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A bolt-action rimfire rifle that comes with a huge range of accessories and add-ons to suit every shooter’s whim and inclination. Broadsword reviews the Tikka T1X in .17 HMR!
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My son and I shoot an original Sako Finnfire that has served us well over decades of use, so I was really interested when Tikka announced they were making a rimfire bolt action rifle. This T1x model is a rimfire designed to mimic the proportions of their hugely successful T3x centrefire rifle and thus has the same action profile to accept most T3 accessories and stock alternatives. As I am a life-long custom-rifle/try-anything sort of chap this opens up a whole world of possibilities to create the perfect rimfire Tikka T1x for your type of shooting – or just to pimp it up a little.
The rifle is available in either .22 LR rimfire or .17 HMR with a 16" or 20" barrel length option and UNF thread. The Tikka website has a very good rifle configuration program where you can design a T1x as you like it, but check with GMK that they are all available. Lefties will be happy as Tikka are always good at supplying left-handed versions of their rifles and the T1x is no exception.
You have all the features you need for a good vermin gun with no open sights but integral dovetails or aftermarket mounts, a detachable 10-shot magazine and synthetic stock, and even a UPR semi-tactical/target model (£1,300) added to the range.
Accuracy is no issue with any Tikka as the barrels are hammer forged, with a high degree of precision from the button rifling. The trigger is the same as on the T3x, so there is no need to change it, but aftermarket springs and units are available.
This all adds up to what has become a very popular rimfire rifle, with Tikka’s excellent accuracy and build quality, all for a very reasonable starting price of £750. In this article I wanted to see how I could alter some of the good handling characteristics of the basic model with Tikka’s own add-on accessories and customise the rifle to better suit my use.
I do like the fact that you have the familiar feel and handling of a full-sized Tikka centrefire rifle, but tailored to the rimfire cartridge. It makes sense and that action size creates a great bedding area and stable platform and adds very little weight. This model weighs 5.35lb or 2.4kg.
Similarities to the bigger T3x are obvious, with only the shorter bolt movement, smaller ejection port and magazine projection from the stock defining it as a T1x. It means you are familiar with the operating and handling of the rifle and the trigger and safety are the same.
The action is all steel with a hunter-friendly matt blued steel finish as with the barrel, so both are hard wearing and non-reflective. Tikka being part of the Sako group and now Beretta, I was half expecting a modified version of the Sako Finnfire 2 rimfire. But no, there’s a totally different approach that uses the basic T3x action form but heavily modified to shoot rimfire and not centrefire. This manifests itself at the front of the action where the barrel union is, where the action has been cut away so that the top half has gone but the bottom half still has the T3x profile to fit the stock correctly. Barrels are secured via three Allen screws to this action face and it forms a free-floated union 5.0" from this point – always good for accuracy.
I like the bolt as its made from stainless steel and is thus weatherproof. It takes the form of a typical rimfire lock-up with a non-rotating bolt that locks at the rear. You have a large single claw extractor in the right side of the bolt face and a groove cut to the left that allows the Finnfire-type ejector spring in the action wall to contact the cases rim and flip it out sideways. The ejection port is stepped, I guess to accommodate both the .22 rimfire and .17 HMR lengths for a 100% reliable function.
The short bolt throw at 1.46" and a low 60° lift is very fast and slick. The one-piece bolt handle, with its tapered hollow knob but straight handle that is secured via an Allen screw through the centre, handles really well.
This is the part that we can customise. Tikka offer either an add-on plastic rounded bolt knob that secures into the original bolt knob recess or a rounded rubber ball with a Tikka logo that fits over the entire bolt knob. Both offer a better grip and firm hold and there aftermarket replacements of tactical, lengthened or different-coloured handles are also available.
Barrel-wise you have two options of length – 16" or 20". I would always go short as no real velocity is lost and what you gain in manoeuvrability, even when a sound moderator is added, is still beneficial on a hunting arm. In .17 HMR it has a 1 in 9" rifling twist rate, just right for all ammunition variations. You can choose UNF or UNEF. Only UNF is listed on the GMK website, so check. The barrel has a semi-weight profile of 0.895" at the action tapering to 0.728" at the muzzle and ending with a well-machined concave crown so that the bullet exit is perfect.
The action top has a standard full-length 11mm dovetail rail and is perfect for Tikka’s Opti Lok rings, but it is also drilled and tapped for single or two-piece Picatinny rails. Again, aftermarket options abound and we will explore those another time. As far as bedding the action, Tikka have opted for a steel lug embedded into the stock that corresponds to a slot in the underside of the action. Other than that there is no bedding.
The Tikka T3x trigger is really good and although you can adjust for weight, this single-stage trigger broke very cleanly at 3.65lb, so why bother? Again, aftermarket triggers and springs are available but not from Tikka. Safety is again a familiar setup, with a toggle-type lever to the right/rear of the bolt handle. Forward is on and back is safe and also locks the bolt down. Keeping pressure on it as you operate the safety makes it silent in use.
A final point regarding the action is that the trigger guard is polymer and thus rustproof, which is always handy when rested in wet grass while gutting rabbits. Again, as with the bolt shroud, aftermarket metal alternatives can be sourced.
The 10-shot magazine is all polymer with a large polymer attachment at the base to protrude from the stock to give a better grip, but does detract from the otherwise graceful lines of the Tikka. It’s reliable, easily removed and cheap at under £40.
The stock is basically a Tikka T3x and possesses all the traits of a synthetic stock that are good on a hunting rifle where wet, dirt and grime ingress are easily repelled or cleaned off. It therefore has a full-sized rifle feel to it yet still retains lightweight handling, partly due to the injection moulded system Tikka use that forms two halves that are cemented together. It’s quite hollow and resonates a bit, but where knocks or twisting will affect performance the stock has been strengthened or reinforced with more polymer or ribbed sections. Very sensible.
It is styled like a typical sporter, with a smooth black finish and moulded-in checkering for extra grip. These areas have raised diamond checkering to the forend and raised striated parallel lines to the pistol grip. As with the T3x rifles, the pistol grip can be removed via a small Allen key and alternative grip arrangements can be fitted.
There is no cheekpiece (add-ons are available but the height is fine for me) and only a few faceted grooves to add interest, plus a small rubber butt pad. Overall it’s pretty much ambidextrous although there is a left-handed version available. However, this is where the add on Tikka accessories really come into their own. The slant of the standard pistol grip is ideal for most sporting uses but I do like a more upright stance; Tikka make a replaceable pistol grip in just such a style. Available also in various colours ranging including Coyote Brown, Olive Green and Pure Orange if you really want. I opted for Stone Grey at £16.50. They are also available in a soft-touch version but cost £12.50 more. It’s very easy to change with a single Allen screw on the base and then tilt and lift off from the locating tabs. Pop in the new grip and you have a lovely upright stance with a wider double palm swell and really nice colour contrast to the original black stock.
The same is true of the forend extension as varmint models of the T3x rifle have an additional moulded polymer section added to give a full girth for stability off a bipod or bench. Prices vary, but it’s £26.50 for the standard version and a tenner more for soft touch. I ordered the Stone Grey version to match the pistol grip, removed the sling swivel stud and one Allen screw from the original stock, slipped on the ‘varmint’ profile addition and secured it with the longer Allen screw and key supplied.
The floated barrel ensured no upward pressure to interfere with the barrel’s accuracy even with the additional forend section and bipod fitted, which is good news for consistent accuracy. Even off-hand shooting with the new forend felt reassured and the pistol grip to me gave a more commanding consistent grip on the T1x without allowing the rifle to cant if a big scope is added.
I fitted a pair of 1" Opti Lok rings to the dovetails and the excellent LightStream 4-14x44mm scope and super quiet LEI HMR moderator. The add-on Tikka bolt knob in plastic was fine but did spin a little after a few hundred shots and needed a bit of tightening. To be honest I prefer the rubber option that gave more grip and I have them fitted to my other Tikka rifles. (They also fit most other bolts, so give them a go.)
Accuracy, which was really good prior to the conversion, seemed to get even better. I put that down to the rifle now fitting my bigger hands and limbs more naturally.
The Hornady 17gr V-Maxes, which started the HMR genesis, shot lovely 0.62" 50yd five-shot groups at a velocity of 2,534fps for 243ft-lb. A good all-rounder. Similarly, the 17gr Winchester Supreme produced 2,517fps for 239ft-lb energy and 0.6" 50yd groups without having any split necks.
I do like CCI’s 20gr Game Points with their slightly extra weight, deeper penetration and hollow point design. They gave good 2,411fps velocity, 258ft-lb energy and a minuscule 0.42" group. I use this for foxes at sensible range and also across the border for hooded crows.
I was low on TNT loads but had just stocked up on the lead-free option of Hornady 15.5gr NTX loads, which produce very good expansion at a velocity of 2,559fps and 225ft-lb energy. Accuracy was equally good with consistent 0.54" groups, which no one can complain about.
The Tikka T1x represents excellent value for money already, but with the addition of a few good-value – well, cheap – Tikka add-on items you can customise your gun to suit your personality and shooting needs. You really can’t say fairer than that.
Pistol grip: £16.50 (soft touch £29.00)
Forend: £26.50 (soft touch £36.50)
Bolt knob, plastic: £20.00
Bolt knob, rubber: £15.00
Type: Bolt action
Overall length: 34"
Barrel length: 16", threaded ½” UNF
Calibre: .17 HMR
Finish: Blued steel
Magazine: Detachable 10-shot
Stock: Black moulded synthetic sporter
Trigger: Single stage
Safety: Side lever
Sights: 11mm dovetails for scope mount
Contact: GMK Ltd
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