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.
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 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.