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Absolutely Torn: Savage and Tikka

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Unread 12-21-2009, 07:09 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 11
Absolutely Torn: Savage and Tikka

Long time reader, first time poster here... I'm in the process of deciding on a new rifleto purchase. I finally decided on the .270 Win so now I'm just down to what platform I should choose. This rifle is going to be used primarily for pigs and deer, nothing outrageous. This is going to be almost solely used as a hunting rifle, possibly going to the range with me every now and then etc.

The two specific models I am debating between are the Savage 116FCSS and the Tikka T3 Lite Stainless. I was hoping that handling both of them would help make up my mind, but no such luck, I really liked them both. My main issue with the Tikka is that the stock looks and feels terrible. It fits me fine, but it just seems to be a low quality piece (regarding the material). My main debate is whether the Tikka or the Savage will be more accurate. It seems to be a toss up, but I was hoping to get a little insight from others here. I am clear on many advantages of the Savage as I already own one and really like it, but the bolt on the Tikka is silky smooth and I hear amazing things about the accuracy... After searching the internet a bit I haven't really found much to confirm one way or the other.

What it all boils down to is: which is likely to be more accurate out of the box?

On a side note, I have to say that I have probably learned more about the sport from reading on this site than on every other site combined.

Last edited by phatcenter77; 12-21-2009 at 07:12 PM.
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Unread 12-21-2009, 07:27 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 899
Re: Absolutely Torn: Savage and Tikka

I never shot a Tikka but have always had outstanding results from savages. I've owned 10 of them and they are all great shooters.
Here is an excerpt from chuck hawks website about the tikka:

A Critical Look at the Tikka T3
(And Other Economy Hunting Rifles)
By Chuck Hawks

Like many old geezers, I bemoan the loss, or lack, of standards in our modern world. And nowhere is this devaluation of quality more evident than in 21st Century hunting rifles. (Actually, the slide started in the 1960's and accelerated toward the end of the 20th Century).

We are, today, reaping the crop of sub-standard rifles previously sown. Most of the blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of the writers and publishers of the specialty outdoors print magazines. In the quest for advertising dollars they have turned a blind eye to the constant cheapening of our hunting guns. Often they have merely parroted the promotional flack handed to them by the manufacturer's ad agencies.

Thus flimsy, injection molded plastic stocks are praised as "lightweight" or "weather resistant" rather than criticized as the inferior bedding platforms that they actually are. Free floating barrels, introduced simply to minimize the labor cost of precisely bedding a barreled action in a gun stock, are now praised as an asset by those who know nothing else. A perfect example of an economy shortcut becoming the new standard.

The deficiencies of receivers that are simply drilled from bar stock and that substitute heavy washers for integral recoil lugs are never examined in modern rifle reviews. Often the loading/ejection port--merely a slot cut into the tubular receiver--is so small that it is difficult or impossible to load a cartridge directly into the chamber, or manually remove a fired case. But the implication of this drawback at the range and in the field is never mentioned in most rifle reviews.

In many cases, "short actions" are merely long actions with the bolt stop moved to limit bolt travel. The modern gun writers who review these creations likewise never mention that this defeats the fundamental purpose of the short action calibers for which these rifles are chambered.

The receiver holds the bolt, which brings up a salient question: does anyone really believe than a cheap multi-piece, assembled bolt has any possible advantage over a one-piece forged steel bolt except economy of manufacture?

The use of plastic, nearly disposable, detachable magazines and trigger guards is overlooked by the popular print press, or actually praised for their lightweight construction. Talk about spin, these guys could teach the Washington politicians some tricks!

In fact, "lightweight" and "accuracy" are the buzzwords most frequently used to "spin" hunting rifle reviews in a paying advertiser's favor. (Cheap substitute materials are usually lighter--but not stronger--than forged steel, and most production rifles will occasionally shoot a "braggin' group" that can be exploited in a review.) Whenever reviewers start touting either, watch out! There may not be a lot to tout in the critical areas of design, material quality, manufacture, or fit and finish.

A rifle's lines and finish are largely cosmetic, but why should we be condemned to hunt with ugly rifles? Matte finishes on barreled actions are sold as a benefit ("low glare"), but in reality they are simply faster and thus less expensive for the manufacturer to produce than a highly polished finish. And the flat black color touted as a stealth advantage of plastic stocks over walnut is patently absurd. Why would a rational person believe that such stocks are any less visible to animals in the woods than a wooden stock?

Have you noticed how the checkered areas on wood stocked Tikka T3 rifles are divided into several small patches? That is done because it is easier (and therefore cheaper) to cut a small patch of checkering than a larger one. The shorter the individual checkering lines, the easier it is to keep them straight. Once again, manufacturing economy triumphs over aesthetics and function.

The Tikka T3 is certainly not the only modern hunting rifle to adopt some or most of these production shortcuts. I have not chosen it for the lead in this article just to pick on Tikka. I have chosen it as the poster child for cheap rifles because it is one of the few models to incorporate all of these cost and quality reducing shortcuts. If there is a production shortcut out there, the T3 has probably already incorporated it.

Then there is the Tikka 1" 100-yard test. I have yet to see, or even read about, a T3 hunting rifle that will consistently meet Tikka's 3-shots into 1" at 100 yards accuracy claim.

Now, unlike many gun writers today, I try not to over emphasize the importance of accuracy in big game hunting rifles. Big game animals are large and hair-splitting accuracy is almost never required. A rifle that will shoot into 2" at 100 yards (2 MOA) is accurate enough for most purposes. A hunting rifle that will average 1.5 MOA groups is a good one, and most T3 rifles fall into that category.

But the Beretta/Sako/Tikka conglomerate heavily advertises their accuracy guarantee. They market their rifles on that basis. And, in my experience, most Tikka T3 rifles simply will not consistently meet their own accuracy guarantee. If a average T3 will shoot an occasional 1" group with any load it is doing well. (Want a real MOA hunting rifle? Read our review of the Weatherby Vanguard SUB-MOA on the Product Review Page.) Why do none of my fellow gun writers in the popular press call Beretta on its misleading advertising?

That is, of course, a rhetorical question. The answer is simple: Beretta Corp. is a big bucks advertiser in the popular print magazines. But what about the writers' and editors' obligation to their readers, who pay their hard earned dollars to read those reviews? Obviously, the word "integrity" has been deleted from the print mag publishers' spelling checkers.

To add insult to injury, the Tikka T3 is a cheap rifle, but not an inexpensive one. These things cost as much or more than some higher quality, better designed, and better turned-out hunting rifles.

None of this means that a person cannot hunt successfully with a Tikka T3 rifle, or that Tikka owners are a particularly dissatisfied lot. There are many T3 owners who have no complaints, and many who are pleased with the performance of their T3 rifles and satisfied with their purchase. In truth, they are safe, functional rifles and perfectly capable of killing game in the hands of an adequate shot. The same could be said about most other economy models, including the Stevens 200, Remington 710, and NEF rifles.

But I suspect that most satisfied T3 customers are not experienced rifle buyers. A person who has never owned a fine rifle is much more likely to be tolerant (or ignorant) of an economy rifle's shortcomings than an experienced shooter and hunter. The relative newcomer simply has inadequate personal experience upon which to formulate an informed opinion.

To make a crude analogy, all acoustic guitars may feel pretty much alike in the hands of a person who doesn't play, but not to a virtuoso. Similarly, I'll bet that most hunters who use economy rifles don't realize that their rifle's cheap plastic stock is too thick through the wrist and forearm. This is something that comes into play every time they pick up their rifle, yet they don't even know that it is deficient! They have never owned a rifle equipped with a well-designed stock, so they have no frame of reference and simply don't understand how much better a good rifle feels in the hands.

Still, I find it hard to understand how Tikka stays in business offering less rifle for more money. The T3's success is a tribute to the ignorance of the modern American sportsman--and the connivance of the sporting press upon which they rely for information.

Posted from A Critical Look at Modern Hunting Rifles
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Unread 12-21-2009, 07:37 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 11
Re: Absolutely Torn: Savage and Tikka

I've read that article, and while he does bring up a few good points, his extreme bias turns me off. He makes note of things like free floated barrels being solely a method to reduce costs. While possibly true, if it did not enhance accuracy it would not have caught on like wild fire with so many precision shooters. Also, many of his points regarding the Tikka could be made regarding the Savage (multi piece bolt, composite stock, etc).

I'm honestly leaning towards the Savage, but am really looking for something to totally turn me around or seal the deal.
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Unread 12-21-2009, 07:55 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
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Re: Absolutely Torn: Savage and Tikka

I know what you mean about the article.

I have a buddy who has a tikka with a walnut stock and it is a pretty good shooter but his savage and mine beat it in the accuracy department.

I've been thinking of trying a Howa or a Vanguard and putting it in a Bell and Carlson Medalist tactical stock.

The Howa barreled actions are inexpensive and I've read alot of good things about them reguarding their accuracy. You can also get a new firing pin spring for about $8.00 to improve the lock time.
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Unread 12-21-2009, 08:08 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 384
Re: Absolutely Torn: Savage and Tikka

May be off base a little so bear with me. With the Tikka, you get what you get. Meaning there aren't a whole lot of aftermarket parts out there for the Tikka. Many more parts are available for the Savage. This may or may not be important to you. I've been looking at buying a Tikka for a few years but have just ended up building a custom instead. I've never been a fan of the Savage, but I decided that I'd like to have a 6.5-284. Decided to order in all the parts and build it myself and ended up with a rifle that will shoot under a half inch. Contrary to what Chuck Hawks says (I've never put much stock in what he says anyhow), I've heard very few complaints about Tikkas and their accuracy. I'm probably not being much help in your decision. If I thought that I was ever going to want to do something different with my rifle like a trigger, stock etc. I would by the Savage. If I was going to just buy a rifle and hunt with it, it would probably be a Tikka.
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Unread 12-21-2009, 09:31 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Vancouver, WA
Posts: 290
Re: Absolutely Torn: Savage and Tikka

1+ for savage for both out of the box accuracy and ability to make it what you might want down the road. The Tikkas I have shot have done fairly well but not as well as the savages out of the box.
I find Chuck Hawks article to be completely inaccurate and bogus. He gives no factual reasons why a 2pc bolt would be inferior or why a free floated barrel would a bad thing. The things like 2pc bolt and small ejection port are things I prefer. His article is basically saying I do not like the color red so the color red does not work well and is inferior.
I wonder how many of his pre 60s production rifles were shooting sub 3/4 moa like many today are. I will admit the finish work may not be as good on the wood ect. but in the accuracy department I do not think there is a comparison. His article reminds me of a gun geek that holds his rifle and wants to feel good about it instead of actually using it as a tool.

Last edited by jcoop; 12-21-2009 at 09:46 PM.
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Unread 12-21-2009, 10:06 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 1,010
Re: Absolutely Torn: Savage and Tikka

here's the thing about the tikka. Aftermarket parts are hard to find. Why? Because there's not much they need.

Smooth Adjustable Trigger 2-4 Lbs? Check.

Removable magazine system? Check.

Sako style large extractor? Check.

Buttery smooth action? Check.

I've got a T3 .243 that shoots as good as anything I own. What have I done to it? Nothing but put a scope and sling on it. For a calling rifle, in and out of the truck, its about perfect.

As far as the stock, its a basic synthetic stock, not unlike all major rifle manufacturers offer. If you want something nicer, get the laminate or walnut stock. If you want a tactical stock, get a manners.

As far as the scope rings, there is a set included. If you get a magnum, buy a set of dednutz or other rings.

Lets face it folks, this is a $479 rifle that has the most popular options we want, and shoots great. What else is there to say?

p.s. these groups were measured outside to outside not center to center...
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