SAKO TRG-22 for Competition

Shooting the TRG-22 — the Dutch Perspective

Jim’s shooting partner René, shooting TRG-22 with front and rear rest adapters on stock.

Commentary by Jim de Kort

I’ve been shooting a Sako TRG-22 since I started shooting firearms. It was my first rifle and I still have one right now. It’s rugged, has all the optional accessories you will need, shoots like crazy and is the most reliable rifle I have had (Note: I don’t go crawling through mud or jump off of cliffs). The TRG 21/22 has been around since the mid ’90s and has not changed since they went to the TRG-22 name. Even then it only underwent a few small changes to the stock, a new thread-type muzzle brake and some small changes to accessories and scope rail.

Ergonomics and Adjustability
The TRG-22 boasts a very ergonomic stock that shooters of various sizes and shapes find comfortable. The stock is fully adjustable, although the range of movement is somewhat limited. Both vertical height and cast-off of the butt-pad can be adjusted, along with length of pull (via spacers). The cheekpiece can be adjusted for height and angle. The rifle is ambidextrous, so southpaws can also enjoy this beauty.

The trigger offers three adjustments–trigger shoe angle, plus first-stage and second-stage pull weights. Pull is factory-rated between 1.0 and 2.5 kg, but if you’re lucky it will go a little lower (I got mine reliable to 510 grams). The trigger is very reliable and can be removed by loosening a single Allen-bolt which makes maintenance and adjustment very easy. The safety locks both the trigger AND the bolt handle, and the trigger group can be removed without disassembling the rifle.

Options for Optics
The current batch of TRG-22s come with integrated Picatinny rail, all you have to do is stick on some rings and you are set up. The older TRG-22s came with Sako’s dove-tail rail which meant there was not a lot of choice for rings. Sako’s own OptiLock Quick-Mount holds zero well but it restricts the location of the scope. (With some optics the Quick-Mount positions your scope too far to the rear). Removing and refitting the mount on the TRG-22 was very positive, however, requiring only one or two clicks to get back on zero. The cam system was a good addition over the old TRG-21 mount. My own rifle had the Sako dove-tail on which I have mounted a Warne +20 MOA base. I think Warne is one of the few aftermarket manufacturers that makes a base to fit on the TRG. [Editor’s Note: SAKO’s OptiLock rings have polymer inserts similar to the Burris Signature Rings. The Optilocks fasten directly to the integral 17mm dovetail on the action. The rings are secure because transverse recoil stop-slots are milled into the top of the action.]

F-Class Modifications
While the stock was designed with bipod or sling shooting in mind, I wanted better performance when shooting my TRG-22 from a tripod front rest in F-Class matches. I fabricated a plate that runs under the forearm, attached via the built-in accessory rail. You can see in the photo (at left) how it wraps completely around the fore-end, providing a smooth, uninterrupted surface to slide in the front sandbag. This functions well, making the gun very stable on a pedestal style rest. The rear of the stock is not ideal for sand-bag use, but the “butthook” undercut for the off-hand runs pretty much straight back (and parallel to the barrel) under the cheekpiece. That works a lot better on a rear sand-bag than an Accuracy International stock for example. I have adapted a piece that fills the cut-out, however (see top photo). This does allow the stock to track better in a rear bag.

Accuracy and Reloading
As to reloading for the TRG-22, I have found that if you use good brass, powder and bullets, you really can’t go wrong. Having had two of the TRGs, I found that they are not picky on loads or bullets. I personally like the 155gr Scenars as they are ballistically optimal for the .308 (BC vs. speed) and also have a bit lighter recoil than the 175-180s. Pricing in Europe favours the Lapua, but I have had the same good results with Sierra MatchKings.

The TRG-22 is not hard to tune. I have yet to find a load using SMKs or Scenars that does NOT shoot under 0.5 MOA. Anything from 31gr to 46gr will shoot under 0.5 MOA at 100m for me, so all you have left to do is match the load with the conditions and you’re in business. For 100m I use 37.0 gr N135 and Fed 210 primers behind a 155gr Scenar seated 0.005″ from the lands. I use the standard 210 primers, the M gave no difference in result and costs €37 per 1000 over here vs. €25 for the standard 210. Average groups in the hands of a good shooter are 1/3 moa, with occasional 1/4 moa groups. When I shoot on our one and only 500m range I tend to go for 44.0 gr N140. I don’t see how pushing it with 46-47 grains gives any real advantage over that. You might as well get a different calibre if you’re not satisfied with the 308 ballistics. (That’s one of the reasons I am switching to a 6.5x47AI barrel soon by the way. Initial tests for show this should push a 123gr Scenar to 3050 fps.) Contact Dave Bruno for replacement Sako barrels (Dave’s the man).

SUMMARY–A Lot of Rifle for the Price
Out of the box, not many factory rifles can run with a TRG-22 without resorting to all sorts of tuning voodoo. This is a consistent 1/2-MOA (or better) performer with many different bullet and powder combinations. And those TRG barrels have very long life–due in no small part to the hammer-forging process which hardens the steel inside the bore. The stock really is an impressive piece of engineering. Truly ambidextrous, it is one of the most comfortable stocks ever offered by a factory.

What are the downsides of the TRG? The rear stock does not work well with a Benchrest-style sandbag–the cut-out is the problem. I also hear complaints that the factory accessories are too pricey. I concede that accessories for the TRGs are anything but cheap, but all you really need is a muzzle brake. (There’s no need to upgrade trigger or barrel). In my humble opinion, don’t blow your budget on the factory bipod–get a Harris instead. The Harris is steadier, and with the money you save, you can buy a set of premium rings and a hard case. Then, load up some Lapua brass with Hodgdon or Vihtavuori, seat a SMK or Scenar and you are good-to-go.

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The SAKO TRG-22 and TRG-42 are built in Finland by SAKO, a subsidiary of Beretta. In America, the guns are distributed by Beretta USA. Both TRGs (22/42) are available in forest green or a matte black textured finish. A two-stage match trigger is standard.

The stock is somewhat unconventional. It is an external shell, bolted to an internal metal chassis. The action bolts directly to the chassis, without bedding. The injection-molded stock is adjustable for comb height, length of pull (with spacers), vertical butt-pad height and cast-off.

Weight TRG-22: 4.7 kg (black), 4.9 kg (green)
Barrel TRG-22: 660 mm (26″), hammer-forged, optional stainless or phosphate finish
Capacity: 10-round Mag (TRG-22), 7-round Mag (TRG-42)
Calibers: .308 Win (TRG-22), 300WM, .338 LM (TRG-42)
Bolt:Three lugs, 60° bolt throw

SAKO TRG 22/42 Manual Download in .pdf Format.

Entire article Copyright © 2010 |, All Rights Reserved. Photos by Jim de Kort and SportSchutter.NL, Copyright © 2006, used by permission, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any content without advanced permission in writing.

Topics: .308, 308, 7.62×51, .338, 338 LM, Lapua Magnum, F-TR, F-Class, Sako, Beretta, Finland, TRG, TRG22, TRG-22, TRG42, TRG-21, TRG21,TRG-21, TRG21, Netherlands, SAKO, Beretta.

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