The new Tikka T3 CTR is a sleek rifle for any situation.
My introduction to Tikka rifles came by way of a buddy needing to make a truck payment. He had a Tikka Model 658 chambered in .270 Winchester with an inexpensive factory-mounted scope. A Tikka was just an inexpensive version of a Sako, right?
So I figured I would do him a favor, when in fact it was my buddy who did me the favor. At 100 yards, I thought my second and third shots were off the paper. I was in the midst of making plans to sell it off fast as I walked down range and discovered the one hole in the target was actually three holes. Since then, I have used the Tikka on numerous deer hunts.
As I write, I’m looking at the horns from a nice 8-pointer, which was the first deer I harvested with the Tikka. So, as you can see, I am little soft on the Tikka brand, but I am also a little jaded toward newer rifles touting their tactical prowess.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good, accurate rifles being manufactured these days at prices that can make a frugal Yankee like me blush, but we all know it takes more than a hunting-rifle action bolted into a black synthetic stock and matte finish to make a good tactical rifle. So when I unpackaged the Tikka T3 CTR I was hoping the T3 CTR not only talked the talk but also walked the walk.
Tikka is located in Finland and has been in the firearms business since 1918. Tikka is the Finnish word for woodpecker. The reason the company originally chose the name Tikka was because a woodpecker pecks the same hole in a tree every time, an analogy to the way a bullet hits the same spot when fired out of a Tikka rifle. In 1983, Tikka and Sako merged, and now they are both currently part of the Beretta Holding Group—as is Benelli, Sako, Stiener optics and a few other brands.
According to Kari Cook, Associate Product Manager of Rifles at Beretta U.S.A., the T3 series of rifles is Tikka’s latest generation of rifle manufactured by Sako in Finland and imported into the U.S. since 2002.
“The T3 CTR (Compact Tactical Rifle) features the rigid T3 action, which is made from one piece of steel,” says Cook.
It has extra metal on the right and top of the receiver, so it remains more rigid when a round is fired. The receiver is also broached not drilled.
“The broaching method gives the bolt a smooth-as-glass action,” Cook explains. “The receiver has a keyhole design, and the two lugs are tapered at the front. When you operate the bolt, only the lugs make contact with the receiver, so the bolt moves easily and smoothly.”
Working the bolt is an exercise in ease, a common trait of a Tikka. The bolt lift is 70 degrees—no fear the knob will interfere with the eyepiece of an optic. A Mil-STD-1913 Picatinny rail is bolted onto the receiver and will work with any type of scope ring compatible with a Picatinny rail. No need for rifle-specific scope rings. The receiver is machined with flats, so it has an angular look. On the left side is the bolt release stop. Press the rear of the stop, and the bolt assembly can be removed from the receiver.
The T3 CTR features a cocking indicator that is both visual and tactile as it protrudes from under the rear of the bolt to tell the operator the rifle is cocked. The rifle cocks when the bolt handle is lifted. The two-position safety falls under the thumb of a right-handed shooter and, when pressed rearward, locks both the trigger and bolt. The bolt knob is large and made of polymer. It is slick and easily palmed, which is a feature I like on a bolt-action rifle. The bolt handle can also be removed. The bolt uses a spring-loaded plunger ejector similar to a Sako extractor.
The trigger is another stellar feature on the CTR. The pulled weight averaged 2.9 pounds—a crisp 2.9 pounds with no creep. If that does not suit you, then you can adjust the trigger by removing the barreled action from the stock. The adjustment range is two to four pounds. I found the factory-set pull weight pleasant and left well enough alone. It is a single stage that is wide with serrations, so your finger can easily grip it bare handed or gloved.
The CTR uses a steel, center-feed detachable box magazine with a 10-round steel capacity. It drops free when the ambidextrous safety is pressed forward. The magazine release is located just forward of the trigger and can be operated by the shooter’s trigger finger without having to break your grip. The magazine fits flush with the bottom of the trigger guard, so it’s easier to manipulate during a reload, especially in the prone position. The bottom metal is constructed of lightweight aluminum with an oversized trigger guard for use with gloved hands. There is a slight bevel in the magazine well to aid magazine insertion.
The 20-inch barrel is cold-hammer forged with semi-heavy contour. The muzzle is threaded with 5/8×24-inch threads, so it is compatible with U.S. standard unit components—suppressors, flash hiders, muzzle brakes, etc. The threads are protected with a threaded cap, and the muzzle has an 11-degree crown. All metal work sports a non-reflective, matte black finish that is well executed.
“The CTR and all Tikka rifles come from the factory with a 3-shot MOA precision guarantee; Sako rifles have a 5-shot MOA precision guarantee,” says Cook. “All Tikka rifles go through a 3-shot accuracy test in the stock it is shipped with,” she adds. “There are no differences between Sako and Tikka barrels. During the barrel manufacturing process, all barrels are made the same way.”
The .308 Winchester model tested has an 11:1 inch twist rate and four grooves. The stock is made of fiberglass-reinforced copolymer polypropylene. Without having a chemist’s degree, I can only attest that the stock is lightweight.
The stock free floats the barrel all the way to the action. Length of pull is adjustable by adding or removing spacers using a screwdriver. Slots in the spacers make it easy to add or remove spacers without completely removing the butt pad screws. The butt pad is solid rubber. A polymer cheek rest gives the user a higher cheek weld. The gripping areas on the forend and pistol grip have textured areas that provide plenty of adhesion. Two hex screws hold the barreled action to the stock.
I mounted a Steiner Military 3-15x50mm MSR scope on the CTR. More scope than the CTR actually needs but nonetheless a good combination. Built with an oversized 34mm one-piece tube that allows a wider range of adjustment, the Steiner Military scope features large elevation, windage, parallax and illumination knobs with positive clicks. Each click equals 0.1 mrad. The MSR (Multiple-purpose Sniper Reticle) reticle is located in the first focal plane, so the reticle increases in size as the magnification is increased.
Using a rest, I was able to get my dope quickly then proceed to feed the T3 CTR a variety of different types of ammo I had on hand—everything from hunting rounds to match ammo to inexpensive import cartridges. Even with the heat hitting 93 degrees, I was able to put the CTR through its paces and allowed the barrel to cool during strings.
Most three-shot groups were 1 MOA or smaller depending on how well I coped with the heat and sweat. The bolt operated smoothly, scraping rounds out of the magazine and flicking empties out of the ejection port with ease. You can easily load one round at a time through the ejection port.
In two words, I found it accurate and capable. It balanced well with the heavy contour barrel and was light enough to be used for deer hunting or setting up for coyotes. I also don’t see why it couldn’t be used in precision rifle shooting events. For more information, visit tikka.fi.
Tikka T3 CTR
Caliber: .308 Win.
Barrel: 20 inches
OA Length: 40.1 inches
Weight: 7.5 pounds (empty)
Stock: Fixed polypropylene
Sights: None, optic ready
Finish: Matte black phosphating
Gun Digest Shooter’s Guide to Rifles
By Wayne van Zwoll
In Shooter’s Guide to Rifles noted rifle shooting authority Wayne van Zwoll presents rifle shooting basics and advanced rifle shooting techniques. He looks at rifle ballistics; rifle cartridges; action types; scopes and optics; how to zero your rifle; and pro shooting techniques. Learn more