Tikka is an offshoot of Sako and is essentially the vehicle Sako has chosen to market its lower-priced rifles to the American shooters. Tikkas tend to be a bit more in keeping with American tastes than many of Sako’s offerings and so far, the Tikka brand has found a lot of favor with American buyers. For a long time shooters have wanted a rifle that was as smooth and well-fitted as the Sako’s, but without the high price tag attached to it. The Tikka line fills this niche (in the opinion of some) rather nicely.
The Tikka T3 action has two opposed lugs, an enclosed bolt face and a rotating extractor. Guides are cut into the lugs to produce a smooth bolt throw and even though it is a two lug design the T3 has a 70 degree bolt lift a unique attribute for a two lug rifle, which generally have a 90 degree bolt lift. There isn’t any magic at work with the design — the T3’s lugs just don’t engage as far into the receiver’s recesses as other designs; they engage just enough to provide the required strength but stop a bit short to provide a lower lift. The top of the T3 receiver is interesting because it is equipped with rails that will accept 17mm clamp type scope mounts but also tapped to accept a more traditional set of scope mounts. Having options in choosing a scope mount is a real rarity with modern rifles.
We did have to subtract a point in the Feeding/Extraction category on mostly theoretical grounds; the T3 does not produce as much camming power as other designs and this gives one pause wondering if it will put up with hot loads on hot days or dirty ammo. In practice the T3 seems to cam well enough, but it is something to consider. Points were also deducted in the categories of Accuracy, Reliability and Durability. These deductions all center around the T3’s use of a floating key-type recoil lug on the bottom of the action. This is the same system used on Sako actions, but Sako seems to get away with it better that Tikka does. If this recoil lug becomes loose in its mortise over time the Tikka will begin to shoot about as well as a scattergun. This doesn’t happen often, but then again the T3 hasn’t been around that long, either. Points were also deducted in the categories of Versatility and Fit/Finish. This is because the T3 is essentially a homogenous unit not lending itself to conversion and the workmanship on it is not as good as that of its Sako brethren, but the whole point of the Tikka line is lower prices so these issues are hard to hold against the overall design. A few points were also held back in the category of Long Term Cost of Ownership. Tikka is a bit aggravating when it comes to obtaining spare parts. If a small piece of the trigger breaks, Tikka will only sell you a complete trigger unit to replace it. This policy probably isn’t in place to overcharge the consumer, but is instead probably an attempt at keeping shadetree gunsmiths from tinkering with Tikka’s products. It is a bit vexing, though, and should be kept in mind.