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Tikka 223 T3 Varmint 73Gr ELD-Match

I'm the youngest of two children. I didn't understand it at the time, but my sister was often times the crash test dummy, and I would benefit from her experiences. Since then, I always figured the veteran move was to surround myself with folks who are better than me, and learn from them.

So, recently, Pharm posted about a Tikka in 223 that he was shooting. His bullets were going about 2900fps. His bullets had a pretty similar BC to the hunting bullets many folks choose. So you get the same trajectory and wind drift as a big game rifle without the recoil. Our hunting rifles are a 270 and a 7x57. Trajectory/drift is VERY close.

Seeing how I dislike noise & recoil more and more the older I get, I figured I'd copy off his homework. So......

I found a T3 with the heavy barrel in 223. 1/8 twist

I used the same powder as Pharm. Varget-25.1 grains gave 2900fps. It took more than a month to track this powder down. Clearly in demand right now. Everyone was sold out. Soon as they had it on the shelf, it was sold out again.

I chose Fed 205M primers. Mostly because I have a ton of them left over from the Great Primer Scare of the early 90s when Billary wanted to outlaw them. So like every shooter back then, I bought every cap I could find. The good news is, I have not bought primers (Except for shotguns) since that time. Hoarding pays!

Nosler prepped 223 cases. FWIW, these things rival the best brass I have ever seen. They weigh the nearly the same. They are the same length. They are ROUND without the lumps and bumps so common in many brands. Two thumbs up, only because I don't have more thumbs. If all of Nosler brass is this good (The only other Nosler brass I have worked with is 270 stuff. It's very good as well) Lapua had better look out.

Bought 73 grain Hornaday ELDM bullets instead of Pharm's 75 grainers. I chose the shorter bullet in hopes that it would fit in the mag box and the blunt noise (Compared to the 75's) and still engage the lands.....More on this later. His have a better BC. But at the ranges I am shooting, a few points of BC don't really matter a helluva lot. And I'm too lazy to go thru load development all over again for a couple inches of drift/drop at long range.

Pharm told me that the throat on the rifle would be longer than the magazine box. I figured a few thousandths or at worst, a couple hundredths of an inch is no big deal. Well, for some reason the brain trust at Tikka put a throat on this thing that would have made a porn star blush. .165" longer than the mag box to engage the lands. And this is with a blunt nosed 73 grainer. The super sleek 75+slugs would have been .2" or more longer than the mag box. Why the hell Tikka has such a short mag box and (Clearly by choice. Because Pharm's worked with several 223's, and they are all the same way) long throat on a 30-06 sized action is a mystery to me. Of course I tried ammo that fit in the factory magazine boxes. MOA or worse. Not a shock considering they are almost Weatherbyesque freebore. I ordered two after market mag boxes yesterday. $200 to address the factory chamber dimension issues of a $550 dollar rifle. I think the term is "Diminishing returns".

So I cobble all this stuff together, and first try at the range I shoot two three shot groups- .54" & .69".....at 200 yards. Considering how I have little effort involved on my part-Resize, dump powder, seat bullet. The brass is new. So it hasn't even been fire formed to chamber yet. I'm confident it is doable to shave a tenth or more off the groups by playing with micro fractions in powder, primer swaps, neck sizing, yada yada. Problem is, I'm lazy... and likely wont try much harder. She's already shooting near quarter minute.

I'll shoot a few over the chrono. If ES is good (Was kinda spotty on day one), I'm done. If not. Depending on how much spread it has, I might have to chase those details a bit.

So the lesson learned is, if Pharm is doing something that may be of interest to you, it pays to copy off his homework.
You got 2 things right. Pharm is a good guy to have around and Tikka's have a Linda Lovelace throat... Not that it really matters, as they still shoot great... Now, go shoot more than 3 shots on target and don't discount your flyers. Remember 3 shot groups are almost useless:
The Trouble With 3-Shot Groups - AR15.COM

3 shot groups are great for those wallet clippings like the old guy at Cabela's likes to show you, but 10 shot groups are where it's really at. If you don't have a rifle that prints small 10 shot groups, It's time to upgrade....

Numbers of shots per string depend on what's being asked.

A 10 shot group in a big game hunting rifle (Assuming string is fired quickly, without letting barrel cool off between shots) is useless data for the hunter. One or two shots is all the opportunity you are gonna get with Bambi and friends. So the first shot matters a LOT.

I have spoken with a couple competition guys who will (To a degree) ignore the first couple shots, if they are wide from expectation, from a cold bore when shooting long strings. For those folks, 10 shot strings are useful.

One of the more challenging groups I like to shoot is a single shot from a cold bore on the same target over a period of months. Shoot a 3-5 shot group. One shot in September. One in October. Once in November etc. Bughole groups more or less don't happen with this system. But it is educational.

The Tikka 223 in OP was bought to teach a shooter the basics without her having too much recoil and noise. It shoots 50-75 rounds in a couple hours. Have only shot paper with it a couple times since load development was done (To confirm zero, since scope has dials that get used often) and gongs at distance are more interesting to shoot than paper for our student (And me too!). Like claybirds with a rifle.


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