Tikka T3X 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 T3X CTR 6.5 Creedmoor + Swarovski Z8i = One Fine Hunting Rig
    By John Johnston

    Page 1 of 3

    My day started off as I sat down at my shooting bench inside my reloading room. There beside me was a rifle rack with three scoped rifles ready to be test fired for groups. The target is 116 yards down range. I do have a bench at 100 yards. The testing went well. The weather was a little cool even for Texas but I limited each rifle to five rounds before it was returned to the rack to cool off. The third rifle to be shot that morning was a new Tikka T3 CTR in 6.5 Creedmoor. It was topped with the Swarovski Z8I. As I settled down behind the rifle and lined up the target I mumbled to myself “WOW”. 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 optics are in any light conditions. I know there are a few scopes being made today that are just as clear but I do not know of any that surpass Swarovski. But we will get to the scope in a minute.

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    The test today was really of the Tikka T3 CTR which was new when I started this project. At first look it appears to be like the old Tikka T3, but I looked closer. The action is still very slick, like butter. The stock has been altered some with a changeable pistol grip, better recoil pad and foam in the stock to aid in reducing felt recoil. The action which is slightly wider than the older T3, has an enlarged ejection port which also aids when you want to load single shots. The bolt shroud is now metal. It was previously made of plastic and I personally have changed a few out after the plastic one split. The action is fed with a detachable clip, which I prefer in my rifles.

    The CTR I chose is stainless steel, weighs in at 7.5 pounds and has a light 20” varmint contour barrel which is turned (5/8 x 24) at the muzzle for a brake or suppressor and comes with a thread protector. The trigger broke at just less three pounds which is good for me and I am particular about the triggers on my rifles. You can purchase an aftermarket spring for a few dollars that will lower the trigger pull to about two and one half pounds. Overall Tikka guarantees the rifle to shoot sub moa. That was to be tested soon.

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  1. Litehiker
    Thanks for this interesting overview of a very interesting rifle.

    I have a 6.5 CM Ruger American Predator (a heavier 21" barrel of the American line) with a Boyd's Classic laminated stock and a Timmy trigger. It's "kinda/sorta" similar to the T3X when it has its 1 pound lighter factory plastic stock on. (I had to rout out the forearm and epoxy bed an aluminum arrow shaft to get the desired stiffness, something I know the stiffer Tikka stock does not need.)

    Both rifles have cold hammer forged barrels and both have threaded and capped muzzles.

    Like the rifle I have an inexpensive but good quality scope, an SWFA 3 - 15 x 42 in Burris rings. For a $700. scope the glass is amazingly good.

    With 143 grain Hornady ELD-X (Precision Hunter) factory ammo I can get consistent 3/4 MOA groups with either stock. With 140 gr. Hornady ELD-M ammo I usually get 1/2" groups! Amazing rifle for the price - once you add a better trigger, that is.

    I guess with my aftermarket upgrades I could have bought a T3X but I prefer the 3 lug bolts as on the Ruger American line.
  2. wklman
    Decent article but leaving out a shot on every group is deceiving at best. I'd be way under 1/4 moa if I allowed myself that luxury.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.