When setting yourself up for stalking it is important to own the right rifle kit and pay a fair price for it. So which bit of complete kit is the best buy?
The best rifle kits for stalking do not always have to leave your wallet thin. Avoid expensive mistakes by buying a complete kit. It will help on the hill or in the forest.
To celebrate the launch of the German optics brand’s scope, GMK is offering a best rifle kit Sako/Steiner package. Matching the Finnish stainless synthetic Sako 85 in .243 with a Steiner scope and Ase Utra moderator, there’s a discount of £800 on the recommended retail price, bringing the total to just under £3,000. It is easy to make a mistake when trying to set yourself up with a stalking rifle by buying someone else’s cast-off or a poor-quality scope or mounting the scope cheaply or too high. This package takes the worry out of purchase by matching good-quality products to make a rifle that could be the only one you ever need to own. The 85 has an excellent reputation for build quality, accuracy and resilience. I have used one as my daily rifle for many years and currently use the Finnlite. It is a rugged, weatherproof tool and has not lost zero over all those years.
German optics are the market leaders and this Steiner matches any scope that I have used. I liked the ultrafine reticle and its illumination, which switches off automatically when you forget to do so. It is variable from x3 (useful for humane despatch) up to x15 for zeroing. The image is clear and build quality evident in rifle kits.
It is mounted on Sako Optilock mounts, which I have used for many years, and the moderator is an Ase Utra SL5, a short, squat, front-mounted type that does its job without overly unbalancing the rifle. My preference is usually for a reflex moderator, which brings the point of balance back to the centre of the rifle, but the Ase gets around this simply through its compactness. Here are some suggest rifle kits below.
As The Field reviewed the 85 in March 2010, I elected to test the newer A7 Synthetic/Stainless which, at £1,445, sits in price between a Tikka and a Sako.
The A7 is recognisably and reassuringly Sako but comes in just two action lengths, which means a limited range of calibres. The only stock available is synthetic with stainless or blue barrel option. Yes, it is cheaper than the 85 and the visible difference is in small elements of finish – plastic trigger guard, plastic magazine (but with metal lips, which improve performance and durability over, say, the Tikka) and plastic bolt shroud. The action isn’t quite as smooth as the 85’s, but is still robust and repeats reliably. Instead of the normal, tapered, dovetail rail the A7 is drilled and tapped to take a Weaver/ Picatinny mounting system, providing a range of mounting options if required. But to feel and to fire it is very much a Sako and little different from the 85.
On the range I achieved a 1in group using Hornady 95gr SST. The balance was good, the trigger was excellent and the Steiner scope was clear and sturdy. Although the A7 is not included in an offer package, it remains a strong contender within the Sako range. If the 85 Sako/Steiner package is too expensive, consider a Tikka package comprising a T3 Lite in a wider range of calibres with synthetic stock and stainless barrel, an American Burris 3-12×56 variable scope with illuminated reticle and mounted on Tikka Optilock Mounts, and an Ase Utra SL5 Moderator, all at a cost of just £1,575, representing a saving of £500 over the recommended retail prices.
Both rifles come from the same factory and use the same barrels. They are proven performers in the field and the difference between them is mainly one of finish. As a budget rifle the Tikka has always had a fantastic reputation.
Sako 85/Steiner package .243 RRP £2,995
Tikka T3/Burris package RRP £1,575
Sako A7 Synthetic/Stainless rifle RRP £1,455
From GMK Ltd
Tel 01489 587500