Staff trip: King Country Testfire

To further our knowledge and reinforce that we know what we’re talking about, the H&O team headed down to King Country for a day of product testing - on the cards were firearms, a range of ammunition, and some optics options.

By 8am sharp, the Ute was jam packed with rifles, ammunition and a crew eager to go.

Upon arriving at Rotomate, an awesome farm in Piopio, we were welcomed to the woolshed and greeted with coffees, cake, and a safety briefing. Owner Matt gave us a run down of how the day would look, told us a bit about the farm, and provided tips for staying safe out there. 

He threw us each a helmet and into the can-am we all crammed.

The guns on the menu today were the Howa 1500 in 7mm08, Tikka Superlight 6.5 Creedmoor, Sako Carbonlight in 243, Tikka T3X 308 Bush Pig, and Tikka T3X Rough-tech in 7mm Rem Mag. 

After a chilly drive into the depths of the farm, a pond appeared amongst the paddocks, with wooden targets set up on one side at varying ranges.

These targets had been set up specifically for us, at 100m, 150m and 200m. To the left of these wooden targets was one extra - nestled in a valley was a target at 500m, for the 7mm rem to really stretch its legs on. 

With nothing but the sound of sheep in the distance, the first shot erupted and well and truly broke the silence. After that, shots were ringing out every few minutes, with the team very excited to have an organised range to put these rifles through their paces.

One by one, each gun was tried and tested. 

The Howa 1500 .7mm08 -

The Howa 1500 is one of most popular rifles here at H&O. With a very strong stainless action and barrel, and hogue stock. Making it extremely good in less than ideal conditions. On our day out, Gordy's rifle shot just on an inch groups at 100m, with a Weaver 3-9x32 scope on top. A great all round setup that won't break the bank, and be your perfect hunting companion!



Tikka T3X Superlight 6.5 Creedmoor - 

This rifle is paired with a Swarovski z5 3.5-18x44. The combo comfortably shoots well under 1MOA at 100m using factory Sako Gamehead 140gr ammo. With reloads, using Sako brass and 143gr ELD-X projectiles, this rifle can shoot 0.5MOA at 100m. It is Jayden's favourite personal rifle, lightweight, accurate, good at longer ranges, and has no recoil at all. It has taken all types of deer from fallow to sika and reds. 


Tikka T3X Bushpig .308 - 

The ultimate bush/roar hunting rifle. While still having the capability to reach out while slip shooting if need be. With all the well known features of the T3X, this rifle easily shoots under an inch at 100m and performs well with a short suppressed barrel. On the day the first shot went right and after a quick adjustment performed a nice grouping. Well within a "minute of deer." We recommend using a 2-10 power scope such as the Burris this was tested with. Or a 3-9x40 is another popular option. Talley one piece rings are a great choice to keep the weight down! 



Sako Carbonlight .243 - 

A beautiful rifle, but with a wicked price! Paired with a Leupold VX6 2-12x42. Only weighing in at 2.4kg this rifle will go everywhere with you. It is of premium quality, shoulders excellent and shoots like a dream. On the day it shot Hornady ELD-X .243 rounds into the same hole at 100m. 


Tikka T3X RoughTech 7mm Rem Mag - 

This rifle was paired with a Steiner GS3 4-20x50 - for the purposes of test firing. It is muzzle braked, which made it a pleasure to shoot as a magnum. The action is silky as expected from the Tikka T3X. It has a fluted bolt, and an oversized bolt handle which really adds value to using the rifle. It shot under an inch at 100m, after which the boys had little trouble shooting out to 500m with it. Simply using the reticle in the Steiner, after a bit of trial and error the boys were on target. A deadly long range setup, weighing in at 3.2kgs!


After an epic morning of target practice, we packed up all the gear and headed to the Maimai just down from our previous spot. Wraps, muffins, brisket buns and more were laid out for lunch - talk about a warm welcome! 

Once we’d had our fill, out came the shotgun. With the clay thrower ready to go and duck season still in full swing, clay bird shooting was a must. 

The Winchester SX4 Waterfowl is a great shotgun, and cycled every round we threw at it. From light clay loads to heavy 40g field loads. If there is any shotgun we recommend on the market at the moment this is it...

When the clays were all shot, and the food had settled in our stomachs, it was time to venture further into the farm. Now was the moment we were most excited for - pest control. With goats in the hills and hunters roaring to go, we piled into the can-am and went out in search of prey.

After a bit of scouting, we decided on a section of the farm to try our luck - and it did not disappoint. After a lot of walking and climbing, Max took out the first 2 with the Tikka Rough-tech 7mm rem mag. Proud as punch, we snapped some pics and headed on to the next area. 

This time the goats could see us coming, but didn’t seem to be phased by a 4x4 packed with hunters and guns - an excellent advantage to us. Jayden, Gordon and Max all managed to take out some of the pesky goats, while Josh captured the action.

As the sun started to set and the cold came creeping back in, we butchered the dead goats, taking a couple of nice nannies for meat, and began the drive back to the woolshed. Exhausted but ecstatic, we said our thank you's and goodbyes and headed back to base - AKA Fish City Hamilton.

An absolutely epic day. Thanks heaps again to Matt from Rotomate for hosting us, we’ll be back again for sure.