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Tikka TSR: Beretta USA Delivers a Custom Factory Rifle Tailor-Made For PRS Competition

You’re pretzeling hard in the corner of a deuce-and-a-half truck bed. The first few positions shooting across the roof and through the cab went fine, but now you’re trying to control the dancing fore-end of a rifle that’s sliding along the 20-inch-tall truck bed edge you’re forced to use as a support. Sweat stings your eyes while you try to settle your scope reticle on what looks like a fingernail-sized white square 800 yards away.

It doesn’t matter if this is the final stage of a Precision Rifle Series match  or a work-related call out; when you’re fighting the clock, the heat, and an awkward shooting position, the last thing you want to fight is your rifle.

The Tikka T3 rifle has long been a sleeper favorite among the bolt-action crowd, especially hunters. But, there’s always been a “but” when it comes to fielding a serious tactical Tikka T3. “We love the T3, but the CTR stock is kinda meh and aftermarket support sucks.”

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Tikka AND McRee
The release of Tikka T3x this spring brought up an opportunity for Beretta USA, the American arm of Tikka’s and Sako’s parent company, to kill 400 birds with one stone. The company had remaining stock of about 400 Tikka T3 CTR rifles that were now a generation old. Instead of blowing them out or giving them away to starving African children, the enterprising minds in Accokeek decided to pair up with Scott McRee to set the T3 into one of the most capable, and modular, tactical stocks on the market. The result is the limited-edition Tikka Sniper Rifle-1, or TSR-1.

The soul of the TSR-1 is a Tikka T3 barreled action, chambered in either .260 Remington or .308 Winchester. We’ll be looking at the .260 version. It’s a smooth-running, 75-degree bolt throw with an incredibly underrated adjustable, single-stage, factory trigger that breaks like a kitten’s wrist.

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Guarantees
Out of the box, Tikka rifles are guaranteed to produce at least 1-MOA, three-shot groups. It’s not the 1980s, and we aren’t all that impressed with a 1-MOA bolt gun these days, so we’ll point out that 1-MOA is the upper accuracy limit for these guns. Most are well into ½-MOA territory, but it’s comforting to know that a company holds its product to a meaningful accuracy measurement during its production testing instead of applying a, “bang, bang, it works” guarantee.

Speaking of guarantees, we like the fact that the TSR-1 is a factory gun, not a custom creation from a broken home. Anyone with a custom rifle will tell you it’s all negligees and honeymoon sex until something goes wrong, then the finger pointing starts. Your action-maker will say your stock-maker boned the tolerances. Or, they’ll tell you your gunsmith can’t read the barreling dimensions posted on their website; “not ma fault.”

The TSR-1’s a quasi-custom gun offering a performance guarantee as well as a factory warranty should something go wrong down the road. That peace of mind is something anyone who’s spent money customizing a bolt gun would like to have.

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Break it Down
The TSR-1’s headline feature is the McRee’s Precision G-10 folding rifle stock. It’s a lightweight aluminum chassis configured specially for Beretta’s TSR-1 build, weighing 4.19 pounds. Buying the TSR-1 is the only way to get a G-10 stock that accepts Tikka’s CTR/TRG mags.

The G-10 is a flat-bottomed, magazine-fed, 6061-T6 aluminum stock with machining so precise that we mistook the M-LOK equipped fore-end as a one-piece affair. We only figured out it wasn’t a single piece when we noticed the three bolts holding the mid-gun 1913 rail to the stock didn’t line up with the three bolts visible from the top (with the action removed).

We weren’t sure if we were looking at an M.C. Escher painting or a rifle chassis, so we grabbed the included Allen wrenches and began turning. We found three more bolts holding the fore-end to what was now clearly the separate centersection of the chassis. Emboldened, we unscrewed more bolts. The buttstock appeared somewhat modular already, but once stripped of its threaded ligaments, its modularity became even more evident.

The folding end of the buttstock quickly became a pile of sniper gray Cerakote Lego parts. Putting them back together we found a 4mm Allen wrench was all that stood between us and the length-of-pull, cheek height, and buttpad height. The buttpad section can be installed upside down to relocate the QD swivel socket from a bottom-of-the-stock position to a topside orientation that we feel balances the gun better for sling carry.

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One thing to know about the T3 action is that short and long versions are the same size, with only the position of the bolt stop determining the action length. This means the T3 is naturally heavier than the Remington 700 short action; so Beretta took every opportunity to lighten the TSR-1 to stay competitive.

We spoke with Scott McRee about his creation, and he told us the G-10 was designed to maximize strength, rigidity, and harmonic advantage while reducing weight. “There are lightening cuts all over,” said McRee. “Some you can see, and some you can’t.” We can attest to this; we found screw recesses cut wide and spaces between mating parts scalloped to shave tenths of an ounce here and there, adding up to a healthy weight savings.

The buttstock is an example of its effort. The standard McRee G-10 stock cheek-piece covers both sides of the stock. The TSR-1 forgoes the left side cheek-piece to save a few ounces. The result is a lighter gun that’s still surprisingly shootable from the left side. In fact, McRee tells us he shoots his own G-10-based rifle from the right side using only the left cheek-piece. He says the hard edge creates a cheek weld with a binary feel. We got a taste of this while shooting from the left side — we definitely knew when we were in the pocket.

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Speaking to the stock’s modularity, you can replace the main member of the rear stock assembly with one that has screws on both sides and add a second cheek slab for about $100.
The back of the gun offers 12.5 to 14.5 inches of length-of-pull adjustment and has screws on the base to accept the mid-mounted Pic rail if you want to move it to the rear and bolt it up to the stock’s handhold for a monopod. Beretta includes one of McRee’s Rear Stock Packs so they don’t have to hear from sissies complaining about putting their dainty cheeks on that cold, 5052 aluminum cheek rest. One side of the pack has a felt-ish pad, the other a pocket for tools, spare rounds, or snacks.

“We tried making a cheek-piece out of Kydex a while back,” McRee told us, “and it was perfectly serviceable, but guys complained that it made the gun feel cheap so went with the [aluminum slab] and the Rear Stock Pack.” We think the stock pack works fine — it’s supplied with the TSR-1 and mitigates the discomfort of laying your face on a metal slab that’s barely a step below a frying pan if it’s left out for a while in the sun.

Moving forward, the stock takes AR pistol grips, though some may need a little trimming to fit. The TSR-1 includes a rubbery Ergo offering that we grew to like. McRee’s modular trigger guard magazine guide shrouds Tikka’s excellent adjustable trigger. This is a user-replaceable part that includes the mag release, easily swappable with four bolts in case of a hard landing. That mag release is a nice, big target, but it’s maybe a ¼-inch further forward than we’d have liked.

The TSR-1 takes standard Tikka T3 CTR double-stack box mags. These are the less expensive versions of the Sako TRG magazine that have a plastic boot over the bottom to prevent anyone from using the cheaper mags in the high-roller TRG platform. We assume TRG mags will run in the TSR-1, if you allow them to date below their station. The mags are all supposed to be drop free, but the one mag supplied with our T&E rifle hung in the rifle like a hungry tick.

The action itself is a garden variety Tikka T3. That is, it’s broached, never drilled, and retains exceptional rigidity, thanks to the fully enclosed top. The T3 ejection port only opens from about 45 to 90 degrees, unlike a Remington 700 with its extended skylight design. The 0-MOA skeletonized Pic rail bolts to the flat top, indexed securely with registration posts and what feels like glue (or thread lock overspray) to create a very stable platform for the optic of your choice.

It’s got a fast 70-degree bolt lever throw, a basic polymer bolt knob, and an external bolt stop that’s leaps ahead of the crap trigger-mounted stop you get with a stock Remington 700.
The barrel is the same cold hammer-forged, heavy contour goodness found on the more expensive Sako bolt guns; and it’s tipped with 5/8×24-teeth-per-inch threads instead of the usual metric B.S. found on some factory Tikka and Sako rifles. We ditched the thread protector and immediately screwed on a SureFire Genesis 762 suppressor, bringing the .260 down to almost hearing safe levels.

The last McRee feature we’ll mention is the patented M-LEV cant indicator. When the M-LEV is calibrated, the system neutralizes any manufacturing errors and tolerance issues that may lay in the components between your optic’s erector tube and the bore of your rifle.

Group Session
We collected six different .260 Rem loads: Federal Premium 140-grain Sierra Gametip BTSP, Nosler Trophy Grade Accubond 130-grain AB, Nosler Ballistic Tip 120-grain BT, Fusion 120-grain, Nosler Custom 100-grain BT, and Prime Ammunition 130-grain HPBT Match.

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We had the best five-shot groups with the middleweight .260 bullets. We pulled in a very respectable .38-MOA accuracy rating shooting 5-round groups with Nosler’s Ballistic Tip 120-grain rounds, averaging 2,794 fps with a 19.6 SD (at the muzzle, measured with a Magnetospeed). But we think the gun can do better, since we printed a few 0.24-MOA groups when the ever-present flyer is factored out.

As we warmed the gun up from zero, a half-minute cold-bore spread gave way to roughly 0.25-MOA groups about 0.25-MOA below the bull once the barrel woke up. When we abused the brand-new barrel with longer, faster strings, roughly 20 rounds over 50 seconds, the POI dropped nearly 1 MOA. We can’t fully account for the drop, except to attribute it to a brand new barrel and action warming up to each other. Otherwise, truing the action face and the barrel shoulder will cure this issue. But, we didn’t have to go that route. By our fifth shooting session with the TSR-1, the cold bore dip disappeared and we were twanging tennis ball sized groups (starting with a cold gun) at 500 yards on freshly painted steel.

We experienced one failure to feed in 300 rounds of mixed ammo — we couldn’t close the bolt on one round of Nosler trophy-grade ammo. Near as we can tell, that round had a bump on the shoulder that gave a little too much headspace for the bolt to close.

We punched holes with and without the SureFire Genesis, noticing no POI shift we could attribute to the can. Without earpro, shooting the can in this sub-caliber setup produced sound levels that were manageable at the breech but uncomfortable at the muzzle.

Practical Exam
Beretta USA built and priced the TSR-1 at the $2,000 mark specifically to qualify as a PRS production division gun. Rolling .260 Rem puts this in the same performance ballpark as all the cool kids running 6.5mm Creedmoor. The .308 version gives us the option of running in either the production or the tactical division; a division PRS created to give guys with .308 work guns a reason to come out and play.

PRS production division rules say your gun and optic have to be under $2,000, each, and their combined MSRP cannot be above $3,000. So, that leaves a prospective PRS production shooter with a TSR-1 about $1,000 to spend on an optic.

While our T&E came with the capable Steiner M5xi 5-25×56 Military scope, at $3,600, it’s too rich for the PRS production division. We’d jump on something like a Vortex Viper PST 6×24-50 PST for $949 MSRP. It’s a second focal plane scope, but that’s something we can get used to given the price tag and the scope’s reach.

The flat bottom fore-end terminates at the mid body Pic rail, where there’s a ½-inch ledge seemingly made to load into barricade edges. The fore-end also takes an old-school stud-mounted bipod or any other rail-mounted bipod using a section of Pic rail on the M-LOK slots.

The .260 shot well and balanced nicely on the move once we figured out how to get the sling mounted to the top of the buttstock instead of the bottom. Shooting from tire tops, car roofs, from inside vehicles, and through all manner of flat, round, and diabolically awkward barricade setups were no sweat. Though, we found the aluminum handguard bottom a little slippery. A little grip tape would help.

The McRee folding stock hinge is one of the nicest we’ve used. Pinch to open, and a cam holds it in place without the need for a latch. Flick it, and it snaps open. Not long ago, we’d have thought a folding stock was an extravagance. But, there’s a real advantage to a smaller gun, not only in terms of moving in tight spaces, but traveling with a folded bolt gun means a smaller hard case that’ll fit across the width of a sub-compact rental car; not an insignificant consideration when getting your whole squad to a distant PRS match on a budget.

The gun shot well and handled like a custom in many ways, but our time with the TSR-1 wasn’t without a few issues. The early thermal expansion and the sticky magazine were mildly concerning. We’ve heard the budget-minded CTR mags can push the edge of the envelope for dimensional tolerances, and the wear marks at the corners of our magazine indicate a slight bow in the mag sides is responsible for the stickiness.

In all, the TSR-1 is a compelling, turnkey PRS setup that’s a considerable step off the ground floor of off-the-shelf bolt guns. The factory setup and two-year warranty equate to significant peace of mind versus setting up a similar build on your own. Outside of PRS competition, L.E. types will find the .308 version is a durable, lightweight folder that shouldn’t put the city hall bean counters on alert.

One more issue: With only 400 of these rifles getting built, we wonder if there’ll be any left by the time you read this article.

Like: 0.38 MOA groups, M-LOK, great trigger, 10-round mags, built in cant indicator, ohhhh so much modularity.

No Like: Sticky magazine, early POI shift as barrel heats up, internal trigger adjustment screw.

 

Tikka TSR-1

Caliber: .260 Remington
Barrel Length: 20 inches
Overall Length: 40.75 inches (30.5 inches, folded)
Weight (unloaded): 10 pounds, 9.7 without Rear Stock pack
Magazine Capacity: 10
MSRP: $1,995
Price as featured: $7,615
URL: www.tikka.fi

Accessories (as shown in lead photo)

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