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.
When you think Marlin, most people have a .22 rifle or lever-action cowboy gun spring to mind. Then of course the company also (briefly) made shotguns and revolvers as well as bolt action centerfires. Wait, what was that last part again? Oh you mean you never heard of the Model 322? Well, pull up a chair.
In the far away land of Finland lies the Sako arms works. This fine company cut their teeth making the best Mosin-Nagant pattern rifles you have ever seen and later moved on the hunting rifles. Their actions are world famous for custom rifle makers. One of their early ones was the L-46 miniature Mauser receiver action.
Sako sold these actions both to large and small gun makers around the world in the 1950s and 60s, which led to some big players like Sears (who sold guns under their JC Higgins brand) and Colt to marry up these actions to US-made barrels and stocks to make a complete gun. This is the same thing that Marlin did. The Marlin Model 322 used the Finnish Sako L46 action with a domestic stock and barrel. Some refer to it as a Sako Riihimaki rifle due to the markings on the receiver, but the gun is all Marlin.
Read the rest in my column at Marlin Forums