The Tikka T3 Lite is a high-quality budget rifle from the workshops of Finnish gunmaker Sako that has been a boon to Charles Smith Jones as he goes about his pest control
When the Tikka T3 Lite first appeared it took the market by storm. Finnish gunmaking company Sako had intended to produce a budget-priced rifle that shot well straight out of the box to meet the exacting demands of an increasingly sophisticated body of hunters. They succeeded where others had failed thanks to a combination of innovative design and no-nonsense engineering.
The Tikka is indeed a Sako in all but name, made in the same factory to the same exacting standards, just at a lower price.
- At the heart of the rifle is a common action size, different calibres being catered for by changes in the dimensions of the magazine. While this meant that the draw of the bolt might have seemed quite long on shorter cartridges, it was more than compensated for by the smoothness of the action.
- Also helpful is the 75-degree bolt lift, noticeably less than a more usual 90 degrees on this type of bolt.
- The twin forward lugs are strong and secure, tracking effortlessly through the action rails, so cycling is quick and effortless and ejection of the fired case is positive and reliable.
- Commonality of parts between calibres and the use of plastics wherever possible have kept production costs down even though there is still a wide variety of stock and barrel options available.
- New rifles are supplied with a three round polymer magazine that fits flush with the body of the gun. Five shot versions are also readily available, although they will stand slightly proud.
- The magazine itself has a simple single release catch that is safe and secure in operation, ejecting under firm control without being prone to doing so accidentally unlike some other designs.
- The trigger unit itself is probably one of the best that you are likely to find fitted in a rifle straight out of production. It will have left the factory set at just under four pounds, perfect for most users, although it is adjustable if so desired.
- The single-stage trigger break itself is crisp and clean, while the safety catch (a straightforward ‘on’ or ‘off’ type) is perfectly placed for the thumb above the pistol grip.
- Replacement trigger units can be obtained through the aftersales market but to be honest few people feel any need to upgrade.
Expect superb levels of accuracy even without fine-tuning and custom loads. The T3 Lite has always been supplied factory tested with a guarantee that it will shoot to at least one minute of angle – this translates as a one in three shot group at 100 yards, though in fact it can do far better than this with the right ammunition.
In 2016, the T3 was updated and relaunched as the T3x with a new modular synthetic stock with interchangeable pistol grips and an improved grip pattern, a redesigned ejection port and better rail attachments among other features. Essentially, though, the T3x is much the same rifle and most parts are interchangeable.
Available in a wide array of centrefire calibres to suit purposes from pest control to the pursuit of larger game, the Tikka T3 Lite can be found in a configuration to suit all tastes. Visit any range day and you are virtually guaranteed to find at least one on the firing point along with a satisfied owner. While I miss the looks and handling of my old thoroughbred fullstock, I would miss the accuracy and no-nonsense reliability of my T3 far more.
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Tikka T3 Lite Tech Specs
- Country of origin: Finland
- In production: 2003 to present (since 2016 as the T3x)
- Action: Bolt
- Stock options: Multiple
- Barrel length: 16in to 24.5in
- Magazine: Detachable
- Left hand version: Yes
- Weight: 6lb 3oz (.243 Win stainless/synthetic)
- Available in calibres: Multiple, from .204 Ruger to 9.3x62mm, including most popular vermin control and deer stalking calibres
- Cost new: £1,030 (T3X Lite synthetic stock/stainless steel barrel)
- Cost used: From around £600
Visit any range day and you are virtually guaranteed to find at least Tikka T3 Lite on the firing point along with a satisfied owner