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Tikka T3x Varmint

Discussion in 'Gun Gallery' started by cloverleaf, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    After what seems like forever I finally have it all bolted together and ready to go:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The setup consists of:

    Tikka T3x Varmint Stainless, LH, .223 Rem. 1:8 twist
    Sightron SIII 10x42 modified mil-dot
    Bushwacker flip-up covers
    Tikka / Sako Optilock extra low mounts in stainless
    Harris Ultralight 9-13" tilt bipod with notched legs


    Practically every part of putting this kit together proved a pain in the arse. I was originally told a 6wk wait for the gun, which turned into 6 months (admittedly corrected at the time of order) due to it being LH and with the faster twist.

    The scope was supposed to be a Sightron 6-24x50 FFP, however the suppliers evidently weren't capable of providing / couldn't be bothered to supply a scope that didn't have dust inside; so a refund was issued and I stuck to what I already had. Nice gear but would prefer more mag.. needless to say I'll not be buying anything else from said supplier or manufacturer (which is a shame as I really like their products).

    The mounts were discontinued in stainless some time before the rifle was bought, so I ended up having to hunt around for places that still had stock and ultimately sourcing bases and rings from different places. This was compounded by the fact that I bought med rings in anticipation of the larger objective of the 6-24, only to end up duplicating them with extra lows to suit the smaller 10x42. I also bought some lows in error - an expensive escapade but on the bright side I now have all bases (well, rings :p) covered should I change glass in the future.

    Since this is my first foray into centrefire I've also splashed out on a fair bit of necessary supporting kit; including a Tipton CFRP cleaning rod and paraphanalia, KG cleaning products, a Tipton bore guide and a nice MTM case to keep it all in..

    I also bought a nice little Wera torque driver for the scope mounts and everything's been put together meticulously - the scope levelled with a plum line and spirit level and mounts torqued up to manufacturer's spec (or less at my discretion since the chambering isn't anywhere near as big on recoil as some this rifle is offered in).

    Without going into too much depth initial impressions are positive; build quality and finish seem generally very good - certainly compared to the sh*te I'm used to dealing with from the usual airgun manufacturers.

    I really like the balance; the combination of the heavy profile stainless tube and light composite stock really pushing the COM forward while keeping overall mass manageable. Even with the low mounts the cheekpiece is a little lower than I'd like, however any higher and it'd foul the bolt on removal / cleaning rod access.

    The "Super Varmint" has an adjustable cheekpiece (along with a few other nice bits) however isn't available in left-hand. Tbh I count myself lucky that Tikka do a lot of LH rifles; being the only decent company I could find that do LH guns with heavy barrels as sadly neither CZ nor Sako offer anything other than the cooking light-barrelled guns for lefties..

    Operation is very nice - cycling is slick and intuitive, the safety is comprehensive and very positive (not that I envisage using it much) and the trigger is the notoriously crisp single-stage affair. Pull weight is wound right down which on paper should give me a 2lb pull however it's registering at a shade over 2.5lb so I think a lube and replacement spring are on the cards.

    Expensive as they are I love the mounts, which have spherical synthetic inserts to account for mis-alignment between the rings and cushion the scope tube to avoid damage. A few cosmetic niggles aside they appear to be great quality; being machined from the solid and media-blasted to match the matt finish on the gun's metalwork.

    Anyway, I'm really looking forward to getting out with it - there's a trip to Bisley pencilled in for later in the month so I'll hopefully get an opportunity then to stretch its legs :D
     
  2. buffy vampire slayer

    buffy vampire slayer Keyboard Hero

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    if i were you I'd test it somewhere before you went to bisley to avoid disappointment and wanting to maybe wrap it round a tree.
    not all guns shoot cock on out of the box and may be ammo fussy or need shooting in or both.
    it would be a shame to make bisley a wasted trip.
    BTW it looks a nice rig.
     
    cloverleaf likes this.
  3. Hiram

    Hiram Posting Addict

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    Beautiful rifle! Tikka has really caught on over here. I used to own a CTR in .308 (sooner or later I'll get another) and it was loads of fun. I really liked the trigger but I loved the cycling, smoothest I've ever felt on bolt gun. Very slick and slippery. Mine was mild to shoot too (relatively). It was the first center fire rifle LH ever shot and she loved it to the point she shot up all of my ammo, which was over a hundred rounds that day, and gave her little shoulder a nice bruise. There's just something about whacking a gong hundreds of yards away and she just could not stop. Tikka makes a rifle for the Canadian Rangers that's marketed to civilians as the Arctic Rifle. It's like a CTR but with HK style irons and a laminated stock. I want!!! Unfortunately they are not to be had in the US at this time. I've been waiting about two years now and continue to hope.
     
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  4. PumpnGun

    PumpnGun Donator

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    That's gorgeous..

    Ray
     
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  5. rabbitwrecker

    rabbitwrecker The Tree Hunter...

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    Beautiful bit of kit, Clover - with the bolt handle on the correct side too. The box mag does detract slightly from the clean lines, but is eminently practical - and function should always take precedence over form. Sweet...
     
    cloverleaf likes this.
  6. UnionJackJackson

    UnionJackJackson Donator

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    Sweet :thumb:
     
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  7. mikeyhall1

    mikeyhall1 Pepe Le Pew

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    Wow I like this Mike - looks amazing
     
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  8. ukglyn

    ukglyn Big Poster

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    Very nice, I love my Tikka, though my bolt handle is on the proper side :p

    Enjoy shooting that stunning rifle. :up:
     
    cloverleaf likes this.
  9. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Cheers guys :D

    Thanks and yes, in an ideal world I'd test it somewhere closer before trekking to Bisley - however my club isn't sufficiently approved and there's not a lot else in the locality. I should be going down with club members so if it did turn out to be a washout I could at least learn the ropes / muck in with marking as I'm totally green to CF / Bisley so it wouldn't be a bad learning experience.

    Thanks! Tikkas seem very, very popular globally and I can see why thanks to their excellent quality and value. It seems that the Scandinavians are maybe the last folks on the planet still producing great quality products with no cut-corners at sensible prices.

    IMO Tikka occupy a fairly unique mid-point in the market; a lot better quality and performance than the likes of Howa, Remington, Winchester, Ruger etc but not as pricey as the more premium brands such as Sako, Steyr, Blaser etc. IMO the only other brand that offers similar quality and value are CZ.

    I did chuckle though when I picked up some Tikka catalogues a while ago which had "second to none" or similar on the front -when everyone knows they're a poor man's Sako - not that this is a bad thing!

    I like the look of the CTR but unfortunately for me it's not available in .223. Would definitely be on the cards if / when I feel the need to go bigger though :)

    Thanks and yes - it's nice to finally use a bolt-action firarm that fits me properly!

    I agree about the mag to an extent, however it's extra depth does aid stability from a standing position :)
     
    rabbitwrecker likes this.
  10. The Robin

    The Robin Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Nice one Mike, just enjoy it now and it's certainly a beauty :thumb:
     
  11. Hiram

    Hiram Posting Addict

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    I think you hit the nail on the head regarding where Tikka stands in the quality hierarchy. I'm also a big CZ fan for the same reason. Both of these brands punch well above their price point, IMO. I've heard good things about Winchester since Miroku took over. Remington is still popular over here but I don't know why. Habit maybe...they were, for a couple of decades, reputedly among the best. I agree that the Nordic countries seem to be making most of the best stuff these days. I use Gransfor Bruk and Wetterling axes and Mora or Helle knives. All of my rough weather clothing is Fjallraven. And it would seem, from what I read and see on the interweb, that FX is sort of the Steyr-Mannlicher of the airgun world. I wish the Swedes or Finns would make a springer...or even the Czechs.
     
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  12. littleJon365

    littleJon365 Democracy unless they disagree

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    That looks stunning!
     
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  13. Carlos76

    Carlos76 Pro Poster

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    Very nice mate
     
    cloverleaf likes this.
  14. danban

    danban Posting Addict

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    Very nice rifle you have there.
    Is it just for range use or will it be used for hunting?
    My first CF was a .233 howa. I use my rifles mainly for hunting and the accuracy is unbelievable. I then needed to get a bigger call as all I kept seeing was bigger deer. I went .243 in howa.
    At the same time my mate got a tikka t3 in .243. We zeroed them at the same time and accuracy at 100 yards was the same.
    The feel of the bolt on the tikka was so much nicer.
    Great choice of rifle there mate.
    Regards Dan.

    .
     
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  15. gasman

    gasman How do they know I've got Gas?

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    Lovely looking gun, great cal too love my .223 sub 1/2” moa my reloads ,enjoy
     
    cloverleaf likes this.
  16. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Cheers guys :)

    Ta!

    It was bought for target shooting; in principal I'd not mind a bit of foxing or maybe long range corvids if it fell into my lap and was necessary, however tbh I'm not big on killing stuff so I won't be going out of my way to find a shoot.

    This is my first dip of a toe into the world of centrefire so I figured .223 was a good choice; a wide and plentiful range of cheap (relatively speaking!) ammo, low recoil, decent accuracy, reasonable barrel life.. depending on how I get on I might graduate to something larger in time and that'd probably be another Tikka too :)
     
  17. gasman

    gasman How do they know I've got Gas?

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    image.jpg

    Or not so cheap :facepalm:
     
  18. UnionJackJackson

    UnionJackJackson Donator

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  19. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Probably time for an update, since it's been over a year :rolleyes:

    A fair bit's gone on so I'll spare the monotonous details and summarise the key points.

    The rifle had its maiden voyage to Bisley in August last year. Fired from the prone position off a Harris bipod and rear bag, wind notwithstanding it was holding about a minute (give or take) at 300yd with the 69gn HPS Targetmaster rounds.

    It repeated this performance at 600yd and I was generally satisfied until the last few rounds (32nd IIRC after the barrel had been cleaned) when accuracy suddenly went to s**t, with the rifle flinging fliers right off the target holder so maybe 7-8 minutes out of the previously 1-1.5 minute group.

    This was at the end of the day with no obvious causes and I didn't get chance to shake the rifle down. When I got home it had a good look over; barrel cleaned, stock and mount bolt torque checked (OK), scope visually checked for bore alignment (no change), scope optically-centred and bore-sighted for a second time.

    One nice upshot of all this was that I found the previous owner had re-zeroed the scope's turrets; properly mechanically-centring them this time revealing the scope only needed less than 2.5 minutes of adjustment to get it sighted at 100yd, which was nice and a testament to the quality of all parts involved :)

    Further to these checks I also researched other potential causes of inaccuracy and read up on prone technique as it's not something I've done a lot of.


    Fast-forward to a few weeks ago and I found myself at Bisley again. Setup was much the same although this time I shot off Caldwell front and rear bags and tried to concentrate on my technique / consistency; including paying attention to where the POA ended up after the shot.

    Long story marginally-less long, the rifle performed much as before but without the wayward shots. I'm cautiously optimistic but am also aware that on the last trip the rifle had fewer rounds through it than previously; so I'm not discounting a fouling issue.


    That's basically all so far. Last year I took a few shots of the Bisley trip so I'll devote the rest of this post to an overview of shooting centrefire there; as it's quite a difference to airgun and smallbore club experience!

    After making our way down the side of the Century 600yd range my day begun in the butts at the sharp end of the range with another member. The butts consist of an earth berm running across the range in front of the targets, which overhangs a walkway behind / beneath it. This gives access to the target frames; large wooden fixtures on a counterbalanced pulley system that allows the marker (me in this case) to hang off them and lower the target down behind the berm and out of sight of the firing point.

    The target then has the last shot hole patched, a fluorescent paper square attached through the most recent hole, the shot scored (5 for a bull down to 1 for the white) and this communicated by the placement of a square marker in one of a number of positions and orientations in the bottom of the frame.

    The target is then pushed back up into the line of sight of the firing point ready for the next shot. When marking you watch for the splash of sand in the backstop behind your target; and in the event of any issues you're in radio contact with the firing point.

    A typical view from inside the butts on a damp late-August morning:

    [​IMG]


    The (apparently typical) 300yd target; for scale the black (2-ring) is around 2 mils / 6.8MOA in diameter through the scope; so around 54cm at this range, give or take.

    Note the orange shot marker on the RHS:

    [​IMG]


    After a fairly strenuous start punting the target frames up and down we swapped with a couple of other members and got some shooting in.

    I found shooting on Century for the first time somewhat surreal and disconcerting. It caters for (IIRC) 100-600yds, but the butts are straight and the firing points staggered (with no partitioning between) meaning that when you're shooting at anything less than 600yd, chances are there's somewhat over your left shoulder punting rounds down past your firing point!

    IIRC there's a 7 degree "safety angle" between firing points and where you should and shouldn't be is clearly marked out; however needless to say range etiquette is expected to be spot-on and anyone shooting does so under the supervision of a qualified RO or someone with a competency certificate (assuming the don't hold either themselves).

    Small specific elements of etiquette notwithstanding this was all common-sense stuff and we were looked after by some regulars from the club.

    I'd got some basic windage and elevation data from the JBM Ballistics website, which got me pretty close at 300yd from the 100yd zero. IIRC the rifle's doing around 2750ft/s at the muzzle with the 69gn Sierra Matchkings, which have a G7 BC of 0.16 (whatever the units are, I can never remember).

    These are on the heavier side in the interest of higher BC and corresponding long range performance; with the .223 originally being designed with a 55gn bullet then later changing to a 62gn projectile for military / police use.

    Typical available bullet weights for this calibre range from around 40-90gn; with the heavier stuff requiring a correspondingly faster twist rate (mine is 1:8", the fastest I've seen is about 1:6.5" IIRC while your typical varmint rifle - designed to fire light bullets fast and flat - will more likely be around 1:12").

    Anyway; I digress. The view from the 300yd firing point:

    [​IMG]

    At this range the rifle needed around 1.4 mils / 4.8 minutes to correct the elevation from a 100yd zero; this being about 15 inches. Having utter faith in the lovely solid Sightron SIII I wound this onto the turret; savouring every solid click :p

    Having been almost entirely used to cheap airgun scopes with squishy, temperamental, non-linear turrets; the solidity, repeatability and precision of the SIII still grabs my attention when I use it..

    I prefer not to dial for wind so hold off instead; being crap at wind reading so just trusting my gut based on the feeling at the point and the animation of the down-range flags. For reference at this range the round requires about 1 mil / 6.8 minutes / 20" correction in a 10mph "full value" (fully perpendicular to the direction of firing) wind.

    By contrast I think my club mate next to me with his (enviably moderated) 6.5 Creedmore was only having to give it about half that...


    The same 300yd target pictured earlier viewed at 300yd through the fixed 10x SIII:

    [​IMG]


    As previously mentioned the gun was printing into about 1 MOA / 3" at this range, although it's difficult to measure (since you don't get the shot target back) so you have to estimate it based on diagrams of shot location against the known target size / reticle divisions.


    After lunch in the local (Clays?) cafe, we moved back to 600yd. This range was really stretching the legs of the .223 - IIRC the 69gn SMKs should stay supersonic until maybe 700yd; shooting beyond which is generally considered to be highly detrimental to accuracy due to the de-stabilising effects of the bullet passing back through the trans-sonic region.

    The rounds wanted 5.3 mils / 18 MOA / 2.9 Metres(!) elevation correction at 600yd from the 100yd zero; and this time gave away 2.4 mil / 8.3 MOA / 1.3 metres in a 10mph crosswind.

    Targets were scaled up from the 300yd size; so the relationship between the ret and target remained broadly similar, with everything else shrunk around it!

    Here's the view at 600yd:

    [​IMG]


    As already mentioned this went well until it didn't and we all went home..


    Not that last year was bad (disappointment and anxiety about the gun's performance notwithstanding), however the most recent trip was more enjoyable. The gun behaved itself, the weather was nicer, we'd hired a marker (who sat in the butts and scored for us) and I got to play with some interesting gear.

    I felt a bit more familiar with the rifle and am getting more of a feel for what I need to change or work on. I feel like my prone technique has improved a bit too; after a bit of research. I'm also pretty pleased with the Caldwell bags, although time will tell if my choice of cheapo cat litter filling was a good idea..

    To summarise some numbers at 300yd the gun was printing into about 1 MOA / 3" when I managed to get 5 off during a relatively constant period in the variable 7-10mph crosswind. At 600yd the 10 shots I put down went into about 1 MOA / 6" vertically by 3 MOA / 18" horizontally; again in variable crosswinds that had evidently ramped up a bit since the morning.

    Tbh I don't think that's at all bad for a factory sporter with factory ammo in somewhat inexperienced hands; assuming the horizontal spread can be attributed to the significant and somewhat gusting wind.


    On the day I had a play with a fellow club member's Moisin Nagant carbine - a shouty, antisocial little 1st / 2nd world war era Russian service rifle chambered in the not insubstantial 7.62x54mm. Unsurprisingly, with iron sights and a sling unsupported it was as much as I could do to keep them on the 7-ish mil / 24 minute / 1.9 metre square backstop :facepalm:

    At the other end of the scale I also had a pop with a club member's new (to him) 7.62mm F-class rig; a custom single-shot Dolphin-built rifle in a chassis stock with a fat, long tube, super-wide bipod and S&B PMII glass sat on top.

    In (unsurprising) contrast to the Nagant this was dropping them into about 1/2 MOA / 1.5" at this range, and I think the shot marker had a couple more holes in it afterwards :cool:


    Anyway, a good day was had by all and I'm looking forward to the next one.

    Points raised by this latest trip are that I need more range gear (currently eyeing up AIM drag bags) and would like a moderator in the interest of civility / firing manners and potential accuracy improvements.. although whether this will happen is anyone's guess..
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
  20. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Last weekend saw the Tikka used in anger for the first time :)

    Our county rifle association has recently re-negotiated the occasional use of Otmoor, a local military range that had become pretty much inaccessible to civilians over past years - despite once seeing regular non-military use.

    Conveniently I became aware of these shoots as they're organised by a number of blokes from my club, who've managed 3-4 meets this year.

    The type of shooting is largely alien to me; consisting mostly of Target Rifle (TR, shot prone unsupported with a sling and aperture-sight equipped .308 rifle) and Service Rifle (not 100% sure what the qualifying criteria are, but there are a lot of old military bolt-actions - SMLEs, Nagants, Mausers etc - both with irons and scopes).

    Thankfully for me there were also a minority of F-Class shooters too (F-TR, scoped rifles in .223 or .308 fired prone supported and subject to far fewer rules) so I could compete with the Tikka.

    The format is largely similar to that described at Bisley above; in the morning one half of the group operates / scores the targets in the butts while the other half shoot, then they swap at lunch time. The shooting is extremely regimented compared to what I'm used to; with shooters firing alternately within allotted time windows in groups of two or three to one target.

    This is all carried out to a strict schedule enforced by the RO who controls every part of the process; instructing the shooters when they can place their "soft gear" on the firing points, then their rifles, informing of time remaining until shooting commences, giving the order to start and afterwards checking all guns are clear before they can be removed from the firing points.


    After signing in my morning started with a 400yd walk to the butts for a briefing and setup before shooting started. The butts viewed from the 400yd firing point:

    [​IMG]


    .. and 200yd:

    [​IMG]


    Target frames (not actually the ones we shot as there are two on each lane that counter-balance each other) and lane numbers at the sharp end:

    [​IMG]


    The sand backstop:

    [​IMG]


    After the safety briefing, being the noob I got sent up to the backstop with a pair of binos to check the danger zone behind the target was clear of anyone who could be injured by a stray shot. Aside from the cows it was thankfully empty..

    The view back towards the range illustrates what a pleasant place Otmoor is. You can just make out the group of shooters to the left, halfway up the image waiting to start at 400yd:

    [​IMG]


    A 600yd F-class target mounted on the backer. For scale the 2-ring (largest black ring) is 24" in diameter (around 4MOA), the V-bull (white spot in the middle) is 3" or approx. 0.5MOA. The F-TR targets are a fair bit smaller than the TR equivalents, on account of the differences in regs between the two disciplines.

    [​IMG]


    Range flags were highly animated all day thanks to a significant and variable left to right wind..

    [​IMG]


    Once the morning detail had finished shooting the 600yd target face was replaced with a smaller one for the afternoon shooters' first session at 400yd. Constrained by target availability we were actually shooting 300yd diagrams at this range - just to make it a bit more difficult..

    [​IMG]


    Unlike the TR targets the F-TR items are scaled linearly with range (at least between 200 and 600yd) meaning the 300yd target is 75% the size of the 400yd alternative..


    After lunch I got to have a crack myself. Following a rush to get my stuff together I cranked on 8.5 MOA of elevation and held 1.4 Mils left for a 10mph wind; managing a 3 at 9 O'clock and suggesting that 1.6-1.7 mils of correction would have been more appropriate.

    The following 11 shots (for a total of 12; 2 sighters and 10 to count) ended up horizontally strung at about 2 MOA by a little over 1 MOA after my attempts to correct for the wind on each shot.

    From the numbers it seems that the wind was gusting between about 5 and 11 mph, not that I could tell at the time..

    Moving back to 500yd the results were similar, this time with a bit more of a vertical component.

    By the time we got back to 600yd I think the wind had both dropped in speed and become more consistent, at maybe 6-9mph. I managed 9 shots into a pretty well centred group of maybe 2 x 0.75 MOA, with one mis-judged outlier at 3 O'clock taking the whole ten shots out to about 3 MOA wide.

    This target scored 37.2 ex 50 and actually put me about middle of the pack for the 600yd match (amongst more serious shooters and kit) however I reckon this was probably more down to luck on my part..

    The view from the 600yd firing point:

    [​IMG]


    ..and through the scope; with my F-TR target in lane 6 and a standard TR target in lane 4:

    [​IMG]


    All in all it was a great day out, although pretty mentally and physically draining thanks to all the new stuff to learn and gear to drag about.

    I'd definitely like to continue to shoot F-TR when I get the opportunity although I have no illusions that I'll be successful given what I'm shooting and my lack of skill.

    Moving forward for now I'm happy with the rifle but need a better way of carrying / organising everything. I also need to do a lot of homework on wind doping as that's the single most important factor in putting the rounds in the middle.. and sadly something I have pretty much zero experience of currently :p
     
    Rye, UnionJackJackson and gasman like this.

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