This review has been a long time coming. It’s no secret at this point that I’ve been spending a lot of time with the Tikka T1x MTR in 22lr, as it served as the basis for my “Noisy Cricket” precision 22LR project. In my write up of the project, I laid out all of the choices that I made but mentioned that reviews of each major component would be forthcoming.
Well, here we are.
This is my review of the Tikka T1x MTR after many months of shooting, tinkering, and thinking about it. Let’s dive in.
Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF)
I picked up the Tikka T1x MTR in 22LR with my own money in the Spring of 2020 with an intent to build it up as a rimfire precision match rifle. Through my initial testing in stock form, reviewed here, as well as my follow on shooting with a chassis system, it has been a wonderful performer. Just about everything about the rifle is executed well and I heartily recommend it.
However, I also think the stock barrel is just a touch lighter than I would expect for a competition rifle. It works very well, but the balance between being sporty for hunting and stable for competition errs towards sporty. The same is true for the lightweight polymer stock.
If you’re looking for a fantastic hunting-oriented bolt action 22, then stop here and buy it. If you’re looking for something that you can build up into a competition rifle, then the Tikka serves as a fantastic base. But if you don’t want to bother with the building and instead want to run a stock rifle in NRL22-style competition, particularly in base class, I would steer you towards something like the CZ 457 MTR or CZ457 AT ONE.
About Tikka Rifles
As always, no article of mine would be complete without a touch of history and background. Most enthusiasts today know that Tikka is closely related to Sako rifles. You might think that Tikka serves as the budget-friendly line of the renowned Finnish brand, and you wouldn’t be too far off.
Tikka takes its name from the place of its birth, the Tikkakoski district in the city of Jyväskylä Finland. The original company, Oy Tikkakoski Ab, produced several consumer goods from rifles to sewing machines as far back as 1918 (though the factory itself stood up in 1893).
Over the decades, Tikka manufactured several variants of rifles, including the M27 rifle, KP31 submachine gun, and Maxim 09-21. While under Soviet control after WWII, the factory focused on sewing machines until investors bought the brand back and resumed firearms production in 1957.
I was surprised to learn that Nokia, the cell phone company, actually bought Tikka in 1974, though I can’t find any indication of how that affected the business.
In 1981, Tikka collaborated with Sako on a prototype rifle series later released as the both the Tikka M551 and Sako L581. This “Satikka” rifle is the root of Tikka’s modern T3x series. Sako bought Tikka in 1983 following that successful collaboration and Beretta later bought a controlling stake in Sako in 2000.
Today, both Tikka and Sako manufacturer rifles in same factory and even share similar tooling. Tikka’s original factory was demolished in 1987 and all manufacturing for both rifles moved to Sako’s primary facility at Riihimäki.
The Tikka T1x and it’s Big Brother T3x
The T1x I’m reviewing today isn’t my first run-in with Tikka’s products. When I told you about selecting a base rifle for Project Gungnir (my first precision rifle project), the Tikka T3 was neck and neck with the Howa 1500 that I ultimately chose back in 2012. My biggest drawbacks for the T3 at the time had to do with relatively weak aftermarket support and a soft recoil lug arrangement.
While comparing both rifle side by side in my local shop, I really enjoyed the Tikka’s slick action and I loved the shorter 70-degree bolt throw. What ultimately won me over to the Howa at the time was the beefy integral recoil lug and flat bottom of the action that would lend itself well to bedding.
Tikka updated the T3 to the T3x line and improved every complaint that people had. Today, my observation is that the T3x is the most recommended starting point for new precision shooters looking to get into PRS.
The Tikka T1x
Announced in 2018, Tikka’s T1x represents their entry into the rimfire market. If you haven’t noticed, the world of precision rimfire rifles, particularly 22LR, is blowing up. If you didn’t want to immediately jump into the realm of Anschutz or Vudoo, the most common starting point for a precision 22LR was a CZ 455 (now supplanted by the CZ 457).
In order to beat the excellent CZ, Tikka had to “bring it.” The result is the Tikka T1x MTR, which stands for Multi-Task Rimfire. I actually thought that was confusing because the CZ 457 has an MTR model, but it stands for Match Target Rifle.
The difference between them is something I’ll touch on, but when you compare the two MTR rifles side by side and spec-to-spec, it’s clear that the CZ was purpose-built as a match rifle while the Tikka T1x MTR is intended as a “Jack of all trades” rimfire.
Early in 2020, Tikka announced the T1X UPR (Ultimate Precision Rifle). The primary difference is in the stock, however, and the mechanics remain the same as the MTR model I’m reviewing here.
Tikka T1x 22LR Out of the Box
First, full disclosure, I bought this gun outright with my own money in the spring of 2020 for $449 at my local shop. I had a windfall of funds (read: Trump Bucks!) and decided to pursue a precision rimfire project while under COVID lockdown. Nobody has provided anything to me or is sponsoring this review in any way.
The rifle came packaged in a relatively nondescript white box with Tikka’s branding on the outside. In the box was the rifle itself wrapped in a plastic bag, one polymer 10-round magazine, a lock, and a rather small owner’s manual.
The Tikka T1x MTR series comes in both 22LR and 17 HMR. I selected the 22LR version both because of the ballistic properties useful as a training rifle and for use in 22LR competitions such as NRL22.
Tikka manufactures both a 20″ and 16″ barrel model, but at the time of purchase, it seemed like the 16″ models had yet to be imported. 16″ barrels are popular for precision 22LR work. It’s rather counterintuitive, but the slightly lower velocity is desirable when you stretch out to 300 and 400 yards. The reason of for this is that 22LR might start supersonic and then cross the transonic barrier, which plays havoc with accuracy. To avoid this, competitors will often use subsonic ammo to maintain predictable performance.
In hindsight, I’m glad I ended up with the 20″ model because 16″ would look quite odd in the chassis system I also selected for this project.
Pulling the rifle out of the box, I was immediately struck by how light it was. At a scant 5 lbs 11 ozs, it feels extremely lively in the hands and is very quick to point. I could definitely see its utility as a varmint rifle.
The 20″ barrel is cold hammer-forged and has a 1:16.5″ right-hand twist. The profile is medium-heavy, with a .73″ thickness from the midpoint to the muzzle. This provides a slight forward balance. Tikka threaded the muzzle 1/2-28 and included a polymer muzzle protector. It never came off during testing, but I’ll probably install something else in the future.
The injection-molded stock is the same one used on the T3x lite series. It weighs 1lb 12.7 oz, including the polymer trigger guard, and appears very rigid. The length of pull is relatively short for me at 13.25″, but not uncomfortably so. This breaks from the tradition of repeating 22LR rifles being sized for a youth, but isn’t quite in the “full-grown” category. Tikka does sell additional stock spacers to increase the length of pull, but I didn’t bother since I was going to use a chassis system anyway.
The replaceable forearm and grip behind the trigger are both aggressively textured, and again Tikka sells aftermarket variants to adjust the grip angle and width of each.
Three heavy set screws hold the barrel in place. I’ve not tried to move these, but the rumor around the web is that they are a bear to remove. It’s unclear whether the issue is how heavily torqued they are or if there is some kind of thread locking compound present. Either way, many people reported breaking bits while trying to get them out.
In his discussion of removing the factory barrel and replacing it with one from Lothar Walther, John McQuay at 8541 Tactical mentioned that there is some kind of adhesive bedding compound between the barrel shank and action as well.
Obviously, this all complicates changing out the barrel if you are so inclined. But after my testing results below, I’m not sure if I’d ever really need or want to change the barrel. I do know that the CZ 457 is easier to change, which is useful for swapping between calibers.
The Tikka T1x has the same footprint as its big brother the T3x rifle, though there are some other changes to things like scope base mounting.
The T3x has a 70-degree bolt lift and very smooth action. The T1x maintains the smooth tradition but reduces the bolt lift to a minuscule 45 degrees. Cycling the action only takes 1.5″ of movement. The action has bolt release on the side for removing it from the body.
One downside to the short angle here is that the cocking ramp must be steeper, and therefore lifting the bolt takes more effort than you might expect. It’s not offputting by any means but definitely surprised me. The bolt handle separates from the body with a little bit of work, and I plan on installing an aftermarket handle at some point in the future. I’d love to experiment with a swept model from Sterk.
The Tikka T1x magazines are polymer and seem stout. Only one came in the box and I purchased two more at $35 each (ouch!).
Interestingly, the magazine well is part of the action rather than the stock. This enables you to use stocks designed for the T3x rifle since the two share the same footprint. You’ll see how this looks when I review my chassis system. You release the magazine by actuating a small recessed lever at the front of the well.
I like that the magazines are relatively low profile and aren’t prone to snagging, unlike the ones I’ve seen from CZ and Ruger.
Safety & Trigger
Out of the box, the single-stage trigger measured a crisp 3.5 lbs on my Timney trigger gauge. Since the trigger is adjustable, I went ahead and did that before testing. All it takes is backing out a set screw at the front of the trigger housing. Note that Tikka’s manual says not to adjust this below 2 lbs, but I brought it down to 1.2 lbs without a problem. For actual testing, I set it back to 1.5 lbs and I’ve left it there ever since.
This is actually the same trigger unit found in the T3x series. If you’ve ever handled a Tikka trigger, you know it’s already very crisp and doesn’t need aftermarket support at all. That said, there are other companies out there willing to take your money.
Testing the Tikka T1x
After the initial lookover and cleanup, it was time to prep the Tikka T1x for its first range trip. I reassembled everything and torqued the action screws to 36 in-lbs.
Of course, being a precision rifle, I also had to equip an optic. For this, I selected the Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25×56 with EBR 7C MRAD. I also used a set of 34mm Vortex Precision Match Rings with a height of 1.1″. All of this sat atop an Area 419 30 MOA scope base.
In all, this gives me a height over bore of 1.8″
When I had all of the optic hardware mounted up, I quickly found out that the relatively low comb height of the factory stock was a problem. I dug up one of my cheek pads used for Gungnir, stuffed some layers under it, and that solved the issue. Still, I was surprised by just how unusable it was going to be without a cheek riser.
And then it was off to the range.
For this test, I used three different ammunition loads: CCI 40 gr Mini Mag Segmended HP (SHP), Eley 40 gr Target, and Lapua 40gr Center-X. Velocity numbers are an average of 10 shots over my Magnetospeed Sporter. I performed accuracy testing at 50 yards using five ten-shot groups fired from a front bag and no support at the rear. There is no wind to worry about as I did this at an indoor range, though I was a bit rushed for time.
|CCI 40 gr SHP||
Average: 1224.3 fps
|Eley 40 gr Target||
Average: 1066.3 fps
|Lapua 40 gr Center-X||
Average: 1031.1 fps
I will admit that some of the results might not be fair to the CCI and Eley, as I think I was still settling into how to shoot the rifle at that point. Were I to go back and do this again, I might get even better results. Still, of those three loads, the Center-X clearly looks like a winner. That result holds true with lots of forum discussions as well.
I used SK standard for my own entry in the Q32020 postal match, and it also performed very well.
Through about 300 rounds fired during this initial test, I had zero malfunctions of any kind. All rounds positively ejected and feed smoothly from the magazine.
However, I do want to note some recent issues. I purchased two additional magazines after initial testing. While shooting the postal match with SK Standard, I had two curious feeding malfunctions where the top round somehow rotated within the magazine and tipped upward so that the bullet pointing towards the top of the action and blocked the chamber.
I’ve continued shooting the Tikka T1x since initial testing, including the postal match and using the Oryx Chassis system. I don’t want to shortchange that review as well, but I’ll simply say that the chassis definitely improves on an already highly accurate rifle.
Out of the box, I would heartily recommend the Tikka T1x as a great starting point for a precision-oriented 22LR rifle. It demonstrates great balance and handling, suitable for backwoods varmint hunting, but it might be a little on the light side for competition use. I think it will still do well there, but you will have to carefully consider options and modifications if you want to stay within base class for NRL22.
If you didn’t want to jump into modifying the rifle to the point that you’re in open division and competing against Vudoo and Anshutz (as I will be), then I would probably steer you to the CZ 457 MTR, which I think comes with a few more competition-ready features right out of the box.
The Tikka T1x UPR model, which I still haven’t managed to locate, does have a lot of good competition features and stock, but it comes in at a much higher price point.