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New Build- Bighorn TL3 or Nucleus

Southern Custom

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Minuteman
  • As the title says. I’m looking at building a new gun and I was planning around the TL3 but started looking at ARC actions and the Nucleus intrigued me. Not to mention they are in stock and ready to roll. I’d love to hear from someone who has run both of them. And yeah i know,.... Mausingfield. But you have to put a cap eventually and I capped this at $1250 for action.
     

    Another Casual

    Filthy Casual
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    Minuteman
    Feb 27, 2017
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    Haven't run a nucleus, but very happy with my two Big Horn/Zermatt Origins. Customer service is great and so is the action. Stripping the bolt is easy and they shoot flat out.
     
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    wpeach1912

    Sergeant of the Hide
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    Minuteman
    Apr 7, 2020
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    There are several places that keep TL3s stocked too I believe. Like you could check Altus and Northland Shooter Supply. I have a TL3, and I like it quite a bit. Plus, they seem to be more proven or at the least they are more commonly used in PRS matches.
     
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    Cascade Hemi

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    Feb 9, 2019
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    I have a TL3 and Archimedes. I'd choose the Archimedes every day. I don't think the Nucleus is a good comparison to the TL3.
     
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    Mordamer

    Professional Know It All
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    Minuteman
  • May 11, 2010
    1,406
    1,102
    Hooker, OK
    The TL3 is an amazing action.

    Pros in no specific order:
    1. Very reliable in dirty conditions or any other conditions. I have shot over 3,000 rounds in actual matches and way more than that just for fun and I have an incredibly small failure rate. Basically all failures I have are magazine related. I did recently get some light primer strikes but it was because my firing pin had loosened after over 30,000 dry fires and live fires. Tightened it back up and re-tightened the set screws and all is good.
    2. Great customer service. They are always available, honest, helpful, and knowledgeable. Zermatt has treated me like family even though I have never met any of them. They have gone above and beyond to support their products. If you ever had a problem you would have access to a whole team of experts who would not stop until your issue was resolved.
    3. Control round feed works flawless with just about any cartridge. Feeds short cartridges exceptionally well.
    4. More customizable options than other actions.
    5. Headspace is incredibly consistent from action to action allowing pre-fit barrels without any issues.
    6. Easy bolt disassembly and swappable bolt heads.
    7. Can use savage barrel nut style barrels as well.
    8. Bolt lift is very light with a properly timed trigger.

    Cons:
    1. People who haven't built up any muscle memory cycling the bolt tend to claim it binds at the rear of travel. This is not a real issue in practice. The generous bolt clearance allows for a ton of dirt to get in and the bolt still cycles every time. I have had my actions caked in red Oklahoma dirt from dusty windy matches and they never choke. Once I'm on a stage it doesn't seem to matter how much dirt is in the action it still works perfect. The cause of the "bind" everyone complains about ends up making the TL3 incredibly reliable in dirt.
     

    Kimber.204

    A Stranger in a Strange Land
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    Minuteman
    May 30, 2017
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    Can you please elaborate about Archimedes?

    You didn't ask me, but I'll respond as well anyway!

    I have an Archimedes, a TL3 and an Origin. I recently sold my Mausingfield, it's an awesome action, but for my purposes the Archimedes won out.

    1. Archimedes - this is my current match rifle. It is so fast in rapid fire stages (NRA Highpower - not PRS) that I have more time to focus on re-establishing my center hold prior to firing the next shot. The Archimedes has slightly heavier bolt lift than my TL3. I've never had any binding issues with the Archimedes. Bolt heads are more involved to swap compared to the TL3/Origin

    2. TL3 - this has a lighter bolt lift than the Archimedes, but it is a 50/50 action. So there is a similar amount of force required to close the bolt as to open it. The Archimedes is cock on open only so when you close the bolt it just falls/slides smoothly into place with essentially no force. I am actually getting ready to sell my TL3 .....but only to buy a Bighorn SR3 so I can run extended BDL bottom metal for hunting. I've never had any binding issues with my TL3's and barrel/bolt head changes are very easy.

    3. Origin - The first Origin I had I did not care for - it had an extremely heavy bolt lift and for a match rifle just opening the bolt would seriously disturb my position. I recently picked up another Origin (to be able to use BDL bottom metal for hunting) and figured that on a hunting rifle I wouldn't care about the extra bolt lift. But I didn't realize that the Wyatt's Magazine box I ordered was "extended" and won't fit an Origin. The previous owner stated it had been "tuned" to run with a Timney two-stage trigger - which is what I had on hand to use. I was amazed when I got the Origin all put together - it feels just like a TL3. I don't know what was done to tune this action (if a lighter spring was used, or the cocking piece honed, or what)....but it's a fantastic action.

    I've been buying components to put together a "B" gun in .308win to match my 6XC Archimedes match rifle. This Origin will be my "B" rifle. Since bolt manipulation is significantly different between the two the Origin will be used for Standing and Prone Slow Fire practice. The A gun will be used in matches and for rapid fire practice.

    The TL3 and Origin are just so versatile that I expect I'll always have one of them around due to the various barrels and bolt heads that I have in the safe. I'm excited to get the SR3 up and running before firearms season to be able to run 6.5 PRC.

    Good luck.
    Ross
     
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    MakeSawdust

    Private
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    Minuteman
    Feb 25, 2017
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    The TL3 is an amazing action.

    Pros in no specific order:
    1. Very reliable in dirty conditions or any other conditions. I have shot over 3,000 rounds in actual matches and way more than that just for fun and I have an incredibly small failure rate. Basically all failures I have are magazine related. I did recently get some light primer strikes but it was because my firing pin had loosened after over 30,000 dry fires and live fires. Tightened it back up and re-tightened the set screws and all is good.
    2. Great customer service. They are always available, honest, helpful, and knowledgeable. Zermatt has treated me like family even though I have never met any of them. They have gone above and beyond to support their products. If you ever had a problem you would have access to a whole team of experts who would not stop until your issue was resolved.
    3. Control round feed works flawless with just about any cartridge. Feeds short cartridges exceptionally well.
    4. More customizable options than other actions.
    5. Headspace is incredibly consistent from action to action allowing pre-fit barrels without any issues.
    6. Easy bolt disassembly and swappable bolt heads.
    7. Can use savage barrel nut style barrels as well.
    8. Bolt lift is very light with a properly timed trigger.

    Cons:
    1. People who haven't built up any muscle memory cycling the bolt tend to claim it binds at the rear of travel. This is not a real issue in practice. The generous bolt clearance allows for a ton of dirt to get in and the bolt still cycles every time. I have had my actions caked in red Oklahoma dirt from dusty windy matches and they never choke. Once I'm on a stage it doesn't seem to matter how much dirt is in the action it still works perfect. The cause of the "bind" everyone complains about ends up making the TL3 incredibly reliable in dirt.

    All of this^^^. I will also add that I have both actions. Both are reliable, but if you are planning on changing calibers regularly, the nucleus requires you to remove the ejector to use the action wrench. It is a pain in the ass. The TL3 has lighter bolt lift and awesome customer support. The feel of the actions is very different, and I much prefer the feel of the TL3. I have no trouble with it binding in actual shooting. It does sometimes bind in dryfire with no cartridge in front of the bolt but with a little practice it is buttery smooth.
     
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    Mordamer

    Professional Know It All
    PX Member
    Minuteman
  • May 11, 2010
    1,406
    1,102
    Hooker, OK
    You didn't ask me, but I'll respond as well anyway!

    I have an Archimedes, a TL3 and an Origin. I recently sold my Mausingfield, it's an awesome action, but for my purposes the Archimedes won out.

    1. Archimedes - this is my current match rifle. It is so fast in rapid fire stages (NRA Highpower - not PRS) that I have more time to focus on re-establishing my center hold prior to firing the next shot. The Archimedes has slightly heavier bolt lift than my TL3. I've never had any binding issues with the Archimedes. Bolt heads are more involved to swap compared to the TL3/Origin

    2. TL3 - this has a lighter bolt lift than the Archimedes, but it is a 50/50 action. So there is a similar amount of force required to close the bolt as to open it. The Archimedes is cock on open only so when you close the bolt it just falls/slides smoothly into place with essentially no force. I am actually getting ready to sell my TL3 .....but only to buy a Bighorn SR3 so I can run extended BDL bottom metal for hunting. I've never had any binding issues with my TL3's and barrel/bolt head changes are very easy.

    3. Origin - The first Origin I had I did not care for - it had an extremely heavy bolt lift and for a match rifle just opening the bolt would seriously disturb my position. I recently picked up another Origin (to be able to use BDL bottom metal for hunting) and figured that on a hunting rifle I wouldn't care about the extra bolt lift. But I didn't realize that the Wyatt's Magazine box I ordered was "extended" and won't fit an Origin. The previous owner stated it had been "tuned" to run with a Timney two-stage trigger - which is what I had on hand to use. I was amazed when I got the Origin all put together - it feels just like a TL3. I don't know what was done to tune this action (if a lighter spring was used, or the cocking piece honed, or what)....but it's a fantastic action.

    I've been buying components to put together a "B" gun in .308win to match my 6XC Archimedes match rifle. This Origin will be my "B" rifle. Since bolt manipulation is significantly different between the two the Origin will be used for Standing and Prone Slow Fire practice. The A gun will be used in matches and for rapid fire practice.

    The TL3 and Origin are just so versatile that I expect I'll always have one of them around due to the various barrels and bolt heads that I have in the safe. I'm excited to get the SR3 up and running before firearms season to be able to run 6.5 PRC.

    Good luck.
    Ross

    On your comments about the origin heavy bolt lift, Zermatt apparently made a change to their early origin bolt design. The change fixed the heavy bolt lift and close. My friend had one and called in about it and they sent him the updated bolt free of charge. The updated bolt is night and day being way better. I have no idea what the difference actually is or what serial numbers have the old bolt, but I think it was very few early Origins.
     

    steve123

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    Minuteman
    Mar 16, 2008
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    Just thinking out loud but I wonder why ARC didn't make the Archimedes cock on close so the momentum of the bolt being slammed forward would help overcome spring tension as well as no spring tension when opening the bolt???

    Coming from someone that thinks straight pull Fortner rimfire actions make all 22 bolt actions seem stupid anyway. It's cock on open but once the spring tension is overcame the bolt is slammed back automatically from the force it took to cock it, no tension of course when it's pushed forward with one's thumb.
    No push up and push down forces like a bolt action to upset sight picture!
    Faster too!
    And don't have to break position either when in an awkward one.
    More precise than semiauto.
    Truly genius!

    Watch some biathlon videos and imagine a centerfire version built for the short and awesome 6mmBR and variants.

    BTW my go-to is a Mausingfield.

    Just venting - again
     

    NWnewguy

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    Nov 10, 2013
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    I've got a TL3 as well as all of ARCs actions. Even some in left hand. If you really want the Mausingfield, then put up a WTB ad in the Post Exchange section and see if you can get some bites. I've seen them sell barely used for less than you're looking to spend. If somehow you ever had a problem with the action ARC will still help you out (as will most actions companies out there).

    I'm on the fence about whether I like the Mausingfield or Archimedes better now. If I had to pick one, it would be the Mausingfield for more of a hunting rifle and the Arch if it was more for shooting matches. The Mausingfield just feels amazing and is incredibly robust. It also feeds and ejects like a champ. Never had any issues with Br based cases or any type of magazine. They have all worked. The Arch has worked flawlessly in a 223, which can be a tricky task, sometimes due to magazines made for 223. The other Arch is in 6x47, and it's fed perfect as well, but 6x47 is easy to get to work with almost any action out there. I haven't put enough time into my own Nuke to speak with authority about it. I never had the light primer strike issues that some had when they first came out. My son is running a lefty Nuke in 223 for coyotes and other targets of opportunity and he does a lot of dry fire. His feels very slick and cycles well with the cheap snap caps he likes to use when practicing in the house. The Gen2 Nuke is supposed to be even better. Really can't go wrong with any of those choices.
     
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    Cascade Hemi

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    Feb 9, 2019
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    On your comments about the origin heavy bolt lift, Zermatt apparently made a change to their early origin bolt design. The change fixed the heavy bolt lift and close. My friend had one and called in about it and they sent him the updated bolt free of charge. The updated bolt is night and day being way better. I have no idea what the difference actually is or what serial numbers have the old bolt, but I think it was very few early Origins.

    My TL3 bolt lift has always felt kind of gritty. Originally it was pretty bad but seemed to work in. Working the bolt back and forth feels great but the bolt lift and close is about the same as a factory Winchester. The Archimedes, on the other hand, doesn't feel that smooth working the bolt back and forth but the lift and close is excellent. My TL3 is two years old and has probably 1500 rounds through it. Everyone seems to like the TL3 but I just haven't fallen in love with it the way I thought I would.
     

    HellcatActual

    Choochin
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    Minuteman
    Oct 11, 2020
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    all over
    I have a TL3 and Archimedes. I'd choose the Archimedes every day. I don't think the Nucleus is a good comparison to the TL3.

    how is that different primary extraction feel when your shooting? its it really noticeable ? bolt lift that much better? are you finding you having to pull it like an actual lever to extract?
     

    Cascade Hemi

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    Feb 9, 2019
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    how is that different primary extraction feel when your shooting? its it really noticeable ? bolt lift that much better? are you finding you having to pull it like an actual lever to extract?

    I have a few thousand rounds through the action including field use and classes. You don't feel the lever running the bolt normally or even hard; it will throw brass as far as you want it to. The Archimedes lift is shorter than the TL3 and probably about as heavy but closing is lighter. Both actions take Savage barrels and prefits; I have a 223 and 6.5CM for the Archimedes and 6.5PRC and 6GT for the TL3.
     

    AZshooterz

    Sergeant of the Hide
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Feb 29, 2020
    124
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    I have a few thousand rounds through the action including field use and classes. You don't feel the lever running the bolt normally or even hard; it will throw brass as far as you want it to. The Archimedes lift is shorter than the TL3 and probably about as heavy but closing is lighter. Both actions take Savage barrels and prefits; I have a 223 and 6.5CM for the Archimedes and 6.5PRC and 6GT for the TL3.
    How do you like the 6.5PRC? I have a TL3 300 PRC and love it! I‘m very interested in getting a 6.5PRC next.