Sako 90 Peak
- By Chris Parkin
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 07/11/2023
Chris Parkin gets to look at the brand-new Sako 90 Peak
Sako rifles have been held in high regard for decades, and this all starts from a visual perspective, with the barrel. This is a 20” stainless steel tube with a 15x1 threaded muzzle for a moderator. The crown is impeccably cut and Sako makes great claims about the importance of this final con-tact for the bullet and just how critical it is to be precise. The barrel shows a 16.5mm diameter, before swelling out towards the action. Flutes run along the barrel to reduce weight and the steel is finished with a uniform matte texture to avoid reflection. However, it’s not so aggressive that it drags skin dust from your hands. Sako cold hammer forges their barrels for consistency and lon-gevity, and this one has five grooves and lands and a 1:11” twist rate, giving a little more stability for relatively longer/lower-density copper projectiles.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the 85 actions, due to the semi-controlled-feed bolt face. Therefore, I was pleased to see Sako has reverted to the recessed push-feed bolt face I found so effective on their model 75. The action is the mechanical foundation of any rifle and one that draws primary atten-tion when people ask how smooth the bolt is etc., and the 90 is certainly smooth and not easy to jam. It’s a stainless steel receiver with a three-lug bolt that offers a 60º lift for cocking and cycling the action. The lugs glide along their respective raceways, which are broached, effectively sliced out of the steel in incremental steps to form the characteristic triangular form around the circular core.
Several other new concepts have been included as well. Picatinny bases are now machined as part of the action, instead of the precious tapered dovetails. I never really had an issue with them, but as time and fashions have moved on, so much of the shooting world runs on Picatinny for mounts, night vision, and thermal kit, so it makes sense to steer away from proprietary mounting solutions.
There are now two sprung plunger ejectors on the bolt face to eject the brass. These replace the manual ejector design of the 75 and 85 and effectively steps ahead of many competitors, and Beretta’s own Tikka line, which uses a single ejector plunger. Twin sprung plungers have proven a little more reliable at effectively steering the case’s ejection from the ejection port. This also has the secondary effect of allowing the ejector port cutout to be minimised, maintaining action strength and stiffness. The final benefit is that if you do have a breakdown, you have a spare ejector to avoid an emergency scenario. All Sako actions are scaled to the chambering and this medium length offers 98mm of bolt travel.
The bolt handle is 60mm long, with a 20mm spherical tip for grip. It’s well-scaled to avoid exces-sive bulk but still allows assured mechanical leverage application to the bolt to extract cases and re-cock the action. There is a bolt release catch on the left side and the safety system is on the right, with forward for FIRE and rear for SAFE with bolt locking. If you want to open the bolt while on safe, Sako has retained their familiar lever in front to allow this.
The bolt shroud shows a tactile cocked action indicator that emerges from its underside, with a red dot to aid visibility. The shroud now also has a discreet, sprung locking pin that gets com-pressed between itself and the action as the bolt is closed. This has been added to prevent acci-dental de-cocking of the bolt when out of the rifle, and you won’t even notice it’s there unless you look for it.
The magazine isn’t really any different. It’s a stainless steel and aluminium unit that holds five rounds in two columns (+1 in the chamber if desired). The feed lips won’t wear out and the twin staggered columns allow easy loading in or out of the rifle. Secondary benefits are that additional rounds dropped on the follower will feed directly to the chamber in an emergency, and the unit has exceptionally smooth and delicate functionality, with no damage to the bullet’s meplat from the feed ramps on this .308. To release the magazine, first apply pressure to the base of the mag, then press the release catch located on the underside of the rifle. This is a desirable safety fea-ture that helps avoid magazine loss and you will get used to it at speed if required.
I have never had a disappointing Sako trigger, and the latest variant seeks to impress even fur-ther. The curved blade offers linear adjustment to alter reach from the grip, and there is a 5-stage weight adjuster in front. This is easily accessed with a T25 Torx driver and happily clicks through 661, 973, 1310, 1435, and 1769-gram stages (24, 34, 46, 50, 62 oz.) to offer your desired setting. It’s perfectly crisp, with a snappy lock time Sako advertises as 1.3 milliseconds. The detents be-tween stages mean you will never have a problem choosing between them or returning to a previ-ous preference for gloves in winter, versus a bare finger in summer, for example.
The bottom metal is stainless steel, and twin Torx screws fasten the action into the stock, where the flat base and inlet meet precisely, without applied stress. The small recoil lug has a corre-sponding pocket in the stock.
This is a lightweight rifle at just 2.6kg (5lbs 11oz), using a compact barrel and a carbon fibre stock. It’s nothing particularly visually striking, but the delight is in the detail. Resin Transfer Moulding under vacuum pressure is used to distribute and soak the carbon fibre cloth with epoxy in the moulds. The final article shows the designated directions of the warp and weft of the cloth, and when you fire the gun, you appreciate the stock’s stiffness, yet natural control with harmonic damping and most importantly, low noise signature.
The forend free-floats the barrel and is stiff enough to maintain this in all scenarios, plus the sling studs are securely anchored. There are finger grooves for grip and unlike many, the profile has not been made too skinny to save material mass. It’s still hand-filling and easy to grip, as Sako has also applied a slightly rougher tactile coating that won’t wear off or become slippery when wet or muddy.
The recoil pad is approximately 22mm thick and held with two screws. This means that spacers can be added to alter the 14.25” length of pull. The comb is slim and allows a decent cheek weld, although it’s not particularly high. However, this is a lightweight hunting rifle, and if you want ad-justable ergonomics, you are looking in the wrong place.
A Stalon moderator and a Steiner scope in Burris rings were fitted to the review rifle. I bore-sighted and zeroed the rifle at 100 metres before shooting a few group tests and trying the rifle in various positions. Sako says their cold hammer forged barrels don’t need running-in, but I always take the first 20 rounds on any gun steadily anyway, to check what the cleaning patches are tell-ing me. The Sako ammo I was feeding the gun was burning cleanly, and no detrimental copper residue seemed to be getting deposited, so thumbs up so far. Performance on paper was as ex-pected from a Sako. The rifles are all individually tested before leaving the factory to make sure they provide sub-MOA precision on target, and I have been to the factory and watched this hap-pen, so I don’t need convincing of the company’s dedication. See Ammo Table.
The Peak is a desirable rifle that I would use for any hunting foray, due to its inherent reliability, accuracy, and handling dynamics. It’s one of the few rifles that I can’t really criticise, dislike, or say “if only they had” in my head. I think the Sako 90 action has progressed with evolutionary logic to maintain its character, and not reactionary desperation to keep up with its peers. The stock is a superb example of detailed technical design for great ergonomics, without excessive flourish de-livered or required to distract you from weakness. The rifle functions precisely as advertised and expected, with no room for disappointment at its price point.
Ammunition Factory Measured 100m group M.O.A.
Velocity (fps) Energy (ft-lbs) Velocity ft-lbs Energy (ft-lbs) mm inches
Sako Gamehead 123-grain 3020 2491.6 2823 2177 24.3 1.0 0.8
Sako Powerhead Blade 162-grain 2675 2574.7 2620 2470 14.7 0.6 0.5