“Which rifle is better for stalking - the Tikka T3X or the Sako 85? I can’t make my mind up!” Chris Parkin replies...

Q: I’m torn between the Sako 85 and Tikka T3x in .308 for stalking. Price is a determining factor, and both rifles seem to suit me well when shouldered. Should the two- versus three-lug battle sway my choice?

CHRIS PARKIN replies: In short, no. The word ‘benchrest’ is always quoted when it comes to achieving the ultimate in shooting consistency, and competitors are happy with two-lug (custom) actions for symmetrically locking cartridges into the breech, so realistically, so should you be on a hunting rifle.

It’s more dependent on the overall quality of manufacture, and with both of the rifles being from the same factory, it’s hard to split the two fins.

The two rifles’ bolt opening angles of 60° versus 70° is minimal, with neither showing any great benefit for speed. The Sako has a twin-column magazine that can be loaded in the rifle through the ejection port, whereas the Tikka’s needs removing to slot each round in place. The triggers in both, however, are the same. Their overall stock geometries are similar, and attempting to say one is generically more accurate than the other, where massive variables of ammunition, scope and shooter are involved, is a moot point. Although I prefer the Sako mag, I like the simpler push-feed Tikka bolt design over the semi-controlled feed approach of the 85. There is a good reason for the T3’s enduring popularity, but I would happily own either. However, my preference would be the T3.