Gunsmiths in Finland make some of the world's most accurate rifles, with the Tikka brand leading the way in those that are also economical. It's a standout among a crowded field of youth deer guns.
Tikka T3 Lite
If you’re thinking of Tikka like you think of BMW and Mercedes—foreign made = expensive—you’ll be in for a treat with this sleek rifle from the Finnish maker. Though guns from Tikka and its more expensive brethren brand Sako are not the obscure names they used to be, thanks to some intelligent marketing by Beretta, the names still don’t trickle out of your mouth like Winchester and Remington. Too bad, because these slick-actioned bolts, with their rigid, free-floating barrels and hand-cut muzzle crowns,have a big reputation for some fairly phenomenal accuracy.
I hesitated to recommend this one, because Beretta’s website doesn’t list a full set of specs, and when I couldn’t find the length of pull, thought maybe this was better left for the adults. Alas, after 30 minutes of Googling and a thorough look at the Tikka brochure in PDF, I found that the stock has shims for adjustment; one online writer had his Tikka Lite at 13 5/8 inches. That’ll work.
The bolt throws 70-degrees, which means little hands won’t get mashed against a scope, and the trigger is adjustable through the magazine well (i.e., no fancy-schmancy gunsmithing required), from the factory-set 4 pounds down to 2. Scopes can be mounted low and close to the receiver—good for small faces trying to get lined up for a full sight picture—thanks to the dovetail rail that accommodates the brand’s Optilok scope-mounting system and available Super-Lo 1 rings. Combine these features with the gun’s overall light weight of 6.2 to 6.4 pounds, and I think this is one rifle hard to pass by as you look the available choices for your youth’s whitetail or mule deer gun.
MSRP: The Beretta website has this rifle at $595-$625 in blue, $675-$720 for the stainless. In five calibers, three of them–.243, 7mm-08, and .308—deer ready.
Optilok Mount System
Might as well take advantage of the built-in rail on this gun and add the Optilok Picatinny rail and, as mentioned above, Super-Lo rings, which actually accommodate scopes with really generous objectives. The big bump for this system is that the Optilok rail clamps evenly over the dovetail guide on the receiver. Likewise, the rings clamp evenly over the scope shaft. This means, to twisting, no torqueing, just a straight-on view that keeps the bullets going where they should. Check out our Scope Mounting and Bore Sighting DVD, which should help you get this gun set up and deerstand ready in not time flat.