Short Actions Time for Toys - .222 Sakos at the Range

Discussion in 'Sako Short Actions' started by icebear, Dec 5, 2021.

  1. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Took a few of my favorite toys to the range yesterday for some exercise and ammo testing. I had seen some promising results with Winchester 40-grain ammo in a couple of rifles and wanted to see how it did in various rifles, and I wanted to get some exercise with a couple of guns that I hadn't fired in a very long time. The selected toys are all chambered in .222.
    L46 Heavy barrel - Custom, attributed to Al Biesen
    L461 Sporter - Custom, signed by E.O. Audette
    L461 Full-length Mannlicher rifle
    L461 Mannlicher carbine

    In addition to the Winchester 40-grainers, I had an assortment of ammo from Remington, Federal, and Lapua. Most of the day was pretty routine, with groups running around an inch most of the time. There were, however, a couple of surprises. I started each gun with a three-round group from an ancient box of Remington 50-grain soft points, just to check the zero and foul the barrel. This ammo was so old that it came in a green and red box and had domed primers! If anybody knows how long ago Remington stopped using green/red packaging, please post - I'm curious. The very first group I fired from the heavy L46 was the best of the day - a single figure-8 shaped hole measuring about 5/16" center to center. It doesn't get much better than that, especially with antique ammo. The next surprise was a half-inch group out of the carbine with the 40-grain ammo. That bears some follow-up; I'll see if I can repeat that and maybe try some other brands or load some 40-grain bullets myself. And the Mannlicher-style long rifle produced a group under 3/4" with Federal 55-grain FMJ ammo. Why anybody even makes military-style ball ammo for a .222 is a mystery to me, but I picked it up cheap at a show and plinking ammo is where you find it. I've got some other 55-grain ammo around and I'll see if the full-stock rifle likes it. That rifle normally shoots around an inch or a bit over, so the improvement with the heavier bullet may be significant.

    I had several groups with two rounds touching or nearly so, and the third one well off. I think that shows that I need more practice! My aging eyesight isn't helping any, either. Might be time for another new pair of glasses.

    The Winchester 40-grain ammo didn't fit in the L46 magazine, so it had to be single loaded into the L46. It turns out that the long plastic tip puts the cartridge well over SAAMI spec for .222. Max OAL is 2.130"; the Winchester ammo measures 2.20". The L46 mag measures about 2.160 so it will take SAAMI spec ammo but not the extra-long Winchester. The L461's internal magazine feeds the over-length ammo with no problem.

    Here are the guns, with some pics of ammo and targets.

    Custom L46 Heavy barrel and 6.5-20x Leupold (top):
    Biesen 1.JPG

    Target:
    Custom Sako 222 HB 12-3-21.jpg

    Very old box of Remington ammo:
    Old Remington 222 box.JPG

    L461 Carbine with 3.9x Zeiss Diavari-C:
    Carbine + Zeiss.JPG

    Target (group is at upper right edge):
    Sako L461 222 Carbine 40g 12-3-21.jpg

    L461 Mannlicher rifle (shown with 12x Burris; gun now has a Zeiss 10x Diatal-C):
    L461 222-1.JPG

    E.O. Audette custom L461 with 4-12x Burris Mini in Conetrol mounts:
    Audette 1.JPG

     
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  2. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    In jurisdictions where it is legal to hunt turkeys with a rifle that FMJ stuff in a .222 is just the ticket.

    The round-bottomed Remington primers go waaay back there -- they were changed to flat-bottomed even before Remington changed from the red/green box. In fact, I picked up some .30 Remington ammunition just yesterday in the green/red box and it has flat primers, so your box of .222's is probably from sometime in the 60's as best I can guess. Obviously, it was good stuff to begin with and time has been kind to it.

    The .223 is a good cartridge, and I've always liked the .222 Magnum, also. But when you get right down to it, for nearly everything I do with a .22 centerfire, the original .222 meets or beats its slightly larger progeny. The only one of the family I like even better is the Fireball.
     
  3. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    I am actually not all that surprised that 50-60 year old ammo still shoots reliably, or even that it has retained its accuracy. What is interesting is that the antique Remington ammo performed better in my rifles than much newer ammo of the same brand. My experience has been that Remington ammo is for rough-zeroing scopes, and target practice and plinking, and when you are serious you reach for something better. I've had two scary experiences with new (at the time) Remington ammo, either of which could have resulted in serious damage to the gun or the shooter (me). But here we have Remington ammo out of the Wayback machine that is shooting at par with Lapua and handloads. Maybe they had higher standards back then?

    I've actually shot World War II military ammo, and even prewar commercial, with excellent reliability. I have several recently purchased boxes of original 1930's German DWM 7.63x25 Mauser that have been performing flawlessly in my Broomhandles. Back when I was doing a lot of shooting at the State Department's training range in Virginia, we found a stash of WWII military pistol ammo that we shot up with only a few duds. It was corrosive, but hey, it was free. I was given a few hundred rounds of M1 Carbine ammo out of an estate, most of it with Korean War-era dates but some as old as 1943, and so far that has worked just fine. Ammo seems to be pretty long-lived if it is stored properly. I did get some old Remington .32 ACP ammo a while back that was about half duds, but it came out of an old farmhouse and had probably been stored in damp conditions. Since I got it for free, I didn't worry about it.
     
  4. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I have a box of steel case .45 ball that my father brought home from WWII. I don't know why he brought it home, since he didn't have a gun that it fit. Unlike a lot of guys, he turned in his officer's issue 1911 because after nearly three years of service in the hot, humid South Pacific it was a bucket of rust, and besides, he hated having to carry that useless (to a behind the lines electronics officer) boat anchor around.

    Anyway, I used to take a single cartridge from that box out once each year and fire it through the chronograph just to see how the ammunition was holding up. After a few years I realized that I was going to run out of ammunition before the ammunition ran out of steam, so I now only test fire one about once every three or four years. I've never had one fail to fire, nor register anything other than about 850 fps through the chrono screens.
     

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