After spending just over a week in the New Zealand Alps hunting Tahr (mountain goat), I needed a lighter rifle to make climbing the rocky terrain a little easier. Thats where the Sako 85 Finnlight II came in.
In my search for the perfect rifle, I was looking for something reliable, well made and accurate.
From first picking up the firearm in the gun shop, the Sako 85 Finnlight II began to impress. Its not hard to tell how well everything is put together on the rifle.
The quality of the build is also reflected in the price of the firearm, but you get what you pay for when it comes to the Sako brand.
The Finnlight II comes in a huge variety of calibers including; 243, 308, 6.5, 7mm08, 300WM, 270, 30-06, 6.5×55 and 7mm Rem Mag.
The selection of calibers ensures almost every hunter can find the right caliber for them. I settled on the .308 version, as I have a long history with the cartridge and know its capabilities, especially from all my time behind my .308 RPR.
The 6.5 Creedmoor variant was tempting, however having made the decision that the next target rifle in the collection was going to be 6.5, the 308 was a better fit.
One of the biggest draw cards for me to this rifle is how lightweight the rifle is. The .308 short action version comes in at 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds). This is a huge difference to my last hunting rifle that weighed around 4.4 kilograms, without a full magazine, scope and bipod.
Keeping a hunting rifle lightweight helps climb mountains quicker, cover ground more easily and have less weight to haul around making you less fatigued.
What immediately stands out with the stock is how solid it feels for a synthetic rifle. The stock is made of RTM fiberglass which provides its strength. The ‘resin transfer moulding’ process is used in production to assist with high strength to weight ratio.
From long-range precision shooting rifles, an adjustable cheek piece is important to comfortably get positioned behind the scope. This feature on the Sako was another draw card when selecting the Finnlight II. Once set using the spring button, the height of the cheek piece is locked in place.
The barrel on the Sako 85 Finnlight II packs features perfect for the hunter looking to have a durable rifle for the mountains. My 308 version’s barrel is 20.5 inches long. The barrel comes Cerakoted in a matte finish that helps to dampen any reflections that could give away your presence.
The fluting featured on the barrel also helps reduce the weight of the rifle which is a feature I was chasing.
For those that aren’t familiar, fluting creates grooves on the barrel of the rifle. The grooves reduce the weight of the barrel plus they look pretty neat.
The Finnlight offers both two stage and set trigger. I opted for the two stage on my setup. The trigger is adjustable as you would expect but from my sessions at the range, the factory setting of around 1.5kg pull was perfect for me.
The rifle offers one of the easiest and most intuitive safety’s I have used. In the forward position its ready to fire and when in the rear it locks the bolt and the trigger.
The bolt on the Finnlight II is very smooth. Everybody cycles the action on a firearm they are looking at getting and the Sako did not disappoint. The bolt has three lugs and the throw is 70 degrees.
The magazine on the Finnlight II holds 5 rounds. A great feature for a dedicated hunting rifle is the ‘Total Control’ magazine release system. Most firearms you push on the magazine release button and it drops out. The Sako 85 Finnlight II, you also need to push in on the magazine to release it. At first, I wasn’t sure about the extra step, but I have come to truly appreciate this feature. I now know when I’m climbing up mountains chasing Tahr, that I’m not going to accidentally bump the magazine release and lose my ammo.
Taking the Sako 85 Finnlight to the range for its first sight in was a breeze. I was using Hornady Precision Hunter .308 ammunition and managed to dial in very quickly. I shot three groups of three shots at 100 yards on the first session and all were under 1 inch.
The second range trip was when I started collecting more DOPE (data of previous experience) and stretching the Sako 85 Finnlight out to 200 and 300 yards. I made careful notes of how much adjustment was needed in the scope to reach out to 200 and 300. This data becomes extremely important when ranging game beyond the zero distance of the rifle.
One standout difference from my bench rest rifles was the recoil. I am used to spending a lot of time sending rounds down range on much heavier rifles.
Heavy rifles soak up recoil alot better compared to a lightweight rifle. So it took some adjustment, however as this is a hunting rifle it wont be sending nearly as many rounds down range as a target rifle.
Scope & Bipod
There are other ring systems available, such as the Sako Optilock system, however my local gunshop had the Leupolds in stock so I went with them. The Leupold rings were easy to fit to the Finnlight’s dovetails.
If the rifle is in your budget, it’s a very good choice if you are looking at a dedicated hunting setup. The Sako 85 Finnlight II is extremely well made, light and accurate firearm. I have been very impressed with its performance and I cannot wait to get back to the mountains with it. If you are looking at hunting setups, check out the Finnlight II.
- Fit and finish
- Smooth action
- Light weight