Long range newb - rebarrelling tikka .308 to 280AI

mattwill00

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Apr 22, 2019
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35
Well as the title suggests - I have NO idea about building rifles, reloading, the ins and outs of switching chambers, etc. Now having said that I do have some very basic knowledge about “checking” rifles and putting together LEGO set AR’s. I can check headspacing, build AR’s and such, and like to shoot.

But I’ve got an inch that needs to be scratched. Coming from Ohio I never got to do much rifle hunting, but now that I’m out west I spend a lot of time behind the scope. As everyone in this forum (and others) suggested, I went ahead and bought a tikka .308 right off the bat with zero research. Now that I’ve spent some time behind it, I can’t help but want more. I know a .308 is a perfectly capable round, I know the rifle shoots just fine as is, I know the barrel isn’t shot out, and I know I don’t have reloading equipment, and I’m probably an idiot for changing it up but I get bored very fast and need a new outlet.

I saw the devistation that my friend’s custom .280AI did to a Wyoming muley last year and immediately became curious of the round. After doing some research, it seems that tikka’s “medium” action might limit the COAL of the 280AI. Coming from a complete newb, how much potential will I be “losing” by using the tikka action I currently have? How much work will it take to run a 280AI cartridge through it? Prefit barrel or non-prefit?

Hell, is it even possible or am I barking up the complete wrong tree here? I’m kinda using this as an excuse to dip into the world of long range shooting and reloading, I guess I just want to be schooled on whether or not I am an idiot for using this tikka action, or should I just scrap it and start from scratch?

I know I have a ton more research to do and I probably sounded very stupid to all of you experienced guys, I’m just fishing around for some opinions on what to do and what not to do.

Appreciate it! Bash away!
 

Kenn

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Nov 3, 2019
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74
Location
Oregon
I'm in the same boat as you in that I've had a Tikka 300 WM for years and it shot great but I'm getting old and real tired of the recoil. Someone suggested rebarrelling it so I did. Got a Benchmark 6.5 PRC and it's more accurate than I thought possible. 1/2" at one hundred and 3.5" average at 500. Cost a bit but I couldn't be happier. Also this is with factory rounds since I don't reload.
 
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mattwill00

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Apr 22, 2019
Messages
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Awesome info! If you don’t mind me asking, what was your all-cost to rebarrel? Are tikka magnum actions different than the non-magnum actions?
 

tdot

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Aug 18, 2014
Messages
1,183
Location
BC
Well as the title suggests - I have NO idea about building rifles, reloading, the ins and outs of switching chambers, etc. Now having said that I do have some very basic knowledge about “checking” rifles and putting together LEGO set AR’s. I can check headspacing, build AR’s and such, and like to shoot.

But I’ve got an inch that needs to be scratched. Coming from Ohio I never got to do much rifle hunting, but now that I’m out west I spend a lot of time behind the scope. As everyone in this forum (and others) suggested, I went ahead and bought a tikka .308 right off the bat with zero research. Now that I’ve spent some time behind it, I can’t help but want more. I know a .308 is a perfectly capable round, I know the rifle shoots just fine as is, I know the barrel isn’t shot out, and I know I don’t have reloading equipment, and I’m probably an idiot for changing it up but I get bored very fast and need a new outlet.

I saw the devistation that my friend’s custom .280AI did to a Wyoming muley last year and immediately became curious of the round. After doing some research, it seems that tikka’s “medium” action might limit the COAL of the 280AI. Coming from a complete newb, how much potential will I be “losing” by using the tikka action I currently have? How much work will it take to run a 280AI cartridge through it? Prefit barrel or non-prefit?

Hell, is it even possible or am I barking up the complete wrong tree here? I’m kinda using this as an excuse to dip into the world of long range shooting and reloading, I guess I just want to be schooled on whether or not I am an idiot for using this tikka action, or should I just scrap it and start from scratch?

I know I have a ton more research to do and I probably sounded very stupid to all of you experienced guys, I’m just fishing around for some opinions on what to do and what not to do.

Appreciate it! Bash away!
Take the money that you would spend on a re-barrel and put it into reloading. It doesn't matter what cartridge you shoot, reloading is a whole other complimentary skillset that I've found to be cheaper then playing with different rifles. It keeps old rifles interesting for longer, and I think it's a good way to learn about your rifle and caliber.

Or, take the money that you'd spend on the rebarrel and spend it on ammo, and then just go shoot a bunch.

I guess that's along way to say, dont waste your money. The 280ai may technically, be a superior LR cartridge, but the 308 was used as a LR sniper rifle, so it's not exactly a bad choice. I'm also a big fan of putting wider holes in animals.
 

Kenn

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Nov 3, 2019
Messages
74
Location
Oregon
I think the cost for barrel and install was about $900. Yes the magnum bolt is different, but others on the forum know more about that than I do.
 

WeiserBucks

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Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
336
If you're not dead set on a 280AI, consider the 6.5×284. Works great in a Tikka and on game. You're not crazy for wanting to rebarrel, its only the beginning of dementia!
 
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mattwill00

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Apr 22, 2019
Messages
35
Thanks for the info on the other 6.5x284. Seems really interesting I’ll have to look more into it. As far as rebarreling, is it something that can be done without a smith? Again, I’m prefacing this with the fact that this could be a very, very dumb question. Can I just torque a prefit on, or is more work needed to make the chamber fit the .280AI?

Also, new bolt (where to find) or do I ream out the face of the .308 to accept the larger cartridge? Or is it the length of the bolt AND the bolt face diameter that is the issue?

Where on earth do you buy tikka bolts? I know I would need a different bolt stop as well...

Thanks for bearing with me!
 
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mattwill00

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Apr 22, 2019
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35
After going down a night shift rabbit hole, I think I’ve answered a few of my own questions. Tikka makes 3 bolt sizes:

.223
.308-ish
Magnum

A .308 bolt face is relatively close to the bolt face required for a .280 (0.473 vs 0.470, respectively)

This leads me to believe that the “.308ish” bolt that I currently have shouldn’t have a problem being converted to a .280. I’m not even sure it would require any smithing, just installing a long action bolt stop.

Thread on a .280AI prefit barrel, headspace, and boom “custom” rifle? I have to be missing something correct? Obviously I’ll be swapping out the stock for something a little nicer, and trying to get some bottom metal instead of the plastic. What about mags?

Is this logic correct?
 

WeiserBucks

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Mar 31, 2019
Messages
336
You're going in the right direction, keep up the research. Keep in mind that you'll need a barrel vice, action wrench, torque wrench and go/no go gauges to do the job yourself which will increase upfront costs. Tikka factory barrels are also notoriously difficult to remove and you run the risk of ruining the action if things go south.
 

menhaden_man

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Jul 18, 2019
Messages
949
I’d just buy another rifle 🤣... I even have duplicates of several calibers. I’ve got some rock steady classics (‘06, 7 RM) but also some newer cartridges. With three kids and buddies that fly out to hunt, it’s been convenient to have options.
 

Don Qui Puncher

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Oct 14, 2017
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720
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Boston Ma
I asked mike @HellsCanyon about the 280ai on the tikka and he said I wouldn’t be able to reload at max coal to optimize the cartridge, 6.5 PRC and 7 saum need the magnum bolt face, the 6.5-284 seems very interesting but I don’t know much about them.
 

CApighunter

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Sep 23, 2018
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824
Location
Santa Rosa, CA
In a standard boltface tikka action I’d lean towards a 6.5x284, 6.5x55 Swede, or 7mm SAW. The Swede would be my choice, cheapish lapua brass and long freebore for the heavies. The 7 SAW is essentially a 7-08 AI that doesn’t require fire forming. Just resize 7-08 brass and load em up for darn near 280ai performance.
 

Axlrod

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Jan 8, 2017
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SW Montana
After going down a night shift rabbit hole, I think I’ve answered a few of my own questions. Tikka makes 3 bolt sizes:

.223
.308-ish
Magnum

A .308 bolt face is relatively close to the bolt face required for a .280 (0.473 vs 0.470, respectively)

This leads me to believe that the “.308ish” bolt that I currently have shouldn’t have a problem being converted to a .280. I’m not even sure it would require any smithing, just installing a long action bolt stop.

Thread on a .280AI prefit barrel, headspace, and boom “custom” rifle? I have to be missing something correct? Obviously I’ll be swapping out the stock for something a little nicer, and trying to get some bottom metal instead of the plastic. What about mags?

Is this logic correct?
Both .308 and .280 have a .473" head diameter so the bolt is the same.
 
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mattwill00

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Apr 22, 2019
Messages
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So upon further research and all of your opinions, the 6.5x284 seems like the logical choice. What’s the deal with the 7mm SAW? That’s a new one to me.

Also, who’s everyone’s favorite reasonably priced prefit barrel? Arguments for or against carbon? Am I going to have to do any smithing to headspace a prefit? Shouldered or barrel nut?

I’ve already learned a bunch just from researching and it looks like an awesome little (that’s what I’m telling the lady) hobby to pick up along with reloading!
 
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mattwill00

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Apr 22, 2019
Messages
35
Well i figured I'd jump in head first. I purchased a Preferred Barrel Blanks barrel nut prefit 26" 1:7.5 twist 6.5x284 in #3 contour. Figured it would be heavy enough to shoot a few rounds down range, and still be somewhat light enough to not become ultra annoying on backcountry hunts. I used bergers calculator to make sure I can stabilize 140gr bullets (still haven't chosen any to begin reloading with, any recs?) in the 1:7.5 twist. I hope I made the right choice.

I have a little time to figure out how to remove the tikka barrel. Everything I've read basically says its a total pain in the butt. I plan on getting a barrel vise and an action wrench. Any recommendations on those as well? Should I go with an external?

Anyways, I really appreciate all the help I've got thus far! Any good recommendations on stocks that will fit a #3 contour? I want to stay on the cheaper side of things so I've been looking at B&C, but they dont really specify barrel clearance. At least that I can tell.
 

wind gypsy

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Dec 30, 2014
Messages
2,964
Well i figured I'd jump in head first. I purchased a Preferred Barrel Blanks barrel nut prefit 26" 1:7.5 twist 6.5x284 in #3 contour. Figured it would be heavy enough to shoot a few rounds down range, and still be somewhat light enough to not become ultra annoying on backcountry hunts. I used bergers calculator to make sure I can stabilize 140gr bullets (still haven't chosen any to begin reloading with, any recs?) in the 1:7.5 twist. I hope I made the right choice.

I have a little time to figure out how to remove the tikka barrel. Everything I've read basically says its a total pain in the butt. I plan on getting a barrel vise and an action wrench. Any recommendations on those as well? Should I go with an external?

Anyways, I really appreciate all the help I've got thus far! Any good recommendations on stocks that will fit a #3 contour? I want to stay on the cheaper side of things so I've been looking at B&C, but they dont really specify barrel clearance. At least that I can tell.
I was going to say 280ai and 6.5x284 aren't ideal if you're not a hand loader but it looks like you're headed that direction. IMO you wont find a "cheaper" stock that is better than the factory t3 stock with a vertical grip, so save your money there. You can open up the barrel channel to fit your barrel.

Plenty of good bullets out there. I'd look at the berger 140s and hornady 135 gr A Tip for starters. 147 ELDm and 156 berger are good options too but I like the 140ish bullets as a balance of velocity, recoil, and BC.
 

Wapiti1

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Sep 18, 2017
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Indiana
Well i figured I'd jump in head first. I purchased a Preferred Barrel Blanks barrel nut prefit 26" 1:7.5 twist 6.5x284 in #3 contour. Figured it would be heavy enough to shoot a few rounds down range, and still be somewhat light enough to not become ultra annoying on backcountry hunts. I used bergers calculator to make sure I can stabilize 140gr bullets (still haven't chosen any to begin reloading with, any recs?) in the 1:7.5 twist. I hope I made the right choice.

I have a little time to figure out how to remove the tikka barrel. Everything I've read basically says its a total pain in the butt. I plan on getting a barrel vise and an action wrench. Any recommendations on those as well? Should I go with an external?

Anyways, I really appreciate all the help I've got thus far! Any good recommendations on stocks that will fit a #3 contour? I want to stay on the cheaper side of things so I've been looking at B&C, but they dont really specify barrel clearance. At least that I can tell.
An internal action wrench is nicer to use and you don't stand the chance of messing up the finish. Patriot Valley Arms, or Bugholes make good wrenches if they are in stock. You'll want a 2 foot breaker bar as well.

There are a few vises on Ebay that have steel bodies and come with aluminum inserts for something like $80. That is pretty much what I use, but I made mine. You need a very solid bench to mount it to. Use powdered sugar as a gripping agent in the bushings. Rosin is usually recommended, but not as easy to get hold of for a simple project.

Do you know how to take the ejector out of the bolt? When you headspace the new barrel, having that out of the bolt will make it easier to feel when the go gauge is snug.

Jeremy
 
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mattwill00

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Apr 22, 2019
Messages
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Wind gypsy - thanks for the bullet recs! I figured I’d probably save up for a manners or something but I’ve heard some good reviews about B&C (and some bad) so I was a little curious

Jeremy - I am familiar with stripping the bolt so that shouldn’t be an issue but thanks for the headspacing tips. As far as the wrench, I’ve heard you can get more leverage on the action with an external. You sound like you’ve removed one of these before though. You just use the internal wrench, the vice, and the breaker bar? Do you use heat or soak anything in kroil before? Everything I’ve read on sniperhide makes the task seem a little daunting. Would love to hear your insight on that.
 

Wapiti1

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I just use the vise, a bushing the fits the barrel, rosin, an internal wrench and a 2 foot breaker bar. If you get the barrel in the vise right and tight, it will come off. I have not used heat on a Tikka. I have on other actions.

It doesn't hurt as long as you don't over do it. Play the torch on the front ring until water sizzles and that is usually plenty of heat.

You might be able to get more leverage with an external wrench. I don't like them if I can help it due to the possibility of marring the finish. Even with soft shims, you put a lot of force on the outside. If you do use an external, you put it on, snug it up, and put the bolt in. The bolt supports the ring and helps prevent it from being crushed. Did I mention that I like an internal action wrench?

Honestly, if I'm not keeping the original barrel for something, I make a relief cut at the action with my lathe, and spin it off by hand. You can do the same with a hacksaw. It screws up the old barrel, so only do it if you really don't care about that barrel.

Jeremy
 
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