On my drive back from Palmerston North I stopped off in Taupo to go to the NZDA range so I could finish off sighting in my new Tikka T3 Lite Stainless rifle from Hamills Manukau.
I had previously blogged asking readers for a choice of calibre. I had pretty much decided on a Tikka T3 for a number of reasons, but still needed to choose the calibre. I selected .308 because I decided that this was to be a bush hunting rifle with the ability should I need it to reach out to 600m. Mostly though it will be used in the bush and not for longe range.
I decided in Tikka for a couple of reasons. Firstly because they offered a left-hand version. Remington did too in .308 but their offering has a varmint stock with a heavy barrel and it just didn’t shoulder right for the way I hold a rifle. The Tikka snaps up cleanly to the shoulder and straight into position. I just feels right and that is one of the most important factors is fast accurate shooting.
The Tikka weighs in at a light and handy 2.8kgs. The technical specifications explain the rifle like this:
The TIKKA T3 LITE STAINLESS is based on a two locking lug T3 all-weather action. Bolt features spring loaded plunger ejector and it can be easily stripped down for maintenance. Bolt and receiver are made of stainless steel.The single-column detachable clip MAGAZINE holds 3-4 cartridges. Single-column 4-6-shot (depending on caliber)magazine is available as accessory (not in Short Mag calibers).The single-stage TRIGGER pull is adjustable from 1 kg to 2 kg (2 to 4 lbs). Safety is two stage type and locks the trigger and the bolt handle when engaged. All models are available with a single-set trigger as option.The STOCK is made of glass-fiber reinforced copolymer polypropylene and has a butt plate system where the length of pull is adjustable by means of spacers. Straight stock features ambidextrous palm swell.TIKKA T3 LITE STAINLESS is supplied without OPEN SIGHTS. Integral rails for the scope mounts are on the top ofthe receiver. Receiver is also tapped to receive standard (Weaver) scope mount bases.The free-floating, stainless steel BARREL is cold hammer-forged. Non Magnum models available also with short barrel with thread (calibers 338 Federal, 8x57IS and 9.3×62 M15x1, other calibers M14x1) at the muzzle for muzzle brake or suppressor assembling.
My barrel wasn’t threaded for a suppressor but I was so impressed with the work done by GunWorks Canterbury on my 17HMR that I sent this away for a suppressors to be fitted as well. I chose a full over-barrel suppressor but didn’t opt to shorten the barrel. Again the work done is superb with a nice screw cap at the muzzle for when I won’t be using the suppressor.
While I am talking about the suppressor, I have to rave on a bit about just how effective these are. Now I am no sook when it comes to shooting. I have fired everything from a .22 to a .50cal and I am not one to moan about recoil or noise. You certainly don’t get to complain about noise hanging onto an M2 or a L7A1 or a C9 when you let strip with a belt. SLRs aren’t any quieter and don’t get me started on bullpup weapons like the Steyr AUG.
However this suppressor rocks. I reckon it gives a 50-70% reduction in perceived sound. The .308 now doesn’t even roar, it sounds like a .22 Magnum and only barely. I swear my 17HMR without the suppressor is louder. The guy on the range beside me couldn’t believe it and he knew all about muzzle blast and noise firing his .25-06 Sako A7.
Not only does the suppressor take away noise but it makes the felt recoil a whole lot less too. Gunworks reckons felt recoil is reduced by 50%, I believe them.The Sako guy was definitely off to book his rifle in for s suppressor after he fired my rifle.
When I got the rifle from the team at Hamills, Zee adjusted the trigger to a nice crisp break. This trigger breaks like glass and catches you by surprise as it does, every time. I love it. I also got the new set trigger T3 that is available and this is something special. You just push the trigger forward till it clicks and the trigger is set. Then it just snaps and fires perfectly every time.
I previously blogged about the Zeiss Conquest 3.5-10×44 MC with a Rapid-Z 600 reticle I put on the rifle. This scope rocks. The light gathering ability makes a huge difference. As I said earlier there was a guy with a Sako A7 .25-06. He had just bought the rifle and was sighting it in. Sako make beautiful rifles. They charge accordingly for their beautiful rifles. Ironically Tikka rifles are made in the same factory from the same barrel blanks, however their rifles are more than $1000 cheaper.
We got chatting, as you do while you are waiting for barrels to cool and he asked about my rifle and scope. He asked what they were worth and made choking sounds. He then told me about the hot deal that he had scored from the chaps at Hunting and Fishing. His rifle came with a Burris scope. As we got chatting though it became clear that he was frustrated with seeing the target and as a consequence was also spraying his shots. He couldn’t believe anyone would spend more on a scope than what he had. In the end seeing is believing and so I handed him a mag and said go find out. He took up the offer for a couple of reasons…to try out the suppressor, to check out the scope, and well, free ammo offered by a complete stranger is always a good score.
Well I nearly had to fight him for my rifle back. He was now convinced on all counts, the suppressor, and having sat next to him while he blasted away with the .25-06 I certainly know why, and also on the scope. He just couldn’t believe the clarity and the light-ness through the scope. He exclaimed that he could see all his shots on the target. I just grinned. This was why I get my gear from Hamills in Manukau. They know their stuff, they know their gear and more importantly they take the time to learn, listen and understand the needs of their customer. The Sako guy isn’t happy, he now doesn’t trust Hunting and Fishing advice and more importantly he probably won’t go back there. None of that is my fault, I just gave the guy my rifle to shoot.
Anyway I digress, but the next part links to the Sako part of the story. As I mentioned Sako rifles are superb, but they do cost a lot more than their cousins from Tikka. Sako tout the A7 as a guaranteed 1MOA rifle.
Sometimes, a firearm’s accuracy will be measured in MOA. This simply means that under ideal conditions, the gun with certain ammunition is capable of producing a group of shots whose center points (center-to-center) fit into a circle, the average diameter of circles in several groups can be subtended by that amount of arc. For example, a 1 MOA rifle should be capable, under ideal conditions, of shooting an average 1-inch groups at 100 yards, a 2 MOA rifle an average 2-inch groups at 100 yards, etc.
In laymans terms if is accurate. Tikka simply states that they state:
just incredible out-of- the-box accuracy, silky smooth operation and uncompromising reliability with Sako’s beautiful finish and rigorous attention to detail as standard. With the Tikka T3, you hit one of the most difficult targets in the shooting world: true value.
Now this is where I get hard. This rifle is accurate. Bloody accurate. In fact after sighting in I was able to shoot several sub-MOA groups, off a Harris bipod. Paul at Hamills can’t believe it, but the proof is in the targets. We are going to work up some custom loads now and shoot off a sandbag and see how close we can get the group. At Taupo I was using Federal Power Shok 150gr factory ammo. I was very impressed. Tikka certainly does have incredible out-of-the-box accuracy. It might not be guaranteed but when you are saving over $500 over an A7 you can put that in your scope, and that brings me back to Sako guy. Sure he got a theoretically better rifle, but by sticking a stink scope on it he diminished the capabilities of the rifle. However I think his biggest problem was that he was just a tits shooter. After I plugged the group shown here I gave him a magazine and he sprayed it all over the target. The problem was his rifle/scope combination or even mine, the problem was him, and given his flinching with the awful .25-06 I can understand why.
The Tikka T3 can’t really be beaten at the price point that it is. So far I can’t fault the rifle, the scope or the suppressor. Now it is time to take it off the range and go knock over some deer, goats or other varmint that readers need me to come take care of.
I have learned a couple of things too. Not all gun stores are equal, nor is their advice. I highly recommend the folk at Hamills Manukau for the best of advice. Any time you go in there they are chatting with loads of happy customers. The other I have learned is that value for money is hard to find and you certainly get it with a Tikka T3, add on a quality scope and your smile will be from ear to ear.
I will blog later on the benefits of getting out in the field with a good gun or rifle in hand and enjoying oneself again. Boy I have missed shooting and it is a real pleasure to once again enjoy the sport. It is made even more pleasurable with great toys and great mates.
Now all I need is some nice spots to control the pests that abound. Let me know through the tipline if you have anything that needs dispatching. With a 17HMR , a .308 and a 12ga Beretta there isn’t anything I can’t sort out for you.