Sako S20 Hunter Camo Cerakote
Sako S20 Hunter Camo Cerakote
Overall Rating: 97%
Price as reviewed: £2,400
The introduction of the Sako S20 Hunter Camo Cerakote
The Sako S20 has been available now for more than two years and it has become an instant success, primarily due to the clever hybrid, adjustable and changeable format that this rifle possesses.
More importantly, it is just such a natural rifle to shoot, with great handling and perfect balance. Its innovative, quick-detachable stock and instant exchange of parts allows it to be reconfigured from a Hunter version (thumbhole) to a Precision (tactical) version, and it has the ability to digest ammunition and then print tiny groups with them.
Sako thought, “What do hunters really need? Well not everyone’s the same size, so let’s make the stock exchangeable, adjustable for length and cheekpiece height. Scopes need to be mounted correctly, so let’s include an integrated Picatinny rail and then finish off all the metal with weatherproof tungsten Cerakote.”
Special to the Sako S20 Hunter Camo Cerakote is the new Strata camouflage coating to the stock that really disturbs the S20’s profile and, dare I say, looks superb. Oh yes, it also shoots below an inch at 100 yards; what’s not to like?
The choice of calibre available from GMK Ltd as stock items are the .243, .270, .308 and here on test the 6.5mm Creedmoor. All this performance will cost a reasonable £2,400.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Sako
- Model S20 Hunter Camo Cerakote
- Action Bolt-action
- Barrel length 20in, 5/8 UNEF threaded muzzle
- Finish Tungsten Cerakote
- Weight 7.7lbs
- Length 40.85in
- Length of pull 14.25in (adjustable with inserts)
- Magazine Five shots
- Scope mounts Integrated Picatinny
- Trigger Single stage
- Stock Thumbhole polymer Strata camouflage finish
- Price £2,400
- Distributors GMK Ltd 01489 579999
That thumbhole stock instantly catches the eye — or does it, with that really unusual and very effective and disruptive Strata camouflage pattern. It’s a blend between a digital and leaf camo, looking more like a reptile skin, and really suits this S20 Hunter Camo Cerakote It also forms a non-slip finish to the two-piece polymer stock, with excellent additional soft rubber insets to the fore-end and pistol grip. I really like the thumbhole design; most of my guns have them as they feel far more supportive and strong out in the field.
There is a handy adjustable cheekpiece by means of a single push-button to raise or lower it to your preference or scope height. Also, by adding or removing the stock spacers, the length of pull can be adjusted too. This, combined with the M-Lok fittings for bipods and quick-detachable sling attachments, means you have a really comprehensively specced stock. Best of all is that the fore-end and butt stock can be removed for transit, and all joints are metal-to-metal to maintain consistency. An aluminium chassis runs the whole length of the stock profile to provide strength and attachment for the action.
I like the integral Picatinny scope mounting system, which is strong with a universal fit, and the stainless steel bolt with ribbed teardrop handle maintains Sako’s smooth, reliable bolt operation. Being a three locking lug bolt system, the bolt lift is low, and Sako’s large extractor claw takes care of stiff ammunition without fuss.
Barrel-wise, you have a superbly tough, non-corrosive Cerakote finish with a non-reflective tungsten colour, perfectly blending the metalwork to the stock. It’s 20in, a sensible length for the 6.5mm Creedmoor round. Weight is reduced with the addition of six flutes, and the 18mm muzzle diameter is threaded for a 5/8 UNEF thread pitch. With the rifle being cold hammer forged and having a match-grade chamber, you can expect thousands of rounds of good accuracy — it is a Sako, after all.
I like the way the stock covers the magazine’s release mechanism to stop accidental release out in the field but still allows for instant access. It’s a five-shot polymer mag unit, so it won’t rust and is designed to feed reliably and avoid damage to the frontal section of the bullet. The trigger is equally good, with the blade being able to slide back and forth to correct for length of pull. I have used enough Sakos now to appreciate handy design of the safety. As well as the usual side lever, there is a small additional button that, when pushed down, allows the bolt to open with the safety on to unload silently.
It’s very hard to criticise the S20 Hunter Camo Cerakote The Cerakote finish is perfect on a stalking rifle. Accuracy is superb, and the adjustable thumbhole stock with the Strata camo finish is ideal, too — and I don’t even particularly like camo. There is nothing I would change, so I bought it.
- Accuracy 19/20 Great accuracy from all the loads tested
- Handling 20/20 Feels totally right and very well planted in the aim
- Trigger 18/20 Precise and light with an adjustable trigger-blade feature
- Stock 20/20 Perfect thumbhole design with excellent Strata camo finish
- Value 20/20 Everything you want in a true stalking rifle
- Overall Score 97/100
It’s hard to criticise anything about this rifle at all.
In the field
The 6.5mm Creedmoor is ‘the’ round for stalking at present, and as such it’s a great all-rounder for deer or foxes in the UK. Testing was in snow at -10°C. I started with the light 95-gr Federal V-Max loads, which are good for foxes and small species of deer alike, at a velocity of 2,992fps and 1,889ft/lb and 0.75in groups.
Hornady’s SST 150-gr shot superb 0.5in three-shot groups at 100 yards at a velocity of 2,744fps/2,157ft/lb. These were lower velocities than normal due to the low temperatures, but this one was a great deer load. A good lead-free option was the Federal 130-gr TSX load with sub-inch groups, good for non-lead at 2,605fps and 1,959ft/lb.
We also had superb accuracy with the Barnes 127-gr LRX reload of 40 grains of RL15 powder for a sedate 2,579fps/1,876ft/lb velocity but one- hole groups, consistently.
We were into Chinese water deer season, so I took the S20 out to manage the deer after the snow. It was topped off with a new Steiner Ranger 8 scope and a Stalon sound moderator. Total length was 45in, so the rifle was still handy to sling on the shoulder and light enough at 10.6lb not to be tiresome.
Chinese water deer bed down in the middle of fields or along the ditches. We spotted several ears protruding above the grass at 250 yards, so decided to stalk a hedgerow closer. We bumped a bedded doe at 10 yards that ran the opposite way, thankfully, and after a further 75-yard crawl to a safe position we waited until a young doe raised to stretch. The Sako’s thumbhole design felt so natural to aim and hold steady. The crosshairs didn’t waver on the doe’s vitals until the trigger broke, and the Barnes 127-gr LRX reload concluded a 155-yard shot.
It’s hard to criticise anything about this rifle at all