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Accuracy Tests Bolt Action Hunting Rifles

Review: Tikka T3 Lite

by Wayne van Zwoll   |  November 4th, 2011 16
Tikka T3 Lite

The Tikka T3 Lite is a svelte, accurate rifle perfect for those who cover a lot of ground when they hunt.

One of the most appealing new Tikkas, a T3 Lite, weights in at just 6 ¼ pounds—as lightweight as seems useful to me. Less heft and the rifle bounces like a clothesline in the wind. When you’re puffing after a climb or must curb the effects of pulse to shoot far, rifle mass is your friend. It helps mitigate recoil, too. A sling and scope quickly bring six-pound rifles to seven. A full magazine adds ounces. Occasionally I’ve wished for more. But after long hours on the trail, I’ll take 7.5.

Then T3 has a two-lug bolt with a 70-degree lift and disassembles quickly by hand into four major components. Its recessed face has a plunger ejector and a Sako extractor.

The T3’s receiver is slim but stiff due to a small ejection port. Rails machined into the receiver’s roof accept 17mm clamp rings, but the rifle is also drilled and tapped. The recoil lug is a steel insert in the stock that engages a slot in the action.

While early Tikka bolt rifles came in two action lengths, the T3 is built on one, with two bolt stops for different cartridge lengths. Single-stack three-shot magazines are of lightweight polymer. They can be loaded only when out of the rifle. You can buy deep boxes that hold more cartridges. A flush magazine latch is out of the way in front of the well.

Tikka T3 receiver

The Tikka T3 feeds from a single-column polymer magazine and operated without a hitch.

The stock (walnut or synthetic) has a long grip and a comfortable pitch. It comes with spacers to lengthen the butt. Shadow ridges on the fore-end, with raised rubber-like panels there and on the grip, help you grasp the rifle with wet or cold hands. Deep fluting at the comb nose welcomes the heel of your hand. The stock doesn’t contact the hammer-forged barrel. A steel stock insert engaging a slot in the receiver serves as recoil lug.

Trigger pull on Tikka’s T3 adjusts from two to four pounds. The test rifle’s came in at 3.5. The trigger guard is the only alloy component on a T3 action; all others are of steel, save the polymer magazine and bolt shroud. A red cocking indicator protrudes from the striker race. A two-position safety locks bolt and trigger. The bolt shank is the right length for me, just long enough for easy cycling from the shoulder. The hollow, pear-shaped knob is gracefully curved and easy to grasp.

I’ve several Tikka’s, and all but a .270 WSM printed groups inside a minute of angle. The T3 Lite I tested for this article shot 140-grain Winchester AccuBonds into a 0.4-inch group, and with four of five additional loads I got 0.7-inch groups—and all loads shot well inside the 11/2-inch standard I impose on bolt-action hunting rifles. Indeed, the average best-group measure for this T3 was just half that.

Tikka T3 Lite bolt

The two-lug bolt offers a 70-degree lift and features a Sako-style extractor.

Overall, the T3 Lite is technically excellent, it has a gunny feel that can’t be described but as certainly cannot be faked. The bolt glides. The trigger breaks consistently, although at 3.5 pounds it tested my control. Cartridges cycle without bumps. Shut your eyes, cheek a T3 Lite, and when you look through the scope, I suspect you’ll find the crosswire on target. Still, the Lite puts spring in your step after long days afield.

No, it’s not perfect. The safety is hard to feel with a mittened thumb. And I’d like an adjustment for sear engagement. But those changes would add expense to an affordable rifle that’s already accurate, nimble in the hand and easy to shoot well from hunting positions.

Want a lively, lightweight rifle with killer looks and Crisco-smooth cycling? One with dime-tight accuracy and a trigger that brings out the best in you? It’s here, from Finland.

group fired by Tikka T3

Like most Tikkas, the T3 Lite demonstrated excellent accuracy.

Fast Specs

  • Type: bolt action centerfire; 2 locking lugs, Sako-style extractor, plunger ejector.
  • Caliber: 7mm Rem. Mag. (tested), .300 Win. Mag., .338 Win. Mag.
  • Feed System: 3-round single-column detachable polymer box magazine
  • Barrel: 24 in. sporter-weight, hammer-forged; 1:9½ twist.
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz.
  • Stock: black fiberglass-reinforced polymer with rubber buttpad.
  • Metal: brushed stainless (tested), blue chrome-moly
  • Fire control: adjustable steel trigger (3.5 pounds as tested); two-position safety locks bolt
  • Sights: none; receiver grooved and drilled
  • Price: $659
  • Distributor: Beretta USA

Accuracy Results

  • Smallest group: 140 gr. Winchester AccuBond—0.4 in.
  • Largest group: (tie) 140 gr. Remington CoreLokt Ultra, 165 gr. Federal Sierra GameKing—1.1 in.
  • Due to challenging range conditions, author submitted only the best of three-shot groups at 100 yards.



Caption 1: The Tikka T3 Lite is a svelte, accurate rifle perfect for those who cover a lot of ground when they hunt.


Caption 2: The Tikka T3 feeds from a single-column polymer magazine and operated without a hitch.


Caption 3: The two-lug bolt offers a 70-degree lift and features a Sako-style extractor.


Caption 4: Like most Tikkas, the T3 Lite demonstrated excellent accuracy.



  • robert fowler

    I have a Tikka Battue Lite in .300 Win Mag- best rifle I own. I get .5 inch groups with Barnes VOR TX ammo- the Trophy Bonded tip from Federal is very accurate as well.
    At only about 7.5 lbs with Nikon Monarch scope and sling and a very handy 20 inch barrel, this rifle is a dream to carry and should be perfect going through deep woods/brush as well.
    I am just about to embark on Newfoundland moose hunt and eagerly anticipate taking my new toy and premium ammo.

    Best regards

    Rob Fowler MD
    NRA and SCI member

  • Jason

    Mr. Fowler, where did you get your hands on a Battue Lite? I have asked local dealers around me and they tell me it's not available. I currently own a 300 Win Mag T3 lite non Battue and would love the open sights and shorter barrel. Thank you, Jason

    • Rob Fowler


      They are available from Canadian dealers-Cabelas may be of some help-they have an outfit in Canada
      and also Wholesale Sports on the USA site.
      Some will ship to the US and your local dealer could be of assistance. Tikka makes a wider range
      of calibres available in Canada some of which are not readily US available.
      You may be able to special order as well via Beretta USA-I believe they will do so for you as well.
      Hope this helps.
      I have a number of firearms including a .375 Ultra mag-am used to fair recoil-suggest a Limbsaver for the Tikka Battue when you get it- makes a huge difference.

      All the best and safe hunting.Tikka makes a wonderful rifle.


  • George Price

    I am just these days working with a T3 "superlight in 7mm mag and thus far I REALLY like it alot – it shoots 150 Sciroccos and 160 Accubonds sub MOA and I'm just gettin' started ! I do wish Tikka could put a decent recoil pad on from the get-go !! the factory issue is as bad as an Abolt !

  • Lopaka Kanaka

    Tikka T3 looks like a fine light weight huntinf rifle. The price is right for what you are getting in a rifle of this cailber. I like a poylmer stock for light weight and on long carry in the field. Too bad they did not make these back in 1960's with the Grand M-1, WOW! All NRA Life Members, Hunters, and Target Buffs, Keep shooting as you have always. We need to protect "Our Rights To Bear Arms". We need a new commander in chief who will protect Our Rights To Bears Arms so every American Citizen can have GUNS in there homes and have a CCW to protect his family! Go out and Vote for GUN rights!

    • Hump

      Yes and join the NRA. They fight for the 2nd Amendment and our gun rights each and every day. Buy a youth in your life a junior NRA membership for Christmas and always enjoy “Happy Hunting”.

  • wcamis

    I have had a Tikka T3 Lite stainless in 270 Win. with a Leupold VX III in 3.5x10x50mm for over six years now. It still shoots incredible (sub MOA). I have never had any trouble out it. It is a highly reliable and accurate rifle out of the box that is very reasonably priced, especially when you look at the competition. My only complaint, it is not made in the USA. Besides that one flaw, it is a great rifle that I will cherish and hunt with for years.

  • guest

    i own Tikka T3 lite stainless 30-06, Leopold vxlll excellent shooter I find no flaws with the rifle.
    A great Finnish made Rifle.

  • flawlessfoose

    i was looking at a brand new T3 light in 30-06, he wants $ 535 out the door, i was wondering if i should grab it up?

    • Hump

      Bought my son one a few years ago. We all love it. You will not be disappointed.

  • Sam

    Should the Tikka T3 be free foloated. Mine seams to have two pressure points and I don't want to mess up
    by removing them. Gun shoots well but is some times inconsistent as it warms up. Should I remove the
    pressuer points??

  • guest

    "Should I remove the pressuer points??"

    i would.

  • david

    I own a Tikka T3 stainless .270 wsm, and I love it. It is topped with a Leopold VXII and it has not let me down yet. I would put that rifle up agentst any hunting rifle there is.

  • Geoffrey

    How is the recoil of this gnu chambered in 30-06? I am interested in this rifle for myself, an all around hunting rifle for white tails, mule deer, antelope, elk, and moose. I have heard that this gun has a heavy recoil to it, one that's heavier than normal. Has anyone out there found this gun to hit harder than other guns in the same caliber?

    • Hump

      I have found it not to have excessive recoil at all. If need be put a Limbsaver stock pad on it. My son likes it just fine with the factory pad included on the rifle.

  • yukon

    author said "I’ve several Tikka’s, and all but a .270 WSM printed groups inside a minute of angle."

    the short mag was the least accurate of the bunch? I was looking at at 270wsm… should I go with the 7mm instead? I've heard short mags also have extraction problems sometimes. anyone have that problem in a tikka?

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