Tag Archives: Finnish sniper

Finns Roll Their own AR-10s for DMR, Sniper Work

The Finnish military, a force long renowned for its snipers– has selected the M23 series rifle from Sako for precision work.

Sako, a historic Finnish rifle manufacturer that recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, has a long connection to the country’s sharpshooters. Samo Haya, widely regarded as “the world’s deadliest sniper,” used a Sako-made Mosin M/28 during the country’s 1939-40 Winter War with the Soviet Union.

Sako’s new M23 AR-10 platform, frolicking in the Karelian forests. (Photo: Finnish Defense Force)

The new rifle, based on the AR-10/SR-25 style platform, is the Sako-made M23 in 7.62 NATO. It will be fielded in two formats, the Kivääri 23 (KIV 23) — a designated marksman rifle for use in infantry squads– and the Tarkkuuskivääri 23 (TKIV 23), a dedicated sniper rifle, with the differences largely being in the optics. Both guns are shown in Finnish Army photos with Steiner glass, no surprise as both Sako and Steiner are owned by Beretta.

The M23 will replace the Finnish Army’s aging Cold War-era Dragunov marksman rifles and the newer TKIV 85 bolt-action sniper rifle, the latter a much-upgraded Mosin action. Both legacy platforms are chambered in 7.62x54R.

The KIV 23 variant is for use as a DMR at the squad and platoon level, replacing the Dragunov SVD. It is expected to mount an LPVO and is intended for use to 600 meters. (Photo: Finnish Defense Force)

Meanwhile, the Sako TKIV 23, outfitted with a Steiner M7Xi 2.9–20×50, will replace an accurized Finnish-made Mosin, the TKIV 85, in a sniper role out to 800 meters. (Photo: Finnish Defense Force)

The upside of this is the possibility that we could see a high-quality AR-10 from Finland imported via Beretta USA’s channels at some point. Which is a win for everybody, I think.

Sako Turns 100 Today

Established April 1, 1921, in Riihimaki, Finland, the now-famed gunmaker was formed from a pre-existing workshop where the newly independent country’s Civil Guard militia repaired Russian-made Mosin and Berdan rifles inherited during the Finnish Civil War. The company’s name– Suojeluskuntain Ase- ja Konepaja Osakeyhtiö (Civil Guard Firearm and Engineering Co.) — today remains a holdover from that origin. 

Their first product was the M/28 rifle, a modified Mosin design that proved so accurate that Samo ‘White Death” Haya used it during the Winter War.

The Sako-designed Mosin M28, via Millcoll

Today, Sako is the last Finnish rifle maker standing, having merged with VKT, Tikka, and Valmet over the years. Sure, it is owned by Beretta– and has been since 2000– but the guns are still made in Riihimaki. Last year, they produced 113,000 rifles, a record high.

Sniper Olympics

A Dutch sniper team leaving room for Jesus while getting a good supported position. Also, hopefully, the Dutch government saved a ton of money on that Glock holster contract.

The Europe Best Sniper Team Competition being held this week is like the World Cup of military marksmanship, but with tougher competitors. Held at the U.S. 7th Army’s Grafenwoehr Training Area in Bavaria for the past week, according to the Army the event tests “marksmanship skills, physical prowess, and mental agility while engaging in team-building competition.”

In all some 36 teams from 17 NATO countries joined by heavily armed and Russia-adjacent neutrals Finland and Sweden, faced off in a set of professional skill tests– and there is a ton of really nice hardware on display.

A sniper from Finland on the stress lane. Renowned for marksmanship (ever heard of Simo Haya?) the Finnish Army use the Sako-built TRG-42 as their TKIV 2000 rifle, as well as the more legacy Valmet TKIV 85/Mosin 91 conversion in 7.62x53R– not to be confused with the old standard Russian 7.62x54R, although it can use that in a pinch.

Much more in my column at Guns.com.