Tikka T3 Tactical – Sniper Central

26

Jun
2013
Posted By : Jason McHann 2Comment
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Tikka T3 Tactical

 

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Caliber:

.223 Rem

.308 Win (7.62x51mm NATO)

300 Win Mag

Barrel: Heavy, Cold Hammer Forged – threaded
Barrel Length: 20" (508mm), 24" (610mm) - test rifle was 24"
Twist:

223 – RH 1:8"

308 Win & 300WM – 1:11"

Empty Weight (no optics):

8.0 lbs. (3.6 kg) – 20"

8.14 lbs. (3.7 kg) – 24"

Overall Length:

40.16" (1020mm) – 20"

43.75" (1110mm) – 24"

Magazine: 4-6 rounds (depending on cartridge)
Trigger: Single Stage
Stock: Synthetic, adjustable cheek piece and length of pull
Finish: Teflon bolt, parkerized barreled action
Price: Approx – $1,300

 

Snipercentral.com

Note: Tikka T3 Tactical was awarded the 2006 Rifle of the Year award by the American Rifleman magazine.

Tikka is a Finnish company that has been making rifles for a long time. Their recent T3 offering has made quite a stir in the hunting rifle market, as these rifles are built right alongside the much more expensive Sako rifles, are extremely smooth functioning and come from the factory with a 1 MOA guarantee. Not bad for a rifle that costs less than your average Remington 700 BDL. Tikka also makes a Varmint rifle that is available in a number of calibers not available in most varmint rifles, though the USA importer, Beretta USA, only imports the .223, .22-250 and 308 into the USA. Then there is the Tactical rifle which we are reviewing here. This rifle is not just a varmint rifle with a matte blue finish, but is a whole new offering, and as such, costs about twice as much as their varmint rifle and has some "real" tactical features. Because their hunting rifles carry a 1 MOA accuracy guarantee, I was hopeful that their heavy barrel tactical rifle would be able to do considerably better than that.

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A 20" and 24" barrel is available on the T3 tactical; we ordered one with a 24" barrel. The T3 Tactical has a fully adjustable stock including an adjustable cheek-piece that adjusts up and down after loosening the hand knob on the side of the butt stock, and then raising or lowering the cheek-piece to the desired position and then tightening the knob back up. The length of pull is adjusted by adding or removing spacers. The pistol grip area has a slight palm swell that helps fill the palm. The palm swell is not as thick as the palm swell on the HS stocks found on the Remington 700P, which may or may not fit your hand better. I would like to see a bit more vertical profile to the pistol grip though.

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The forearm area of the stock is a semi-wide beavertail style with a slight slant to it. This provides a fairly solid forward rest area that can be slid forward or back along the rest to raise or lower the point of aim. Honestly I seldom use that feature on any rifle, as a squeeze of the sand sock is easier and more logical in shooting situations. The material that the stock is made out of is a synthetic of some flavor that is great in all weather conditions, but the texture is a bit too smooth for my liking. With face paint and sweat, one may have some issue with your cheek sliding on the cheek-piece a bit, though with a clean and dry cheek, it was no problem. There is texturing on the pistol grip and forearm area that does offer some all-weather griping in those areas, but overall, it is not as nice as a HS stock. All the desired features you want are on the stock, but I don't like the layout as much as a HS or McMillan stock, but it does get the job done.

One feature I do really like on the stock is all the positions for the sling studs. The studs thread into metal threaded mount points in the stock and there are various positions all around the stock. The traditional positions under the forearm and butt stock, as well as positions on both sides of the forearm and butt stocks. This provides a lot of flexibility on how to arrange your sling & bipods. You simply need to remove the Allen screw that is there as a plug, and screw in the swivel stud. Here is a picture of the bipod mounted on the forward stud as well as a sling swivel on the side.

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The action is a traditional T3 action, which is enclosed all the way around except for the ejection port. The action is noted for being very smooth, and I concur. The action is VERY smooth and we had no failures of any sort when testing the rifle. The bolt handle is normal size with a tapered shape. The safety is on the side of the action and easy to reach and operate with the thumb. The rifle uses a detachable single stack magazine that is synthetic (plastic). Plastic things on a rifle make us a little nervous, but it held up fine in our tests. It does hold five rounds of 308, and most importantly it functioned perfectly. In fact, the action fed extremely smooth from the magazine, which impressed me. The action also fed fine with hand fed single loadings not using the magazine. One thing I did note is that you MUST insure the magazine is locked in 100%. A couple of times, until I figured this out, the front of the magazine did not latch, and the first round fed fine, then upon firing the magazine would drop from the rifle. I learned that you simply must insure that the magazine "snaps" into place, this is most easily accomplished by applying pressure toward the front of the magazine when placing it in the rifle.

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The rifle comes with a nice picatinny rail already mounted to the rifle. You can remove it and use the standard Tikka groves and Tikka specific rings, but I think that would be unwise. The trigger is wide with groves in it, much like a Remington and was set from the factory at 3 lbs. In fact, the trigger was a very nice treat compared with 95% of the triggers that come on factory rifles. There was no take-up, and the break was nice and crisp. The bolt release is located on the left side of the action and functions as one would expect.

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The barrel on the rifle is a hammer forged medium weight barrel. It has a 1:11" twist which is odd for a factory rifle, but ideal for 175gr ammo. The overall rifle package seems to be thought out well in many of these little ways. The muzzle comes from the factory threaded for a suppressor or muzzle brake (available for sale separately, and not evaluated in this review). This is another nice tactical touch for a factory rifle. One thing that is odd that you will not see on many rifles is that near the muzzle, starting maybe 6-7" from the muzzle, the barrel actually gets thicker. If you look closely in some of the pictures of the rifle, you will see it. I can only assume this was done to support the weight of a suppressor. Though I may be wrong! Honestly, I don't know if this is good or bad in terms of muzzle whip or harmonics, though I figure Tikka would know best how it affects accuracy.

For the shooting evaluation of the rifle, we mounted a Mueller 3-10x44mm TacII scope with a set of Warne Tactical rings on top of the factory provided rail. Now, I don't know if this is typical, or if we were extremely lucky, but I am not kidding when I say we mounted everything up, then bore sighted and everything looked good as is and I made NO adjustments to the scope. So, with the scope at factory zero (zero-zero on the knobs) we fired the first group. It was merely .75" to the left of point of aim at 100 yards with federal gold medal match 168gr ammo. I have NEVER seen a rifle that close to zero without touching a single dial on the scope after mounting. I call that precision (or extremely lucky). So, with three clicks of right on the scope, we were zeroed.

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The rifle recoils fairly briskly for a tactical rifle because of its lighter weight and thinner recoil pad. But it was still mild compared to light hunting rifles, and it is only a .308. Extraction is VERY positive offering no doubts that if possible, extraction will happen. Like I have mentioned earlier, the operation was very smooth throughout the tests and this really showed in the rapid fire tests. I will say that in terms of ultimate accuracy, I was hoping for .5 MOA, but I never did achieve that. I was close on numerous occasions, but never broke that mark. But I will say that this rifle was extremely consistent. It pretty much shot everything I fed it at less than 1 MOA. It didn't seem to care what ammo I fed it. Ultimately federal GMM shot the best with an average of .623" and a best group of .55". I also fired ABT 175gr and HSM 178 AMAX that also averaged below 1". The ABT was about .75" across the board and the HSM about .8". With a higher magnification scope and breaking in the rifle a bit more, I'm sure those groups would have come down and probably would have broken the .5" barrier, but it did not happen with this scope during these evaluations. Performance was very good, though not excellent.

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In conclusion: This rifle is a nicely thought out tactical rifle from Tikka. The cost puts it in with the FN SPR rifles (lower end ones) and the Steyr SSG's, and it competes okay there. The performance is very smooth though the stock could use a new material and some tweaking to its shape (possibly more traditional in design?). The accuracy is good and will probably get a bit better over time, and because of its consistency it would serve very well in a tactical role. The ability to mount the muzzle brake (about $200) or a suppressor is nice to have from a factory rifle. A new stock would really make it a gem.

Test rifle kindly provided by Greg Smith

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Reprinted with permission.  Visit www.snipercentral.com to view this and other exciting gun articles.

Learn more at www.tikkashooters.com

Tikka T3 – By Dave Anderson

26

Jun
2013
Posted By : Jason McHann 6Comment
GM1

 

Tikka’s T3


By Dave Anderson


An Intriguing Sporting Rifle from Finland

 

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Tikka rifles are rapidly earning a fine reputation for accuracy, quality and value with American hunters. Tikka rifles are manufactured in Finland by Sako. Both Sako and Tikka are owned by Beretta, giving them access to Beretta’s well-established and extensive dealer and distributor network.

Newest members of the Tikka line are the T3 Hunter (wood stock) and T3 Lite (synthetic stock). The test sample on consignment was a T3 Lite Stainless in .270 WSM caliber. I compared it to a Tikka Whitetail Hunter (Stainless Synthetic) from my gun safe.

 

Compare and Contrast

 

Action differences are quite minor. The T3 has a smaller ejection port, with the integral grooves for scope rings running the full length of the receiver. Scope rings to fit the integral receiver grooves are included with each T3.

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My older Tikka has a larger, squared-off ejection port with ring grooves on the receiver bridge and front receiver ring. The Whitetail Hunter also has a notch in the receiver ring to accept a stud in the scope ring, intended to keep the
ring from moving forward under recoil.

Both use detachable, single-stack box magazines. The magazine locking latch is on the side of the rifle in the Whitetail Hunter, and on the front of the magazine in the T3 series. The T3 bolt knob is hollowed out while that on my Whitetail Hunter is solid.

Otherwise the actions are similar. There’s plenty of steel in the thick, high side rails, making for a very rigid action. Bolts use twin forward locking lugs, a Sako-type hook extractor, and spring-loaded plunger ejector. Even though this is a two-lug action, bolt lift is a relatively short 70 degrees, leaving plenty of clearance between bolt handle and scope.

The T3 uses the same fine single-stage adjustable trigger as the Whitetail Hunter. The two-position safety locks sear and bolt handle. Both are fitted with hammer forged barrels, the same barrels as are used on the much more costly Sako rifles.

Cost savings are achieved with the T3 by offering fewer options. The Whitetail Hunter is offered in both short and long actions, right or left hand versions, wood or laminated stocks. In addition there are Target, Varmint, and Long Range Hunter variations.

All T3s are made on the same long action. T3s for short cartridges are fitted with a longer bolt stop so bolt throw is shorter.

Currently the only options, other than cartridge choice, are wood with blued steel, or synthetic stock with stainless or blued steel. The recoil lug, a flat steel plate, fits snugly in a recess in the stock. When the barreled action is bolted into the stock, the recoil lug engages a slot cut in the bottom of the receiver. Manufacture is no doubt simpler and less costly than receivers with integral recoil lugs, or designs with the recoil lug sandwiched between barrel and receiver. The uncluttered, simple shape of the receiver makes it easy to machine to precise dimensions. It also makes it easy to manufacture the stock to similar dimensions, enhancing stock/receiver fit. The barrel is free-floating.

 

Better and Better

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I was pleasantly surprised by the lightweight synthetic stock. Unlike some lightweight, injection-molded stocks the T3’s stock is extremely rigid. With the barreled action removed, grasping the pistol grip and fore-arm and twisting hard, I could detect no movement at all in the stock.

The stock is made of a very “hard” synthetic. There’s no need for pillars around the stock screws, as the hard stock material has no more give to it than steel. I was concerned it might be brittle, so I took a non-marring nylon mallet and gave the stock a few whacks in various places, with no effect. The stock is strong as well as hard.

Weight of the T3 Lite is just six pounds, three ounces, while wood-stocked T3s weigh six pounds ten ounces, both weights for standard cartridges. Rifles for magnum cartridges are three ounces heavier. Depending on caliber and scope
choice, weight of rifle and scope will run in the range of 6 3⁄4 to 7 1⁄4 pounds. Barrel lengths are 22 7⁄16 inches (57 cm.) in standard cartridges, 24 3⁄8 inches (62 cm.) in magnum cartridges.

 

Smooth With A Capital "S"

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I don’t know of a rifle currently being made which has a slicker, smoother working action than the Tikka. The newer short magnum cartridges don’t always feed well from Mauser-type, double-stack magazines. I’ve seen examples in which cartridges would sometimes bind when making the “turn” from beneath the left or right feed rail. The T3’s single stack magazine feeds short magnum cartridges straight into the chamber, smoothly and with complete reliability.

The downside of the single-stack magazine is it takes up more space vertically than a double-stack magazine, projecting from the bottom of the rifle.

I used the supplied rings to fit a Weaver Grand Slam 3-10x40mm scope. These rings clamp to the integral rails in the receiver.  There is no notch or slot to prevent ring movement. I was a bit skeptical the rings would hold tightly enough to prevent creeping forward under recoil. So far, though, the rings have not moved during the firing of some 120 rounds of .270 WSM ammunition.

If a shooter doesn’t like the supplied rings for any reason, Tikka solid steel Optilock™ rings and bases with polypropylene ring inserts fit the T3. The T3’s receiver is also drilled and tapped to accept other popular bases and rings.

Especially in magnum cartridges this light rifle recoils briskly. In .270 WSM, depending on the load, recoil energy is approximately 32 ft.-lb., while recoil velocity is 16 feet per second. By comparison a 10-pound .375 H&H magnum has a recoil energy of approximately 35 ft.-lb, and recoil velocity of 15 fps.

 

On The Range

 

Winchester Supreme ammunition was used for accuracy testing, in loads with Ballistic Silvertip and Fail Safe bullets. Three-shot groups were fired at 100 yards; best group was .41", worst group 1.78", average of 15 three-shot groups was .92".

Light rifles in relatively powerful cartridges aren't the easiest to shoot from the bench. With the good stock design and recoil pad the rifle isn't unpleasant to shoot, but it does move quite a bit in recoil so seemingly minor pressure differences in hold make quite a difference in point of impact. All of which excuses are meant to explain driver error probably played a part in group sizes.

Subsequent range trips were used to test the qualities of the rifle from hunting positions, on steel targets at various ranges. The T3 balances and handles beautifully; light for fast handling, but with just enough muzzle weight to hold steadily. The crisp trigger, virtually free of creep and over-travel, certainly enhanced practical accuracy. From the box weight of pull was just under four pounds, and it can be easily adjusted to as low as two pounds.

The slick bolt operation, short bolt lift and bolt throw and smooth in-line feeding made for fast follow-up shots. Functioning proved completely reliable.

 

Personal Note

 

The only criticisms I can make are purely subjective. I don't care for detachable magazines. They have a way of getting separated from the rifle, especially as I get older and more forgetful. From an appearance aspect I wish the magazine didn't extend below the line of the stock, though I'm willing to pay that price in return for the smooth and reliable straight-line feeding.

The T3 Lite Stainless is a fine example of the modern hunting rifle. For traditionalists who believe rifles should made of blued steel and figured walnut, these modern rifles can be a bit hard to accept. I tend to fall into the traditionalist category myself. But the T3 is so darned practical.

Here we have a rifle that is light, tough, accurate, that handles and operates with speed and precision and is virtually impervious to the elements. At a suggested retail price of $646 it is an outstanding value and an impressive rifle.

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OAL: 42 1/2" std cartridge, 44 1/2" magnum

Barrel length: 22 7/16" std cartridges, 24 3/8" magnum

Weight: 6 lbs., 3 oz. std, 6 lbs., 6 oz. magnum

Capacity: 3 1 (4 1in .223 Rem.) Plus 2 magazines available for all but WSM cartridges.

Calibers: .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., .308 Win., .25-'06 Rem., .270 Win., .30-'06 Sprg., 7mm Rem. Mag., .300 Win. Mag., .338 Win. Mag., .270 WSM, .300 WSM.

Finishes: Synthetic/blued, synthetic/stainless or wood/blued Scope rings included.

MSRP: from $549 to $646

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Beretta USA Corp.

[301] 283-2191

www.berettausa.com

COPYRIGHT 2004 Publishers' Development Corporation COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

Reprinted with permission.  Visit www.gunsmagazine.com to view this and other exciting gun articles.

Learn more at www.tikkashooters.com