Posted by Marcus Hom on 2022 May 24th
Analysis: TIKKA Rifles
The first two precision rifle packages I ever put together were for my brother-in-law and myself back in 2014. We used those rifles to finish 4th place in the 2015 Sniper Adventure Challenge. Through that process, I realized many people out there wanted to shoot long range but didn't have the time or interest to assemble a precision rifle system. Those folks, like my brother-in-law, were looking for a turnkey solution to give them results right out of the Pelican hard case.
More: Building a 308 Tikka Rifle
In the following years, I have put together many rifle packages ranging from budget setups built on the Ruger American to full custom builds with American Rifle Company actions. The shooter's priorities range from strictly "Budget oriented" to "Let the price be what it is going to be, I want something cool." Most people want to get "The most bang for the buck." So I tell them about diminishing returns. There comes the point where the next $100 won't buy the same performance increase as the $100 before it did. This is one of the areas Tikka truly shines. Over the past eight years, I have not seen a rifle that offers more value than a Tikka rifle.
My first experience with Tikka was a friend's CTR chambered in .260 Remington. Right out of the box, I remember it was hammering out ¾ to ½ MOA groups with some old handloads he had made up for a different rifle. Then, the next day he called me up and told me he had lightened the trigger, and I had to feel it. I dry-fired it a few times. It was as good if not better than any aftermarket trigger I had felt up until that point. I asked him how much time he had spent polishing or doing whatever other kind of trigger magic to it. He replied he had simply backed out the trigger pull weight adjustment screw. I was astonished. To this day, I still feel the stock trigger on the Tikka rifles is as good as anything you could buy for under $150.
The Tikka factory trigger is excellent.
Since this first experience, I have yet to see a Tikka that would not put five rounds under an inch with good ammo and a solid shooter. I think this is mainly due to the consistency that SAKO (SAKO manufactures Tikka rifles) can obtain through their cold hammer forging and precision machining. The only complaint I have heard about the Tikka barrels is that they tend to have slow twist rates. To this, I respond very rarely does speed trump accuracy. That same level of consistency also translates over to the actions. I have swapped bolts into various actions and always landed within tolerance for headspace. Additionally, Tikka keeps its tolerances tight enough that aftermarket barrel manufacturers are willing to cut shouldered prefits. Finally, the build quality of the actions leads to a butter-smooth bolt throw that shines even more after an application of Cerakote.
Note the recoil pin on the scope mount. Tikka machines a hole in the action to help absorb recoil.
In addition to their great triggers, barrels, and actions, Tikka rifles have a few other neat features. One of my favorites is the hole for a recoil pin between the front two scope rail screws. This allows the brunt of the recoil to be handled by a metal dowel rather than the more fragile scope base screws. Also, all Tikka actions and bolts are the same lengths, so by swapping a bolt stop and a barrel, a person could go from 6.5 Creedmoor to 30-06 with the same action. This may not sound that remarkable at first blush, but if you think about someone wanting one high-quality rifle setup that can perform multiple functions, this becomes more interesting. Add in the fact that aftermarket bolts with magnum bolt faces are available from LRI and others, and you can go from shooting PRS competitions to hunting big game with the same rifle setup. Granted, the Tikka action is a little short for some magnum cartridges like the Nosler series and the RUMs, but it is an ideal host for the 7mm Remington Magnum and long seated short mags, i.e., the 300 WSM loaded out to a COAL of 3.2".
Over the past ten years, the Tikka brand has gained much well-deserved traction in the US market. They live up to their reputation for quality. The only component in their system I am not a fan of is their Tupperware stocks. Fortunately, companies like MDT have recognized this weakness in an otherwise outstanding rifle. They offer multiple upgrade pathways, whether for lightweight hunting with the HNT 26, competition with the ACC, or something in between with the XRS. Given these options and aftermarket industry support, a person could buy a donor Tikka rifle, upgrade the stock and have a barrel chambered in any caliber they want. They will have a gun that will keep up with anything in the PRS/NRL, all for about $2000.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marcus Hom is a shooter through and through. Born to a pistol-packin mama, he has spent his entire life around firearms. Marcus spent much of his adulthood guiding hunts in Alaska, teaching CCW and precision rifle courses, competing in national level matches, conducting research and development, and gunsmithing. Marcus is a former Federal Law Enforcement Officer.