Tikka’s M55 has been around for a while, but second-hand rifles are a bargain and can still hold their own against newer rivals as workhorse, say Charles Smith-Jones
The Tikkakoski manufacturing company has had a long and chequered history since it was formed in the late-19th century in central Finland. World War II saw it pass into German ownership before it was handed over to the Soviet Union in 1947.
Ten years later, it was purchased by Finnish businessmen and firearms manufacturing, which had been run down during Soviet ownership, was re-energised with a focus on actions for shotguns, combination guns, rimfire rifles and military firearms.
The company’s first centrefire repeating rifle left the factory in 1968. It was initially called the M76, but was later renamed the LSA55 when exports to the United States started up in 1969.
The M55, as it eventually became known, was manufactured in the Tikkakoski factory until SAKO acquired Tikka in 1983.
A few years later the factory was run down and eventually closed in 1987. All production transferred to SAKO’s Riihimäki factory in 1987, where it continued until the model was discontinued two years later and replaced by the Tikka M558.
Largely based on the Mauser action, the bolt featured twin cylindrical lugs and rotated 90 degrees. It also served as a safety lug in case the main lugs failed for any reason. The bolt handles of later models, such as the one that is shown here, featured a large, plastic, ball end but no synthetic materials were otherwise involved in its manufacture.
The M55 came in a variety of free-floating barrel lengths and weights intended for hunting, vermin control or target shooting and was milled with dovetail rails for fitting telescopic sights.
On the field models, iron sights were standard, usually with a simple hooded post foresight and folding rear leaf sights, although other variations may be encountered; on many rifles offered for sale today these may well have been removed.
Currently, no left-handed models have been produced. Coming with a short action length that could only house and eject cartridges up to 55mm in length, the M55 was limited to calibres below .308 Winchester.
To accommodate larger cartridges a very similar long-action version, the M65, was produced. One of the main differences was that the latter had twin safety lugs at the rear of the bolt as well as venting holes in the bolt body to disperse gases off to the side in the event of a cartridge malfunction.
The box magazine is released by a secure catch within the trigger-guard; single-stacking three-, five- or 10-round magazines are available.
A screw inside the magazine well allows trigger pressure to be adjusted between 1kg and 3kg, though the M55 has been known to experience accidental discharges at the lowest setting, so it is advisable to opt for a slightly higher pressure. This will probably suit most shooters in any case.
Weights vary considerably between models. The short-barrelled and lightweight Trapper and Full Stock versions weigh in at around 6lb 3oz and 7lb 1oz respectively, while the various Sporter models might weigh as much as 9lb 8oz. The more mainstream Standard and Deluxe models are some 7lb 4oz.
You might also encounter a great deal of variation in stock materials and design. Although factory rifles came with beech or walnut stocks according to their model, there have been a great number of aftermarket options and even today it is relatively simple to source spares and add-ons, although sometimes magazines may not be so easy to find. Some of the Sporter models had heavy and particularly ergonomically shaped stocks with the target shooter in mind; some also came with adjustable cheek pads. They also featured UIT or ‘Anschutz’ rails to accommodate different accessories.
Any example of the Tikka M55 that you come across on the used rifle racks will be at least 32 years old, and in some cases might be 20 years older than that, but don’t let this put you off. These are excellent rifles with a great reputation.
If it has been properly looked after it will still shoot accurately and may represent a very tempting bargain for the stalker or vermin controller seeking a dependable working tool or a backup gun.
Tech specs Tikka M55
- Country of origin Finland
- In production 1968 – 1989
- Action Bolt
- Stock options Wood only (factory); aftermarket synthetic stocks such as the example pictured were widely available
- Barrel length 20½ – 24½in
- Magazine Detachable, single stack box type in 3, 5 or 10 round capacity
- Left-hand version No
- Weight (bare) 7lb 4oz (Standard version)
- Available in calibres .17 Remington, .222 Remington, .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, 6mm Remington, .243 Winchester, 7.62 x 39mm, .308 Winchester
- Cost new N/A
- Cost used From just a few hundred pounds for a basic model in good, usable condition
A dependable working tool or a backup gun