Tikka T3 CTR 6.5 Creedmoor + Swarovski Z8i = One Fine Hunting Rig

As a gun writer with many years under my belt, I have looked through a lot of scopes and it still amazes me how bright and clear the Swarovski...
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    Tikka T3 CTR 6.5 Creedmoor + Swarovski Z8i = One Fine Hunting Rig

    The Swarovski X8i is quite a piece of engineering. It appears to be more for the hunter as compared to the X5i, which is larger with more elevation capability. The scope can be shot right out of the box with the MOA turret. If the shooter wants faster elevation adjustment, numbered index rings can be added to the turret to correspond to the distances being shot. There are four numbered rings 2 through 5 plus some non-numbered rings that could be used for marking fifty yard marks. It has 8x zoom factor. The scope I was using was 2.3-18x56 with a BRX-1 reticle. Once your load or ammo is decided on, you can go on line and print out a diagram listing the distance for each mark on the reticle. This would be handy for those folks who hunt across the nation or shoot several types of ammunition.

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    The adjustable distance rings on the turret

    The function of the adjustment rings was very smooth. I hate it when I have to really apply some torque to a power or parallax ring to make adjustments, but at the same time you do not want them so loose that they rotate when you are not aware. The illumination is something I normally do not use on a scope. This one had a three way switch for day, off and night. I found by using the day mode I could get a better sight picture of animals that were back in the shadows of the cedars, which are common on my ranch. The Z8i has great light transmission at 93% and a generous eye relief. There is no edge distortion at full power. There is an extra battery in the turret cap.

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    The custom turret set at just under 400 yards

    This scope is a little heavy at close to 27 ounces but I expect that from the Swarovski scopes. The tube walls are a little thicker than most competitors and the internal parts are all stainless steel. Have you ever noticed how most scope manufacturers never say what they use to make the internal parts of their scopes? For those of us that continually turn their turrets, this of great consideration. This scope was made for the rigors of everyday hunting.

    To try this rig out in the field on an actual hunting trip, I carried it along as a backup rifle on a late spring Axis deer hunt. Even though I did not take an Axis with the rifle, it did quite a number on a 50 pound feral hog. The ELDX bullet performed as expected with the pig only taking a few steps after being shot.

    The Tikka T3X Compact Tactical Rifle is a fine rifle for the price. The action is so smooth, the trigger is just light enough and the new improvements in design make it more comfortable to shoot, especially off the bench. I did not see any reason to screw on a muzzle brake but you can if you wish.

    The Swarovski X8i is, in my opinion, one of the most versatile hunting scopes on the market today. The shooter has several choices on how he or she wants to set it up. Plus all the adjustments can be changed easily and without the use of any tools.



    After twenty-five years with a major law enforcement agency, John Johnston retired to the hill country of central Texas. His law enforcement career was diverse with assignments with the tactical/motorcycle unit, patrol, and criminal investigation. After retiring, writing became his calling. He started with a newspaper column, which he still writes, and then moved up to major magazines in the area of shooting and hunting. He is known for his unbiased product testing and evaluations. Having a full size range from 25-450 yards next to his home was his dream come true. 2010 marks his fiftieth anniversary in the hunting, shooting and reloading sports. You will notice his writing style is quite relaxed and he prefers to write like he is speaking to you around a camp fire. John welcomes questions and comments whether good or bad. You can reach John at olsingleshot@gmail.com.
    Jul 21, 2017 | Updated: Aug 1, 2017

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  1. the_ace41
    I would just like to add some of my experiences with the CTR. I have an older version the T3 that is chambered in 260. In case this helps someone, I put a boyds pro varmint stock on mine and I modified it to take the CTR bottom metal, which I recommend just switching to an aftermarket bottom metal that accepts the AI mags. however my setup works well. I pillar bedded the stock. I hand load and I have found so far that my favorite load is a 120 grain Hornady eld-m with 39 grains of varget powder, also using Hornady brass. I resize with a Forster sizer die and I use a regular RCBS seater die. I use CCI primers. I have found with this load at 100 yards my smallest groups are one hole groups to the largest being about .6 MOA. For hunting I can switch to a Barnes Triple X. I get my best groups before the barrel gets too fouled up and dirty ofcourse. I clean with a boresnake and butch's bore shine. I run it after every 30 rounds or so. At 200 yards I am droping 3 inches or less with sub MOA groups. I really like this rifle and the load that I have settled on. As far as factory ammo goes I have tried the Federal premiums with good results. When handloading I have found that sizing the brass right makes a huge difference aswell as trimming well. I do not turn brass. I do anneal occassionally. You do not want the cartridge to be too tight in the chamber. I like the hornady one shot lube but you really have to make sure you get it wet enough. Love my Forster sizer die, very coencentric. Thanks for reading and great luck to you!
    1. olsingleshot
      Thanks for your experience and observations. It sounds like what works with your rifle. I have three custom T3's that are extremely accurate including one built by GA Precision.
  2. olsingleshot
    I left the "X" off the rifle description. It should have been "Tikka T3X" all through the article. I guess I have too many T3's.