Reviewed: Tikka T3x CTR

Tikka’s Compact Tactical Rifle delivers the brand’s legendary accuracy, and it’s made even better when paired with an upgraded chassis.

Reviewed: Tikka T3x CTR

Tikka has a long heritage for making factory rifles that deliver refinement paired with accuracy and precision. The Tikka T3x is the latest generation following the TRG and T series legacy, globally recognized as premier precision rifles. Today, Tikka is offering a 1-MOA guarantee on its T3x rifles, but this model delivered considerably better than that out of the box with performance that improved further with the shown XLR Carbon chassis upgrade.


Tikka History

Tikka was a product of Sako’s world-renowned Finish engineering and first produced firearms starting in 1918 after the Finnish won their independence from Russia. Some customers may remember that the Russian Tula-actioned Mosin-Nagants left in Finland were rebarreled with much higher-precision Tikka barrels and are the most prized and accurate Mosin-Nagants in the world. Those first rebarreled Mosins started the Tikka reputation for accuracy and precision. Under the Sako brand, Sako produced the guaranteed .5-MOA TRG models from 1980s until the early 2000s, and many consider these to have led the way in ergonomics, modularity and accuracy for modern sniper and precision rifles of today. Sako shared many of those design ideas with Tikka after the companies merged in 1983. Today the companies are part of the Beretta Holding Group.


The T3x Series

The popular T series has matured over the years to the current T3x series, with the latest iteration featuring an enlarged ejection port, cold hammer-forged barrel, match-grade trigger, characteristically smooth bolt cycling, and a steel recoil lug.

Tikka’s brand strategy and company moniker is “Second to None,” and they do deliver a rather exceptional out-of-the-box fit, finish, ergonomics and function compared to many standard rifle brands. For discerning customers who want a more refined rifle without the price tag of a custom rifle, the T3x is a great recommendation on the sales floor. The T3x series just feels well sorted out, which only occurs with decades of refinement. Where other rifles feel like the action, bolt and barrel were all designed by different teams, the Tikka feels like it was a unified design. The net result is the feel of a custom hand-tuned and finished fit, which sets it apart from competitors.

With many other actions, this level of fit, precision and smooth operation would have required custom work far exceeding the value of this rifle. The T3x action has extra metal in strategic areas to increase stiffness, which increases accuracy, and the receiver is actually broached, which makes it feel glass-smooth instead of rough like a drilled receiver. The bolt features two lug locks. To further improve bolt cycling, the bolt and lugs are designed so that only the bolt lugs make contact with the receiver during cycling. Of note, the barrel is cold hammer-forged, which is a big upgrade compared to competitors in the market. There is also a cocking indicator, and the three-position safety allows for fire, trigger, and trigger and bolt lock positions.

The trigger is probably one of the best factory triggers I have tested, with a crisp 2.4-pound break and no overtravel, though adjustment does require a near-complete tear-down of the rifle. Tikka features a unique rail mount that uses recoil pins in addition to screws to deliver monolithic stability while retaining configuration options — not everyone needs a 20-MOA rail, for example. Feeding is also extremely smooth, both in the original stock and in the XLR Carbon stock fed with AICS steel magazines.

Though the 6.5 Creedmoor is preferred by many shooters, the .308 Winchester chambering does not mean sacrificing precision. What I love about the .308 round is the ability to shoot less expensive ammo and military surplus for training, where 6.5 Creedmoor would still be relatively expensive by comparison. Leveraging the shorter 20-inch threaded barrel with a suppressor, the overall build does not feel huge and loses very little velocity with the .308 round.

Sako and Tikka have always been extremely focused on ergonomics. The factory CTR stock features a modular and customizable grip option and is an incredibly comfortable and ergonomic stock for field hunting, but not especially well suited to PRS-style shooting. I moved the action to a more rigid billet XLR Carbon competition chassis to improve accuracy and deliver more M-LOK modularity, folding stock and integral AICS magazine compatibility and ergonomics that are more conducive to extended precision-style shooting positions.


Aftermarket Chassis Options & Testing

The 20-inch threaded barrel T3x CTR this build was based on featured a factory stock in a scout rifle design. In addition to many unique and thoughtful factory design features, Tikka T3x models are also considered common precision shooter inlets for many chassis manufacturers such as KRG, XLR and MDT, who all produce Tikka AICS magazine-fed chassis inlets. In this article, the XLR Carbon Chassis is featured with the Tikka T3x CTR action to showcase an upgrade and accuracy path for customers who want to get the most from their Tikka actions.

The stunning XLR Carbon chassis featured was retired just before publishing, but proved itself as a competitive chassis platform for years in the PRS circuit. The carbon fiber chassis was just replaced with XLR’s new ENVY Pro, Element 4.0 and a 16-ounce Element 4.0 magnesium ultralight chassis. XLR has delivered a more future-forward style and was the first to deliver refined style beyond just utility, configurability and accuracy improvements — the perfect pairing for a refined Tikka.

Equipped with the XLR Carbon chassis and a 5-25 Riton optic, the gun was ready for testing against my FN SPR A3G, also featuring a cold hammer-forged barrel. The A3G has proven to me over the last seven years to be a benchmark of factory precision capable of ¼-MOA. The Tikka T3X with the XLR Carbon Chassis matched the A3G performance on the same day with the same optics and Federal SMK Federal Gold Match 168-grain rounds. Testing delivered consistently tight 1/4-MOA 200-yard groups from the T3x, even with other match 168-grain ammo from Hornady and HSM. Considering that is impressive accuracy for a expert-tuned, custom $3,000 precision rifle, this is certainly impressive for a build with a $1,200 MSRP factory action and a five-minute bolt on swap to a $1,000 aftermarket XLR chassis. The stiff XLR chassis did upgrade accuracy, however, with the factory CTR stock, groups were regularly still in the ½-MOA range, which is exceptional for a factory rifle with a lightweight stock. This Tikka delivered on the well-earned accuracy reputation out of the box and a notable accuracy improvement with the XLR Carbon chassis.

Tikka currently offers the T3x in many different models. The 20-inch threaded-barreled CTR model is offered in .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .260 Remington, with most models available in either black steel or stainless. Tikka has many other T3x models that range from long range to lightweight to this Compact Tactical Rifle model, which is one of the few that includes a shorter mid-weight barrel with suppressor-friendly ⅝-24 threaded muzzle.


Spec Sheet:

Tikka T3x CTR .308 Winchester

Capacity: 10+1 Detachable Magazine

Barrel: 2-inch cold hammer-forged, threaded

LOP: 13.75 inches

Finish: Black

Stock: Modular with configurable grip and forend

Sights: Picatinny optics rail

Weight: 8.6 pounds

Cartridge: .308 Winchester

Hand: Right

Overall Length: 44 inches

Stock: Synthetic

MSRP: Approximately $1,500


XLR Carbon Chassis

$1,000 Base Chassis; $1400 as equipped with Folder Feature and upgraded stock


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