Test: Tikka T3x Compact Tactical Rifle (CTR) – A universal rifle in .308 Winchester

As early as 1918, the Tikkakoski Oy company, founded in 1893, was producing gun parts. Over the decades, the company gained a good reputation for manufacturing quality and precision. In 1983, the marriage with Sako was concluded and production at the founding site was discontinued. Since then, production has taken place at Sako's site in Riihimäki. Both companies then went to Beretta Holding in 2002. From Tikka's diverse catalog, we selected the T3 CTR (Compact Tactical Rifle) model. This is a bolt-action rifle with a synthetic stock. In addition, the German distributor Manfred Alberts GmbH offers an ergonomic laminated wood stock from KKC as a set for the rifle. 

The Tikka T3x CTR universal rifle in detail

The bolt of the Tikka T3x
The bolt of the Tikka T3x in detail: a short extractor, the ejector is in the bolt face.

When repeating, the bolt pushes the cartridge out of the magazine into the chamber and only then does the extractor slip over the cartridge's rim. The steel two-lug bolt locks into the barrel. The bolt measures 0.68”/17.5 millimeters in diameter. The ejector sits in the bolt face. The bolt encloses the rear of the cartridge. The extractor is placed laterally between the lugs. The match barrel is 20”/51 cm long, 0.78”/20 mm thick at the muzzle, and measures a respectable 1.18”/30 mm at the barrel root. It features a 5/8"-24 thread. A knurled metal protective cap reliably protects the thread from damage. This means that the rifle is already factory-ready to accept suppressors or muzzle brakes. In .308 Win. caliber, a muzzle brake is completely unnecessary, as the empty weight of 7.8 lb/3530 grams is enough for recoil damping. The Tikka T3x CTR is also available in .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor and 7mm-08 Remington calibers, each in 20”/51-cm or 24.4”/62-cm barrel lengths.

A lug inserted in the T3x's synthetic stock 
A lug inserted in the T3x's synthetic stock forms the recoil lug against which the action is supported.

The barrel, which is completely free-floating along its entire length, was deep-drilled, honed and then hammered. A 1-11" right twist gives the projectile the necessary stabilization. The muzzle was cleanly countersunk. On the underside of the action, there is a cutout where the recoil lug embedded in the stock engages. All metal parts were neatly blued with a deep black satin finish. Unfortunately, no additional coating was applied. The bolt handle ends with a ball knob that allows safe and fast repeating and can be exchanged for other knobs. The bolt shroud is made of metal. Pictograms in the form of white and red dots indicate the condition. When the rifle is cocked, an extension – also marked with a red dot – protrudes to be felt and seen. Cycling was good – the bolt ran smoothly in its tracks. The bolt catch is a rocker lever on the left side of the action and has a textured surface that provides finger grip: all that is required is to press the rocker lever and the bolt can be removed to the rear. The  trigger with textured face released crisply at 45 oz/1295 g without any overtravel. The trigger can be adjusted as desired within the range from 35 oz to 70 oz (1.0 to 2.0 kg). For this, however, the action has to be stripped. A set trigger is also available as an option for an additional 170 euros. Even more trigger adjustability in four ranges, from 2.6 oz/75 grams to 28 oz/800 g, is made possible by the Atzl Bullet Short Trigger for 370 euros.

Stock and magazine of the Tikka T3x CTR rifle

the Tikka T3x CTR holds 10 cartridges
Large capacity: the clean, solid metal magazine of the Tikka T3x CTR holds 10 cartridges.

Barrel and action rest in a black, one-piece synthetic stock and are held by two cap screws. The stock makes a decent impression. The workmanship is good, no sharp edges, no  disturbing protrusions. The straight buttstock is a bit short at 14”/355 mm. Four millimeter (0.157”) thick plastic spacers are available as accessories to increase the length of pull if necessary. Two of these spacers are already mounted at the factory. Thus, at least here there is the possibility to shorten the stock length if necessary. A quick adjustment for different types of hunting is thus possible without any problems. The stock end is a black, 1”/25-mm thick, closed rubber pad that dampens recoil forces well. The texture on the pistol grip and fore-end provides sufficient grip. The back of the stock is raised and features a cheek piece on both the left and right sides. Since the rifle has no iron sights and is therefore always shot with an optic, this is a welcome addition. Sling swivel studs are screwed into the underside of the forend and buttstock. Perhaps Tikka will take up the suggestion of mounting the stud further forward on the stock for attaching a bipod and Adding an additional stud on the front for the sling swivel. Of course, the sling swivels are included. When pressed, a lever in front of the trigger guard releases the 10-round, single-stack metal magazine with plastic floor. Accidental activation of the trigger is simply impossible with this arrangement. On the other models, however, Tikka relies on plastic magazines. A striking feature are the lobes on both sides of the magazine for secure grip.

The KCC stock from Manfred Alberts GmbH

The changeover to the KKC stock from Manfred Alberts GmbH is completed within a minute. It fits "right out of the box" without any reworking. Visually, the warm brown tone of the laminated wood stock looks very pleasing in combination with the satin black of the rifle. If you want it darker, you can also choose the KKC stock in gray/black. The shooter's head rests on a height-adjustable cheek piece. The black rubber recoil pad with a coarse dimpled texture also provides reliable support on the shoulder and is designed to be adjustable in both height and length. The pistol grip was designed to be very lush and voluminous, filling the hand well. The checkering on the pistol grip and on the fore-end increases slip resistance. With dry hands, this was sufficiently grippy. When it gets wet, however, one wishes for a bit more grip. For test shooting, the rifle was rested in a benchrest. Thanks to the wide fore-end, it fitted like a glove. The non-shooting hand could reach perfectly under the buttstock thanks to the cutout.

The Tikka T3x TCR fitted with a KKC laminated wood stock
The Tikka T3x TCR fitted with a KKC laminated wood stock knows how to convince in ergonomics.

Mount & scope: Steiner Ranger 4-16x56

The Steiner Ranger 4-16x56 scope
The Steiner Ranger 4-16x56 scope was mounted for test shooting.

On the receiver bridge and the receiver front, Tikka provides a 16.5 mm slide-on mount. On it, a Picatinny rail was fixed for the CTR model with five screws and two pins. Thus, one can confidently speak of a bombproof connection. In addition, a stop ensures the correct position on the receiver. Using Sako Optilock mounts, a matte black anodized Steiner Ranger 4-16x56 scope with 4A-I reticle in the 2nd image plane and illuminated dot with rings was fitted. For magnification change there is a 18-mm wide rubber ring that can be adjusted smoothly. With a 180-degree turn, the magnification can be adjusted from 4x to 16x. You have to reach for it, because otherwise you'll jam your fingers between the scope and the bolt. The left turret houses the illuminated reticle adjustment in eleven settings (5x day, 6x night). Between settings, the illuminated reticle is turned off. The inner ring is responsible for parallax compensation from 50 meters to 500 meters. Both the distance values and the levels of the illuminated reticle are applied in white texture. The precise click adjustment allows one centimeter per click at 100 meters. Both turrets can be zeroed. Diopter compensation on the eyepiece is possible from -3 to +2 diopters. A rubber ring protects the eyebrow from injury. The eye relief is a reassuring 90 millimeters. The scope is 14.48”/368 millimeters long and weighs 25.4 oz/720 grams. Considering the caliber used, the 16x magnification allows high detail recognition even on long shots. Sharpness is very good right up to the edges. Contrast and image brightness are convincing. A nitrogen filling prevents fogging inside. The temperature range is specified from -25°C to +65°C. Thanks to the 30-mm tube, there is a very large adjustment range of 67”/170 cm in elevation and 43”/110 cm in windage. Even without caps on the adjustment towers, the optic remains tight down to a water depth of two meters. The 56-mm objective lens diameter makes the scope ideal for night hunting, as well as long-range shooting. The manufacturer specifies the light transmission with well over 90%. Price: 1199 euro.

Color into the drab black: customizing of the Tikka T3x CTR

 the Tikka T3x
In addition to the standard bolt knob, four other variants are offered for the Tikka T3x. The bolt locks with two lugs into the barrel.

No less than four different bolt handle knobs are offered: stainless (112 euro), black plastic (81 euro), or wood (112 euro). Changing is done without tools by pulling off the bolt handle, so anyone can do it themselves at home. For the synthetic stock, there are two different pistol grip modules with different angles (flat for freehand shooting, 31 g weight; steep for the range, 48 g weight). The steep pistol grip angle is supplied as standard. This is very suitable for the raised hide or the shooting range. For driven hunting, the flat grip angle does an excellent job in the standing position.

The forend of the T3x widens
The forend of the T3x widens from 37 millimeters to a full 45 millimeters when the additional module is mounted.

If you want a fuller forend (1.77”/45 mm wide, in contrast to the standard 1.45”/37 mm version; additional weight: 85 g), you can upgrade it. It is simply attached and secured by the sling swivel stud.  The widths were measured at the height of the sling swivel. In addition to black, Tikka German distributor Manfred Alberts GmbH exclusively offers four different colors for the pistol grip and forend: Purple, Sand, Green and Orange. Among customers, the color orange is in the lead. Brand new are the pistol grip and fore-end with soft-touch inserts, which further enhance the grip. The assembly can be done by the owner herself/himself. A fore-end, regardless of whether it is colored or with soft touch, costs only 47 euros, and the pistol grip only 30 euros. For hunting or even sporting use, the ergonomically very successful KKC laminate wood stock scores points across the board.

Tikka T3x CTR universal rifle specs and price 

Model:Tikka T3x TCR
Action:Two-lug bolt-action
Magazine Capacity:10 rounds
Barrel Length:20”/51 cm
Barrel Diameter:

0.78”/20 mm

Buttstock Length:355 mm
Overall Length:40”/102 cm
Weight:124 oz/3530 g with synthetic stock
Price:from 1825 euro for basic version, 2395 euro with KKC stock

Tikka T3x CTR: shooting range, prices and conclusion

the CTR is shorter than many Stutzen rifles
With an overall length of only 102 cm, the CTR is shorter than many Stutzen rifles, making it particularly interesting for hunting. The synthetic stock makes this rifle suitable for all-weather use.

During our test fire we had no feeding problems. All cartridge types fed cleanly from the magazine and ignited flawlessly. In the important test criterion of reliability, the CTR received a very good score. Thanks to the straight stock, which directs recoil directly to the shoulder, and the weight with the somewhat heavier KKC stock, the rifle is very comfortable to shoot. Although the barrel length is only 51 cm long, the cartridge burns the powder almost completely. There was no muzzle flash to observe with any ammo. The Tikka T3x CTR with synthetic stock changes hands starting at 1825 euros. The rifle is available in all calibers and all barrel lengths, even with a genuine left-handed action, at no extra charge. As a weatherproof model the Stainless version is 2033 euros. The set price with KKC stock starts from 2395 euros, for the Stainless and the short versions there are surcharges. With the Tikka T3 CTR, you are well equipped for both sporting competitions and hunting. Depending on the intended use, the stock can be changed in a flash. Its short overall length of just over a meter makes it extremely handy, and it can also be used well in narrow spaces.

 What we liked:

 What we found less good:

Very versatile due to the stock change options

Quite heavy weight

High reliability

Very good accuracy

Pleasant shooting behavior

Short construction

For more information on the Tikka T3x please visit the Tikka website.

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