Tikka Varmint .223: 600 yard gun?


October 4, 2006, 04:50 PM
A number of clubs in my new state of residence run F-class matches out to 600 yards, and I'd like to use this venue to learn precision rifle shooting. Specifically, I want to compete with a Target Rifle, i.e., one in either .223 or .308, using a bipod as front rest (NRA provisional F-class rules).

I already have .223 reloading gear, and piles of brass. I'm not worried about this rifle's ability to shoot through auto windshields or cinderblock walls; the targets at local matches are unprotected. So I'd prefer to use a .223 over a .308, if it can reasonably be done at 600 yards (not worried about anything further out than that).

I want a heavy-barrel bolt-gun to do this with. Most such in .223, however, come with a 1:9 twist, at most. The only factory exception I see is the Tikka Varmint, which is 1:8. From what I've read, the 1:9 can't be relied on to stabilize anything heavier than 69 grains--but the 1:8 would get me up to 80 grains, which should fly well and buck the wind reasonably out to 600 yards. I do not have the money (or, frankly, the patience) to commission a custom gun; my choice will be limited to factory offerings.

So would the Tikka be a decent choice, or would I be kicking myself immediately for not sucking it up and going with a .308?

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October 4, 2006, 05:14 PM
I can't comment on the rifle, but if it truly does have a 1:8" twist, you will be good to go for getting .223s to 600 yards well.

I have used an AR-15 Service Rifle a couple of seasons, and feel no real disadvantage at 600 yards (at least, not any that stems from the rifle or cartridge! ;) ) The 80gr bullets are THE way to go in this caliber for that work. Loaded up to where they want to be, the .223 can turn in some great performance at those ranges against paper targets.

My experience with 80s is limited to the Nosler Custom Competition. Loaded with Varget powder and CCI-BR4 primers, seated .010-.020" off the lands and go for it. I use Lake City cases because I had a pile of them on hand when I started, but I've recently considered ordering up a batch of fresh new Winchester for my match ammo.

So the caliber is a good one for 600, no question. Good luck on the rifle and let us know how it goes!

October 4, 2006, 05:25 PM
Excellent! That's exactly what I'm looking to hear. Thanks for the input.

Does anyone else out there have any experience with this gun they'd be willing to share?

October 4, 2006, 05:31 PM
i also shoot 80g sierra matchkings at the 600 yrd line from an AR, shooting across the course.

however, i'd recommend finding a 1/7 twist gun if you can. it's not that difficult. the reason is sierra recently started selling 90g MK but the documentation says they require a 1:6.5 twist, although the guys at the sierra hotline told me a 1:7 would work.

of course, you can always shoot 80g this season, and rebarrel in the offseason

Jim Watson
October 4, 2006, 05:33 PM
Sorry, I have no experience with the Tikka; but I have been trying to turn an AR into a Long Range F/TR rifle with the installation of a 6.5" twist barrel and a supply of 90 grain bullets (Berger or JLK, the Sierras won't cut it.) I have most of the bugs out and it shoots just like a .308 as far as trajectory and wind but with less recoil.

I think you will do fine with an 8" twist and 80 grain bullets at 600 yards. I have shot mine at 600 with 75 gr A-Max, 80 gr Sierra & Nosler, and the 90 gr Sierras that I cannot load hot enough to stay supersonic at 1000 yards. The only limitation is my ability to guess the wind.

October 4, 2006, 05:34 PM
Dude, you're killing me! I thought I had made such a coup by finding a 1:8! Bolt guns just don't come any tighter than 1:9, from what I can find, with the single exception of the Tikka.

If I'm wrong, let me know!

Jim Watson
October 4, 2006, 05:37 PM
The cheapest way to get a fast twist bolt action .223 would be to buy a Savage and a new barrel. The Savage barrel nut makes DIY barrel installation feasible.

I think you'd be about as well off with the Tikka and 80s.

October 4, 2006, 05:45 PM
The cheapest way to get a fast twist bolt action .223 would be to buy a Savage and a new barrel.

Jim, so glad you dropped in! My search/scouring on F-class revealed you do it (12bvss? .308?), and I thought you might know what would work.

I was thinking about rebarreling a savage--but I don't know what base action I'd need, or where to get the barrel (Sharp Shooters Supply has them in 1:8 for $285--sound right?). Plus, if you start with a base 12FV or such, you've got that much-maligned Savage plastic stock to replace--there's another hundred bucks, at least. You think it could all be done for under the 6 & change of the Tikka?

Jim Watson
October 4, 2006, 05:55 PM
I doubt you could assemble a nice Savage for the price of the Tikka.

When I had shot my old .30-06 at F-class enough to decide I liked it, I started out trying to make a flattop AR into a Long Range rifle. I had a 28" 6.5 twist barrel installed and opened fire with the then-new 90 gr SMK. The bullets would not stand up to being launched at the velocity necessary to reach 1000 yards supersonic. I once shot a string of nothing but Xs, 10s, and misses as some of the bullets failed in flight and the others hit center.

So I bought a Savage 12 BVSS-S .308. Kind of a standard approach, it works fine. But I kept thrashing the .223; it is a good 600 yd rifle with the Sierras loaded a little lighter or even 75-80 grain bullets. Then I got some 90 gr Bergers and a box of 90 gr JLK VLDs. They shoot well at utter maximum loads for the round clear out to 1000 yards. Velocity and ballistic coefficient are almost exactly the same as for a 175 gr .308, which is the majority choice for F/TR. I just today ordered some more 90 gr JLKs for the job.

So I think the Tikka would be a good choice if you do not expect to get beyond 600 yards. As some of the other guys say, 80 grain bullets are pretty well standard for the 600 yd slowfire of the service rifle match.

October 4, 2006, 06:07 PM
Too bad there's no way to get good high-speed film of those Sierra 90's coming apart in flight; it must be a spectacular thing for the quick-eyed angels that can see it.

There's only one thousand-yard range in WA, and while they do have a couple open matches a year, it's mostly .50 and Palma (both a little 'impractical' for my taste). I spose I might want to do 1,000 somewhere down the road, but I don't think it'd be unreasonable to expect to get another gun for it (like your savage), should the bug ever bite.

I do love the idea of pain-free shooting with a .223. Been doing a lot of shooting in preparation for deer & elk seasons with my 30-06 and 180's, and it's got me in a mind to shoot little itty bitty bullets for fun, if I can get away with it!

Jim Watson
October 4, 2006, 07:19 PM
When I was trying to diagnose the problem, I did a good deal of shooting with those 90 gr SMKs at 100 yards. I finally caught three bad actors on a four foot backer. One was a perfect profile keyhole. Two were 180 deg "C" shapes, but sharp enough cut in the paper that you could distinguish the nose and boattail. The freaking bullets were BENT! I dug in the berm but could not recover one.

I shot some max load 75 gr A-Max. They are pretty accurate but as the barrel got warm and foul, they started disappearing. A spotter standing right behind me as the light got right said he could see them as silver streaks in the air, copper and lead pulverized by too much twist and speed for the bullet.

October 4, 2006, 09:11 PM
just read an article , in the latest SOF, a N.G. sniper hit a terrorist, with an accurized ar out at 582 yards. first shot hit , with a Bushy rangefinder.

October 5, 2006, 10:50 AM
I have a Tikka T3 Varmint in .223. I bought it new at the very end of 2004. It was bougt mostly as a varmint rifle. I purposely sought out the 2004 since this was when the rifle still had a 1 in 14 twist. I wanted to use Black Hills 50 gr V-Max bullets on the little critters.

The 2nd time out with it I was able to consistently hit 1 gallon water jugs at 500 yards. The wind was less than 10 mph.

Tikka makes a great barrel. You'll do fine at 600 yards with the heavier bullets using the 1 in 8 twist barrel.

October 5, 2006, 12:51 PM
I shot F-class with Tikka T3 Lite in .223, barrel twist 1:8. No problem with slow fire at 600 yards, with 77-gr bullet. A Varmint (24-inch heavy barrel) will be even better suited for F-class. It is a really great choice, especially if you load. I see no reason to switch to .308.
Get a good scope for it, I have a Bushnell 6-24x40 Elite 4200 with a mildot. Makes a great combination for long-range shooting.

October 5, 2006, 03:11 PM
Dude, you're killing me! I thought I had made such a coup by finding a 1:8! Bolt guns just don't come any tighter than 1:9, from what I can find, with the single exception of the Tikka.

If I'm wrong, let me know!

The sako 75 Varmint in 223 is also 1 in 8 twist .

Have a look..!



October 5, 2006, 04:51 PM
Jaycee--well noted. Actually, I expect the 1/8 of the Tikka and the 1/8 of the Sako are one and the same. Both are made in the same factory. And as nice as I'm sure the Sako is, I'm on a bit more of a Tikka budget ;)

Hessy and BOS--thanks for sharing your first-hand experience! I do load, and look forward to tinkering endlessly with the 77-80 grainers--like shooting cute little knitting needles! (though not quite as needly as Jim's 90's!)

Sounds like it's a go, to me. Now I just need to look and lurk for a deal to pounce on. Looks to me like a NIB might be got for 6 bills, maybe shipped, if I'm careful and patient.

October 5, 2006, 05:44 PM
I'm on a bit more of a Tikka budget

I know that feeling ! LOL
Unfortunatly , I handled one before I got to do the math , and by then I was already in love..... (Same 'ol story ..gun's and wives ) :evil:

Actually , if I was to tell you what it costs on this side of the pond for one of these little pets ...you'd most likely faint.

1,840.37 United States Dollars, not counting the extra $180 for the sako optilock rings and mounts.

I traded a Ruger 77Mk2 in .220 Swift which had a Timney trigger and a hogue stock which took some , but not all, of the hurtin away.

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