We were again on the hunt for you. With a brand new equipment and with the camera. This time we went to the German Black Forest. With our hunting guide Dirk we went hunting for the chamois. In terms of typical hunting shooting distances, you have to think beyond the usual 100 yards when hunting in the mountains. On the flat land, this distance is manageable for any hunter. But what do you do when you get a hunting invitation to the mountains and you've never been hunting there? Let's ignore the fitness aspect for a moment. We will concentrate on the equipment that is used in the mountains.
The new Sako S20 "Camo Hunter" rifle in .308 caliber, the Steiner Ranger 8 (4-32x56) scope and the lead-free Sako Powerhead Blade ammo accompanied us for this field test. The invitation to accompany this hunt with the camera came from Gert Mürmann of Waffen Mürmann in Wittenberg. The last time Gert was in the Black Forest for a chamois hunt was 10 years ago. Hunting guide Dirk Hablizel, an old hunting buddy of Gert, had invited him to a chamois hunt. Before the hunt began, Gert checked the gun combo. "When you are out with your equipment, you should always do a test shot before the hunt" Gerd told us. No sooner said than done. We think that's good, because after all, it comes down to well-functioning equipment and only then can we make a meaningful judgment on how this combo works in practice.
The rifle: Sako S20 "Camo Hunter" in .308 with thumbhole stock
When we assembled the rifle in the Wittenberg armory, our first thoughts were: isn't the rifle overall a bit long and heavy for the mountains? But more on that later. The Sako was fitted with the standard sinthetic rifle sling and a Svemko silencer with quick release adapter was mounted on the barrel.
About the gun, Gert Mürmann told us: "The big plus of the Sako S20 is its modularity. You can easily customize the Sako S20 to your own needs. Adjustable stock with cheek piece, adjustable length of pull with spacers and adjustable trigger pull weight from 1,000 to 2,000 grams. You can change the entire look of the gun. From camo finish to black synthetic stock, everything is possible. The thumbhole stock provides a very comfortable grip for medium and large hands. The high quality finished stock also offers a quick adjustment to size. In this hunting rifle, the 'camo pattern' is virtually tailored to our forests. The coating of barrel and action allow hunting even in harsh weather without any problems. Together with the Svemko silencer, which scores with slimness and low weight, we thus had an ideal package for mountain hunting from our point of view."
The riflescope: Steiner Ranger 8 in 4-32x56
The new Steiner Ranger 8 (4-32x56) is a typical riflescope for longer ranges. However, it can also be used with the basic 4x magnification for the raised hide and stalking. The scope is well suited for twilight. It also provides a good base for clip-ons to go boar hunting at night. With the 8x zoom, it is of course – as already mentioned above – well suited for long-range shooting. Even though 56mm riflescopes have often been declared dead in the hunting scene, it is precisely in the mountains that it shows its strength. Speaking of "strength": of course, such a 56mm riflescope weighs a bit more. You definitely carry a few grams more up the mountain. But with a little training before a mountain hunt, the extra few grams shouldn't really matter. The advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages from our point of view. Apart from the brightness of the glass, the 8x magnification simply cannot be topped in the mountains. Gert Mürmann says of the Steiner Ranger 8:
"What I particularly like is that the Ranger 8 is sharp right to the edge. We eyeglass wearers often have a hard time with optical devices. This is not the case with the Ranger 8. The reticle is very fine (reticle 4 - AI fiber dot) and when operating the illuminated dot, accurate shooting at long range targets is very well possible. For the illuminated dot, you can select day and night, which prevents over-illumination. You can set the parallax from 20 meters to infinity and it copes with sub-zero temperatures as well as high temperatures. The turret can easily be turned back to zero safely every time. With a light transmission of over 90%, its enormous range of adjustment makes it universal. Game can be safely recognized at almost any distance. The biggest advantage, however, is that with the Steiner Ranger 8 you can react very flexibly to rapidly changing situations, which is a mega advantage, especially in the mountains."
The ammunition: lead-free Sako Powerhead Blade in .308 caliber
The Sako Powerhead Blade ammo we fire has been in use on a wide variety of hunts over the past 12 months. No matter where, the lead-free bullet has always performed well from standard barrels. We were all the more excited when the opportunity arose in the mountains to shoot a piece of chamois. In the morning hours of the second day of hunting, an opportunity was to arise for Gert. In the run-up to the mountain hunt we received information that the lead-free Sako Powerhead Blade bullet provided a very good effect and would also deliver sufficient energy. The wind plays a decisive role at long ranges and must always be taken into account by the shooter. We had already agreed in advance on a maximum shooting range of 250 meters. Fortunately, the wind didn't throw a spanner in the works, as we had to contend with fog and poor visibility during the first hours of the second day of hunting.
With a thermal imaging camera we sighted the chamois in the fog
There was no wind. Our hunting guide Dirk glassed the slope with a thermal imaging camera. The first piece of game was on the slope at a little more than 300 meters. A short time later, more and more chamois showed themselves. The dawning day promised a hunting success. After a short discussion, the strategy was clear: we wanted to use the fog to our advantage. So we stalked the chamois under the protection of two groups of trees. "Two hundred meters," Dirk said to Gert. That would be the ideal distance. We then wanted to use the visual protection of a small slope in the mountain and wait for the right moment. So we crawled on all fours the last few meters in the wet grass until we found cover behind the embankment. After the suitable piece was found and the ok was given by Dirk, Gert shot his first chamois in the mountains. The shooting distance: 184 meters and the cartridge actually delivered perfectly!
Our conclusion on the equipment: Sako S20 "Camo Hunter", Steiner Ranger 8 (4-32x56) and Sako Powerhead Blade (lead-free)
The Sako S20 "Camo Hunter" is not only visually an eye-catcher. It delivers good accuracy and with the modular design principle, it can be used in a variety of hunting situations. Neither the weight nor the 51-cm barrel was a hindrance on the mountain. With the new Ranger 8 from Steiner, one or two mountain hunters will have their true joy. We even think that the riflescope will show its strengths on the raised hide and during the one or other stalk. Regarding the lead-free Sako Powerhead Blade in .308 caliber, we can say after more than 12 months of field testing that this ammo covers many applications and achieves good results. We used the 10.5 gram bullet. By the way, Sako will soon be launching two more .308 Win. caliber loads on the market, which will be specially optimized for long-range shooting in the mountains or in the field. The only minor drawback with the equipment was the rifle sling, which as a standard variant is rather unsuitable for mountain hunting. Here we recommend a backpack rifle strap that distributes the weight on both shoulders. Because no matter how high the mountain is, in the end you notice every single gram, whether it's in the high mountains or in the low mountains at altitudes of 1,400 meters, like in the Black Forest.