By Bruce Potts
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Tikka T3 Super Varmint rifle: Tikka T3 Super Varmint rifle is a new heavy-barrelled .222 rifle.
Tikka T3 Super Varmint rifle.
Tikka T3 Super Varmint rifle starts life as a standard Tikka T3 Lite with the addition of certain features.
A single moulded polymer grip effectively widens and deepens the fore-end.
It is 1.6in wide at the front and 2.3in wide at the rear, with three raised, chequered panels that aid grip and facilitate a better fit for a bipod.
The most noticeable difference from a standard T3 is the rear additional cheekpiece, which can be raised to accommodate a better shooting position with a scope fitted.
Operation is via a single, large turn knob to the right side. Slacken this off and there are four distinct levels at which the cheekpiece can be set, allowing a height difference from 0in to 2in off the comb.
A good fit can be achieved by adjusting the butt-plate using plastic inserts, which can be added or removed to lengthen or shorten the length of pull.
The floorplate has metal collars seated in the stock screw openings so that when the screws are tightened the stock does not over-compress and cause accuracy issues.
ACTION AND BARREL
The solid one-piece machined stainless steel action has Tikka’s characteristic integral 17mm diameter scope rails, but this Super Varmint model has the addition of a 6.25in long one-piece Picatinny stainless steel rail.
There are 15 slots, so there is plenty of ‘scope’ for mounting an optical device and achieving the correct eye relief.
The bolt is long and has forward-mounted semi-conical twin locking lugs that ride smoothly in the action rails - a quality Tikka has always been known for.
There is an extractor claw in the bolt’s right face and a plunger-type ejector provides a positive, reliable case ejection. The bolt lift, too, is very low and this model has the addition of an enlarged plastic bolt knob - standard on this model, but it can be ordered separately for any Tikka model.
To finish off, there is a cocking indicator that shows a red protrusion from the plastic bolt shroud covering the rear of the bolt when the rifle is cocked. The barrel is also stainless steel with a matt, coarse finish that is beneficial for sporting use, reducing glare, and its profile is typically varmint style.
The muzzle diameter is 0.864in and does not come threaded for a moderator. The barrel is free-floating up to the point where the barrel tapers down forward from the receiver and has an additional 2in of support from the stock, which is wise on this heavy-barrelled model, especially as the stock itself is relatively light and hollow.
MAGAZINE, TRIGGER AND SAFETY
Tikka uses a uniform magazine size for all T3 calibres, so its construction requires a filler block at the rear, allowing all cartridge lengths to work.
The all-polymer magazine feels a bit light and flimsy, but it is perfectly adequate and feeds cartridges reliably to the action.
It is a single-column feed and holds six rounds in this .222 calibre. The Super Varmint model is supplied with the larger capacity magazine as standard, which protrudes to the level of the trigger guard.
The magazine release is sited at the front of the magazine, which is plastic. As it is under tension, the release is sprightly and drops the magazine quickly into the palm of your hand.
The T3 has a single-stage trigger unit that breaks at a very definite 4lb of weight. It can be adjusted, but you have to gain access to the adjustment Allen screw by taking the stock off.
For normal use it is fine, but from a static position, for instance while shooting distant vermin, a light trigger weight would be beneficial.
You could order a single-set trigger as an option if you so desired, which might be a better compromise for this model.
The trigger blade is slim and grooved and a gloved hand has enough space between it and the trigger-guard without problems. The safety catch is positioned to the right of the bolt shroud and is in easy reach of the thumb for operation.
If pressure is maintained in a downward force it is usually silent. It is a toggle unit - in forward position the rifle can be fired and in a rearward position the rifle is made safe, locking both the bolt operation and trigger.
ACCURACY AND TARGETS
The Remington 50-grain loads clustered five shots into 0.65in at 100 yards, while the Federal 40-grain ballistic tip load shot regular 0.5in groups.
The Nosler ballistic tip 40-grain bullets proved accurate with both IMR 4198 and Vit N120 powder and on average grouped into 0.5in at 100 yards.
If you prefer a heavier bullet, the 55-grain Hornady also shot 0.5in groups.
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