (standard) to 9lb (varmint)
- Available in calibres: .22-250, .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, .308 Win
- Cost new: N/A
- Cost used: From £600 upwards, depending on condition
Accurate and reliable, it is unlikely to disappoint.