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Sako’s Switchbarrel .22

By Greg Rodriguez

The Sako Quad Hunter is the ATV of rimfires.
The Sako Quad Hunter is the ATV of rimfires.

Every good shooter I know has spent a great deal of time behind a rimfire rifle, and most still use the little .22s to keep their eyes sharp. My .22 rimfire rifles play an important part in my training regimen, and I enjoy prowling the hardwoods after bushytails with my 77/22 in hand. As much as I love my .22s, I’ve been a little distracted lately by the new crop of .17-caliber rimfires. Sako’s new Quad rifle, a switch-barreled number, has particularly piqued my interest, so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on one, even if it was for only a week.

The Sako Quad is an attractive, dainty rifle chambered in .17 Mach 2, .17 HMR, .22 LR or .22 Win Mag. If, like me, you have a hard time choosing between those rounds, you can have them all or any combination thereof, because the Sako Quad is a switch-barrel, with models and spare barrels available in all four calibers.

Sako’s Switchbarrel .22
The color-coded cams on the Burris Sako Quad scope allow the user to quickly and easily return to zero after changing barrels.

The rifle I received for testing, the Quad Hunter combo, came in a fitted aluminum case with a Burris scope, four barrels and two magazines. The barrels are color-coded, as are the magazines, each of which is designed to work with two barrels - one for the .22 LR and .17 Mach 2, while the other feeds the .17 HMR and .22 Win Mag barrels.

Since Beretta USA (Sako’s importer) needed the gun back quickly, I was not able to shoot the Quad as much as I would have liked. Nevertheless, the little rimfire impressed me to no end. Fit and finish were first-rate, and the stock was a dark, well-figured affair that was nicely scaled to the diminutive action, although its futuristic checkering took a few minutes to get used to. The action was typical Sako, smooth, tight and perfectly proportioned to the cartridge, although the composite bolt handle and cocking shroud were not what I expected from Sako.

The single-stage, user-adjustable trigger broke at a crisp 3 3/4 pounds, according to my Timney trigger gauge, and the 22-inch barrel is hammer-forged and free-floated. I was most impressed, however, by the interchangeable barrel system, which proved to be both fast and easy to use.

Each barrel has a small flat area milled on the bottom where it mates to the receiver. To change barrels, simply give a few turns with the hex wrench on a screw just forward of the magazine, remove the barrel and insert the new one, flat-end down. When the barrel slides completely into the action, turn the hex screw a few times, and you’re done. To shoot the gun, simply load up the magazine with the colored dot that matches the colored band on the barrel. It’s that easy.

Sako’s Switchbarrel .22
The two magazines that come with the Hunter Combo are also color-coded. Each will work with two calibers.

The test rifle came with a Burris 3-9x compact scope mounted in Burris rings, which attaches directly to the rifle’s integral 11mm dovetail. The scope was made especially for the Sako Quad, a fact that’s obvious when you remove the turret covers. Each turret has four separate rings that are color-coded to match the barrels. In theory, they allow you to sight-in the rifle with each barrel and turn the appropriately colored ring on the scope to zero. When you switch barrels, simply turn the appropriate colored ring to zero, and you should be good to go. I did not have time to test this feature, but I have no doubt that it would work at least reasonably well, as the adjustments on the scope tracked perfectly when I zeroed the rifle.

Since I only had a few days with the Sako Quad, I had to limit my testing to two calibers. I chose the .17 HMR and .22 LR, as they are the calibers I would choose if I purchased a Quad. I only had two loads on hand for each caliber, but they have shot well for me in the past, so I loaded up the Quad and headed for my local shooting range.

I started with the .22 LR at 50 yards, the range at which I normally zero my .22s. My first few rounds were tightly clustered, so I made a few scope adjustments and got serious. My first group, fired with CCI’s 40-grain SGB load, went into one hole. Given the relative ease with which the barrel change is accomplished, I was shocked, so I fired a few more groups to see if that group was a fluke. It wasn’t. The .22 LR barrel drove bullet after bullet from both CCI and Federal into ridiculously small groups at 50 yards. I was pretty impressed, so I fired a few rounds of .17 HMR to see where it hit before moving back to 100 yards and giving the little Hornady round a workout.

I fired my first few groups with Federal’s 17-grain V-Max load for the .17 HMR. The wind was gusting a bit, but my first group measured less than 3/4 inch. I fired a total of 10 groups with the Federal and Hornady loads, all but one of which measured less than an inch. Several groups measured between .51 and .75 inch, and the only group over an inch was the result of a called flyer. Simply put, the accuracy exhibited by the Sako Quad was amazing, especially for a switch-barrel rifle.

Subscribe Today!I was truly blown away by the accuracy of the Sako Quad, especially given the simplicity of the barrel-change system. I am sure much of the credit for its accuracy lies with the fit and finish of the Sako action and the fact that the free-floated, hammer-forged barrel’s only contact point is where it locks up in the action. But I have to give a great deal of credit to Sako’s engineers for coming up with such a simple yet precise system. It is the best system I have ever seen for switching calibers in a bolt-action rifle. Unfortunately, I doubt the system is strong enough to work with centerfire cartridges.

Sako has a real winner with the new Quad. It is an attractive rifle that is versatile, accurate and handles like a rifle should. It should be a joy to tote in the hardwoods after bushytails or on the pear flats in pursuit of jackrabbits. It was tough for me to send it back, but I have a feeling a new Quad with .17 HMR and .22 LR barrels will find its way into my gun safe in the near future.

Reprinted from the October 2006 issue of Buckmasters GunHunter Magazine

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