By Bruce Potts
Friday, 21 August 2009
Bruce Potts pays homage to the LSA 55 - Tikka's first bolt-action rifle made in 1967
Tikka started as a cogwheel turbine factory in Finland in 1893. It began to manufacture firearms components in 1918. In 1937 it produced its first hunting gun, the H 45 single-barrel shotgun, which featured an interchangeable rifle barrel. It was not until 1967 that the first Tikka boltaction rifle was made, the fabled LSA 55. In 1983 Tikka merged with Sako. Later the company merged with two other Finnish firms, Nokia and Valmet, and eventually became known as Sako-Valmet Ltd. From this point on Tikka rifles were produced at Riihimäki, the Sako works where Tikka T3s are manufactured to this day.
The bolt action on the LSA 55 is famous for having a smooth operation with less lateral wobble than other Mauser-type configurations. Similarly, the lock-up using opposed twin lugs is good and positive, and its fast lock time ensures accuracy. The old-school solid manufacture is sometimes lacking on modern rifles. Every part is well machined and fits flawlessly. If you are buying one second-hand it is important to check that it still has its separate mortised recoil lug, which is essential to ensure the correct bedding of the action to stock.
The original barrels were made in steel manufactured by Bofors of anti-aircraft gun fame with precise concentric bores and accurate rifling. There was a Sporter version with the option of open sights and a Varmint heavy-barrelled model named the Continental. The barrels where chambered for .17 Rem, .222, .22-250, 6mm Rem, .243 and .308 Win. Larger calibres such as .30-06 or .300 Win Mag were available in the longer action version LSA 65. The Tikka was praised for its free-floating barrel and integral scope rails. These combined to achieve consistent accuracy in the worst climates, a characteristic for which the rifle was famous.
The rifles detachable magazine has a three-or five-round capacity and is made entirely from steel. It is extremely hard-wearing, but replacements are hard to source. The stock is beautifully proportioned with well-executed hand-cut chequering and a comfortable palm swell in the pistol grip. No synthetic materials were used in the rifles manufacture. It wasnt until 1997 that Tikka produced its first allweather rifle with a stainless steel barrel and action, and a synthetic stock.
The Tikka LSA 55 or longer action LSA 65 models can now only be bought second-hand, but they are still reliable and accurate rifles that if cared for will outlast their owners.
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