Tikka 512S O/U Rifles

By Chuck Hawks

I jumped at the chance to review this Tikka rifle, as I had not previously had an opportunity to shoot a Tikka firearm. Tikka is a subsidiary of Sako of Finland, but Tikka rifles are not Sako rifles.

The Model 512S is an over/under design that can accept interchangeable rifle, shotgun, and rifle/shotgun combination barrels. It epitomizes the "one gun for everything" concept.

The 512S is stocked for use as a rifle, and a wide variety of rifle calibers are available. This example is chambered for the .308 Winchester cartridge. The thing that immediately caught my attention when I saw the 512S for the first time is the huge gap between the top and bottom barrels. This extreme separation does nothing for the lines of the rifle.

The barrels are of monoblock construction, a relatively inexpensive but perfectly satisfactory method if done correctly. This particular rifle exhibited a symptom I have never encountered before in a monoblock gun. As it was fired, small amounts of what appeared to be a rusty, oily liquid was forced from the very fine line where the actual barrel was surrounded by the monoblock at the breech. It made us wonder if the barrels were actually brazed or soldered into the monoblock, or simply a press fit.

The top barrel is essentially fixed in place, stiffened by a full-length solid rib. Regulation of the barrels is achieved by adjusting the lower barrel. Be warned, however, that regulation is a major undertaking! Adjusting the lower barrel to match the point of impact of the upper barrel warps the upper barrel, changing its point of impact, often dramatically. The barrels tend to crossfire after adjustment. My advice is to leave the regulation as set by the factory if at all possible.

Close inspection revealed many shortcomings in the Tikka O/U. Rather than supply a forend with each set of barrels, for example, a single forend is attached to whatever barrel set is used. Since .243 or .308 rifle barrels are much smaller in diameter than 12 gauge shotgun barrels, and since the same forend must fit both, there is a very large and unsightly gap between the forend and the rifle barrels.

The test gun was stiff and difficult open, even when empty. To those who say that such a gun will "wear in" I would like to mention that, if true, it will also wear out.

I learned that after firing both barrels the 512S became much more difficult to open, requiring considerable force. It turned out that the gun does not have rebounding hammers. Thus the firing pins remain imbedded in the primers of the fired cartridges, essentially becoming tiny secondary locking devices that must be freed to open the action.

It might be worth mentioning that any O/U double rifle must be opened considerably farther for reloading than a side-by-side rifle. This slows reloading and explains why S/S doubles are preferred for hunting. The Tikka is so slow to open and reload that this becomes something of a moot issue in its case.

The Tikka scaled 8 pounds. It is supplied with 23 1/2" barrels. Overall length is 40 1/2" and length of pull is 14 1/4". The drop at the straight Monte Carlo comb measured 1 5/8". Studs for quick detachable sling swivels are provided on the buttstock and on a lug beneath the lower barrel. A recoil pad is fitted to the buttstock.

Unfortunately, the "one size fits all" concept is often found lacking in service, and so it is with the Tikka 512S. It is a gun that does a lot of things in mediocre fashion and nothing particularly well. The Tikka 512S is a poor choice for most practical applications.

Note: A full length review of the Tikka 512S rifle can be found on the Product Reviews page.

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Copyright 2004, 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.