Few recent rifle releases in Australia have been as long and eagerly anticipated as the Tikka T1X MTR. Tikka’s exceptional value for money T3 family of centrefires has seen the company become a dominant player in the Australian and New Zealand markets over the past decade. So, it was no surprise that there was a substantial buzz created by their announcement of an MOA guaranteed rimfire, built on the same action footprint as the T3 and interchangeable with T3 stock options. What was a surprise was that almost a year after the announcement, still no one in Australia had their hands on a T1X MTR in .22lr.
T1X Day one initial review
Even now, the T1X .22lr variant is still only arriving in dribs and drabs. Thankfully we were lucky enough to be amongst the first in Australia to get our hands on one, and given the number of customers we know still awaiting pre-orders, we thought a detailed review and test of the rifle was in order, especially after Bourney’s first impressions got published within hours of getting the rifle and they were certainly mixed!
To summarise Bourney’s review:
- The good: the excellent factory trigger, and a magazine that feeds smoothly and reliably and lends itself to quick changes (for those PRC competitors out there)
- The bad: despite trying numerous brands of factory ammunition, the accuracy wasn’t quite what he’d hoped. The best group from the rifle was just over MOA at 50m. The bolt felt snug and solid, but wasn’t as smooth as expected from a Tikka, although this was just a ‘feel’ thing, not a functional issue.
- The Ugly: Bourney strongly suspected that some of the issues were related to the curious choice to include a barrel bedding block in the T1X stock – perhaps designed to dampen barrel harmonics and ensure the rifle shot most things well, but with the side effect that it didn’t shoot anything exceptionally.
- Bourney also wanted to make it clear that he had never had any intentions of shooting the rifle in the factory stock and only did so due to demands made of him on social media. So his review was certainly biased negatively from the start due to his disgust for that barrel bedding block.
The ‘real’ T1X review
More detailed testing was certainly called for, so when Brooky had a free afternoon, it was time to build on Bourney’s initial testing of the rifle in its factory configuration. We decided to test the T1X in three different stock configurations to shed light on the suspicions regarding the barrel bedding block:
- Devcon bedded Bolly UPH Gen2 carbon fibre stock
- Tikka T1X MTR stock with the barrel block removed
- Tikka T3 Varmint Stock
Why not more stocks? Or even a Chassis? Well, the T1x Magwell and bolt stop are different to the standard T3 footprint as such, the T1X wouldn’t fit in a walnut or laminate timber T3/T3x stock without modifying the stock. Also, with the chassis available to us, the bolt stop position means that we would have had to thrown the Chassis in the mill and machine out a recess to accommodate, not something we felt the need to do seeing as we had no intent of ever using the T1X in a chassis.
Brooky shot 10 shot groups of 5 different ammunition types in each stock configuration, all at 50m off a bipod and rear bag from a bench. In all stocks the action screws were torqued to 40 inch pounds. The scope was a 4.5-30×56 Delta Stryker, used at 25x magnification. Yep, I hear the detailed oriented amongst you shouting “Brooky was shooting, not Bourney, how are these results comparable to the first test in factory configuration!?” Fair question friends, fair question.
To minimise variables associated with the shooter, we did a couple of things. After Brooky finished shooting, Bourney shot a few groups too, to ensure they were comparable; they were almost identical. Brooky also re-shot his first groups to check whether there was any bias towards accuracy in his later groups after having spent 100+ rounds getting to know the rifle…. turns out there was, with a much tighter SK Standard group through the removal of two flyers, this is represented in the group size data table by an ‘*’, as the measurement is from the re-shoot, rather than the group shown in the photo (note the two fliers in the pic – two of Brooky’s first shots with the rifle). To verify the reshoot was valid, Bourney’s shot a group in that configuration which measured exactly the same as Brooky’s reshoot, so we’re confident it’s a sound representation.
So, after Bourneys first impressions, what had changed and what stayed the same?
The trigger and magazine performance hadn’t changed; they were excellent! That said, Bourney did lightly sand the front of the factory bottom metal to change the feeding angle a fraction, improving feeding. As far as factory triggers go, the T1X is clean, crisp and light. The magazine had about 1/10 mis-feeds with Eley Black (perhaps a combination of the heavy lube and blunt nosed projectile) but with every other ammunition type, it was flawless.
The bolt had changed: after a couple of hundred rounds, it still felt like a well machined fit but it had also become smoother. It’s now a very nice action to use.
The T1X stock has an ever so slightly shorter length of pull than the T3 and T3X, due to the plastic butt plate (as opposed to rubber recoil pad). This might be desirable for younger or female shooters, and it does keep the rifle light, compact and ‘handy’ for plinking and spotlighting bunnies. However, as a long range trainer or a target/competition rifle we prefer a full sized stock. This should be a relatively easy fix by changing the plastic butt plate over with a T3 or aftermarket pad. The barrel bedding block is easily removed, leaving the barrel almost free floated; true free floating could be achieved with some sand paper and elbow grease.
Performance: this was the most obvious change in the T1X. Its best groups in each of the three configurations were better than those in the original factory configuration. This seems to support Bourney’s original impression that the barrel bedding block wasn’t allowing the rifle to achieve its potential. The rifle didn’t shoot a sub-MOA group in its factory stock, but it was only 0.03 inches off with SK Standard and without wind it’s likely to have been sub-MOA.
|Geco .22LR Match
|Federal Hunter Match
|Tikka T1X (no block)
|Tikka T3 Varmint
Note 50m = 54.7yards, ∴MOA = 0.57in
So, our overall thoughts now that the rifle has had about 500 rounds through it…. In this test, this rifle shot 3x 10 shot groups that were sub MOA, and a further 3 groups that were 1.1 MOA and may well have been sub-MOA in the absence of wind. That’s a solid pass in the accuracy department. Had we been shooting 5 shot groups, there would have been some 1/2 MOA groups.
Accuracy potential is also at the mercy of one small aspect we have been unable to test in detail, which is the effect of action screw torque and whether the plastic trigger guard is flexing reducing the ability to leave the action in an unstressed state. When alloy bottom metal becomes available for the T1X we will certainly be revisiting the accuracy testing.
For the price, the trigger is excellent, the magazine functions wonderfully and the action is smooth (once worked in). As a former Anschutz owner, Brooky was also delighted to shoot 200 rounds and not have a single case drop back into the action; the T1X ejects very reliably even running a rail. For me, the only let-down on this rifle is the stock; it just feels slightly ‘plastickier’ (yes, that’s now a word) than the older T3 stocks and I would prefer a longer length of pull.
Having put over 500 rounds through this rifle, would we recommend buying one? Yep … But we’d also recommend experimenting with removing the barrel block early on in your testing to check whether it improves your groups. The rifle we’ve been testing is plenty accurate for bunny hunting, plinking, long range training and Precision Rimfire Challenge competitions. Speaking of competitions, one of the main issues for dropped points in PRC/PRS22/NRL22 are attributable to feeding issues and frankly with the T1x it simply wouldn’t be an issue as the magazine is the main highlight so far (only time will tell how the plastic holds up over years and thousands of rounds); the reliable feeding and ease of change is something to be commended.