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Friday, October 9, 2009



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" (actually, 23.75")
Twist: 223 - RH 1:8"
300 WM & 308 Win - 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 cheekpiece and length of pull
Finish: Teflon bolt, parkerized barreled action
Price: $1300

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 along side 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.

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.

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 sandsock 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 potins 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 forarms 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 through out 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 came 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.

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 muzzlebrake (about $200) or a suppressor is nice to have from a factory rifle. A new stock would really make it a gem.

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