When I was a highschooler (early 2000’s), I drove a 1989 long bed extended cab ¾ ton Chevy pickup. It was brown and had a squeaky contractor rack on it. My family purchased it new and we had it ever since. It had terrible fuel economy and was a beast to park, but I was just happy to have a vehicle to drive, and I will have to say it was reliable. There are rifles just like that old truck on the market today – not much to look at, kind of clunky, but at least they go bang when you pull the trigger. The Tikka T3 is not one of these rifles. It has an excellent adjustable single stage trigger, a shorter bolt lift with a glassy smooth travel, and a barrel that will consistently print sub moa groups. I would liken the Tikka T3 rifle to a Honda Civic as opposed to my old brown pickup.
Just like the Honda Civic the Tikka T3 has no shortage of upgrade options. From prefit barrels and chassis that can cost over $1,000 to “tactical” bolt knobs and everything in between a guy can take his tikka and make it into just about whatever he wants. But, just like upgrading your rice rocket, you want to make sure you are getting good bang for your buck and putting your money in the right places. Are you trying to go in a straight line as fast as possible or does it need to corner well? It is important to know your intended purpose and the features that will best enable you to achieve your goals.
If a shooter is looking at outfitting for precision rifle competitions, a heavier barrel and higher capacity magazine should be considered. For simple hunting, the factory configuration is more than adequate, but for long range hunting or that rare once in a lifetime trophy hunt there are a few upgrades I would recommend, one of those being the bottom metal that is the topic of this article. These types of hunting require the utmost in accuracy, repeatability, reliability, and durability from your rifle.
While the quality of the Tikka rifles is very good, they are still a mass-produced rifle, and as such have some sacrifices for ease of manufacturing and to keep costs down both in production and for the consumer. With the T3x line, they addressed some of the common complaints of the T3, such as the plastic bolt shroud and the aluminum recoil lug. One area they left untouched however was the trigger guard. While the stock guard is completely functional, it leaves a bit to be desired in the realms of feel and durability.
When I had the opportunity to try this new bottom metal, I was very excited about it, especially on my hunting setup. Serious competition shooters will find the fact that it still uses the factory 3 and 5 round Tikka magazines to be a deal breaker, but for my purposes, three rounds have always been enough for hunting. Another detail that makes this bottom metal design favorable for hunting but not competition shooting is the recessed magazine release. In a precision rifle stage where a mag change is required it needs to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible since everything is on the clock, which means a big lever which is easily actuated is ideal. In a hunting situation, however, the same lever could cause a hunter to lose a magazine in the field which, while not a hunt-ender, is a major inconvenience as it turns your bolt action repeater into something lower than a single feed.
With my hunting T3x I opted for a Bell and Carlson M40 style stock, and although this adds a bit of weight to the overall package, I prefer it for its rigidity and ergonomics over the factory rifle. I also believe the little bit of extra weight on the rifle helps me shoot it better as it soaks up some of the recoil. The High Desert Outdoor Research bottom metal dropped into the stock perfectly and rounds fed flawlessly from the factory magazines without the installation of any of the supplied shims. Throughout the course of a discussion with Thomas Gomez, the designer of this part, and reading the installation directions, I came to learn that the shims were provided to ensure a perfect fit with various stocks. As the bottom metal is machined out of 6061 aluminum, it can be held to tight tolerances, but the shims are necessary to make up for any variations in the stock. Once again I will mention this was not necessary with my B&C stock. As a side note, I have been very satisfied with the fit and quality of the bottom metal. It looks like it belongs on the rifle.
I was curious if the addition of this bottom metal would have any effect on the accuracy of my rifle or more importantly the precision of my rifle. So I took my test rifle (Tikka t3 6.5×55 AI with a Lothar Walther barrel) out to the range. This rifle regularly shoots groups at .75 moa or better with factory ammo. Throughout the course of testing, I did not notice any sizeable gains in precision, although I did notice the pattern of the groups was more consistent. The groups shot with the High Desert Outdoor Research bottom metal lacked the flyers that would occasionally appear when shooting with the factory bottom plastic. I can only attribute this to the High Desert Outdoor Research bottom metal being more rigid and allowing me to apply a higher torque value to my action screws.
The bottom line on this bottom metal? It looks like it belongs on the rifle. It installs easily. It adds durability and dependability to the rifle, and most importantly it adds a feeling of quality to that particular component. I would definitely recommend this upgrade, especially if you were already purchasing a new stock for your Tikka T3. Honestly, you wouldn’t put on a body kit and lower the suspension of your honda civic then decide to still run the factory wheels and tires, would you?
- Fits Tikka T3/T3x Lite, Superlite, Hunter, Compact, Tac, Varmint, Forest and Battue series of rifles.
- Made of 6061 Aluminum. Black anodized, or cerakoted in a color of your choice
- Weight: 2.3 oz (1.2 oz more than the factory plastic)
- Aluminum magazine release
- Designed in New Mexico, made in the USA!
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Cerakote! The customers asked, and we have been more than happy to oblige! You can now purchase the High Desert Outdoor Research Tikka T3 Aluminum Trigger Guard in any color you want in the Cerakote H Series Color Color Palette. We are proudly working with @bmctactical on this project. BMC Tactical has been applying Cerakote since it hit the market, and we regard them as one of the best applicators in the Industry. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. Hit us up if you have questions. #cerakote #tikkat3 #tikkat3x #gunporn #bmctactical #highdesertoutdoorresearch
Cover photo courtesy of High Desert Outdoor Research