It would be fair to say there wouldn’t be too many hunters around Australia who don’t have a Tikka rifle or two in their gun safe. Sales results indicate the T3x model is Australia’s most popular rifle and for good reason considering its European pedigree, slick bolt throw, endless model variations and configurations. I speak with experience being the owner of a T3x Super Light in .300 WSM and to say I’m rapt with it would be an understatement, accounting for its fair share of deer and pigs since purchasing in 2017.
The latest models vary slightly from Tikka’s original T3 released here 18 years ago but the Finnish manufacturer continues to produce top-quality rifles, underlining its popularity with shooters worldwide. When the chance came to review the all-new T3x Veil Alpine model, Beretta Australia offered a choice of calibres and I settled on the .300 Win Mag as it was ballistically similar and closest cartridge to my .300 WSM. Accompanying the rifle was a Steiner Ranger 2.5-10×50 scope and assortment of factory ammunition including Sellier & Bellot 180-grain, Sako Gamehead Pro 165-grain and Sako Racehead 175-grain.
Out of the box
Appealing at first glance, the Veil Alpine as the name suggests is Tikka’s take on a rifle designed with Alpine and mountain hunters in mind sporting the Veil camouflage, a well-designed blotch-style, disruptive pattern which blends in well with rocky environments and minimal conflict in timbered areas. All stainless steel components are cerakoted in a matte light grey which blends in well with the stock and improves durability in inclement weather.
The top length of the receiver is dovetailed to suit Sako Optilock rings (or similar dovetail mounts of 17mm) and additionally is drilled and tapped to accept mount screws for which Beretta supplied the Burris two-piece base and Steiner rings. The bolt is spiral fluted and not only looks good but trims the weight, paired with an enlarged bolt handle for a firm grip to aid rapid follow-up shots. As with the full T3x range, the silky-slick action is a push-feed design with twin locking lugs machined to provide a low-profile 70-degree bolt throw, the claw extractor and plunge ejector combining with the T3x widened ejection port to promote clear extraction of fired cases.
A two-position safety is to the rear right of the receiver enabling easy manipulation by the shooter’s master thumb, sliding rear for ‘safe’ and forward for ‘fire’ marked with a red dot on the receiver. Bolt closure is clearly identified by a cocking piece indicator (red dot) exposed at the rear of the bolt when the trigger sears are engaged and ready for firing, the single-stage blade trigger fully adjustable from an approximate 4lb maximum to 2lb minimum. Since this wasn’t my rifle, I left the trigger at the factory set pressure of 3lb and although I found it a little heavy for hunting, it was acceptable for testing.
The barrel is the business end of the rifle and Tikka’s, made by Sako in Finland, are renowned for outstanding accuracy. The designated D-18 barrel is larger in diameter than my Super Light and classed as semi-heavy profile, specifically designed for increased firing stability in challenging conditions. Certainly not heavy by any means, the full-length fluting helps reduce weight when compared with other straight cut barrels of semi-heavy profile. Tikka barrels are cold hammer forged and claim to be superior to other methods of production, delivering high-quality consistency across the bracket. The rifle chambered for the .300 Win Mag has a rifling twist rate of one in 11^ and measures 600mm.
Included for the T3x range is a muzzle brake which adds to overall length but doesn’t detract from appearance. I’m not recoil sensitive and have never had the need for a muzzle brake but Tikka have done a fine job of combining the two. A screw-on knurled end cap matching the barrel profile can be fitted when the muzzle brake isn’t required though I decided to fit the muzzle brake and test the complete package.
Front and rear action screws securely fasten the receiver recess on the underside to a steel recoil lug of the synthetic stock, mating the two components precisely. All T3x synthetic stocks are modular and Tikka designed them for personal customisation with replacement parts and additions available on request, including pistol grips which are interchangeable with the simple use of the supplied Torx tool.
I’ve never felt the need for alterations as the standard arrangement fits me beautifully and this one’s no different. The pistol grip is ambidextrous with generous palmswell which instantly feels natural to grasp. The butt has a straight comb with no raised cheekpiece but the overall feel when combined with the fore-end’s slight taper and moulded grips promotes positive sighting when shouldered. Standard sling swivel studs are included on fore-end and buttstock.
The one-piece magazine bottom and triggerguard are made from high-strength synthetic polymer contributing to overall weight reduction, three .300 Win Mag rounds held securely and single-stacked in the polymer magazine. The magazine is attached firmly and released easily from the stock recess by pressing the release catch, additional magazines by Tikka available upon request. Recoil pads are an important part of any rifle chambered in big calibres and the thick, 25mm rubber pad helps substantially.
At the range
After stripping and assembling the rifle for a better understanding of its internals and externals, I couldn’t wait to see how the complete package performed. Using the supplied Burris two-piece mounts I positioned the Steiner Ranger scope for correct eye relief and despite the Veil Alpine weighing a combined total of around 4kg (scoped and loaded), it surprised me how balanced it was when shouldering offhand for a sight picture. To be honest, it felt better than my beloved custom .284 rifle of similar weight which proves how important a well-balanced design is. As expected, the Steiner Ranger provided a clear picture and sighting-in at the standard 100m was easy and I didn’t take long to achieve acceptable hunting groups using Sellier & Bellot factory ammo firing 180-grain Nosler Partition bullets.
The .300 Win Mag is no pussycat and I noticed, with muzzle brake fitted, felt recoil and muzzle jump was reduced. I believe the combination of Tikka’s D-18 barrel and muzzle brake tamed the big smoker when compared to my standard .300 WSM Super Light. After a few follow-up sessions testing Sellier & Bellot and Sako factory ammo, I settled on the 165-grain Sako Gamehead Pro as my preferred hunting option.
All supplied factory ammo averaged just over 1 MOA, printing similar three-shot groups on paper which I was satisfied with. The 300 Win Mag is known as an accurate flat shooter and I reinforced its reputation at 200m by shooting an improved sub-MOA group. As always, consistency on the range gives me confidence for that all-important kill shot out in the field so I was keen to field test the rifle and put the wheels in motion for a hunt.
In the field
A few days of continuous rain delayed our trip to the annual roar, the mountainous property laying down a challenge as three winch pulls were needed to take us up the first muddy hill to camp. I was confident the roar would resume after the rain but to our disappointment it had ended, so the next few days saw us in the hills doing the hard yards in search of a now elusive red deer. Sadly our portable fridge was going home empty although the T3x Veil Alpine accompanied me comfortably over many a mountain mile. During this time it proved itself worthy of mountain rifle status and Tikka have produced a wonderfully designed T3x model up to the task, its feel, balance and accuracy providing the ultimate in confidence if a shot arose.
Overall I wasn’t surprised to discover how well-designed the T3x Veil Alpine is and happy Tikka haven’t changed a winning formula Australian shooters have come to appreciate. There aren’t many of our game species which won’t drop from a single .300 Win Mag round though there’s absolutely no substitute for a well-placed shot to the vitals.
The same applies to other calibres in the Veil Alpine stable including 6.5 Creedmoor, 270 Win, 7mm Rem Mag, 308 Win and 300 WSM, all of which are accurate and capable hunting rounds. Retailing for $2359 (rifle only) at time of writing is expected for a well-made European rifle of strong reputation. Distributed by Beretta Australia to retailers throughout the country, find more at www.berettaaustralia.com.au