Howa 1500 vs Tikka T3 vs Remington 700 SPS


December 9, 2007, 06:41 PM
I've been looking at a bolt action .223 for a while (not really for any reason other than because I don't have one) and had been looking long and hard at the Remington 700 Varmint SPS, in part because of the $50 rebate being offered.

But a Tikka T3 recently caught my eye and I was fairly impressed with the feel of the action. While looking at that I then saw the Howa 1500.

So here's my question. For the money which is the nicest rifle? Best fit and finish? Best accuracy? Who has good customer service if there's a problem?

I know nothing at all about either Howa or Tikka and would like to learn more about them.

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Don't Tread On Me
December 9, 2007, 07:21 PM
Remington is, well, Remington. Will be a solid all-around rifle. New ones come with X-Mark Pro trigger which is quite an improvement. New varmint rifles have the improved stock which isn't too bad. It has a pressure pad and a wider forearm. Remington's finish is horrible. It will rust if you do not use a quality oil like CLP.

The Tikka T3 has the Sako barrel and trigger. That right there makes it the candidate with the highest chance of being a great out of the box shooter. I believe the Tikka's are guaranteed 3-shot into 1moa (Sako is 5 shot into 1 moa). But don't quote me on the guarantee. Action is nice and solid. Bolt is stainless steel. It is SMOOTH. Trigger pull is very nice too. Provided you are not looking for a 1lb trigger, you aren't likely to need to replace it as it is adjustable from 2-4lbs and is fairly crisp. Negative? One action size fits all. Uses a spacer block. Also, it is a plastic fantastic. Plastic magazine and other parts. Stock is fiberglass. Very light and hollow feeling gives the impression it is a P.O.S. , but it is at least rigid. Overall, it feels absolutely cheap, cheesy and like a joke - but it isn't. It is a good rifle that shoots well. A lot of people experience what I said. Holding it in the gunshop does not inspire the feeling of solid quality - but that is deceiving.

Howa 1500 is the exact same rifle as the Weatherby Vanguard, because Howa makes them for Weatherby. These are Japanese rifles. For the money, they are pretty high quality. Finish on it is much better than the Remington. These are the same rifles that Weatherby guarantees will shoot 1.5moa out of the box. Can't speak for the stock since they all come with different stocks and you didn't specify. You can probably judge the 1500 by finding Weatherby Vanguard testimony on the web.

In .223 there is something else to consider. Both the Howa and Remington will be 1/12 twist. The Remington will have a 26" barrel and I believe the Howa a 24". The Tikka will have a 23.5" 1/8 twist barrel. This lets you shoot bullets up to 80gr. Note, that there are some 1/12 Tikka T3's out there. The Tikka T3 Varmint is different, in that its stock has a wider forearm and is freefloated.

December 9, 2007, 07:53 PM
Based from that it looks like I should lean more towards the Tikka. I'm really not a big stickler for how a gun feels, as long as it performs. If the Tikka is most likely to turn in the smallest groups then I'd be thrilled with that. Besides, the varmint model with the heavier barrel should take care of the light weight "problem".

I've always viewed cars the same way. I'm perfectly willing to drive an 800 HP rust-bucket.

Anyone have first-hand experience with these guns and their respective groups?

Don't Tread On Me
December 9, 2007, 08:11 PM
I'd do a search. You'll find a lot of info as that's been asked quite a bit. When I was searching around I was considering the Tikka also. I didn't buy it because the Remington SPS Tactical in .223 was in 1/9 and that was good enough for what this rifle is intended for, and it was $150 less, which was the amount I used to upgrade by getting a used HS Precision stock for it.

The Tikka still has the superior barrel, however Remington isn't a slouch by any means.

Ah, one really nice thing about the Tikka. It has a 70 degree bolt lift. That is such a nice feature. People rarely talk about that, but it is really nice to never worry about how much space your fingers will have to work the bolt without them getting grinded by the scope. Some scope/mount combinations puts the scope close enough to the Remington bolt handle to where you cannot fully grip it. You open it, then use just the bottom of it to slide it back with your palm. That is why you'll see many people replace it with a tactical bolt handle which is longer giving your hand more clearance. Either that or you have to mount the scope higher which then kills your cheek weld - at which point some folks add either a stock pad or an adjustable cheek piece.

With the Tikka, you can mount the scope as low as you can so long as it doesn't touch the barrel and not worry about the bolt clearing the ocular bell.

December 9, 2007, 08:46 PM
Anyone have first-hand experience with these guns and their respective groups?

I picked up a .223 SPS Varmint a few months ago and it has really shown the potential for very good accuracy with no real load development.I thouroughly cleaned the bore before the 1st range session and fired 10 shots sighting in and getting the feel of the rifle and fired these 5 shot groups.
-The top left was shots 10-14 with a 52 Berger load.
-The top right was shots 16-20 with a 52 Sierra , I had patch cleaned with solvent and fired a fouler which was shot 15.
-Bottom left was 21-25 a 55 Berger load that shot well in my 700LTR but not so good here.
I decided to give the barrel a good brush cleaning before firing the last group , again a fouler which was shot #26
-Bottom right shots 27-31 - things beginning to tighten up , again the 52 Sierra.
That was the end of the first range session as darkness had arrived.

Might be noted that the SPS is being utilized in a HS Precision stock and a Jewell benchrest trigger was installed. Now the Jewell will not make the rifle any more accurate but it sure helps ME shoot the rifle much better!

My second range session the following weekend I tried a new load with H335 and the Sierra 52 which resulted in a ragged hole group so I was pleased that my SPS was performing even better with the new load.

The next time around the brass will be fire formed to the chamber and hopefully the results will be even better!

December 9, 2007, 11:05 PM
I'm really not a big stickler for how a gun feels, as long as it performs.

If that was true, you'd have a Savage on your list.

December 9, 2007, 11:14 PM
Actually, the Savage is a consideration. The reason I was asking about the Tikka and Howa is because they are wild cards that I know almost nothing about. The Savage I'm familiar with, just like the Remington. I'm using the Remington as a baseline to compare the others.

December 9, 2007, 11:22 PM
I've got a Howa that stinks off a bench, but the stock is perfect, and I've made the most amazing shots of my life hunting with it. It's less accurate than my worst Savage, but it shoots minute of deer and I love it. Face it, they're all good, you may just need to put some (substantial) gunsmith money into some of them.

December 9, 2007, 11:53 PM
Personally, I'd get the Howa...

The Remington 700 is a good gun, but there is some variability in workmanship...

The Tikka T3 looks and feels cheap to me. It is certainly much cheaper to produce than the old Sakos, but that's about all that I can think of that's positive to say about it. Having said that, the T3 can be quite a good shooter.

The standard Howa in .223 comes with a 22 inch barrel, but the varmint and heavy barrel models have longer barrels (and are quite a bit more expensive than the standard model). The Weatherby Vanguard (which is a Howa, of course) standard rifle comes with a 24 in barrel, with varmint versions with longer barrels also available (and more expensive). These rifles (all of the Howas, regardless of the name on the outside) are well made and quite consistent in quality (as you might expect with something made in Japan).

Of them, I'd get the standard Weatherby Vanguard in .223 with the 24 inch barrel. Oh, wait, I already did...:)

And, sporting a Nikon Buckmasters 4.5-14x40mmSF riflescope, it's a shooter...


December 10, 2007, 01:30 AM
I would go w/ the Tikka just because it seems like such a great value

December 10, 2007, 10:08 AM
I have the Tikka T3 "varmint" model in 223.

the flyer was totally my fault, the single hole is the other 4 rounds
this was off a rickety chinese Harris copy bipod :)

December 10, 2007, 10:09 AM
found another picture, with bolt out for cleaning

December 10, 2007, 10:11 AM
I'm really starting to like the Tikka. I have a question though.

What about aftermrket stuff? Are rings, bases, stocks, barrels available for this, as they would be for the Remington?

December 10, 2007, 10:59 AM
howa is a seriously interesting rig. many innovations to this rifle. Completely forged, solid parts. all steel floorplate and trigger guard, excellent made stock, and you can get a ton of repalcement stocks for them. Their new Axiom line has just about the most interesting stock made, right now. Great bbls as well. Howa is really tough to beat, and the price is right.

Will Learn
December 10, 2007, 11:29 AM
Get a Savage

December 10, 2007, 09:22 PM
What about aftermrket stuff? Are rings, bases, stocks, barrels available for this, as they would be for the Remington?
You can find any part for a remington.

You will find few choices for the Tikka.
There are some ring choices, but it is limited because the Tikka has a grooved reciever and manages recoil by having a post on one ring fit into a hole at the top of the reciever.
If you look hard enough you will find weaver/picatinny style bases but you will pay $Texas.
AFAIK no one regularly produces an aftermarket stock for the Tikka. I've never wanted one, the factory stock fits me perfectly.
Any good gunsmith can put a barrel on your Tikka, but you won't need it. If you need really good consistent accuracy then get the T3 Varmint or Tactical. The Lite and Hunter sporter weight barrels are very good (my T3 Lite is a 0.5 MOA gun), but the barrel will heat up quickly like any other sporter and groups will open up with repeated rapid fire. T3s are guaranteed to shoot 3-shot 1MOA groups. I've never seen a sporter weight all factory 700 shoot 1MOA with factory ammo.

The Tikka is the better built gun compared to the 700 and 1500.
Pick one up and compare the quality of the machining. Everything fits perfectly. The trigger is adjustable and almost as good as aftermarket 700 triggers.

Does the T3 Lite feel cheap? Sure, almost every plastic gun feels cheap. But once you work the action and pull the trigger it will feel like a million dollars. Compare the T3 Lite's stock to a synthetic 700 or 1500 and you'll see a big quality difference in the material, stiffness, and casting quality. If it feels too hollow then fill it with a little bit of expanding insulation.
The mag is plastic, but works very well. The follwer in the mag is nice. If you want to feed single rounds just drop one into the ejection port and close the bolt. I like having a magazine. If I need to clear the gun I just pop the mag out and extract the chambered round. No messing with a blind mag or popping a floorplate loose and picking up the cartridges.

The T3 Lite is light weight. With my Leupold 3-9x40mm scope it is only a couple of ounces over 7 lbs, that less than an unscoped 700. It's a joy to carry in the woods.

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