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Testing a Tikka T3................. A kiwis POV
The first thing one needs to know about Tikka rifles is that they are produced by Sako, the renowned firearms manufacturers based in Riihimaki, Finland.
The Second this is that although Tikkas might be regarded as as budget model Sakos, retailing for a few hundred dollars less, they follow their own design philosophy and the cost savings are made only in areas like synthetic trigger guards and magazine wells.
In the places where it counts- barrels, receivers and triggers, Tikkas are of a very high standard, they match their more expensive stablemates for accuracy, function and reliability.
Materials and Specifications:
The Tikka T3 Lite rifle supplied features a free floating, blued Cr-Mo alloy, cold-hammer forged barrel 570mm (22.5") screwed into a blued Cr-Mo alloy receiver containing a stainless steel bolt.
The medium weight barrel has a 1 turn in 10" twist (in .243Win) and tapers with a gradual contour to a diameter of 16mm at the muzzle, which is lightly recessed to protect the rifling.
The barrel was fitted with the optional open sights, which are the usual design of the pronghorn rear and post fore sight.
The fore sight was hooded, and damn is that hood clamped on well, it took a fair amount of effort to remove it.
The rear adjusts for windage and the fore sight adjusts for elevation.
The receiver is machined with flat sides (rather similar to a Browning A-Bolt at first glance) and comes with both integral scope mount dovetails as well as drilled and tapped holes for universal type mounting blocks.
The bolt has twin forward locking lugs and a Sako like extractor, but unlike (older model) Sakos it features a spring loaded plunger type extractor.
There are a number of Sako similarities- the Tikka's cocking indicator is identical to the Sako's and so is the two position safety catch, while the contour, shape and angle of their bolt handles are also similar.
The bolt is released from the Tikkas receiver by a side mounted button attached to a lever in the same location as the Sako but of a different design.
Another similarity, both the Tikka and Sako have gas escape holes drilled through the left side of their forward receiver rings in the same location.
The trigger also has the Sako similarities, in brief it is light, crisp and adjustable in the 2 to 4lbs range.
The action of the Tikkas bolt is incredibly smooth, it offers less resistance to movement than any bolt I have ever handled, much smoother than either of the two Sakos I have used.
The Tikka feeds cartridges from the magazine so effortlessly you'd swear there were no cartridges in the rifle at all, the rounds are chambered, extracted and ejected like silk.
Which reminds me of a Tikka I tested many years back that had a polymer shroud surrounding the bolt, they too were exceptionally smooth but this newer model is equally so and without the polymer.
The single column detachable clip magazine is made of strong glass fiber reinforced composite holds 3 rounds with a flush release on front of the magazine in order to avoid accidental releases.
One plus of a synthetic magazine is it does not rattle at all even if you slap the stock with the palm of your hand.
Five round magazines are an optional extra.
The action is mounted in a black, fiberglass reinforced polypropylene stock complete with nicely executed checkering in the old Sako pattern.
The stock offers a full pistol grip with a comfortable palm swell, a patented black rubber butt pad adjustable for length and angle and sling swivel studs.
The checkering is molded quite fine at 18 lines to the inch and offered a good non slip surface.
Inside the stocks barrel channel is found a honeycomb reinforcing system that retains the fore stocks strength and shape while allowing the barrel to cool quickly.
As mentioned the the barrel is free floating and does not contact the barrel at any point.
The only thing missing is a Monte Carlo style cheek piece.
The butt pad is on the thin side, but the Finns are built tough, they can handle recoil.
They'd have to, the butt pad on a .308 Sako I tried recently was about as soft as a rubber hammer and hit like one!
On the Tikka a pair of recessed Phillips head screws hold the butt pad in place which allows it to be loosened and then shifted back and re angled with spacers.
The butt pad does work, I left it as it came and in truth did not notice the recoil of the full house .243 loads.
To conclude the specifications, the bare rifle weighs approximately 3.3kgs (7.25lbs) and measures 1080mm (42.5") in overall length.
Modern rifles are like modern cars, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find any fault with them.
It's the way of the world.
Firms that produce shoddy goods go broke, therefore those models that survive can only be good.
The market rules and Tikka has a long standing place in the market.
Tikkas machinery, materials, production controls and manufacturing standards have produced a very high quality product within an acceptable price range.
The Tikka is as good as anything on the market within or even above it's price bracket.
It has a well balanced comfortable feel to it and I do not doubt that properly cared for it will continue to shoot straight and endure a lifetime of hunting.
How well does it shoot?
This Tikka was topped with a Bushnell 3200 3-9x40 scope with the Firefly reticule and then bore sighted.
This reticule was designed for the lowest-light hunting situations, the patented Firefly reticle illuminates the cross hairs after only a quick 10-second flashlight charge.
Unlike battery-powered reticules, which most likely fail at the absolute worst time, the Firefly will glow green and you’ll see your cross hairs against your target.
A Remington bo-pod was also fitted.
At the range, after a brief sighting in session the Bushnell was cranked up to 9x and the magazine was loaded up again.
We used Federal Premium 100grain rounds for testing as these were all that was on hand.
Blake's first 3 shot group at 50m (I couldn't get to a 100m range that day) was well under an inch.
The first two shots touched which must have got him a little excited as the next round landed almost 1/2" above the first two.
It also was the best group out of four groups fired before we had to leave early.
I am certain that with some load tuning and a bit more running in that it could easily shoot MOA.
To sum up, this is an accurate rifle with the potential to blow the center out of a bulls eye at 100yds, and to take game cleanly out past 300yds in the hands of an experienced hunter.
There is only one human right, the right to do as you damn well please.
And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences. P.J. O'Rourke
I have yet to encounter a Tikka that wasn't impressive in accuracy and smoothness. They might be a budget model, but they'll pretty much hold their own against anything on the market, and make a lot of higher priced guns blush.
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