Traded my Tikkas for a Winchester and a Ruger: A Review


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sleepyone
November 9, 2009, 09:08 PM
This is not a Tikka bashing, so don't take it as that. Merely my experiences as a former Tikka, and current Ruger, and Winchester owner. Earlier this year, I got back into hunting after a several year break for school, career and fatherhood and bought a Tikka T3 Lite Stainless/Synthetic in 308 and T3 Synthetic/blue in 243. I had never heard of Tikka, but value, reported accuracy and the Sako name lead me to purchase these rifles. I was not crazy about the synthetic stocks and polymer magazine, bolt shroud and trigger guard but all the reviews talked about how accurate they are and how smooth the action is; which is true on both accounts. Prior to this, I had owned Winchesters and Rugers in wood and blued with floor plate instead of magazines. I put about three boxes of ammo through each Tikka and had them ready for opening day. I thought I would get over the plastics and synthetic but could not, so I traded both of them at Cabelaís this weekend to take advantage of their rifle sale. I picked up a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in 270 for the crazy price of $615 NIB and a Ruger M77 Hawkeye Standard in 243 for my daughter for $579 NIB. Put my Nikon Buckmasters 3x9 40mm matte finish on both rifles and put a box of ammo through each at the range today.

Call me old-fashioned, but I love the feel of wood and the look of a nice blued barrel. I like how an eight or nine pound scoped rifle feels in my hand. The Tikkas did nothing for me in those departments. I did not get the warm fuzzies when holding them like I do my Featherweight and Ruger. I have a Model 70 Sporter in 300 Win Mag on lay away that I canít wait to fondle!

I was concerned that I would give up some accuracy. My Tikkas were able to do ĺ-1Ē groups at 100 yards. Boy was I wrong! Using Federal 150 gr. on the 270 and Federal 100 gr. on the 243, I was able to get consistent 3 and 5 shot dime-size groupings at 100 yards on both. I was blown away. Granted, since I bought the Tikkas in January, I have been spending a lot of time on the range this year, so my accuracy has improved greatly. And the liberal use of sand bags takes away almost all movement, but all you hear about on the forums and blogs is Weatherby Vanguards, Savages, Tikkas, Howa etc. being MOA and Sub-MOA. You donít hear too much about that kind of out of the box accuracy with Remingtons, Rugers, or Winchesters. Personally, I think the whole MOA and Sub-MOA thing is blown out of proportion. My father-in-law has been hunting for 40 years with the same beat-up Savage 300 pump rifle that he bought for $79 at a hardware store.

Anyway, here are my observations on the Winchester and Rugers. I am not a rifle or ballistics expert; just a guy who loves to hunt, shoot and appreciates old-school hunting rifles.

Stock
Both stocks are good quality, but that is where the comparison ends. I absolutely love the Featherweight stock design with the Schnabel forend. The checkering is also nicer on th M70. The Ruger stock is nice enough but Winchester wins hands down here.

Bolt/Action
I like the CRF in the M70 but prefer the Mauser action in the Ruger even though the Ruger bolt is not as smooth. That will improve over time the more I shoot it. The Ruger bolt was actually difficult to close several times today.

Trigger
The new Model 70 trigger is sweet right of the box. No creep. Very crisp. I donít know the pull but it was not much more than my Tikkas were. I wonít adjust it. The new Ruger trigger, called LC6 I believe, is OK but has more pull and not near as crisp as the Winchester. Defeinitely noticed some creep. I may get it adjusted, since it is for my daughter.

Safety
The three-position safety is a must for me. That is one of the reasons I donít consider Remingtons. The M70 safety is stiff when going from fire to the middle setting. The Ruger safety is easier to operate at this point.

Floor plate
I like the release button on the Ruger better. The Ruger emblem is a nice touch also. A floor plate model is a must for me. I hated messing with the Tikka magazines. If you lose one in the field, you are down to a single-shot rifle. They arenít cheap to replace either.

Scope mounting system
Ruger wins here. Less parts means less opportunity for things to loosen and move around. I know that is not a huge problem, but you save $60 on bases and rings. Canít argue with that.

Made in USA
Winchester and Ruger 1. Tikka 0.

Barrels
I wish the Ruger had a standard gloss blue barrel. The matt finish is very utilitarian. The Winchester barrel is very attractive and really compliments the stock. The recessed crown is very nice also.

Recoil Pad
Winchester wins here also. The pad is substantial and works well. The Ruger has a minimal recoil pad although it does have the Ruger logo stamped on it. ; )

Accuracy
Like I said, both rifles outshot my Tikkas. Was not expecting that.

Price/Value
It is hard to beat Rugerís value. The normal price for the Hawkeye is $630 at Cabelas. The Featherweight normally runs $689 - $739. I had some Cabelaís bucks and a coupon code, so I stole the M70 for $615 plus tax and got the Ruger for $579 plus tax. Leupold rings and bases set me back $60 for the M70, so all in it was $675 plus tax. Almost $100 more than the Ruger. Was it worth it? Well, I plan on getting another Featherweight in 25-06 as soon as I get my M70 Sporter 300 Win Mag out of lay away! The Ruger is a great rifle for someone on a budget, if you want a good, solid rifle as a backup, a spare rifle for a buddy to use or even one that you donít mind taking through brush or bad-weather hunting. I know there are die-hard Ruger fans who might take offense to that statement, but I donít mean it as a slam. I even have a Hawkeye in 308, one of my favorite calibers, on the way.

In conclusion, I like my Winchester better, but would be happy if all I had was my Ruger. I would prefer a Ruger over Remington any day. I think Remington is way over-priced when you compare it to Winchester.

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Horsemany
November 9, 2009, 09:59 PM
Great write up! I can see pros and cons to every gun in the cabinet. Ruger's are probably the gun I'd pick to survive with. It'd be hard to break the one-piece bolt. I agree with everything you've written here. The advantage of the Tikka would be simplicity, smooth feeding single stack magazine and lightweight IMO. All the cons you've outlined already.

I've gone round and round trying to figure out my favorite turnbolt. Usually I have to figure out the last few days before season. Guess I'm fortunate to have that problem.

sleepyone
November 9, 2009, 10:14 PM
Thanks for the feedback. Ruger would probably be my survival gun also. Yes, we are blessed to live in a country where we have the "problem" of choosing which gun we want to hunt with. After Obama steals our healthcare, he is coming after our guns.

A-FIXER
November 9, 2009, 10:25 PM
+1 on the the zero man h...um o-man deeds...

desidog
November 9, 2009, 10:56 PM
This is something i've been pondering lately in the thread on lefty bolt guns...I'm very interested to read your opinion. These brands, plus Savage, are the left-hand action options, and after reading your post, i'm more inclined to stick with what i know and like, the M70 Featherweight, instead of going in the Tikka direction. I'm interested to see where this thread goes...i'm going to try to restrain myself from getting on the phone for a featherweight til next weekend; and any additional input is appreciated!

longdayjake
November 9, 2009, 10:57 PM
I own an older m70 and I just bought a ruger hawkeye in .223. If I were to do a write up on them, it would have been very similar to what you just wrote. There are ruger bashers in these parts, but they seem to be making a better gun these days. Lets hope they keep it up.

sleepyone
November 9, 2009, 11:22 PM
desidog, it's funny you mention left-handed. I am a lefty shooter but did not take that into account when choosing the rifles. I have only had one left-handed rifle; a Ruger 270 about 10 years back. Since then, I have always bought right-handed guns because of availability and easier resale; although I hope to keep whatever I buy from here on out. Winchester does not have any left-handed models for 2009. Maybe they will going forward. Might have something to do with being in their new Carolina factory and not in New Haven, CT. Ruger does have a good selection. Browning has lefties in the A-bolt but not the new X-bolt. Tikka also has a good selection of lefties. Remington has some although I'm not sure which models, since I did not consider them.

I looked at Savage but did not care them. Just personal preference. I hear they are good shooters.

sleepyone
November 9, 2009, 11:28 PM
This is something i've been pondering lately in the thread on lefty bolt guns...I'm very interested to read your opinion. These brands, plus Savage, are the left-hand action options, and after reading your post, i'm more inclined to stick with what i know and like, the M70 Featherweight, instead of going in the Tikka direction. I'm interested to see where this thread goes...i'm going to try to restrain myself from getting on the phone for a featherweight til next weekend; and any additional input is appreciated!
I hear Winchester is low on most calibers right now. Cabela's in Fort Worth can only get 30-06, 270 and 300 swm in the Featherweights; and they are low on those. I snagged the last 270 in the store. They told me a 25-06 or 243 would be a special order. I don't know if that is a short-term deal or for the whole season. Winchester got slammed this season. Speaks well of Winchester. I think their quality is back to where it should be. I know I am extremely happy with mine.

ECVMatt
November 9, 2009, 11:37 PM
I have always liked Rugers and they have always shot well for me. I think the folks that bash them really haven't shot them.

Great write up and fun with those rifles.

Matt

Welding Rod
November 9, 2009, 11:37 PM
Good write up.

I bought a Tikka T3 Lite weight a few weeks ago. I took it to the range weekend before last, shot one box of good Hornady ammo through it, and traded it in for a .308 Ruger Hawkeye Standard (Wood and matte blue) on Saturday.

I agree with your comments. I just couldn't love the Tikka. The bolt was very smooth and the machine work well done, but the trigger wasn't that great and the stock left me cold. The plastic parts, particularly the magazine, didn't grow on me either. Plus I just couldn't get over the guilt of owning an imported rifle.

The Ruger I got is a great specimen. Nice trigger and safety movement. I like Rugers scope mount system alot. And all of what should be steel parts are made of actual steel, with the exception of the grip cap - which I wasn't too happy about.

It is pretty and nice to hold. I expect it will be accurate as my other Ruger bolt guns have been.

sleepyone
November 9, 2009, 11:55 PM
Good write up.

I bought a Tikka T3 Lite weight a few weeks ago. I took it to the range weekend before last, shot one box of good Hornady ammo through it, and traded it in for a .308 Ruger Hawkeye Standard (Wood and matte blue) on Saturday.

I agree with your comments. I just couldn't love the Tikka. The bolt was very smooth and the machine work well done, but the trigger wasn't that great and the stock left me cold. The plastic parts, particularly the magazine, didn't grow on me either. Plus I just couldn't get over the guilt of owning an imported rifle.

The Ruger I got is a great specimen. Nice trigger and safety movement. I like Rugers scope mount system alot. And all of what should be steel parts are made of actual steel, with the exception of the grip cap - which I wasn't too happy about.

It is pretty and nice to hold. I expect it will be accurate as my other Ruger bolt guns have been.
Glad I'm not the only one who wasn't moved by the Tikka. I think it is a good gun for its target audience. An inexpensive, accurate and servicable rifle. But it won't win any beauty pageants or miss congeniality awards.

sounds like we were on the same mission this weekend. How much did you get for your trade-in? I got $350 for my T3 lite stainless/synthetic 308 and $300 for the blued/synthetic 243. Not great but enough to satisfy me and get what I really wanted. I'm looking forward to firing my Hawkeye 308 as well.

Matrix187
November 10, 2009, 01:53 AM
CZ 550 American's compare rather favorably to Winchester M70's. They weight a bit more and don't come in as many calibers, but are the kind of gun that will last you a life time and come with a set trigger.

DRYHUMOR
November 10, 2009, 06:03 AM
Good write up.

While there's nothing with synthetic, there's nothing like a nice wood stock either. I have had a few over the years that were "too nice to hunt with". That has led me to synthetics on rifles I expect to have some "hard use".

I've got one M70 FW, and you are right, it is a sexy stock.

I wish Winchester hadn't gone out of business, a couple of years back. The 2006 catalog shows a M70 called the Custom Continental Hunter with a Schnabel forend and a Prince of Wales grip. THAT stock is some kind of wonderful. :cool:

jmr40
November 10, 2009, 06:44 AM
Not surprised that you found all 3 rifles basically equal in accuracy. The new Winchesters are earning a good reputation for accuracy and the Rugers can't seem to shake the bad rap they got for accuracy 20 years ago. New Rugers are as accurate as anything else on the market.

I wont knock the Tikka, I also used to own a couple myself and they are a great gun for the money. One thing you forgot to compare in your write up is weight. At 6.2 lbs the Tikka wins and that is a major consideration for a lot of guys. I sold both of my Tikkas because they were too heavy after buying a 5lb. Kimber.

I have a couple Rugers and like them a lot as well as a few older pushfeed Featherweights. I agree the Featherweight is the best looking rifle made. Somehow I have to find a way to justify buying one of the new versions.

sleepyone
November 10, 2009, 07:17 AM
Not surprised that you found all 3 rifles basically equal in accuracy. The new Winchesters are earning a good reputation for accuracy and the Rugers can't seem to shake the bad rap they got for accuracy 20 years ago. New Rugers are as accurate as anything else on the market.

I wont knock the Tikka, I also used to own a couple myself and they are a great gun for the money. One thing you forgot to compare in your write up is weight. At 6.2 lbs the Tikka wins and that is a major consideration for a lot of guys. I sold both of my Tikkas because they were too heavy after buying a 5lb. Kimber.

I have a couple Rugers and like them a lot as well as a few older pushfeed Featherweights. I agree the Featherweight is the best looking rifle made. Somehow I have to find a way to justify buying one of the new versions.
Yeah, I did not mention weight. Knew I left out something. Tikka was the lightest by far, then the M70 and then Ruger. Depending on the model and caliber, some Rugers weigh a full pound more than the M70s. I don't carry for long periods where I hunt, so the weight thing is not as critical for me, but I know for some people it is a deciding factor, so I should have included it. Although, I think you can go too light in some cases. Tikka has a 6.2 lb rifle in magnum calibers like 300 and 338. I can't imagine being on the receiving end of that. If I ever get to go on an elk hunt, I will want a lighter gun, which is why I have that M70 sporter 300 win mag on lay away. it is only 7 1/4 lbs. That is as light as I want to go in a mag cal.

sleepyone
November 10, 2009, 07:21 AM
CZ 550 American's compare rather favorably to Winchester M70's. They weight a bit more and don't come in as many calibers, but are the kind of gun that will last you a life time and come with a set trigger.
I have heard good things about CZ, but it did not meet my criteria of being made in USA. That sounds corny to some people, but with the state of our country, I can't buy foreign when there are US guns that are just as good if not better. I don't hold any grudges against guys who have CZ or Tikkas. We are free to buy what we want when we want; for now.

Welding Rod
November 10, 2009, 11:05 PM
I got $500 for my Tikka T3 light weight stainless .30-06 in trade on the Ruger. I paid $599 for the .308 Ruger (and got an included Carhart jacket coming). I had paid $619 for the Tikka a couple weeks prior.

BTW I was not taken with the Tikka accuracy. I only shot one load through it, but it was good quality Hornady ammo. I was getting between 3 and 4 inches at 200 yards. I couldn't believe it. The only scoped rifle I can remember owning that ever shot that bad for me was a Mini 14. I had very high expectations for the Tikka.

I shoot pretty well under bench conditions with good optics. Even my 375 Ruger Alaskan shot groups close to half what the Tikka was doing, on the same day, using the same make and model scope at the same magnification level.

The Tikka might have been real good with different ammo, but I guess I will never know.

Uncle Mike
November 11, 2009, 12:09 AM
I can't buy foreign when there are US guns that are just as good if not better.

God bless you!

I wish more people saw it this way!

mooner
November 11, 2009, 09:22 AM
Not trying to bash anyone here, but isn't giving the Winchester points for being made in the USA kind of like saying "I bought a Toyota because they are made in the USA"? I am am a bit biased I guess, but Ruger and Remington are true American owned companies with guns "made in the USA" (for the most part I think).

I guess my point is, with today's economy and companies, "made in the USA" is a bit of a slippery slope. Should the requirement be that the company is owned by American's, or providing jobs for Americans? I can see the merit in both.

All that being said, I do own a Tikka and a Benelli, as well as a couple Marlin's, a Remington, a Browning, and a Ruger. They all perform well and are well made.

I would also own a Winchester if I had the need and money, as I do think they are well made and very good looking rifles. It is good to hear that they are turning out a very accurate rifle.

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