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GUNS Magazine February 2012 Digital Edition - Page 14
STORY: Dave Anderson A well-made long-range rifle in .338 Lapua. ven in boom times, with money no object, there can’t be a big market for a rifle/scope combo retailing at close to $5,000, shooting ammunition at $6 per shot. We’re all after value these days—I know I am—but even when we drive secondhand economy cars it can still be fun to read about the latest Ferrari or Maserati on occasion. Recently my friend Chris put together a very impressive long-range shooting package, and was kind enough to let me borrow it (provided I supplied my own ammunition!). The rifle is a Sako TRG-42 in .338 Lapua, with the optional muzzlebrake and factory bipod. The scope is a Nightforce 5.5-22x56. The TRG-42 is built around the Sako long action with three locking lugs. Bolt lift is just 60 degrees, giving lots of clearance between bolt handle and scope. The action feeds from a detachable 5-shot magazine, double stack tapering to a single feed. The straight-line design provides exceptionally smooth feeding. Cycling is so smooth and effortless; I checked a couple of times to see if a round had in fact been fed into the chamber (it had). The barrel is 27-1/8" long (not including the muzzlebrake), hammer forged and with a 1:10" twist in .338 The Sako TRG-42 is built for precision long-range shooting with fully adjustable stock and heavy barrel on the long 3-lug Sako action. The scope is 5.5-22x56 Nightforce. the sako trG-42 E Lapua. The barreled action is bolted to a very strong, rigid aluminum/ polyurethane stock. The barrel is free floated with lots of space under the barrel. Forget the old sportingrifle test of passing a dollar bill under the barrel to see if it is floating freely. There’s enough space for this whole magazine to fit. The rifle is made for military and police duty, and for longrange competition shooters, with adjustments in just about every conceivable way to fit the individual. The cheekpiece is adjustable both vertically and horizontally. The buttplate can be adjusted for length of pull, height and pitch. Even the trigger position can be adjusted for angle, as well as back and forth and horizontally. Trigger quality is outstanding. It has a 2-stage pull with very smooth, predictable takeup to a clean break adjustable from 2 to 5 pounds. All adjustments can be made The combination of rifle weight (nearly 12 pounds without optic) and the very effective muzzlebrake made the Sako TRG-42 a pleasure to shoot from the bench (above). It’s loud, but recoil is very tolerable. The Sako 3-lug action (below) has a short 60-degree bolt lift with lots of clearance between bolt handle and scope. Bolt operation is very smooth and precise. (in fact the entire trigger mechanism can be removed for cleaning) without any further disassembly of the rifle being required. This trigger had been adjusted to 2.5 pounds and was a joy to shoot. At around 14 pounds all up, obviously this is a rifle to be shot from a rest. I had a good variety of ammunition from Black Hills, Federal, Hornady and Lapua in bullet weights from 250 to 300 grains. The .338 Lapua is no toy, but between rifle weight and the effective muzzlebrake it was an easy rifle to shoot well. Our 600-yard range is currently closed due to construction work, but at 100 yards the Sako consistently shot 1/2 MOA or better 3-shot groups. Actually even 600 yards is not much challenge for the .338 Lapua, or for that matter for a .223 or .308. Ranges have to stretch out to 1,000 or 1,500 yards and more for the Lapua to show its stuff. There are a surprising number of .338 Lapuas in use by local shooters and talk of finding a 1,500- to 2,000-yard range at which to use them. 14 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 2