Historic Finnish rifle manufacturer Sako this month is celebrating the centennial of the company's founding, with an eye to a bright future and record production numbers.
Established April 1, 1921 in Riihimaki, Finland, the company was formed from a pre-existing workshop where the newly independent country's Civil Guard militia repaired Russian-made Mosin and Berdan rifles inherited during the Finnish Civil War. The company's name-- Suojeluskuntain Ase- ja Konepaja Osakeyhtiö (Civil Guard Firearm and Engineering Co.) -- today remains a holdover from that origin.
Soon, the repair shop transitioned to making new Mosin-pattern rifles, the M/28 and M/39, designed for Finland's unique needs. Samo Haya, widely regarded as "the world's deadliest sniper," used an M/28 during the country's 1939-40 Winter War with the Soviet Union.
After World War II, Sako went back to work as early as 1946, introducing its L46 bolt-action sporting rifle, pitched to hunters. After a spell of using guns built around Belgian FN-made Mauser actions, Sako introduced the proprietary L61R action in 1962, which led to an expanded bolt gun line to include models that have found international acclaim such as the Finnbear, Forester, Riihimaki, and Vixen covering a variety of calibers from rimfires up to 375 H&H.
The company even made a few superbly crafted lever-action rifles (the Finnwolf) and a very short run of innovative target pistols (the Triace) in the 1980s.
Today, in addition to sporting rifles, Sako is well-known for its precision rifle line, such as the TRG-42A1 and TRG-22A1.
In the 1960s, when ownership of the company passed to Nokia-- yes, the Finnish-based communications company-- Sako expanded into making Valmet-pattern rifles for the military and later merged with Valmet in 1986. Speaking of mergers, the Finnish gunmaker Tikkakoski (Tikka), which dated back to 1893 when the country was a Grand Duchy of Tsarist Russia, was acquired by Sako in 1983. Today, Sako continues to produce well-received Tikka-branded rifles building from that history.
Last year, Sako hit an all-time production record with more than 113,000 rifles produced in a year, to include the new S20 hybrid rifle.
For the past 21 years, Sako has been part of the Beretta family, although its operations and factory are still in Riihimäki, where they have called home for a century and Beretta USA serves as the importer for both Sako and Tikka rifles in America.
“At Beretta USA, we are proud to partner with the highly skilled and experienced men and women of Sako as they continue to innovate and deliver top-quality, high-performing, precise, and reliable rifles to our demanding American customers,” said Francesco Valente, General Manager and COO of Beretta USA.