Tikka CTR 6.5CM Review

ktm450

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Messages
77
Hello Rokslide,
I have spent a year and one hunting season with a Tikka CTR 24” 6.5 Creedmoor that started bone stock. I am an avid tinkerer, reloader, and perfectionist and wanted to share a few observations for those of you looking at rifles for this hunting season.

I found a good deal on a brand new rifle and had never messed with the 6.5 CM before, so just bought the gun on a whim and started load development with RL16 after a bunch of internet searching and sourcing what I could. All brass is Hornady and I found 3 bullets to try (Berger 140 Hunters, 140 Hornady ELD-M, and (eventually) 143 Hornady ELD-X). I initially viewed the gun as a range toy and practice for long range shooting, but quickly developed a real affinity to the 6.5CM and the design elements of the gun.

Stock CTR Pro’s (for me):
  • Accuracy
  • Stainless
  • Modular Stock (Cheek riser, grip area, and scope mount)
  • Action
  • Threaded barrel
  • Bolt (oversized bolt knob)
  • Magazine (10-rounds)
  • Weight (feels solid) I hate whippy/superlite guns
CTR Cons:
  • Rough finish (barrel channel, trigger, bolt knob)
  • Trigger
  • Font heavy balance
I made an immediate change to both the trigger with an MCARBO spring (1.5 pounds) and the scope mounting system taking off the rail and using Talley 1-piece rings to “low” mount a 44mm objective scope directly to the action. I recognize this is personal preference, but I hate “wind sail” scopes and heavy triggers.

Load development:
I know that H4350 is the “go to” powder for the 6.5CM and I have plenty on hand, but I was looking for something a bit newer, temp sensitive, and faster FPS. I have a lot of RL16 and started development. Everything shoots well in this gun and it's kind of boring to develop loads. I really wanted to stay at or above 2800fps and found it was easy to do within factory recipes on the Alliant Powders website. I only had the Bergers and the ELD-M’s last fall and found loads that consistently went 2840 FPS and grouped at .75” @ 100 every shot.

Initial thoughts:
The gun grew on me and was so easy to develop loads for I decided to take it hunting for my Antelope trip. It was accurate, easy to shoot well, and a bit unbalanced. I ended up shooting a nice antelope at 292 yards with the Bergers and was unimpressed with the performance (a story for another time). They were pretty explosive on a perfect broadside shot and it took 2 shots. They are very accurate and did the job, just not exactly how I would prefer. I hiked around 8-miles on this hunt and decided I really liked the gun, but wanted some alterations.

Changes:
I felt like the CTR had more untapped potential and made some additional changes now that it was more of a hunting gun than a range toy.
  • “Free float” barrel channel with Dremel and sandpaper
  • Smooth bolt knob and other plastic areas that had poor molding/rough spots
  • Cut barrel to 21” for balance/easier handling
  • Accuracy improved (.37” 3-shot groups @ 100)
  • I frequently shoot targets out to 600 yards (my home range) with ease
  • Velocity went from 2840-2790
Final thoughts:
I spent a lot of time with load development and found a bunch of 143 ELD-X’s. The accuracy actually improved and I was surprised that the velocity did not change that much considering -3” of barrel length. The gun balances really well now especially with the large magazine and it is pretty handy.

If I had to do it all over again, I would do everything the same and cut the barrel to 22” the day after I picked it up. I still think that the 20” barrel option is too short for noise and a guarantee that the FPS will remain in the 2800FPS range. I also understand I am splitting hairs because one can order a CTR in a 20” barrel and plenty of people use 18” barrels. I like my hunting guns in the 8.5-10 pound realm (scoped) and am much more particular about balance. The CTR is kind of a funky looking gun with a heavy barrel and 10-round mag, but it excels at this (compact hunting) role very well. I also use it around the ranch a ton for coyotes/pest control and it is super handy for that too.

A lot of this write-up has to do with personal preferences and constant tinkering. I thought I would use the gun for a while and sell it, but the accuracy and new handling attributes have changed the way I view and use the CTR. It is something a bit different than a typical hunting gun/Tikka T-series rifles that works really well after some adjustments and a bit of extra cash.
 

ETtikka

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Messages
111
Location
East Tennessee
Thanks for compiling and sharing your notes. A good foundation for someone who wants a versatile gun that is affordable compare to some of the exotics out there.
 

Nillion

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2019
Messages
108
I have this exact gun and love it. I don't reload, but I settled on the factory ELD-Xs for my hunting round also. I get around a .68 inch group at 100 with them. The only modification I did to mine was install a Yodave trigger spring.
 

ETtikka

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Messages
111
Location
East Tennessee
I have this exact gun and love it. I don't reload, but I settled on the factory ELD-Xs for my hunting round also. I get around a .68 inch group at 100 with them. The only modification I did to mine was install a Yodave trigger spring.

Do you remember group size prior to yo dave trigger? I just think the Tikka trigger is pretty nice in stock form, I guess I am comparing it to "lesser" guns.
 

HandyManJr

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
16
Have you had any issues with the CTR magazines? I'm thinking about converting to a AICS bottom metal but I've heard differing opinions on the CTR mags.
 

Nillion

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2019
Messages
108
Do you remember group size prior to yo dave trigger? I just think the Tikka trigger is pretty nice in stock form, I guess I am comparing it to "lesser" guns.

Honestly, I didn't even shoot it with the stock trigger. I ordered the trigger spring the same time as I ordered the gun. I dry fired it stock a few times, installed the new spring, and liked it so much that's how I kept it.

Your review makes me realize I should check to see if my barrel has any contact with the stock. It's shot so well from day one I never bothered to look.

Have you had any issues with the CTR magazines? I'm thinking about converting to a AICS bottom metal but I've heard differing opinions on the CTR mags.

By the reports I've read, the CTR mags are better than the AICS mags. I don't have anything that uses AICS mags though, so I don't have personal experience with them.
 
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ktm450

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Messages
77
Thanks for the feedback; getting everything dialed for a special draw Antelope early October. I bought an additional 10-round CTR mag and use them both pretty frequently. For me, they have been flawless.
 

wrightjr

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2020
Messages
14
Location
Georgia
Good write up, I like you methodical approach and rationale. Good work, and keep us posted.
 
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