2015-07-11: Final Prep for Africa

Posted on July 15, 2015


Three weeks before my planned departure to Africa I mounted my new Vortex scope. Obviously, I had to zero it, which I did on my first free Saturday. Unfortunately the ejecting brass couldn’t clear the windage knob thus I found myself in a slight pickle. I bought a higher DNZ mount, and it cleared well, but I still needed to zero.

So two weeks before departure, I went back to the range, this time at 200 yards. What a train wreck. The combination of one target change per 2 hours, the inability to spot 7mm holes at 200 yards with my 20X spotting scope, and knobs that turn the opposite way as those of the Hensoldt on my AI implied a LOT of rounds going downrange unnecessarily.

More worrisome was the fact that the dispersion of the bullets at 200 yards was much wider than the granularity of adjustments I could make to the scope. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was shooting a Harris bipod off a bench, the mechanical accuracy of the ammo/gun combination, the fact that by the end of a string, the sporter barrel on the Tikka was very hot, or that the barrel had not been cleaned in a very very long time.

After getting a rough zero, I packed it up, and decided to clean the barrel and try again the following weekend.

In hindsight, that was a good move.

On Saturday, I went to Calverton Shooting Range, a public range on the eastern end of Long Island.

The rifle line had a large shooting bay with 50, 100, and 200 yard targets.

The Calverton Line

Having experienced great difficulty spotting hits at 200, I set up my target at 100 yards. Also, instead of shooting from a bench, I laid out my 2003-vintage Champion’s Choice shooting mat, installed my Harris S-BR bipod, and fired a 3 shot group from prone. The group was about 3″ high and 1″ left. 8 clicks down and 3 clicks right and I fired another group that was dead on.

Two Groups
I rezeroed the Vortex knobs and fired another group to verify that the scope was still zeroed.

Each group was 2″. Not great, but not that bad all things considered.

Next group, I switched to the Safari Arms 175 gr Swift A-Frame load. The shots impacted exactly 1″ low, into about a 0.5″.

Safari Arms Handloads

Considering my technique was identical, I think I’ve proven that the Tikka T3/ Remington Managed Recoil combo is only about a 2 MOA combo. With handloads however, the Tikka is a half-inch gun. Which is incredible for a factory sporter.

Having determined that the rifle, scope, and ammo were dialed in. I installed my friend’s Tab Gear Sling, grabbed my shooting sticks and tried shooting from field positions. I put up a Safari Press Kudu target for an added challenge. While my results were nothing to brag about, I think they were certainly “good enough” for most real-world hunting situations.

Tikka with Tab Gear Sling

Reduced Size Kudu (simulates 400 yards)

With all that complete, I packed up and headed home. We leave for South Africa on Saturday. With luck I will see Eland, Kudu, Gemsbok, and Springbok. Should get a few nice shots.


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Posted in: Hunting, Training