Early L46 showdown

Discussion in 'Sako Short Actions' started by L61R, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. L61R

    L61R SCC President Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Guys and gals!

    We´ve had a bonanza of pics lately with loads of new findings and we´ve learned a lot about our favourite brand. This is exactly why I run this forum so I thought I´d contribute some as well.

    First. I collect from a technical and historical point of view, which means I concentrate on the differences and on the technical details more than on the condition. To find a NIB L46 is probably possible but not important to me, even if I´d prefer good condition to poor. All my rifles are used and some will be re-finished in the future.

    I find it very pleasing to un-tie all the little knots in the production of Sako. The model I find most intriguing is the L46 line as there´s a multitude of varieties and models. In the very beginning they were virtually hand made and there are many small variations. There are so many discrepancies and to collect all varieties is most likely impossible.

    I am working on a proper article on these fine rifles but that will take time so you will have to make do with this for now.

    I will start this "lecture" with my own L46 from 1946 and it has serial # 840, so it´s quite early.
    Like all the first L46 rifles it´s a 7x33.

    [​IMG]

    It has the ususal early L46 features with birch stock, barrel band,

    [​IMG]

    straight stock with cheek piece,

    [​IMG]

    open sights with rear tangent sight

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    and left hand safety.

    [​IMG]


    This particular stock is lighter than some other stocks and has checkering around the pistol grip. Below is three L46´s in the #200, #400 and #1000 range and they have no checkering at all.

    sako_l46_3kpl.jpg

    I´ve also seen a few early birch stocks (with barrel bands), which are fully checkered.

    The butt plate and the pistol grip cap are early and there are later versions of these.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    and here´s the rear swivel.

    [​IMG]

    So far, so good! Now over to what differs this one compared to later one.

    All the early L46´s I´ve seen, have bolts which are not blued/browned.
    The shape of the bolt handle is also different than others I have and have seen.
    [​IMG]

    #4604

    [​IMG]

    #5806

    [​IMG]

    #13622

    [​IMG]

    The top of the receiver has the dovetails and is marked L46 in the front one. This disappears later in the production. It also has the strange hole as many of the early ones had. Don´t know exactly why and I have yet to see what kind of mounts were intended for it.

    [​IMG]

    Later dovetail without L46 markings and hole

    [​IMG]

    These early ones didn´t have MADE IN FINLAND roll marked on the forward right hand side like later ones. This changed somewhere between mine and one I´ve seen in the #1000 range.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Then there´s the roll marks on the left hand side. If I can remember correctly I´ve only seen this marking on 1946 rifles but I have a hunch there might be a few from 1947?
    [​IMG]

    Another thing is that there is no gas evacuation hole like on later ones.

    [​IMG]

    This one has the first left hand safety which is the most common one.
    The bolt release mechanism is the first version and I have seen at least two and maybe three others. Pic below of one other version.

    [​IMG]

    There are also another LH but that one is scarce and must have been a transition version just before the right hand safety was introduced.

    L46type2lefthsafety.jpg

    I´ve seen mentionings of differences in barrel contour and length but I have no info at hand right now. What you can see here is the ”flange” on the early barrels. This disappears somewhere down line. At the beginning all metal were browned but later blued.

    [​IMG]

    Trigger guards and bottom metal differs as well. This one has a pressed trigger guard which is welded on to the bottom metal plate.

    [​IMG]

    Later they are incorporated. Magazines also differs some and a few are not marked with calibers at all.

    [​IMG]

    I may have forgotten loads of details but I´ll post more later. I will show more pics from later rifles to illustrate what I have stated here.

    Have a great weekend my fellow Gentlemen!

    Jim

     
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  2. topgear

    topgear Sako-addicted

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    Great post Jim. Also would be good to put together a series of pictures which show all the different bolt configs. over time. Left safety long and short, right safety and all the variants of stampings on the right safeties. I believe some of the early right safeties have SAKO stamped on them and are smooth on the top flat surface whereas the later right safeties have the cross hatching on top. I have an early left safety and two later right safeties. I would love to see a photo of a right safety L46 which has a smooth safety and is stamped sako and know when these where produced.

    Cheers John
     
  3. bloorooster

    bloorooster Sako-addicted

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    Thanks L61R for an amazing article! I had no idea that the very early L46's had barrel bands. I find it interesting to see the developments through time as simple function lends way to perfection. Guns that show wear and aging are more interesting to me, with the thoughts of where they have been, what were they used for and how many hunts they've succeeded in. I noticed also that the front sight on your #840 has no grooves for a hood which must be relaxing for the fact that you don't have to find one for it! I see the grooves on my hoodless rifles and its like having the most beautiful woman in the world, missing one front tooth!:brushteeth:-Bloo
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  4. L61R

    L61R SCC President Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Thanks Guys! I´ve added pics to the post above.

    John! I have thought about that kind of reference section and it will happen in the future. And I want to see that type of safety too! Plus the illustrious .32-20!

    Bloo! You´ve got a keen eye! Forgot to mention that in the post!! All the first L46 had barrel bands and my #4604 has it but not my #5806 as seen below.

    #4604 .25-20

    [​IMG]

    # 5806 7x33

    [​IMG]

    Note the white spacers which are to be found on some rifles

    [​IMG]

    #13622 .222Remington

    [​IMG]

    And yes they are all fixer-uppers!! I know! But they were also dirt cheap and who can not want to save them!?

    It´s like that old movie "And he loved them all!". Just got to get a bigger man cave and larger income!

    Jim
     
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  5. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Jim: Fantastic post! I'll see if I can post a few photos to complement yours.

    Your #4604 .25-20 has a birch stock that we often hear called "flame stained" because it looks as if it were colored with the smoke of a candle or something similar to that. Do you know if this pattern is natural in the wood or if it is the result of some kine of staining?
     
  6. woodman

    woodman Well-Known Member

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    This is very interesting, thanks for the post Jim
     
  7. gunner620

    gunner620 Well-Known Member

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    stone,not to be hijacking anything here but I have seen wood that was marked or stained by useing a torch to color the wood and then a finish applied . I have also wondered about the flame birch rifles and how this was done. Could it actually be that the wood was flammed before finishing? Jim
     
  8. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Man, this thread has opened my eyes! I never knew there were so many variations of features on the L46 until I looked at the four examples that I have. Here are some comparison photos:

    First, the difference in the shiney bolt shroud and the checkered one. The shiney one is from SN 77XX, while the checkered one is from SN 46,XXX. The cocking indicators are also a bit different, as are the safeties (another shot below shows more safety differences.)

    [​IMG]

    Note the difference in the safeties of 77XX (rear) vs. 46,XXX (front). Also, the cut for the cocking cam is a bit different between the two:

    [​IMG]

    Now, here's the LH safety of a 7x33 SN 25XX compared to 77XX:

    [​IMG]

    Bolt stops are surprisingly different. From top to bottom are 25XX, 77XX, and 46XXX:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Trigger guards vary, too, with 25XX and 77XX being stamped and 46,XXX forged. Also note the subtle differences in the magazine release levers:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Another difference is in the bolt handles. 25XX has a slight dish to help clear a scope while 77XX is fairly straight. 25XXX and 46XXX are dished, but 25XXX, which is from a J.C. Higgins rifle, is bright instead of blued.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
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  9. bloorooster

    bloorooster Sako-addicted

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    Stone...great detail pics! Now I have an uncontrolable urge to dig mine out, I won't take long for there are only two....I notice the absence of the semi-circle plate on the side of your smooth or shiny top #77xx...this is a surprise!

    Great thread! Way better than the chainsaw work that is waiting for me outside! Oh Sa-weet! more pictures are coming in! Wooot!-Bloo
     
  10. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Bloo: Good eye on the bolt shrouds. Here are some more photos. See how completely different #77XX is from #46,XXX. 77XX would have to be one of the earliest of the rolling RH safety models. I owned 56XX (which I traded to a close friend) which had the second type of LH wing safety. So somewhere within that span (56XX to 77XX) is when the changeover to the rolling safety occured.

    [​IMG]

    The two assemblies are entirely different. Two screws in the left side, along with one screw on top of the shroud, assemble the mechanism on the earlier model. The later model has no assembly screws but has the semi-circular piece that appears held on with a single pin.

    [​IMG]

    In the above photo you can see the difference in the bolt handles -- the early one has a flat next to the bolt body whereas the later one has a sculpted dish to provide more clearance of a scope's ocular bell. The red and white coded dots by the safety on the early one (#77XX) seem confusing to me. The safety is in the "fire" position when the indicator is on the white dot, and in the safe position when the indicator is on the red dot. I guess Sako also decided that was confusing since they dropped the colored dots entirely when they started using the checkering on the top flat of the shroud.

    I wish I had the three or four L46's here (including one .222 Magnum) that my friend Manager has to make some further comparisons.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
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  11. bloorooster

    bloorooster Sako-addicted

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    My thoughts are that Sako decided to rely on the red ringed fire indicator pin to get away from any confusion...the standard had become "red means fire" or "not safe". Much like the red paint on many of the other makers cross pin trigger safeties, a new industy standard at the time possibly? As a youth, that red ring was my "Stop Sign" reminding me always to check my rifle to be sure as I plundered through the woods and fields looking for suitable quarry! I notice that that visual warning was moved later from the metal works to the stock on the "newer" L-series, and then returned and located under the bolt shroud on the more modern A-series guns...good stuff here....keep it coming everyone!-Bloorooster
     
  12. L61R

    L61R SCC President Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    While we await more pics, here´s some more info.

    According to old SCA Finnmark letters, the very first L46 was produced September 13 1946, caliber 7x33.

    The first .22Hornet was made February 17, 1948 # 4092 and the lowest # on a .22Hornet was 1150. #509 was a prototype for this cartridge.

    The first .25-20 was made July 1, 1948 #4408 and the lowest # on a .25-20 was 3053. #254 was a prototype.

    The first .218 was made August 19, 1949.

    The first .222Rem was made February 26, 1951 #4754 and the lowest serial # was 4522.

    This info comes from SCA Finnmark letters but I have no guarantee they are 100% correct. Food for thought though!

    And to continue the bonanza, here´s some pics!

    Check the last one! Sold at an auction in Sweden some years ago! Man I wish I had one of those! Not many made.

    #13225
    L46_22H_13225.jpg

    #5885
    L46_22H_#5885.jpg

    #3046 LONG BARREL (23 1/2") MANNLICHER LEFT HAND SAFETY 7x33 WITH BIRCH STOCK!!!

    L46_7x33_#3046.jpg


    Jim
     
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  13. bloorooster

    bloorooster Sako-addicted

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    Long Barrel??? what is the barrel length? Aren't the standard barrels 23.5" ? I tried to "scale" the pictures and I can't tell the difference!-Bloo
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  14. L61R

    L61R SCC President Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Bloo!

    Got carried away! 23 1/2" it is. But it´s a lefty Mannlicher with birch stock!!!

    Jim
     
  15. deersako

    deersako Well-Known Member

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    What an excellent thread guys !
     
  16. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    My 7x33 Mannlicher also has a 23.62" barrel, but is #2734 with a WALNUT stock.

    Interestingly, it has a patch in the wood just behind the tang which appears to be factory as it goes well into the checkering and the original factory checkering goes over it. From its location it is clearly not a repair from a tang split since it doesn't go quite to the tang. Rather, it appears to simply be a factory-installed patch to take out a flaw in the wood. It is so well done that the seller honestly overlooked it and only discovered it as he was describing the gun's condition to me over the phone. Back in 1946 the thrifty Finns didn't discard an expensive piece of walnut just because of a simple knot hole or a piece of sap wood!
     
  17. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Jim: Don't you have the numbers reversed on the top two rifles? The top one looks newer with its shroud safety, while the next one appears to have the LH wing safety.
     
  18. bloorooster

    bloorooster Sako-addicted

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    As I ponder all this L46 info, I can see why they might call a fullstock rifle a "longbarrel" if it has a 23.5" inch barrel...aren't Mannlichers in a carbine barrel length? (20.5")...I also noticed what Stone is saying about the bolt shroud and number sequence...but with all this L46 info and pics ,this thread has my head spinning! Bravo Jim and Stonecreek for shining so much light on such a dandy handy rifle!-Bloorooster
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012
  19. m995

    m995 Well-Known Member

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    Any thoughts to a scallop in the front of the action port on .222, #47xx, circle stamp, gas port, coarse checkering front blade ramp with hood grooves, LH coarse safety
     
  20. L61R

    L61R SCC President Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    :facepalm3:

    I´m an idiot!!!

    Now corrected! Thanks for pointing it out!

    Jim
     

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