@ 08:14 am (GMT)
Nathan FosterHi Luke, yep, the little Tikka rifles can be a mongrel. If you can get into a groove with them, all good, if not, they have to be altered or moved on. The stock design is of course a major issue. Upgrades can work well- but then we have to get the bedding right which can be tricky. It all depends on how a guy wants to play it. In the Tikka vid, I worked with the gun as-is so as to not bust a guy's wallet having already laid out cash on his rifle. I worked with what I had in front of me. I proved that the barrel could shoot. Once we have an idea that yes- the barrel is OK, we can then consider whether we want to keep using it as is (see how it handles in field positions) or whether we want to bed the rifle / change stocks etc. Certainly not as easy as some folk would have others believe, just as I talked about in the trailer. And fitting a brake etc is no easy answer due to the small muzzle diameter and eventual swelling after cutting muzzle threads.
Another way to play it (or in addition to a stock upgrade), though it only suits some situations, is to fit a heavy 24x optic (obviously useless for a bush gun). Having the big optic can help increase the weight while a 30mm tube and large internals can prove more robust than what you have just been through, especially with a locked tracking mechanism.
Its one of those things you have to go through to really understand, just as you have done. You know darned well just how much the 06 Tikka boots. In my shooting book, you will have read my comments in the mil / sniper section about the .308 Tikka Lite versus transferable skills. Try running that sucker with Hornady 168gr SF ammo at 2820fps. Most of these so called expert sniper instructors cannot use this rig with a high degree of precision. We can learn a lot form these rifles. Whether we want to keep them and how they fit in with our hunting methods is another question.
Regarding the M700, just stick to the Whitetail ammo for now. Its what you have and it will be a good source of brass without mix ups. The chamber / leade angle design of the SPS is not ideally suited to the likes of the factory SST or ELD-X so stick with the Interlock style of jacket and overall bullet design for now. Later, when hand loading, you can perhaps try sneaking close or onto the lands with an SST or ELD-X in a such a way that during ignition the bullet is not slammed into the lands but rather starts at the lands.
The Woodleigh would be good to moderate ranges but if you have to reach out, it might be a bit lack lustre. It needs a mixture of high impact velocity and a relatively high level of resistance to produce wide wounding. Even the 160gr driven at over 3000fps and used at close to moderate ranges seems less prone to wide or over expansion than the likes of the .35 cal offerings. It certainly is a good bullet for tough situations but if you need to reach out or if lean animals crop up, wounding can be narrow. The Partition does not have the same level of insurance when it comes to penetration but it behaves in an extremely violent manner. These days, not many people have experience with the Partition. I am not even sure if the up and coming trend setters at Nosler really know it all that well anymore, enamored with new bullet designs. Its just one of those things which you have to see for yourself. But again, it has its limitations. SD is a key factor.
For what you have described, the Partition may be the middle ground, the place to start. Perhaps try it at 40 thou jump and see how you get on. But if you want to, start with the 180gr ELD-M (15 thou jump), do your load work, build confidence in you and your rifle, find a sweet spot then use this as start, sweet spot and end data for the Partition (or Woodleigh) to save money while working from a position of confidence in past loads. If you collect formative data on the 180gr, you'll find it correlates well with regards to pressures for the 175gr or with a 1 to 2 grain incremental increase in powder for the 160 grain.
Hope that makes sense. Should all come together nicely.