Accuracy International AIAW vs. Sako TRG-22 - My Experience with Both

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Oct 2, 2009
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Sako TRG-22 in its natural habitat.


Background

I decided after 10 years of faithful service to upgrade my Remington Model 700P to a more modern action. This was mainly because I had become more interested in long range shooting and the stock 700P was reaching its limit in terms of what I wanted in a rifle. Specifically, I wanted:

1) Better accuracy (the stock 700P was maybe a 0.75MOA rifle)
2) Detachable magazine
3) Integrated scope mounting rail
4) Weatherproof action
5) Two stage trigger
6) No need to customize anything. Should be ready to roll out of the box.

When reviewing the options, it became clear that a 700 custom rifle is near the same price as purpose-built rifles from Accuracy International and Sako. Yet, I felt the purpose-built rifle would ultimately work best for me. So, I decided to skip the intermediate steps of a custom 700 and go right for the purpose built rig and just get it over with.

I initially purchased the Sako TRG-22 in .308. It is a great rifle and has served me well. Eventually I added the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare (AIAW/AW) to my collection also. Both the TRG and AIAW are purpose built precision rifles designed to endure the rigors of military applications. In fact, both rifles are in wide use by military and police forces around the world. They are designed from the ground up to be accurate, reliable, and precise in extreme conditions.

As of this date, I have shot both the TRG and AW rifles extensively (combined round count over 4,000+ at this point). I have shot them in weather from perfect 70-degree days, to snowstorms, to freezing rain, to blowing dust, and to high temps. I have shot both rifles at sea level and up to 5000+ ft. of elevation. I have shot them at rifle courses and in competitions. Although I did not put these rifles through a torture test, I feel I have enough experience to offer my opinion.


What about the Accuracy International AE?

I did not consider the Accuracy International AE series simply because I'm a buy once, cry once kind of guy and I'd always wonder what it would have been like to just get the AW. So, that's what I bought. Further, at the time of my AW purchase, the AIAE Mk2 was the only option and I preferred the three positions safety/bolt of the AIAW, which the Mk2 did not feature. Lastly, I also preferred the bonded action of the AW and receiver construction over the AE.

Today, the TRG and the AIAE Mk3 are direct competitors in terms of price point (especially once you roll in the costs of the Sako accessories). Someone considering a TRG should be looking at the AIAE Mk3 as well in today's market if they think the AW is beyond their budget.

AI vs. TRG Accuracy

The TRG accuracy matches that of the AW. Both the AW and TRG are 0.25 MOA rifles. If you are shooting poorly with either one of them, then you are the problem, not the rifle.

I entered a bench rest style competition one time with the AIAW just for grins. Some of the shooters were making comments beforehand about the AW being for tactical use only, but after the shoot was over there were no more comments being made. The AIAW was able to produce scores beating many of the purpose built bench rest rifles on the line. I certainly didn't feel at a disadvantage using it.

Likewise, I've shot my TRG against very fine custom rifles and the TRG had no problems keeping up, or exceeding, their performance.

The TRG and AIAW are both no-joke high performance machines. The fact that they are "factory" rifles takes nothing away from their accuracy. I'd put either one of them up against any rifle I've seen in terms of accuracy and performance under all conditions.

AI vs. TRG Stocks

The AIAW stock is using plastic sides that bolt into a metal chassis. You can easily change the color or stock type in minutes. If you don't like the thumbhole, there are now pistol grip sides from AI and Victor Viperskins. Stock sides are relatively inexpensive being around $200 for a set (compared to buying an entire stock).

The TRG does not have this option. In this regard, the AI is more flexible over the TRG. With the AI you can swap out stock colors to suit your environment, mood, or match your wardrobe for a night on the town. But more practically, if the sides are ever damaged you can replace them quickly and cheaply.

The AIAW stock is more rugged than the TRG. I've stripped both rifles down to the bare chassis on multiple occasions. The TRG is elegant in its simplicity but the stock is not as tough as the AI. The AIAW receiver is more solidly mated to the chassis than the TRG. The TRG uses four bolts, the AI uses bolts and epoxy. The machining on the AI is a work of art.

The AIAW stock doesn't have a reputation of breaking easily. If you do happen to crack a stock side (they are a tough plastic so you'll have to work at it), they are easily swapped. Because the stock sides do not form the structural support of the AI chassis, you could probably do a field repair with some duct tape or epoxy and still be fine.

A broken stock on the TRG however is going to be trouble as the action is fully supported by the stock in order to operate. If the stock is broken, the rifle may be unsafe to use depending on where the damage is.

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Sako TRG-22 Disassembled

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AIAW Disassembled

Both the TRG and AI offer a folding stock. On the AI it is a worthy upgrade and adds only a few ounces extra weight. When folded, you lose somewhere around 6" on the gun length, which is handy when packing the rifle. It also makes maintenance easier also as you do not need to loosen the adjustable cheekpiece to remove the bolt.

I'm not a fan of folding/collapsible stocks on most rifles because the quality is usually very poor and they tend to malfunction or develop a lot of slop. However, on the AI the folding mechanism is very stable and robust. I've never had a problem with it and it always locks up solidly.

I have seen the TRG folder, but have not shot it. The folding mechanism on the TRG is much more complicated and heavier than the AI version. It also adds considerable expense to the rifle (making a TRG near the price of an AIAW). Overall, I prefer the fixed stock version of the TRG to the folding version.

Although both rifles shoot identically off bipod/sandbags in terms of accuracy, in non-ideal field applications I shoot the AW better personally. It took a little time to get used to the thumbhole stock (actually I rarely ever grip with the thumbhole), but I find I'm very accurate with this particular rifle. Some people will not like the AI stock and prefer the TRG as the TRG has a more traditional feel. You just need to try both to see which you prefer.

The rounded foregrip on the TRG is more comfortable than the AI, although I shoot both well. The flat bottom of the AW foregrip though works well for positional shooting and is stable whereas the TRG likes to roll around if you are not gripping the forearm tightly (I tend to not grip tightly when using a sling). But, the lighter weight of the TRG (to be discussed) is a huge advantage for unsupported shooting.

The TRG magazine sits flush with the bottom of the front stock assembly. The AI magazine sticks out. The flush fit of the TRG is more comfortable if you are doing positional shooting and need to put your hand back near the trigger for support (such as off-hand). The protruding AI magazine can get in the way of your hand unless you move it around a bit. In some positions the AI magazine can sit uncomfortably on your hand with edges digging into it.

Both stocks offer adjustable cheekpieces and butt plates. The AI offers a quick adjust version, but I prefer the basic fixed version that uses plastic insert because it's less to go wrong. The TRG offers plastic spacers as well to adjust fit in an almost identical manner.

As a personal opinion, I dislike quick adjust stocks for non-target rifles. Quick adjust features are susceptible to breakage, being knocked out of alignment/adjustment, snag on clothing and gear, and generally out live their initially warm welcome. They also tend to add a lot of weight. On my rifles I usually get the basic adjustment features and avoid the fancy options.

AI vs. TRG Weight differences

The AI is ~2lbs heavier than the TRG. That's significant. Consider that 50 rounds of .308 ammo weigh about 13.5 ozs. So for the weight difference of the TRG you can carry an additional 100+ rounds of .308 ammo before matching the AI. Or you could carry an extra day of food, or a tent, or a sleeping bag, etc.

Further, if you are doing unsupported shooting the AI is more fatiguing. However, I shot a competition with offhand/sling supported stages and won using my AI when everyone else had much lighter weapons (ARs, M1As, M1s, etc.). So it can come down to technique and not being totally out of shape. However, the TRG is more comfortable to shoot from unsupported positions and less tiring to hold than the AI. If you are going to use the AI offhand, I suggest you practice with it regularly and keep your fitness up. It's a heavy beast.

As for lugging them around, I think that obviously the TRG is better to carry simply because it is 2lbs lighter. But also, the TRG has a more rounded stock and does not dig into me as much when slung vs. the AIAW that is blockier with sharper edges. However, the AIAW tends to lie flatter when slung and not shift around too much.

Accuracy International Weight Rant

I really wish AI had spent more time lightening up the new AIAX series instead of putting 1000 sq. ft. of picatinny rail attachment points all over it. The unlimited ways to mount tactical stuff all over is less useful I suspect to most than having a rifle that's 20-30% lighter (ok, at least for me it is).

If they felt inspired to update the AW (and hopefully not kill it off in deference to the AIAX), I hope they really think about taking another 2-3lbs. off of the system. In this area, the TRG has the AI thoroughly whipped as the lower weight is a huge handling advantage in the TRG. The engineers at AI are bright people and I believe AI can keep the ruggedness but still lose the weight in their products.

AI vs. TRG Receiver, Ejection and Extraction

Both receivers have a near totally covered action with an ejection port. This protects the action from the elements and is one reason why these rifles are so reliable. When the snow is coming down or dust is blowing, you'll be happy to have a covered action like the TRG or AIAW.

However, the TRG ejection port is much smaller than the AI. I have normal sized fingers yet I cannot get them into the TRG ejection port to assist with clearing malfunctions if one should happen. The AI however has a wide ejection port that I can easily get my fingers into to assist with malfunctions (none yet!). The advantage here is to the AI.

Of the two rifles, the AI has a stronger and more consistent extraction and ejection. The TRG is fine and I've never had a problem with it, but the AI removes rounds more consistently and strongly. The AI extractor is also larger than the TRG, which is more confidence inspiring.

AI vs. TRG Bolts

Both of the bolts on these rifles are as smooth, or smoother, than any rifle I've ever used or handled. Out of the box, I think the TRG was slightly smoother than the AI. However, after shooting each now for thousands of rounds they are basically the same.

Each bolt has the same 60-degree throw and are very fast to operate. I can outshoot people with gas guns with both of these rifles (verified). The TRG bolt locks up with less force than the AI. The AI bolt feels more solid during the lockup though.

The bolt handle on the AI feels more solid than the TRG. I think you'd have to work pretty hard to break off an AI handle. The TRG handle is rugged and comfortable, but it is screwed into the bolt housing in a way that looks less robust than the AI.

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The Sako bolt has a threaded bolt handle with threads visible at 7 o'clock in this photo

The AI bolt disassembles with no force by simply twisting the shroud when in the secondary safety position. This exposes the firing pin, firing pin spring, and the bolt housing in about two seconds.

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The AIAW Firing Pin Assembly

The TRG bolt has a twist off action that requires slight force and the use of a simple plastic tool included with the rifle.

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The Sako TRG-22 Bolt Disassembled

In terms of internals, the firing pin and firing pin spring on the AI are much higher quality than the TRG. The AI firing pin is finely machined whereas the TRG firing pin looks like it was finished on Uncle Taavi's bench grinder. Also, the firing pin spring on the TRG has deep marks present on the ends. Are they intentional?

I also notice some discoloration in the metal of the TRG firing pin. This is likely the result of heat treatment during manufacture (pointed out by Turbo54 below). It's not from firing because I have a brand new pin with the same effect.

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Sako TRG Firing Pin.

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The TRG-22 firing pin spring has deep marks on the ends.

The AI firing pin assembly just looks much better made over the TRG and I feel is less likely to ever have a problem.

AI vs. TRG Triggers

The TRG has an excellent trigger that feels like a finely made target rifle. The AIAW trigger is perhaps less precise, but it also is much better than most triggers I've used. I find that I shoot both the TRG and AI triggers equally well. Neither has an advantage for me.

The TRG has more adjustment options in terms of trigger pull weight, geometry, etc. The AI basically has adjustments only for trigger pull mechanics such as weight. However, I've never felt the need to touch either of these triggers and have left them at factory settings. Shooters would be well advised to do the same, as the triggers are just about a perfect balance between performance and safety in a field rifle.

The TRG has small allen screws for adjusting the trigger pull distance, tilt, etc. I think this is actually an unnecessary complication and I've had the TRG trigger knocked out of alignment and needed to be reset by tightening the allen screw. Since the AIAW trigger is one solid piece, I don't need to worry about this. Overall, I think that field triggers should just be a solid piece for reliability.

The TRG trigger is synthetic so it does not get cold in freezing weather. The Finns of Sako know a few things about winter shooting conditions. The AI trigger is all metal which is probably more durable. However, durability questions aside, I think the synthetic TRG trigger is more comfortable to use in colder weather (especially for extended range sessions). Basically, the Sako trigger won't freeze your finger off. The AIAW will, unless wearing pretty thick gloves. In the area of cold weather trigger comfort, the TRG wins.

As an aside, I wish AI would offer a simple plastic sleeve that would clip over their metal trigger to insulate the user from the cold metal. I've tried things like heat shrink tubing, electrical tape, etc. in the past and, while they work, they are not great solutions.

AI vs. TRG Trigger Assemblies

Both of the trigger assemblies are easily removed for maintenance. The TRG assembly is much larger than the AI as it holds not just the trigger, but the safety mechanisms as well.

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The Sako TRG-22 Trigger. One of the best I've ever used.

The AI trigger is beautiful simplicity. It has few parts in it and serves one purposes: To fire the weapon. The safety for the AI is built entirely into the bolt shroud to isolate it from the trigger.

In terms of ruggedness, the TRG trigger is more complicated and the assembly feels delicate when removed from the action. It uses a synthetic housing (which resists cold), but there are small pieces of connecting rods on the outside and the internals have some other delicately made components. This is what makes the trigger so adjustable and precise, but also makes it potentially less rugged than the AIAW.

The AIAW trigger is sandwiched between two steel plates and it feels like if I threw it at a brick wall it wouldn't care. It also is screwed into the chassis in a way where it is protected on all sides by another layer of metal. The entire assembly therefore is very robust.

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The steel AIAW trigger is housed in the metal chassis which further protects it.

AIAW's trigger over-travel - Deliberate design?

When you fire the AIAW you'll notice it has some over-travel after the sear breaks. Some people may mistakenly assume this is flawed trigger creep, but I believe it is a deliberate design decision.

Upon inspection of the AI trigger, you can see that after the sear breaks the trigger has a few millimeters more over-travel where it provides extra clearance for the entire mechanism. The further you pull, the wider the gap between the trigger and sear becomes until you could fit a coat hanger rod through it.

I believe this is being done specifically to ensure absolute reliability. If dirt was caked into the mechanism the AI trigger has a better chance of still clearing the sear. The TRG trigger has much tighter tolerances in terms of clearance (and no over travel). Although my TRG trigger has been absolutely reliable, in very dirty situations my feeling is the AI is less likely to have problems due to its design.

AI vs. TRG Safeties

Both the AI and TRG have safeties that block the firing pin and lock the bolt closed. This is an important feature because it means when you carry the rifle the bolt can't be accidently knocked open to take it out of battery or cause ammunition to eject. The firing pin block also ensures that dropping the rifle cannot cause it to accidently fire.

The TRG uses a safety inside the trigger guard. Some people don't like this, but actually I find it convenient. The safety is easily engaged/disengaged with the trigger finger quickly. On the TRG, the engagement of the safety sends a secondary pin upwards to block the firing pin and lock the bolt closed. In order to operate the bolt the safety must be off.

The AIAW has a three-position safety on the rear of the bolt. Position one is fire, position two is safety on with bolt operation, position three is safety on with bolt locked. I really like this safety design because it allows me to operate the bolt to unload the weapon while still having the weapon on safe. Further, the bolt lock feature of the AI feels more solid than the TRG. There is a lot less play in the action in the AI with the safety engaged vs. the TRG.

Overall, I prefer the safety mechanics of the AI to the TRG due to the three positions and sturdier bolt lockup. However, I think I prefer the TRG from an ergonomic perspective.

AI vs. TRG Magazines

Both magazines work reliably and I’ve never had problems with either. However the TRG magazines are double stack/single feed. Meaning they need to have the rounds slid in from the top and not simply pushed into the double stack as with the AI. I find that the AI magazines are therefore easier to load and you can also load the magazine through the ejection port without taking it out of the rifle if desired (as you would a fixed magazine rifle). On the TRG you must remove the magazine to reload it.

The AI magazine has a bolt stop on empty feature and the TRG does not. While this means the AI will not close on an empty magazine which could be good in stress shooting, it also means it is easier to single feed rounds into the TRG by placing them into the port. With the AI you need to drop them into the port and push down to seat into the magazine or bump the magazine down a bit to allow the bolt to go forward. The TRG therefore is easier to use in situations that require single round feeding (such as F-Class competitions) without needing to do anything special.

The AI magazines work well, although I find that sometimes I run the bolt so hard that I can cause the follower to tilt forward into the empty magazine instead of locking the bolt back. The TRG magazines work fine as well, but I think the AI magazines feed better overall.

Both magazines have positive grip on the bottom for removal if they are sticking. In one shoot in a snowstorm, my TRG magazine got caked with snow and froze somewhat into the magazine well. A sharp tug on the protruding pins and it came right out. The AI magazines have a lip on the bottom that accomplishes the same maneuver. Again, both of these rifles were made to work in cold conditions and these little things matter!

The AI magazines are welded on the bottom. The TRG magazines are using a stamped steel process and some spot welds. I've used both magazines extensively without problem, but the AI magazines feel more rugged to me.

Overall, I prefer the AI magazines. The double column double feed of the AI seems more robust in my usage of both rifles.

AI vs. TRG barrels

I have both rifles in 26”. On the range out to 1000 yards they both use almost identical elevation for Federal Gold Medal match 175 grain. I’ve noticed no difference in accuracy shooting a variety of ammo in either rifle.

The AI uses a stainless barrel which is less maintenance overall. I can (and do) go hundreds of rounds before ever thinking of cleaning the AI. Even then, I will only do light cleaning on it and never with heavy solvents. The Sako though uses carbon steel in places. While not a maintenance pig, I do tend to look after the TRG a little more closely. For instance, I have seen light rust form in the TRG when left un-shot where I did not coat the barrel with a protectant. The AI is stainless so this is not a problem.

Barrels for the AI are easily available either through an AI dealer or other quality barrel maker. Sako, however, does not seem to sell factory replacement barrels for this rifle. TRG users should anticipate using a third party maker when it’s time to swap.

The AI features barrels that can be quickly changed by the end-user. This is a powerful feature for shooters that may want to change barrel lengths or calibers depending on what kind of shooting they are expecting to do. This will be harder to do with the TRG. The AI can quickly go from 26" .308 to 20" .308 to 26" Creedmoor, etc. Doing the same with the Sako is possible, but could take some more expertise, time and equipment.

AI vs. TRG Muzzle Brakes

Both the TRG and AIAW come with a threaded 26” barrel. The TRG has an optional muzzle brake and the AIAW came with one installed (in my rifle, the single chamber version).

You don't need the brake on the TRG in .308. It puts a lot of weight on the front and extends the length by almost two inches. The brake itself is large and ungainly on this rifle. It also disturbs the balance by pulling it forward of the magazine well where it normally is. Additionally, the TRG uses a multi-chamber brake that drastically increases the noise at the shooter. Also, the TRG brake kicks up a large amount of dust in the shooting position making follow-up shots more difficult.

Overall, I don’t think the TRG brake reduces recoil enough on the .308 to offset these disadvantages and cost. I took mine off and sold it to someone shooting the Sako TRG-42 in .338 Lapua where the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. I now shoot the TRG without a brake and am happy with it.

The AI came with a single chamber muzzle brake. Honestly, I thought I'd hate it for the same reasons I hated the TRG brake. However the AI muzzle brake is outstanding. It does not create appreciable additional noise at your position and doesn't kick up dust (it redirects much of the blast upwards). Additionally, the single chamber brake doesn't put a lot of extra weight on the end of the barrel and disturb the balance of the weapon. Lastly, it helps to protect the crown of the barrel effectively as well as reduce recoil.

The brake is included with the cost of the rifle and is well worth having on the AI as it is effective without being a distraction. Newer rifles are now using the magnum two-chamber brake, but I have no experience with it. I actually prefer the single chamber on .308 because it is shorter, lighter, and gets the job done just fine in this caliber.

AI is no longer producing the single chamber brake, which is sad because it did a good job in this caliber without the drawbacks of the longer multi-chamber designs that now dominate the market. I hope they bring it back.

AI vs. TRG Bipods

The TRG bipod is expensive being around $400. However it is a great piece of gear. It slides directly into the chassis and makes a very slick package and extremely stable platform. Further, the bipod hangs the barrel between the legs making the axis of the barrel centered and low to the ground. It is perhaps the most stable bipod I’ve ever used on any rifle. The feet on this bipod are also excellent. They have a wide footprint so they do not sink into soft surfaces or snow. Yet they have small teeth that grab well into hard surfaces without becoming an impalement hazard as I see on bipods with huge spear-like points.

If you get the TRG, get the TRG tripod and don't worry about it any more. The TRG bipod is part of the integrated system and worth getting. If I had a complaint about this bipod, it's that it maybe is a little slower to deploy than others.

The AI bipod is also expensive but also worth it. Some people complain that the bipod is “floppy.” And it is if you are not loading it correctly. However, if you load the bipod correctly it is stable and it is an excellent field bipod that is very rugged. The bipod also is extremely fast to deploy. Further, it is unique in that it swivels in multiple directions so you can work on uneven terrain easily.

The AI chassis spigot point is also very secure. Sadly, the bipod when using the spigot does not sling the barrel axis low like the TRG (which is superior in my mind), however it is very solid and forgiving. I wish this bipod had legs that locked into place once deployed instead of being able to fold all they way backwards. There are some situations (like barricade shooting) where having the legs fold back is a serious drawback of this bipod. This is because you use the legs to brace against the barricade and you can't do that if they fold backwards on you.

Next, the sled feet on the AI bipod do not grip well on hard surfaces (even frozen ground) and this can make loading it difficult in some situations. Also, the feet of the AI bipod have a habit of shooting outwards when you are not using the bipod while firing the weapon (either recoil induced or just rough handling). The spring levers securing the legs are not strong enough and the slightest jostle will send them stabbing outward like a stiletto knife.

In many ways, I think the AI bipod is good. Yet, in some ways it needs an update. I'd like to see it adopt more of the TRG bipod features such as:

1) Lower center of gravity for the barrel.
2) Ability to prevent the legs from folding backwards unless the user wants them to.
3) Sled feet on the bipod should be altered to adopt the modified TRG flat pad/teeth feet, which are more adaptable to both hard and soft surfaces.
4) The leg adjustment mechanism needs to be fixed so that the legs stay in place and do not activate on recoil or rough handling.
5) Make the bipod lighter if possible.

There are other bipods out in the market that fit these chassis systems and I've seen them but have not shot them so I cannot offer any comments. However I do think the Sako TRG bipod is beautifully simple and well executed. The AI bipod is good, but needs an update to match more of what the TRG has done in terms of ergonomics.

AI vs. TRG Service

Getting service for the TRG can be a problem. Berretta USA is not responsive. AI has great representation from the Accuracy International North America team and any questions or problems you have can be fixed quickly. They even have active posters on forums like www.snipershide.com to answer questions.

On the TRG though we are not so lucky. I bought a used TRG from someone sight unseen (based on reputation). When it arrived the trigger sear had a chip in it and the trigger was not as smooth as it should have been. The previous owner had probably tried to re-insert the trigger assembly with the bolt still in the rifle. This will chip the sear in this action so don't do it!

Aside from the lesson learned for me never to buy rifles blind on reputation alone, I also learned that you can’t get service from Berretta. I was on hold one day for three hours trying to get to customer service and was never helped. Their online help desk system had my open problem ticket for many months (now years?) later. I just ended up ordering an entirely new trigger assembly from Brownell's who happen to stock TRG parts in some form. And no, it wasn't cheap.

The entire experience left me wondering what would have happened should I break a part in the TRG and Brownell’s wasn’t stocking it or I needed warranty help? If the same thing ever happened on my AI, I'm sure it would be resolved quickly and professionally.

The lack of good service for the TRG would really turn me off from buying one if I had known about this ahead of time. I want a manufacturer that will be responsive to their customers, and Beretta USA just isn't. In this realm, AI stomps Beretta and the TRG.

Sako TRG - What would I change?

The TRG represents a great value price point in a purpose built highly accurate and rugged precision rifle. However here are some things I'd change with it:

1) Your customer service stinks.
2) The ejection port could be larger to allow for easier access.
3) The firing pin assembly looks poorly finished.
4) The sling mount points on the rifle are not robust enough. The eyelets can unscrew easily and the threads can be damaged with repeated use, or even accidental cross-threading.
5) The bolt handle could be made more robust.

Accuracy International - What would I change?

I think the AIAW is a wonderful rifle. However here is what I'd want to change if I could:

1) Make it a couple pounds lighter.
2) Emulate the Sako bipod in terms of mounting barrel height, legs that don't fold back on you, spiked bipod feet, and bipod feet that don't shoot out on their own. Keep the rapid deployment and swiveling part of the existing bipod.
3) More ergonomic forearm for positional shooting comfort (somewhat done in new pistol grip sides or Viperskins)
4) Sell an optional plastic adapter that can slip over/clip on the metal trigger to insulate the shooter's finger from the cold metal.
5) Flush mount magazine on the stock like the TRG.

As a side note, I hope AI does not get rid of the AIAW over the AIAX. The AIAW has a lot of positive attributes and is the rifle that made AI famous. It would be a shame if they did away with this model.

AI vs. TRG: Which do I prefer?

Honestly this is a really tough question. Both of these rifles are excellent. They are purpose built rifles that are both rugged and accurate in the same package – a difficult feat. I think both were money well spent.

With that said, I like the AIAW better.

Yes there is a price difference and that is a factor (but less so between the AE Mk3 and the TRG). But the AI feels more rugged than the TRG and is overall just better quality. Also, I think AI is a better company to deal with in terms of service and support if it is ever needed.

I still own the TRG and shoot it from time to time. But, I don't shoot it as much as the AIAW. The AIAW is my preference when all factors are considered.

Thanks for reading...
 
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sib1948

Gunny Sergeant
Full Member
Minuteman
Aug 5, 2012
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Scottsdale, Arizona
Thanks for this detailed review. I have always felt that military grade weapons are much more robust, which your review suggests. I definitely agree with your feelings about customer service. Companies known for poor CS should give anyone pause before buying, especially when spending thousands of dollars !!!
 

Hennig

Sergeant
Full Member
Minuteman
Sep 28, 2011
782
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www.instagram.com
Thanks for spending the time for an in-depth analysis. Plenty of people speculating on which is better etc etc, not many guys owning both at the same time for a back to back comparison.
 

sail2468

Sergeant
Full Member
Minuteman
Jan 10, 2010
99
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AL, USA
That is an outstanding post. I never tire of reading about these two rifles. This is the first time I have heard about the cold trigger on the AW, sharp.
 

tnrednk74

Sergeant
Full Member
Minuteman
Feb 20, 2013
137
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Columbia, Tn
Amazing write up. I learned a lot. This will help my decision in the future between AI and Sako. Thanks! You are a lucky man to own both of those rifle!
 

samnev

First Sargeant
Full Member
Minuteman
  • Mar 16, 2010
    4,030
    164
    Surprise, AZ
    Really great detailed write up on two superb rifles. I also own both rifles in 308. The AIAW is a folder and has a Bartlein barrel. The TRG is a fixed stock.Both have Nightforce NXS 8-32X56 scopes. The TRG scope has the NP-R1 reticle non zs or hst. The AIAW has the MOAR reticle with zs and hst. I agree with everything the OP said regarding the 2 rifles. Only one difference. I have only put 100 rounds thru my AIAW. The last 5 5 shot groups @ 100 yards I had 3 of the 5 groups @ just over 0.25". The remaining 2 had 4 shots in one hole with a fifth out slightly opening the groups up to just over 0.4". Aggregate for all 5 was 0.31. The best group I have ever shot with the TRG 22 is 0.3" with an aggregate for the 5 5 shot groups 0.41". So at least for me the AIAW is slightly more accurate and the barrel is not even broken in yet.

    Update:
    After another 100 rounds through the AIAW my 2 best 5 shot 100 yard groups are 0.167 ans 0.196 moa. Most other groups around 0.25-0.30 moa.
     
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    arbogb06

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    Excellent write up. I've always wanted a TRG. This write up is very useful for someone that has no trigger time behind either.
     

    Fitz

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    Great write up. I have shot my AE MK I side by side with my buddy's AW and to be honest the AE gave nothing up in terms of accuracy. Durability, there is no question the AW is more robust.
     

    XOR

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    Thanks for the comments. Here are some follow-up photos that couldn't fit in the post.

    IMG_2924.jpg

    Close-up of the bonded AIAW action. It is perfectly fitted and machined and won't come loose outside of something catastrophic.

    IMG_2304.jpg

    Close-up of the AIAW firing pin. It is finely machined as well.

    IMG_2311.jpg

    The AIAW bolt handle is more securely attached than the TRG.

    IMG_2576.jpg

    The Sako TRG-22 in a snow storm. Those are icicles that formed on the barrel when the snow melted from the heat and then re-froze. Covered actions are mandatory for this kind of environment.

    Re: Accuracy

    Both of these rifles easily shoot under 0.5MOA. When they don't do that, it's just me having a bad day. But really they are more routinely 0.3MOA rifles on an average day or sub-0.25MOA on a good day for me.

    I recently was able to shoot the AIAW rifle under time pressure. In this group we had to shoot at the dot from 100 yards away starting from standing behind the rifle. We had 15 seconds to shoot two rounds:

    100YardShootout.JPG


    In a follow-up, we had 25 seconds to start from behind the rifle, get in position, and fire one round into the top star of this logo's Tiara at 100 yards:

    starbucks.JPG


    The TRG could likely do the same if I had been using that instead. But, the AI can really lay down the law! These rifles are top performers in respect to accuracy, durability and repeatable precision in all conditions.
     
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    Tango down

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    XOR
    This is a great post, thank you for taking the time to do this. You have done some serious home work. I also have a TRG 22 .308 and it is, indeed, a very accurate and reliable rifle. I used it in many different situations, from a bench at the range, to laying down in dirt, sand flying around with wind, or being pounded with heavy rain. The TRG always delivered in an impressive way and it was an eye opener for my shooting buds, as they were unfamiliar with this rifle. They are now able to testify of the Sako's quality/accuracy/reliability. I always clean my rifles after shooting, (old Army habit, clean it when you can, you may not be able to do so later on); the extend of the cleaning depending of the situations/conditions the rifle was exposed to.
    I had mixed feelings on the Sako's bipod when I first installed it but I am now an adept; your description is right on, great to load and the feet are also great in mud, sand and snow, the teeth will grab on wood, concrete and most other surfaces.
    I only have a limited experience with the AIAW; I was glad to read your post and it confirmed all I ever heard about this rifle. A tough, reliable and accurate M..F..built like a tank.
    Once again, thank you, it must have taken you a long time to put all this together and we really appreciate it.
    Good shooting.
    Ombre noire
     

    cwinston

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    Great Review! I've never had the pleasure of getting behind an AIAW, but everything you said about the TRG is spot on and I agree 100%. I love mine.
     

    bm11

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    Great post! I currently own an AX and a TRG 42, and have also owned an AW 1.5 and a TRG 22 folder. I would say a solid 95% of what you wrote mirrors my opinion exactly. Good job.
     

    peaceatwar

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    Great write up. I went with a GA Precision Templar Action in an AICS over the AI AE or the AW but once lefty AI/AW are more readily availble I will be on the list.
     

    XOR

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    I had mixed feelings on the Sako's bipod when I first installed it but I am now an adept; your description is right on, great to load and the feet are also great in mud, sand and snow, the teeth will grab on wood, concrete and most other surfaces.

    I think that chassis mounted bipods (like the Sako and AI), are the way to go on these rifles. I tried using the Harris again recently on my AIAW and it tends to work loose. The pin mount just isn't as solid vs. the spigot mount.

    The Harris does beat the AI though in one area and that is the folding legs. The Harris legs fold down, but lock in and do not go backwards (The Sako can be locked into the down position and made not to go back either). On barricade shooting (which we were doing), the Harris was a better solution than the AI. I have no need for the AI bipod legs to fold backwards. When backwards, they cover up the real estate on the foregrip which hampers compromised shooting positions in addition to not being able to use on barricades.

    I am probably going to modify the AI bipod to remove the ability for the legs to fold backwards. I'll post a thread on it when I finally get that project done.

    The Sako bipod is pricey, but really makes the TRG a complete system. Same for the AI bipod. I have my gripes with the AI vs. the TRG, but the chassis mounts on these rifles are solid and reliable in all conditions.
     
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    m1match

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    XOR, excellent post, I own an AIAW in 308 and I would agree with everything you've said here. I have an Atlas bipod mounted on my AW using the Atlas spigot for AI rifles, and it works splendidly. I also put the Viperskins on mine and really like the ergonomics of those skins.
     

    tylerw02

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    Nice write-up! I did own and AE MK III and liked it a lot, but regretted not saving a little longer for an AI AX. I ended up selling it to somebody looking for exactly what I had. I do agree, not everybody needs all the rail space but the AX has other nice features. Your sentiments pretty much reflect my experience with the AE MK III. I kind of miss it and can't wait for my next AI rifle.
     

    Marcoman

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    Thanks for this well written and comprehensive look at two superb rifles.

    I own both a TRG22 & TRG42 and have been extremely satisfied with both, however an AW.308 may be on the horizon.
     

    turbo54

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    I suspect the evidence of heat on the TRG firing pin is from intentional heat-treatment, and not a relic of haphazard grinding/manufacturing processes.
     
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    XOR

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    I suspect the evidence of heat on the TRG firing pin is from intentional heat-treatment, and not a relic of haphazard grinding/manufacturing processes.

    Yes that's a good point and quite possible. I'll edit my post. The grind marks on the firing pin are just ugly though on a rifle this expensive. A couple seconds on a buffer would do wonders. I don't know what kind of steel they are using. Does anyone have information on this?
     

    limamike56

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    This was one hell of a useful review for me. It was very well done. I am on a waiting list for an AIAE MkIII and was also considering the Sako TRG as well. I may just spend the extra money now and buy a AIAW instead. Many thanks.
     

    Ramius

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    That covers pretty much everything :) thank you for the write up.

    My 2c:

    1. The TRG is a bit more accurate in my experience. I don't shoot bugholes all day. Really for all purposes both rifles meet the 1MOA we should want for a rifle to be used in real-world conditions.
    2. The AW is more robust, but it is also heavier. I stopped shooting my AWP because it was heavier and went to a SIG. Then started running the TRG because it fit me better. Once you add the folding stock they are the same weight and cost. :p
    3. I personally like the trigger on the TRG more. I always felt the curved trigger on the AW a bit much, might be because of all that time I spent shooting 1911s.
    4. The TRG bipod is good so long as you don't have to deploy it quickly. But I guess that's true for the Atlas too.
     

    jbell

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    XOR, this is a VERY good write up. Your point of views are spot on IMO. You have suppoted all of your feelings with facts or at least explained your thoughts (very well I might add). This is one of the best if not the best compairsons of two of the finest rifles avaliable today foctory or custom and should be a sticky for thoes who seek knowledge on the subject. I too have owned an AW and a TRG22 at the same time and still own my TRG22. The AW is a bad ass machine it just didnt fit me as well as the TRG. But to be honest I just have so much time behind the TRG nothing is quite the same. Great read, thank you for your efforts!
     
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    XOR

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    Thanks for the comments. I had written these notes over time and thought others would find them useful. I still own the TRG and still shoot it. The TRG has served me well and the lighter weight is welcome at times. The AW is the current favorite after much deliberation and it could be the TRG regains the crown. They are both very capable multi-discipline rifles and worth the money.
     

    savages

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    Thank you for the pictures. I got to see parts of both rifles I had always wondered about.
     

    snipe10

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    Spot on, I've had two Trg's and now have an AIAW, great detailed write up which is rare as a lot of guys just spout their opinion based on what they own at the time. it's nice to see an objective review from a guy that has shot and owns both.
     

    AIAW

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    Great comparison/review.

    It's awesome when people take the time to write these up, and write them up well.
     

    Known

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    I have a Left Hand AIAW on order. Has anybody experienced any parts breakage on the AIAW? The firing pin seems like the only vulnerable item - I can't think of anything else breaking.

    Awesome writeup - confirms my decision to go the AIAW route.
     

    Blazin

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    Stellar review. I really respect your review because you've handled and shot these guns so much...there's some aspects of the guns you don't quite grasp in that first month or so. As an example I have two near identical competition handguns and have been shooting them for 3+ years and I just realized which one I prefer and why.
     

    turbo54

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    Yes that's a good point and quite possible. I'll edit my post. The grind marks on the firing pin are just ugly though on a rifle this expensive. A couple seconds on a buffer would do wonders. I don't know what kind of steel they are using. Does anyone have information on this?

    Can't say for sure, but highly supsect 4140. Most all carbon-steel (not stainless) quality gun parts are 4140.
     

    XOR

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    sacshooter said:
    Has anybody experienced any parts breakage on the AIAW?

    The AI has surprisingly little I've seen written about something breaking on them. I think Lowlight sometimes talks about a broken bolt retention pin that happened after over 90,000 rounds on one AI at Rifle's Only. I just haven't seen or heard of much going wrong with them. I'm sure it does happen from time to time, but there don't seem to be many public complaints.
     
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    HOGTOOTH5R

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    Thanks for the Awesome Review! I can't afford the AIAW yet, but I LOVE my TRG22 with a Passion. Tag for future references!
     

    35fan

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    XOR, great post and perfect timing. I've been searching and looking at old posts for a few weeks on various forums in regards to the AI vs TRG rifles. Thank you for taking the time to write this excellent unbiased comparison.

    Ed
     

    AvsFan

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    This is an excellent write up comparing the 2 platforms with pictures. It should be tacked at the top of this sub-forum as a reference for shooters who are contemplating which platform, AI or Sako to go with. I asked this question - AI or, Sako on another board prior to joining Sniper's Hide® and 9 out of 10 responses were for the AI...which is what I ended up purchasing.

    AvsFan:cool:
     

    Rotortuner

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    Great write up. im a trg owner and have short a friends aw. everything you wrote is pretty much spot on. for me the trg fits better and i like the lighter weight. but the aw is constructed extremely rugged. for me the the extra cost for the aw didnt make sense when it didn't feel better shooting. both of the firearms are used internationally as purpose built precision rifles. any one looking at spending big money on a custom Remington 700 should take a serious look at these. one of my favorite features of these is the 60 deg bolt throw.
     

    OFIS

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    Thank you as well. These are still in the category of 'dream rifles' for me, but having them evaluated so thoroughly, objectively, and above all fairly. Owning things tends to skew perspective if you have A and not B, your time with both lends great credibility to your assessment.
     

    lambsey

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    Cracking read, have to agree Bereeta customer service is pretty shabby over here too. But I still love my trg.