July 29, 2020
If you or someone you know are looking to get into the sport of precision rifle shooting, then there are thoughts about buying a rifle and learning how to shoot it.
But if reality doesn’t go according to plan, and the sport doesn’t grab hold, all that’s left is a specialized rifle collecting dust along with someone being out a decent chunk of change.
To avoid such a scenario, consider another approach: go easy with the introduction. One of the best ways to do so is with the right rifle for the mission like the Tikka T1x .22LR.
I realize those are pretty strong words, but the Tikka T1x is inexpensive and has huge aftermarket support that allows it to grow with any shooter. It’s also a rifle that the whole family can enjoy, and few rifles can make that claim.
While the T1x is a good rifle out of the box, the rifle in this report is where it’ll end up if the owner decides precision rifle shooting is for them.
The Base Gun
I found this T1x sitting in the consignment rack of my local gun shop, stickers still on the gun. Technically, it was “used,” but I could tell there had only been a few rounds down the barrel. It came with the Diversified Innovative Products (DIP) Picatinny rail base attached to the receiver and a total of three 10-round magazines. So I figured it was priced well enough at the $350 I paid for it.
I’d been looking for a T1x for a while because it is one of the best rimfire rifles for a wide variety of precision rifle shooters. Newbies will like it because it is accurate, inexpensive and has almost no recoil or muzzle blast. Rifle enthusiasts like it because Tikka is known for performance, and the T1x receiver is made of steel and has the same footprint at a T3, which is why most aftermarket stocks and chassis will fit.
If you look at the T1x action from the side, you’ll see the bottom of the receiver protrudes farther forward than the top of the receiver by about 1.5 inches. That extension exists so the T1x and T3 will match in length.
The T1x retains the T3’s side bolt release, and the triggers between the two are interchangeable. The trigger is one of the company’s best-kept secrets.
Unlike a lot of “adjustable” triggers that come on factory rifles, Tikka triggers actually adjust. They usually come heavy from the factory set at 3 to 4 pounds. Loosening the adjustment screw on the front of the trigger housing quickly lowers that. The trigger on this rifle came set right a 1 pound, so I’m inclined to believe the previous owner installed a new trigger spring from Yo Dave.
Yo Dave has a gang of inexpensive and seriously sweet products, and the Tikka trigger spring is one of them. All it takes to install one is to remove the barreled action from the stock, remove a single bolt to separate the trigger housing from the receiver and remove the trigger adjustment screw from the front of the trigger housing. A spring and plunger will fall out the front of the screw hole. Replace one spring with the other and put it all back together.
Pull weight with the Yo Dave trigger spring can go as low as 12 ounces, and it does not have any impact on the rifle’s ignition system. Making sure the rifle was unloaded, I worked the action to cock the firing pin and then smacked the butt down on my carpeted floor several times to see if the firing pin would drop. It didn’t budge. If you have a Tikka rifle, this trigger spring is the best $10 you’ll ever spend.
Dressing It Up
The basic T1x comes with an injection-molded polymer stock that fits a grown adult well and is high quality for a rifle costing $500. However, the factory stock has only a couple sling-swivel studs for mounting a sling/bipod or anything else you’re interested in, so I knew the factory stock was getting replaced with a Bravo from Kinetic Research Group (KRG).
KRG’s Bravo stock is hands down the best stock/chassis to put on the T1x. It sells for a paltry $370 and allows the barreled action to sit in a solid piece of aluminum with polymer skins bolted to the sides. The result is the barreled action never had a more stable home that happens to be supremely comfortable and adjustable for just about any shooter.
While dropping the barreled action into a machined aluminum chassis/stock does wonders to stabilize the action while firing, it also allows serious use of the ancillary gear required for true precision riflery. The feature I like the most right now on the Bravo is the ease of attaching ARCA-Swiss rails. These slender rails allow for rapid repositioning of the bipod anywhere along the rail’s length.
Relocating the bipod quickly matters a lot when shooting off available field rests, or during precision rifle matches where the shooter has to hit a number of targets in a short amount of time. When in the prone, put the bipod as close to the muzzle as possible. When shooting from field positions, it’s convenient to be able to move the bipod all the way in to just forward of the magazine so that the rifle can rest on narrow or small field supports.
The Bravo has a small rail attachment that extends from the magazine well to the forend’s tip. It is sold as an accessory. My T1x has a KRG “spigot mount” with an ARCA rail (also a Bravo accessory) that puts the bipod close to the muzzle while still allowing uncluttered use of the forend. KRG also has many Bravo accessories that allow for customized sling use and mounting night-vision gear.
Another feature about the Bravo that I appreciate is its ability to have weight added where I want it. Contrary to popular internet opinion, rifles do not need to balance like shotguns, so adding weight to a rifle does help it lie still when trying to shoot small groups.
Adding weight in the back of the rifle is simple enough since I need to add some spacers to adjust length of pull. I’ll use two of the heavy steel spacers to add 1.5 pounds to the Bravo’s original 2.9-pound weight. I’ll also add a steel insert positioned inside the barrel channel at some point. This rifle won’t see much offhand shooting, so weight that I add will help stabilize it when it sits on a bipod.
Wringing It Out
Speaking of group shooting, this rifle can hang with the best of them. I made it a point to test the rifle with premium .22LR match offerings at first light before the wind came up and was not disappointed. Both RWS R 50 and Lapua Center-X ammo turned in the best groups in the low .2-inch range for five shots at 50 yards. SK Rifle Match ammo wasn’t too far behind with a group measuring .26-inch under the same conditions. Those are some fantastic groups from a sub-$500 rifle.
I wasn’t expecting all three ammunition types to group so well, but I wasn’t shocked to see it happen either. Tikka rifle barrels are made in the same factory and on the same machines as SAKO barrels. This is a huge selling factor for the Tikka, considering a bullet traveling down the bore would never know if it’s in a T1x or a SAKO Quad. Both are identical in the chamber and bore, with only the tenon being different on the Quad (it’s a quick-change barrel system). These are some of the finest hammer-forged barrels I have seen, and the Finns have been at it for a long time.
I don’t have anything negative to say about the T1x. I think it’s the perfect rifle for both seasoned precision rifle shooters and newbies. A new shooter won’t ever outgrow the gun, and if they decide precision rifle really isn’t their thing, they still have a fine .22LR for the whole family to enjoy.
One thing I almost forgot to mention is the Sterk bolt handle installed on this rifle. I scoured the whole internet for this one. They’re kind of like finding hen’s teeth, and you pick one up when you get the chance. The Sterk bolt handles are totally worth the effort. They relocate the bolt knob in just the right spot for rapid and easy bolt manipulation and they look super sweet. They are made entirely of anodized aluminum, sell for $95, and are worth every penny.
All-in-all, I have less than $900 in the rifle, and it shoots like a house on fire with a sweet 1-pound trigger. At that price and for that kind of performance, I’ll just look at any scratches it gets as well-earned character. Welcome to the family, T1x!
Tikka T1x Specifications
- Type: Bolt-action repeater
- Cartridge: .22LR
- Capacity: 10+1 rds.
- Barrel: 20 in., 1:16.5-in. twist
- Overall Length: 34.75 in.
- Weight: 6.3 lbs.
- Stock: KRG Bravo
- Grip: Textured polymer
- Length of Pull: 13.25 in.
- Finish: Matte blue
- Trigger: 1-4 lbs.
- Sights: None
- MSRP: $499 (T1x) $370 (Bravo chassis)
- Manufacturer: Tikka, tikka.fi; Kinetic Research Group, kineticresearchgroup.com
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