So my favorite rifle has been a bit neglected lately. It’s a Sako Forester in .22-250. It has the L579 action. As close as I can tell, it was imported from Finland back in about 1973. It was a gift from my dad to my mom back then and seeing as how my mom is not a fan of guns, she never shot it and decided to save it for me. So it sat in my grandpa’s gun cabinet for about 18 years. Then once I hit that magical age my mom thought was old enough for me to have it it became mine. Every time I would visit grandpa’s house I would sit and look at that gun through the glass on the front of his cabinet tempted to take it out on his farm and have some fun. But I wouldn’t risk never getting it by trying to have it too soon. So there it sat. Right next to his Savage Model 99 lever action 300 Savage. There’s another cool old gun.
My grandpa gave me that Savage shortly before he died. I never expected anything from him when he died. He was not a wealthy man fiscally speaking. And he had probably 130 or so children, grandchildren, great grandchildren when he died. So I was happy with just my memories of him. He was such an amazing person. I won’t go into the story of him on this post, but needless to say, I was shocked and honored when he passed that Savage down to me. So yeah, no matter what that thing is eventually worth, it will be my boy’s when I die. After all, my boy is named after that amazing man.
Back on topic… Since I moved back to the city, I have not had access to reloading equipment. So I pulled my Tasco World Class 3.5-10X50 (we’ll give that scope a 2.5 out of 5) off the Sako and put it on my 10/22. I always planned on getting a nice high power scope for the Sako. I needed something that would be worthy of putting on a gun that can twist bottle caps off at 100 yards (when I have it in a rest). But I was not in a hurry since I never really shoot the Sako anymore anyway. Well, now that I have got back into shooting a bunch I had to get something.
I have been reading about scopes on a bunch of forums. And typically everyone on the serious forums won’t even look at a scope unless it takes an entire paycheck to purchase it. While I have used Leupold which seems to be the “low cost” favorite, I have also used a lot of garbage scopes. I have used Tasco (cheap and expensive), Leupold (not mine), BSA, Bushnell (cheap), and even a Firearms International Corp (bet you have never heard of that one). So most of my experience is with cheap scopes and while I liked the expensive scopes I honestly couldn’t tell much difference between them and my Tasco World Class. Where the Tasco fell short was no focus. That sucks. The reticle on the Bushnell eventually started to spin inside the housing. Center seemed to stay ok, but good luck adjusting it right. The BSA was insanely herd to zero. It seemed some adjusting did what it was supposed to while sometimes it just wouldn’t move POI at all. To the best of my knowledge, the International is about 50 years old, has a nice fine reticle and seems to adjust as it should. I don’t expect to work as well as it does at 50, so it’s a mutha f’in winner in my book.
So while most of my experience is in cheap crap scopes, I also recognize their disadvantages. I just choose to accept them and pay my bills rather than get some uber fancy Schmidt & Bender and end up homeless because of it. And I have never missed a target due to a crap scope not doing it’s job. I won’t be winning any competitions no matter what scope I use.
So I was looking for something in the sub $300 price range with a minimum of 16x and a minimum of a 44mm objective. I was very tempted to give the WOTAC scope a try. Then someone mentioned Natchez having great discounts on good scopes. So I checked them out. I found my victim. A TruGlo 6-24X50 with mill dot reticle. It has the nice target turrets to make adjusting elevation and windage on the fly very easy. The only thing I would have liked to be different on the functionality front was the focus would have been nice to be on a 3rd turret rather than on a ring around the objective lens. On the aesthetics front, I hate the TruGlo logo. It’s fine for a box or ads, but the colors are way too obnoxious to put on a scope body/ But this is supposedly a $244 scope on sale for $59.86. So I figured I could deal with the short comings. I tried to find out more about the scope on TruGlo’s website, but this particular scope is not listed on there. So I assume it is a discontinued item. No idea why it’s discontinued, but what I don’t know won’t hurt me 🙂 At least not yet.
After waiting for a week for the scope to get her, I pulled it out of the box and immediately began playing with the turrets. Both of them adjusted easily with an audible and tactile feedback. I was glad to see that as a co-worker had also bought a couple TruGlo scopes recently and the elevation turret was pretty stiff and the feedback was soft on it.
I looked through the scope and all appeared to be just fine. So I mounted the scope into my existing rails on the Sako. No problems at all. This scope only has a 1” tube, but I actually wanted that since I didn’t want to have to get rid of my expensive rings. I paid more for those rings 17 years ago than what this scope cost me today. So once it was all mounted up, I made sure the reticle appeared straight, and from my living room pointed outside and made sure the focus adjustment and power adjustment worked. Sure enough, all is well.
The next day seemed to take forever to get here. I finally get to go to the range. Been a long time since I went to the long outdoor range. Been spending all my time indoor lately. I got there and bought some targets with a 1” grid on them. Checked in with the range master over on the 100 and 200 yard range. He threw me on lane 11. First thing, I went out and mounted up 2 of the targets. Came back to my station and pulled out my toys. Today I only brought the Sako and the Savage. Friday night after mounting the scope I went and bought the last box of 40 rounds of Winchester .22-250 varmint ammo. There is not a lot of info on the box about this ammo other than it is 4,000 fps with a 45gr. bullet. So I had those and what loads I had left over that I made about 10 or so years ago. The magic load that this gun seems to love is CCI cap, 40.5gr. of Hodgden Varget powder, and a 40 gr. Hornady V-Max moly coated bullet. This makes for a round that shoots at about 4,400 fps, and when in a rest will typically shoot 3/8” 5 shot groups at 100 yards. That’s why I love this gun so much.
So after firing a few shots I realize that I am so far off the paper I will never be able to get sighted in without some help. Luckily the range master does some sighting in services for free/cheap. He bore sighted the scope for me for free. I went back and was closer, but still not on the paper. So he offered to get it closer for me. The range master has a beefy steel rest that is formed into the concrete and his own lanes with spotting scope. So after a couple shots he got it sighted in and asks if these Winchester rounds are all I have. I tell him hey are just my sighting in rounds. He tells me they are not shooting well and suggested trying the good rounds. I was a bit concerned that my Sako was suffering. So after getting the good rounds, he did a small group from the rest. All holes touching. That’s right, my girl is still feeling good.
So since I am a total amateur shooter with a great built-in vibrator, I didn’t bother bringing any kind of rest. Typically my days at the range are trying to better myself rather than my setup. So anyway, back to the scope…
Changing power through the range from 6x to 24x, never cause 0 to move. Spinning the turrets lock to lock and back to zero did not alter the zero point. The focal point on 24x is fairly small, but not tough to find. It actually seemed larger than the Leupold 16x I have used before. I could tell at 24x the clarity went away just a little. Kind of like it just wasn’t transmitting quite as much light. Everything was in focus, just not as bright and clear as as lower power levels. At 16x, everything was just as clear as at 6x. I was actually surprised by how well the focusing ring actually worked. It’s a little stiff, but that’s fine since I wouldn’t want it moving on it’s own. Rotating it just a mm or 2 was the difference between in focus and annoyingly out of focus.
Not a fan. The bars are too thick. Especially between the mill dots. I honestly have no idea if the mill dots are even the proper distance apart. But even if they are, they block out too much of the target. If they do their job, then it’s a small price to pay, but the actual cross hair needs to be about 1/3 the thickness it is. And the thickest part on the ends needs to be shorter. They just take up too must real estate.
Here is some shots I took with my point and shoot. You can’t judge the quality from these but it gives you a good idea of what the different magnifications do for you.
I was at the range shooting for a solid 3.5 hours. After the Sako barrel would get too hot to touch, I would switch to the Savage and shoot that until it was too hot to hold. I did this until I was out of ammo for the Sako. And at the end of the day, with a barrel too hot to touch I shot a 6 shot group with one flier, the other 5 were about 3/4”. For reference, I think the best I got with the Winchester ammo was a 2.5” group. Again, this is with no rest with the scope set at 24x in a wind that was blowing toward me and to the right at about 3 mph is all. It was a beautiful day for shooting.
Well, after shooting about 100 rounds through it, the scope is still on zero. And the Sako is still rocking with the groupings. On a side note, I absolutely love the trigger on the Sako. Only trigger I have felt that stock felt this good is an Anshutz. I love my Ruger trigger, but I had that one worked on to get it feeling that good. The Sako feels like maybe a 2 lb trigger with almost no over travel. The Savage still gets some attention at the range and shoots that ammo that was probably loaded 30 years ago just fine. I love lever actions. I get to live out childhood cowboy fantasies. I am a total tech nerd/geek but I still love the feel of a lever action.
So to summarize:
TruGlo 6-24X50 = good buy for anything under $200 (Get them at Natchez while you can for $60)
Clarity – 4 out of 5 (slight haziness at the edge, light source dims at high magnification)
Turrets – 4 out of 5 (would have been higher if to zero them I didn’t need an allen wrench)
Reticle – 3 out of 5 (straight but thick)
Focus – 4 out of 5 (works great, but tough to adjust while looking through it)
Build quality – 3.5 out of 5 (will go up if it proves reliable)
Value – 5 out of 5
Sako Forester L579 .22-250 rifle = amazing accuracy even after 40 years of neglect
Best load I have had in my gun = 40 grain moly coated V-Max bullet, 40.5 grains of Verget powder
Savage Model 99 in 300 Savage = Classic style, rugged good looks, owned by the best person I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
And here is some gratuitous shots of my 1973 era Sako Forester L579: