The Sako Quad Hunter is an innovative rimfire with four calibres to choose from. Mike Powell puts it through its paces
The concept of having interchangeable (or switch) barrels on a rifle is nothing new. Rifles incorporating this system almost always came from Austria or Germany, were invariably centrefire, and offered a very limited range of calibres. Then, around 2006, the Finnish company Sako announced the arrival of the Quad. With four calibres to choose from – .17 HMR, .17 Mach 2, .22 LR and .22 WMR – it gave the vermin shooter every choice of rimfire calibre available in just one rifle. It also gave the option of adding to the armoury by buying another barrel and magazine, with a quick barrel change allowing the shooter to move to another calibre while retaining all other components.
As I had never had a Quad before, I approached GMK, who soon had one on its way to me for review. I chose the .22 LR with the .17 HMR as an additional barrel. I suspect these would be the choice of many shooters.
From the box, the rifle certainly didn’t let the make down. Having owned Sako centrefires myself, I was aware that this manufacturer turns out well finished rifles, and this model was no exception. The walnut stock, though not heavily figured, was oil-finished with sharp-cut chequering that set off the overall appearance perfectly. The cheekpiece was well designed and brought your eye nicely in line with the scope, which is not always the case in modern rifles. Length of pull was 14½in and suited me very well indeed. The slightly tapered forend was fitted with studs for sling swivels. The butt was finished with a black plastic spacer and a nice rubber pad that, although quite smooth, was grippy enough in use.
The 22in tapered, fully floated barrel was finished black and fitted into the matt grey steel action. It had a profiled chamber end enabling it to be slid into the action, facilitating the changeover of the various barrel options (which I will come to later). The action has integral scope mount dovetails (11mm). The barrel comes screw cut from the factory in the usual ½in UNF rimfire thread. Overall, the Quad Hunter is a classic, good looking, nicely finished rifle.
The action is similar to the old Finnfire, which proved itself very good over many years. Some changes had to be made to allow for the quick changeover of barrels, the most obvious being the enlarging of the ejector port to allow for the ejection of the longer .17 HMR and WMR rounds.
The bolt is nicely shaped, and with its low lift and short throw it is very quick to operate. Initially, I was a bit disappointed in the smoothness of the bolt-action, but upon realising this rifle had already cycled rounds for various other reviewers and testers, I put a couple of drops of oil on the bolt, which transformed it.
Just in front of the bolt handle is the bolt release catch, which, upon depressing, releases the bolt itself easily. Behind the bolt handle is the thumb-operated safety catch, which was smooth and positive in its action.
The magazine was easy to insert, and held in place by a forward-mounted catch that allowed the mag to drop out. Capacity is five-shot. The same sized magazine is used for all calibres, with the shorter versions (.22LR and Mach 2) catered for by a reducing plug inserted at the rear.
The trigger is a grooved blade set at around 4lb at the factory, although it is adjustable. It is a single-stage unit and one of the best rimfire triggers I have come across, breaking cleanly with no sign of creep. The trigger guard unit is made of polymer.
The barrel change system is simplicity itself. First open the bolt, then remove the magazine. Just in front of the magazine opening is a 5mm hex-head screw, to be loosened by the screwdriver provided. Once loosened off, the barrel can be tilted upwards and withdrawn. To install the new barrel, reverse the procedure. Depending on the size of the objective lens of your scope, you may need to either take off the scope or loosen the forend to change barrels.
As the various barrels and magazines are all the same weight, profile and length, once fitted there is no noticeable difference in handling characteristics – so a colour system is used to identify them. For .22 LR, the colour is green, .17 HMR is orange, .17 Mach 2 blue and .22 WMR yellow. A colour-coder o-ring is located forward of the barrel receiver joint.
Overall, I thought this was a useful and well-made rifle, as you would expect from Sako, and next up was to try the rifle on the range. There has been mention in the past of the Quad not extracting fired rounds due, it would seem, to the lubricant on some makes of ammo. During the test, I did have one round that failed to extract. Despite several goes, it just wouldn’t come out. Strangely, I was able to hook it out with my fingernail without problem.
Zeroing at 75 yards, I tried a range of ammo: CCI standard velocity hollow points, CCI segmented, CCI ‘Quiet’ and my usual choice, Winchester subsonic.
The best by a small margin turned out to be the CCI subsonic hollow points, closely followed by the segmented variety. I had never tried the CCI ‘Quiets’ before. While they were indeed quiet, they were at their best with short ranges – out to 35 yards. You would need to check how they perform in your rifle, as there is a big difference between them and normal velocity ammunition.
I slipped out with the Sako in the late evening for a quick field test, and saw one rabbit at 85 yards. One shot from the Quad did the job. For the test, I used a Leupold VX3 4.5-14×50 and one of SP Filling Systems’s moderators. This proved to be one of the best rimfire mods I have come across for a long time, easily stripped and small.
To sum up, the Sako Quad is a well made and attractive-looking rifle. Its versatility would make it an attractive proposition to anyone looking for a rifle that would perform a variety of tasks.