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Old 03-20-2019, 03:20 PM
HyFiveGuns

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Tale of two .243's....



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Decided to add a .243 (or two) to my stable for long range varmint shooting. My main intention for .243 is for my prairie dog trip to have a round that is ballistically superior to .223 for shots from 300-500 yards but with lower recoil than my 6.5CM to make spotting the hits / misses a bit easier and for a little less shooter fatigue. Hornady Custom Lite .243 87gr SST is kinda perfect for this.

So, I was really wanting the CZ 557 American (new 2019 model) but CZ-USA couldn't give me any timeframe when they would be available in the US, so being impatient, I went ahead and bought a Tikka T3x Hunter in .243. Literally, the day the Tikka arrived, I got a notification that the 557 was now available, which of course meant, I needed to buy it immediately. So, now I have these two beauties and finally got them out to the range this morning to check them out. Both are topped with Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 FFP MOA scopes. Both rifles have sporter barrels, 1:10 twist, the CZ has a 24" barrel, the Tikka has a 22.5" barrel. The fit and finish on both guns is superb. The CZ weighs about a 0.5 lb. more than the Tikka. Here's how they compare on aesthetics, ergonomics and function.

Tikka on top, CZ on the bottom.

- Bluing on both guns is excellent, I'd give the edge to the Tikka for a more even finish. The Tikka has a recessed crown, the CZ does not.
- The wood stock on the Tikka is nice but feels a little thin, the CZ stock is much more solid; the pistol grip has a nice palm swell that makes the grip on the rifle feel more stable. Really like the stock on the CZ over the Tikka.
- Both rifles are push feed, which is a change for CZ as they used to be controlled-round-feed; this is much better for being able to feed single rounds. Both guns cycle flawlessly but the edge has to go to the Tikka; their bolts cycle like they are on rails.... so smooth.....
- Trigger: Out of the box, the Tikka has one of the best single-stage triggers there is. I have adjusted it down to about 2 lbs and it is fantastically crisp. The CZ also has an adjustable trigger, but I haven't touched it as it has just a TINY bit of take-up that makes it almost feel like a two-stage trigger.... I really like that.

How do they shoot?

I tested both rifles with Hornady Custom 87gr VMAX and Hornady Custom Lite (reduced recoil) 87gr SST. I plan to test other factory loads but this is all I had time for today. I like these loads because they have the same B/C and even though the velocity on the reduced recoil is lower, they zero at 100 yards with the same POI. Nice to be able to go back and forth between the two with the same zero and just calculate different trajectory. I was shooting at 100 yards with little to no wind. Here's what I got.

Tikka: Cold bore 5 shot group with the 87gr VMAX was 0.57" at 100 yards; as the gun heated up, the groups opened up to about 1.25"... still pretty respectable with a hot barrel. The 87gr SST with a "warm" bore produced a 4-shot 0.42" group with a one-shot flyer that made it 1.13", but three of the four shots were touching holes.... my worst group with this rifle was 1.34".... very impressive.

CZ: Cold bore 5 shot group with the 87gr VMAX was 0.65" at 100 yards; The 87gr SST with a "warm" bore produced a 5-shot 0.90" group. My worse group with this rifle was 1.27"... also very impressive.

Both guns shot MOA or better but the CZ tended to shoot tighter clusters with fewer fliers. More testing with to be done with other factory loads (I don't reload), but so far I am very pleased with these two guns....

IMG_4644.jpg

IMG_4665.jpg
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:37 PM
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That Tikka is a very fine looking gun.., I'll have to say that. Almost be scared to take it out into the woods.
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:45 PM
Samuel_Hoggson
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First, congrats on the rifles. Second, your write up is very good, concise and on point re information I'd want were I in the market for another .243. And without fluff.

Our .243 is a WBY UL. 5.75# minus optics. Trigger is probably inferior to either of yours. I have been careful not to allow it to get warm when shooting groups. So I've recorded mostly sub 3/4" groups. But would say accuracy is likely on par with your pair. One observation re light .243s is POI can vary quite a bit between bullet weights, and even between different loadings of the same weight bullet (that really surprised me).

My son shot his first whitetail with the UL using Fed Premium 100 gr NPs. It mostly sits now. Maybe it's time to wring it out some more.
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Old 03-20-2019, 08:09 PM
HyFiveGuns

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Originally Posted by Samuel_Hoggson View Post
First, congrats on the rifles. Second, your write up is very good, concise and on point re information I'd want were I in the market for another .243. And without fluff.

Our .243 is a WBY UL. 5.75# minus optics. Trigger is probably inferior to either of yours. I have been careful not to allow it to get warm when shooting groups. So I've recorded mostly sub 3/4" groups. But would say accuracy is likely on par with your pair. One observation re light .243s is POI can vary quite a bit between bullet weights, and even between different loadings of the same weight bullet (that really surprised me).

My son shot his first whitetail with the UL using Fed Premium 100 gr NPs. It mostly sits now. Maybe it's time to wring it out some more.
Thank you. I agree about trying not to let the guns get hot. Unfortunately, today I was in a bit of a rush with limited time, so I was definitely shooting faster than I should have and the barrels were definitely getting hotter than I would have liked. I could tell the barrels were getting hot when the groups started opening up.

Prior to shooting today, I had heard that 1:10 twist rifles seemed to really like the 87gr bullets and I found little difference in group size between the full load (3240 FPS) and the reduced recoil (2800 FPS). There is a noticeable reduction in recoil with those lighter loads and I had no trouble keeping the rifle down with those loads, which is the ultimate goal. Also, get what you mean about the varying bullets. I tried a few Federal 85gr Trophy Copper in the CZ and they were keyholing like crazy.

Will do more ammo testing as time and weather will permit. Stay tuned.
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Old 03-20-2019, 11:08 PM
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243 - PD Gear

HyFiveGuns - I will add my congrats on the two rifles and excellent write up. I would expect the Tikka to be sub MOA and am glad to hear the CZ 557 did well. The initial reports I read on the 557 were not very impressive from several years ago . . . so glad the new ones are holding there own. I saw a 2019 production CZ 557 in 243 last week and was rather impressed with how the rifle looked . . . a great improvement over the initial 557's. I have a CZ 550 American in 243 that I acquired several years ago as a deer rifle (Hornady 95 & 100 gr ammo), but I have not shot it that much over the past few years.

I found most Hornady Superformance ammo to be faster, but not as accurate as other brands I tried. I was just on their website and it appears they do make one of the new ELD-XL products in 243 (a 90 gr). Based on experience in the 6.5 CM the ELD-X performs very well accuracy wise.

Always good to have two great shooting rifles when on a PD hunt. BTW nice wood on that table.
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Old 03-21-2019, 05:47 AM
j.r. guerra in s. texas

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"First, congrats on the rifles. Second, your write up is very good, concise and on point re information I'd want were I in the market for another .243. And without fluff. "

Very well put there.

I also congratulate you on finding a great pair of .243s. My minor negative comment is the scope rail on the Tikka - it stands out. The CZ mounts appear more handsome in my eyes, anyway. Very minor point - the rifles themselves look outstanding.

Thank you for your review.
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Old 03-21-2019, 10:00 AM
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I've had a few .243's.
Back in the day I ran 4895 and Speer 75gr HP on chucks (Ruger #1 B).
It whopped em.

Throat wore out on that rifle and being a poor college kid, didn't have the $ to rebarrel. Away it went.

Next was a 700 BDL and I switched to 4350 and Nosler BT 70 gr.
Laser.

Blast was a bit w the 22" bbl and slower powder (with lighter bullet). But accuracy was stellar and it shot flat. No dust ups on other side unless neck shot. Body hits from 50 to 350 yards was just a black tail salute.

Model 7 stainless. 600. And two 700 ADLs..........all liked that same load.

Guy gave me some 55 gr Nosler BT, and I gave them to somebody else. AFAIC for chucks I am sold on the 70gr.

The WW reg 80gr factory PSP shoots sub MOA in my current 700 ADL, right about .75 for 5 at 100. Good enough for yotes.

Don't have chucks anymore and have yet to put in a reloading bench at new house.
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Old 03-21-2019, 10:07 AM
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I have never been prairie dog hunting.

87gr to me seems too heavy for chucks, let alone PDs.

70gr off bipods, sporters..........150 plus to spot hits at 9X.
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Old 03-21-2019, 10:19 AM
HyFiveGuns

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Originally Posted by rjferber View Post

I found most Hornady Superformance ammo to be faster, but not as accurate as other brands I tried. I was just on their website and it appears they do make one of the new ELD-XL products in 243 (a 90 gr). Based on experience in the 6.5 CM the ELD-X performs very well accuracy wise.

Always good to have two great shooting rifles when on a PD hunt. BTW nice wood on that table.
Thanks rjferber. I have also had VERY good results with the Precision Hunter 143gr ELD-X rounds in my 6.5CM. That is what I used on last year's PD shoot. My longest rangefinder confirmed hit was 721 yards. I've seen the 90gr ELD-X as well, but the ELD-X rounds in general are pretty pricey at around 1.35 / round. Last year, I shot close to 300 rounds of it and that was on top of about 600 rounds of .223.

This year, these two .243's are being added to the existing PD arsenal, which is (2) varmint profile AR-15's, (2) bolt .223's, and (2) 6.5CM's.

- .223 for up to 300 yards...
- .243 for 300 to 500
- 6.5CM for 500+ .

Last year, it was 95-102 degrees, so the guns got hot pretty fast. This should be a good rotation...
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Old 03-21-2019, 10:27 AM
HyFiveGuns

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Originally Posted by j.r. guerra in s. texas View Post
My minor negative comment is the scope rail on the Tikka - it stands out.
I kind of agree with you on that, but I did it for two reasons.

1) I wanted more elevation adjustment range on the scope and I've used the MOA adjustable scope rings that Burris makes in the past and they have never worked properly. So, that leaves a 20 MOA rail as the option.

2) My preferred scope ring of choice is Vortex Precision Matched rings and they require a PIC rail.

So, I sacrificed a little cosmetically for function.

I would have done the same on the CZ except the only available rail is from EGW and it sits way too high for my liking. The CZ rings fit this scope perfectly.
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Old 03-21-2019, 10:37 AM
HyFiveGuns

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I have never been prairie dog hunting.

87gr to me seems too heavy for chucks, let alone PDs.

70gr off bipods, sporters..........150 plus to spot hits at 9X.
PD's are small and you can kill 'em with a 17gr 17HMR. But you have to be able to hit 'em. Last year, we rarely saw anything under 200 yards with most shots being between 250 and 500 yards. Add a 10-15 mph wind and now you know why you need heavier bullets. If you think 87gr is heavy, you should see what a 143gr ELD-X does to a PD....
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Old 03-21-2019, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by HyFiveGuns View Post
PD's are small and you can kill 'em with a 17gr 17HMR. But you have to be able to hit 'em. Last year, we rarely saw anything under 200 yards with most shots being between 250 and 500 yards. Add a 10-15 mph wind and now you know why you need heavier bullets. If you think 87gr is heavy, you should see what a 143gr ELD-X does to a PD....
Or 180 grain ballistic silvertips out of a .300 WinMag. When it's prairie dog time, run what ya brung!

Beautiful rifles HyFive.

Frank
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:37 PM
HyFiveGuns

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Or 180 grain ballistic silvertips out of a .300 WinMag. When it's prairie dog time, run what ya brung!

Beautiful rifles HyFive.

Frank
Thank you sir.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:50 PM
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Two very nice rifles and a good write up! I have a CZ 550 American in 243 that would fit right in.
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:26 PM
HyFiveGuns

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Two very nice rifles and a good write up! I have a CZ 550 American in 243 that would fit right in.
Yes sir... that 550 is a very fine rifle indeed...
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