Little pigs, little pigs!
Chris Redlich accounts for some wild boar with the Tikka T3x Wild Boar
Additional to Tikka’s 2022 midyear line-up is the Australia-inspired Wild Boar rifle. Based on the ever-popular T3x platform this is a lightweight stalking rifle designed purely with Australian pig hunters in mind, providing a fast-handling, slick-cycling firearm with 10-shot capacity, conducive to follow-up shooting. Although there was a fair amount of ‘hush’ around its release in June of last year, I turned up the volume on my reply when I accepted an invitation from Beretta Australia for a comprehensive review.
Only .223 Rem and .308 Win chamberings are available but they’re arguably the two most popular cartridges here for pig hunting due to their reputation and reliability. It’s no secret I’m a fan of Tikka rifles and after a frustrating delay with my Permit to Acquire, the day arrived three months later to pick up the rifle in .308 Win. Additionally, Beretta sent an Aimpoint red dot sight and assortment of Sako factory ammunition to assist with testing.
Out of the box
What immediately stood out was the bright orange fore-end and pistol grip and while I’m sure the colour may appeal to some, I personally prefer a low-key affair. Thankfully the Wild Boar’s stock is modular like all other T3x synthetic models with interchangeable black grips supplied. Colour aside, by all appearances the Wild Boar design has been drawn from a combination of Tikka’s successful Superlite and CTR (Compact Tactical Rifle) platforms and weighing 3.2kg (unscoped) with empty mag fitted is where you really appreciate the genetics.
The fluted and blued chrome moly barrel has a Superlite profile measuring just 16mm at the muzzle and 570mm (22.4^) in length. The .308 barrel has a twist rate of one-in-11^ and will stabilise many projectile weights from 150 to 180-grain, suitable for pig control. The muzzle crown is recessed to improve accuracy but disappointedly not threaded for accessories such as a muzzle brake .Tikka advertising originally specified a threaded barrel as standard but my test rifle contradicts this, though muzzle threading is available on request from Beretta. Importantly, Tikka barrels are manufactured in Finland by parent company Sako, so rest assured accuracy is guaranteed to sub-MOA with a three-shot group from their factory ammo.
At the heart of the Wild Boar is Tikka’s unmistakeable CTR-inspired blued receiver which includes a full-length Picatinny rail for universal mounting of many sight options. The 17mm integral dovetail on the T3x receiver is still evident but while the Picatinny rail is fastened by cap screws, the user manual warns against removal. I assume by the caution that Tikka have tightened the rail using a high-strength Loctite compound on the screw threads.
The stainless steel bolt is spiral fluted and looks smart, shaves off excess weight and combined with the enlarged polymer knob handle provides a firm grip to aid fast, repeating bolt action. As with all T3xs the silky-slick action is a push feed design with twin locking lugs, machined to provide a low profile 70-degree bolt throw, while the claw extractor and plunge ejector combined with the widened ejection port promote clear extraction of fired cases.
A two-position safety sits to the rear right of the receiver, enabling easy manipulation by the shooter’s master thumb, back for ‘safe’ and forward for ‘fire’ marked by a red dot on the receiver and like every T3x I’ve used, their safety catches are easily among the quietest and smoothest available. Bolt closure is clearly identified by a cocking piece indicator (red dot) exposed at the rear of the bolt shroud when the trigger sears are engaged and ready for firing, the single-stage blade trigger fully adjustable from an approximate 4lb maximum down to 2.5lb minimum.
Since I was using the rifle for pig hunting I left the trigger at the factory-set pressure of 3lb and although I found it a touch heavy for my style of hunting, it was acceptable for testing. Unlike deer hunting where usually a single well-placed round is required, the Wild Boar comes equipped with two dual-stack 10-shot steel magazines which allow for fast follow-up shots on a mob of feral pigs.
The magazine has a synthetic base with rubber inlay designed for noise reduction. Although feeling marginally loose once clipped, it fits flush with the alloy triggerguard and is removed easily by grasping with the non-master hand and pushing forward the ambidextrous release button with the tip of your trigger finger. All steel metallic parts except for the bolt are finished in a non-reflective deep matte blueing.
Front and rear action screws securely fasten the receiver recess on the underside to a steel recoil lug on the synthetic stock, mating the two components precisely to leave the barrel completely free-floating from the fore-end. Ultralight by design, the synthetic stock is made from a tough glass-fibre reinforced copolymer.
Although the supplied rifle is a right-hand action the entire stock and its ancillaries are completely ambidextrous, allowing for comfortable left or right shouldering. Varying slightly from my own Superlite, the buttstock has a CTR-inspired removable cheekpiece to accommodate alternate sighting options and the two removable spacers behind the rubber recoil pad allow the hunter to personalise length-of-pull.
The generous palmswell of the pistol grip and the rifle’s overall balance promotes positive sighting when shouldered, adding to the appeal of a fast-handling authentic pig-hunting rifle. If I was to have one minor complaint of the synthetic stock it would be the hollow sound of the buttstock when bumped. I’m sure this could be rectified easily with a high-density Styrofoam filling but possibly at an additional weight trade-off. As per standard, sling swivel studs are included on the fore-end and buttstock for those who carry their rifle long distances.
I mounted the Aimpoint red dot sight forwardmost on the Picatinny rail and opted to remove the orange fore grip, which revealed the same slim fore-end as the T3x Superlite I’m familiar with for fast-pointing, close-range shooting. For testing later with the Burris Eliminator scope my intentions would be to refit the supplied black fore-end grip to provide a more suitable long-range platform.
Range and field testing
As with other T3xs I’ve used the Wild Boar produced outstanding ‘out of the box’ accuracy to reinforce Tikka’s three-shot MOA guarantee. Both supplied scopes sighted-in perfectly with the Burris Eliminator first up, pinpoint for 100m then removed and the Aimpoint sight dead-on at 50m.
Typically my efforts in the early stages to support the Wild Boar review with a real wild boar proved frustratingly uneventful. Literally thousands of kilometres and months had passed and it’s not that I hadn’t shot any pigs during this time, I just never had the T3x Wild Boar with me when we stumbled across them. In fact on two occasions while hunting for deer and target shooting, rather ironically I ended up taking pigs with my own Tikka rifles.
And just like that there they were. “Pigs”, my wife Sue-Ann said as we meandered through the property, spotlighting for varmints with smaller calibre rifles. I came prepared this time by bringing the T3x Wild Boar and while partially covered by thick grass, pigs presented for a clear shot and with Sue-Ann operating my Makita work lamp, I took aim at the biggest of the mob. The 150-grain Sako ammo made light work of the first boar as confusion reigned within their ranks and the others fled. Shooting offhand I’d no trouble dropping a second ‘on the run’ and another as it disappeared into the grass. We followed them into thicker scrub but with a clear sight picture now unachievable decided to call it quits.
Finally I had my first porker with the T3x Wild Boar and to say I was relieved would be an understatement. During the unfolding action the rifle shouldered and cycled beautifully and at no stage did I feel uncomfortable with the shot. Having the advantage of a 10-shot magazine provided peace of mind and if things had played out differently in daylight, we’d probably have had more pigs on the ground.
Priced at $2879 (RRP at time of writing) for both calibre options of .223 Rem and .308 Win, the Tikka T3x Wild Boar is perfect for accurate delivery of fast feral pig control and is a welcome addition to a stable of quality rifles proudly made in Finland by Tikka. More at Beretta Australia