Tikka T3XA1 Sparks Munitions - High Pressure Signs

GBMaryland

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  • Feb 24, 2008
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    I have a Tikka T3XA1 (TAC) that I've been working up and testing various ammunition on.

    Yesterday I got around to testing some Sparks ammo and was surprised to find out that the bolt was sticking.

    It shot well... and the primers were not flat.

    Does anyone know if the headspacing on the Tikka is tighter than typically found in other guns?

    D434F5AA-464B-47A0-8C63-0AF28C345151.jpeg

    E25290AD-3A32-4AC5-82B3-AB7D5510170A.jpeg

    GB
     
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    Supersubes

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    Primers are a crappy pressure indicator, especially when headspace is at minimums and the firing pin hole fits the pin well. Did you shoot it over a chrono?

    The swipes on the other hand are screaming high pressure. Headspace should not affect anything.
     

    GBMaryland

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    I was able to go to the range today to see if the technical support Sparks gave me was the issue:

    They wanted to:

    - verify there was not a serious carbon ring in the chamber

    - test fire the weapon without the suppressor

    Suppressor:

    The suppressor is a 30 YHM phantom stainless (not the new ones, but the older models from about 5 years ago).

    Prior to firing the weapon I soaked the bore with BoreTech by plugging the chamber and soaking it for 24 hours.

    I then rescrubbed it with a plastic brush, and then ran patches until no blue showed up.

    I then took some CLR and a bronze brush with a drill, and cleaned the chamber / throat to remove and carbon buildup.

    Test firing:

    I was able to test fire the weapon with several different types of ammunition:

    - S&B 140 BTHP (shoots sub MOA)
    - Prime 130gr
    - Hornady 147gr ELD M
    - Sparks 135 Berger
    - Sparks 121 Lehigh

    The boxes indicate that the 2 Sparks ammo types should be moving at 2850 and 3100 FPS respectively.

    While they are definitely hot, they are definitely not moving quite that fast.

    What I found was that with a thorough chamber cleaning and shooting the firearm without a suppressor the bolt still sticks with the 121gr Lehigh load.

    Conversely, the bolt was not as obviously sticking with the 135 grain Bergers.

    It did not appear to matter whether or not I used a suppressor.

    So that means the Teaka doesn’t like really hot sparks ammo...

    121s:

    1E591863-9B92-4882-84CF-53BA36B38F94.jpeg


    The 135s:

    DE1C5D3F-CF56-4370-8F35-9E1B84937E16.jpeg

    The shocker... Serb ammo (S&B):

    46D2DC00-C117-41AE-8158-75A02FB0EBC3.jpeg
     
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    GBMaryland

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  • Feb 24, 2008
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    I had to correct that last post... it was incorrect as I was thumbing through the wrong dataset. Lab Radar bit me!

    Sparks had a follow-up and that was to indicate that if the weapon was staying hot due to a lack of cooling time, that that could cause the bolt to start sticking.

    I suppose that could be a factor. I shot a total of ~40 shots (I have to go count my brass for the log) over 2 hours. One was a string of 10 shots, and there was anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes between the 5 shot strings.

    I will say that no matter how hot the rifle, the Hornady, SB, and prime don't seem to have this issue. Though, again, Sparks is not pretending that their ammo isn't hot... Heh.
     
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    DJL2

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    Well... I feel bad for the gun after that cleaning, heh.

    I’d put these guys in the “don’t bother” category if it were my rifle.

    I had a similar experience with Copper Creek. I let them know I was having problems and their response was “well, let’s see if we can fix your rifle.” My alternative was to do business with people that make ammo that works in a SAAMI spec chamber/rifle (i.e. everyone else to this point).

    S&B shoots in my rifle too.
     
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    GBMaryland

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    I think the lab radar was generally accurate but I’m not entirely positive about it.

    The rifle definitely shot the 135s pretty well even though it’s lab radar didn’t seem to be correct.

    Likewise Sparks pointed out that one of the rounds seem to be 3300 ft./s and they don’t believe the lab radar was correct in that.

    What I’m gonna do is load a whole shit load of 139 grain Lapua and see how those pan out because those are also insanely accurate when I loaded them.

    And even though they were at the top of the range I didn’t run into any pressure issues or sticky bolts or anything like that.

    I’ll also shoot the sparks in my SSG 3000 and see how it does with the benchmark barrel.
     

    GBMaryland

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    Oh, for what it’s worth, Sparks is actually been pretty great about talking to me about this issue.

    I’m really not sure that if I had a problem with any of the other ammo aside from prime but I could get the owner on the phone.

    So that’s a pretty big deal...!
     

    Baron23

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    I was able to go to the range today to see if the technical support Sparks gave me was the issue:

    They wanted to:

    - verify there was not a serious carbon ring in the chamber

    - test fire the weapon without the suppressor

    Suppressor:

    The suppressor is a 30 YHM phantom stainless (not the new ones, but the older models from about 5 years ago).

    Prior to firing the weapon I soaked the bore with BoreTech by plugging the chamber and soaking it for 24 hours.

    I then rescrubbed it with a plastic brush, and then ran patches until no blue showed up.

    I then took some CLR and a bronze brush with a drill, and cleaned the chamber / throat to remove and carbon buildup.

    Test firing:

    I was able to test fire the weapon with several different types of ammunition:

    - S&B 140 BTHP (shoots sub MOA)
    - Prime 130gr
    - Hornady 147gr ELD M
    - Sparks 135 Berger
    - Sparks 121 Lehigh

    The boxes indicate that the 2 Sparks ammo types should be moving at 2850 and 3100 FPS respectively.

    While they are definitely hot, they are definitely not moving quite that fast.

    What I found was that with a thorough chamber cleaning and shooting the firearm without a suppressor the bolt still sticks with the 121gr Lehigh load.

    Conversely, the bolt was not as obviously sticking with the 135 grain Bergers.

    It did not appear to matter whether or not I used a suppressor.

    So that means the Teaka doesn’t like really hot sparks ammo...

    121s:

    View attachment 7599633


    The 135s:

    View attachment 7599634

    The shocker... Serb ammo (S&B):

    View attachment 7599635
    Minor question....do you think those ES/SD's are valid with so few shots measured?
     

    DJL2

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    Sometimes things get weird...because science. ;-)

    I've got a .30-06 that runs about everything fast (factory ammo is usually around 100 fps over box). Will shoot 208s with as much 4831sc as you can fit in the case (58.8 with a good crunch when you seat) nice and tight. Runs right up to and above book max with H4350 or Superformance, no issues. A while back I was working up a load with IMR 4955 (Blue Enduron) and hit significant pressure at charge weights WAY below max. It was obvious - I could feel it in the recoil and see it on the case...53.6 grains was the highest load I dared shoot and book max is 57.7C.

    I trust LabRadar to give accurate MV. However, mine will pick up shots from folks firing across the beam. 5-shots are hit or miss for data quality. I've had 5-shot samples that tracked near exactly with 20-shot samples, and I've had 5-shot samples that were not representative. LadRadar is easy mode though once you set it up - record ALL the shots. ;-)
     

    Poorboyr

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    So what exactly is your problem? Your SDs are in single digits and you are getting velocity readings pretty close to advertised. You do understand that every rifle will give you different velocity readings than posted on the box? Also, a turn solid bullet will coat your barrel differently than a lead core.

    Was the ammo shooting good?
     

    GBMaryland

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  • Feb 24, 2008
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    Just as a follow-up to the cleaning regiment:

    Fair amount of copper in the barrel after 12 patches with BoreTech, and scrubbing with a brush:

    WIN_20210407_19_26_51_Pro.jpg

    (There were areas where it was thicker than that.)

    12 hours soaking with a plug in the chamber:

    WIN_20210408_07_24_11_Pro.jpg

    Still a fair amount of carbon, but all of the copper is gone.

    Though I've never done this before, I decided to type 4 patches of JB to see if the carbon was really sticking (clearly it's not):

    WIN_20210408_07_55_05_Pro.jpg

    ...and the bore is now so clean that I'm going to have to foul it again for it to be accurate. Heh.

    The barrel does copper up a fair amount, so I'm considering coating the bullets in Boron Nitrate to keep that aspect of maintenance down.
     
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    GBMaryland

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    So what exactly is your problem? Your SDs are in single digits and you are getting velocity readings pretty close to advertised. You do understand that every rifle will give you different velocity readings than posted on the box? Also, a turn solid bullet will coat your barrel differently than a lead core.

    Was the ammo shooting good?

    Apparently, you missed the issue. The bolt is stiff when extracting. VERY stiff.

    So the ammo is to hot [ changed the original phrasing] for the rifle....

    135s shoot great, BUT the bolt on the Tikka T3X TAC A1 experiences some lift resistance.

    121s shoot well, BUT there is SIGNIFICANT bolt lifting issues.

    SD, ES, all that crap is secondary to SAFE functioning of the firearm. I posted that information ONLY to let folks see what I was seeing from the Spark ammo.

    It's certainly quality ammo, and the company is great and responsive.

    Just seems that the Tikka doesn't like it, especially if the rifle is hot. (I'm not talking crazy hot either.)
     
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    Anucc

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    Feb 21, 2019
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    @GBMaryland the copper fouling you are seeing is since you shot copper solids. They will ALWAYS foul a barrel more than a jacketed projectile. While I understand you feel that the rounds are too "hot" for your rifle, attached is our laboratory report that utilizes a universal receiver with a calibrated pressure sensor for the 6.5 Creedmoor brass that you shot. As you can see it averages at 61,961 psi. I will note that SAAMI max pressure for the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge is 62,000 PSI. So - PLEASE stop saying that the cartridges are over pressure. That is not the case. Typically, folks do not have issues with bolt lift or "hot" ammo until after 68K PSI. Hornady's pressure sits around the same exact point of 62K. There are additional potential things to look at such as seating depth vs your throat length, or the number of rounds fired. The fact that you are shooting solids then lead core can also contribute to issues. The copper fills the groves up and suddenly your barrel is getting "tighter". Finally, the Tika due to its action type can have heavy bolt lift at the initial opening. Simply google Tika T3X heavy bolt lift are there are plenty of folks talking about it. Unless you are measure this force with gauges it would be personal preference on the "feel". If you are unhappy with your purchase, please let us know and I will make an exception and allow you to return the product. I told you throughout the emails that we stand behind our products and I mean that. Thanks Anthony

    Oehler 6.5CM 135gr Pressure and Velocity Data.jpg
     
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    GBMaryland

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    Anthony, thanks for the awesome explanation!

    You misunderstand, when I said hot I didn’t mean like over SAAMI spec hot, I meant hot as in those suckers are moving. I’ve updated the post to reflect that, I was not thinking over SAAMI... but I was thinking that rifle.

    For my particular rifle they are leading to bolt issues. The real question is whether or not I should continue to shoot them in that rifle. The 121s did lead to some very hard bolt lift, and did leave marks on the base of the cases.

    Nope,I don’t need a refund because I’m just gonna switch that ammunition over to an SSG 3000 with a nice benchmark barrel and see how it works.

    The rounds I did shoot, as you know from one of the targets anyway, is pretty accurate. That barrel really did like those 135s...
     
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