Varminter.com recently released a First Hunt Report on the new Savage A17 rifle. Savage’s new semi-auto .17 HMR has caused quite a stir. Accurate and affordable, the Savage A17 is also the first .17 HMR to feature a delayed blow-back action. We think the A17 may be the most important new rimfire rifle of 2015, so we were pleased to see that Eric Mayer, Editor of Varminter.com, put the new semi-auto Savage through its paces.
Mayer wanted to see how the new Savage would perform, accuracy-wise, and he also wanted to see how the A17 fared in the field. Mayer achieved one-MOA accuracy with the Savage A17 using the latest CCI-brand ammo, and he demonstrated the A17 is wickedly effective on ground squirrels. Here are some highlights from Varminter.com’s Savage A17 First Hunt Report:
“I [collected] as many versions of the currently available .17 HMR ammunition as I could get my hands on. I had already picked-up and tested the new CCI A17 ammunition, so I filled up my ammo safe with other CCI ammunition, as well as Hornady and Winchester, including the lead free 15.5 grain NTX versions, also from Hornady and Winchester. After spending some time at the bench, I saw that this rifle shot the CCI A17 ammunition best, with most groups hovering right around 1″ to 1.20″ at one hundred yards, and some of the other ammo choices in the 1.25″ to 1.50″ range. This was with a warm barrel and in-between cleanings during the break-in process.”
Mayer found the A17 was easy to maintain: “I was very impressed by the ease of pulling the rifle apart for cleaning out in the field. Even with the scope mounted, I was able to quickly and easily remove the parts needed to give me complete access to the barrel through the breach, so cleaning was a breeze.”
A17 Reliability Lessons — Seat Those Rotary Magazines Correctly Folks
Some early A17 purchasers have noted occasional failures to feed. We believe this is because the magazine was not fully seated (and locked in place) in the firearm. The experience of Varminter.com’s Editor seems to confirm this. Mayer reports “As I began to shoot the rifle, I experienced what a few others have reported, with the magazine falling out while shooting. I quickly realized that I was not snapping the magazine into place every time. I found that popping in the magazine while the bolt was pulled, or locked back, resolved the issue. I did have a few failures to feed, but only on some of the older ammunition I was shooting, namely the first year Hornady ammo and the lead free ammo (which is about 3-4 years old). The newer ammo did not have any issues and functioned well, even while shooting some 10-round ‘mag-dumps’. The trigger is on the heavy side.”
A17 Reliability Shown in Video
The Savage A17 went through a very thorough manufacturer’s testing process before it was released to the market. In fact Savage put over 500,000 test rounds through A17 prototypes. When AccurateShooter.com tested the A17 at Media Day — it worked flawlessly, so long as you make sure the magazine is fully seated. We had zero issues, making us think that reported issues may be related to “driver error”; specifically not seating the magazine properly. Watch AccurateShooter.com video with rapid fire sequence.
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We’ve seen a huge surge of interest in extreme long-range shooting in the past year. Guys are testing their shooting skills at one mile (1760 yards) and beyond. However, it’s kind of pointless to toss expensive bullets downrange if you can’t see your hits (and plot the misses). For that reason, a good target cam system is an essential piece of kit for any extreme-range shootist. Here is a report on a system developed by Forum member Mark Dalzell (aka “MDSlammer”) a couple years ago. With elevated directional antennas, this system worked reliably at 2300 yards (1.3 miles).
Mark Dalzell likes to shoot at extreme long range in the Nevada Desert. (See 2300-yard Hits in VIDEO). In order to see both hits and misses at ranges out to 2300 yards, Mark assembled a target-cam system that broadcasts multiple video cam feeds wirelessly to a receiver on the firing line. Down-range, Mark positioned a high-gain antenna. This was key — without the antenna the system’s useful range was less than 1000 yards. But with the hi-gain antenna Mark gets very clear signals from 2300 yards.
Here is a very interesting rifle, a true metal/wood hybrid that combines an aluminum front section with figured walnut in the rear half. As you can see, this unique rifle also features a barrel block that allows the Savage action to float. You may be wondering “how is the metal section connected to the wood?” The gun’s owner/builder epoxied a stainless steel tube in the wood and that tube is secured in the aluminum fore-end with set screws.
Forum member Justin V. reports: “Sometime last fall my buddy wanted to build barrel-blocked Bavage. He is a machinist by trade so he was able to build all of the custom components himself. I know he put a ton of time into this thing over the winter, taking his time to get it done right. If you shoot in Cadillac or Midland, Michigan you will probably see him around. He tried to shoot a match this past weekend but was rained out. Hopefully it will stop raining in Michigan so he can see what it can do at 600 yards. Here are the results….” Learn more about this gun in this FORUM Thread.
Here’s a report posted by long-range shooter Grizzman on the LiveLeak video hosting site. Grizzman engaged an 18″x24″ steel target at the distance of 2530 yards — 1.43 miles. Grizzman produced a great video that really gives you a sense of the distance (see the zoom footage at the 0:30 time mark). At this distance, the ballistics are remarkable. Grizzman’s .338-cal, 300gr Berger Hybrid bullets went transonic at 2400 yards and dropped 228 feet (69.5 meters) over their 2530-yard trajectory.
WATCH Video — Second camera at target records bullet impacts (see and hear the hits):
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case a video is way more illuminating than anything we can write. The video below, produced by Savage, demonstrates how the new 17 HMR Savage A17 rifle works. The video includes nicely-done 3D Graphics that illustrate the function of the A17’s delayed-blowback action with “interrupter lug”. Using “X-Ray View” animation, the video shows what happens INSIDE the chamber as rounds are fired. The video also explains how the 17 HMR presents a tougher engineering challenge than the lower-pressure .22 LR cartridge.
Watch this Video — You’ll Learn Something about Semi-Auto Rimfires
NOTE to Readers: Watch the video! If you have any interest in how guns work, check this out (full-screen if possible). For some reason (maybe slow connections), most readers skip over the videos we embed in our stories. In this case, take 3 minutes to watch. Click arrows button to view Full-Screen.
Savage officially launched the A17 this month, after previewing the new 17 HMR rifle at SHOT Show in January. We tested the gun on Media Day and came away very impressed. The A17 fed and functioned flawlessly. It is fun to shoot, and it will be affordable. MSRP is $469.00 so street price should be about $425.00. READ AccurateShooter A17 Report.
We plan to test one of these very soon. If the field test goes as well as I expect, your Editor will probably buy one of these rifles. The A17 has a barrel nut system just like centerfire Savage rifles. This means it will be easy to fit an aftermarket custom barrel to the A17. We already have some ideas for a suppressed A17 project gun with upgraded stock and barrel(s). Stay tuned….
The Magic Chicklet
Look below at the A17 bolt. The little black hardened metal piece (called a “chicklet” by the Savage engineers) is the secret ingredient. This “Interrupter Lug” retracts, allowing the A17 to operate in delayed blow-back mode. That permits the A17 to function flawlessly with the 17 HMR cartridge.
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We’ll give you a break from SHOT Show coverage by taking you across the Atlantic to Great Britain. There Chris Parkin has been putting a Savage F-TR Rifle through its paces. Chris has reviewed this popular rifle in a field test just published by Target Shooter Magazine. Chris wrote a very detailed and thorough review. If you are considering any factory-based rifle for F-TR competition you should read this article. It is lengthy, but the text and photos are good and it is worth the investment of time.
Semi-auto 17 HMR — could this be the perfect light-recoiling fun gun and squirrel slayer? With its new A17, Savage has created a gun that should be hugely popular. If you like the Ruger 10/22, you’ll love the A17. It shoots a more powerful cartridge, and has a stronger action and a better trigger. With a beefy steel action that looks like it belongs on a centerfire, this gun is strong. With quality barrels (fitted, as you’d expect, with a barrel nut), the A17 is accurate. And with the capability to launch 17 HMR rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger this gun is a hoot to shoot. The ability to get a quick second shot (without disturbing the rifle by working the bolt) will be a game-changer in the varmint fields.
Watch Us Shoot the New A17 (Rapid-Fire at 1:50):
Star of the Show
Jason and I both felt that the star of this 2015 Industry Range Day was this modestly-priced little Savage A17 in 17 HMR. MSRP is $469.00 we were told. No one knows the “street price” yet but we expect that to be about $370.00. Both of us wanted to own one of these compact new rifles (Jason tried to buy one on the spot) — what does that tell you? With a strong steel action, the A17 is accurate, fun, and ultra-reliable.
Jason put the gun through three rapid fire drills — firing as fast as he could pull the trigger. We could not get the A17 to malfunction in any way. It just ripped through magazines like a sewing machine. Flawless operation. Bill Dermody of ATK says “this is one of the most thoroughly tested Savage rifles ever. We put over half a million test rounds through the rifle during development. That’s why it’s so reliable.”
The Magic Chicklet
Look below at the A17 bolt. The little black hardened metal piece (called a “chicklet” by the Savage engineers) is the secret ingredient. It works like a retracting lug, allowing the A17 to operate in delayed blow-back mode. That permits the A17 to function flawlessly with the energetic 17 HMR cartridge.
Optimized 17 HMR Ammo That’s 100 FPS Faster
CCI has developed new, higher-velocity 17 HMR ammo for the A17. Because Savage is now part of the ATK conglomerate, CCI is now Savage’s sister company. So, CCI and Savage cooperated during the development of the A17. CCI found a way to get more speed from the 17 HMR and Savage engineered an action and bolt that are strong enough to handle the new 17 HMR ammo, which runs 100 fps faster than other 17 HMR ammo on the market.
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Can a budget-priced Savage shoot like a Sako TRG 22? Well, adding a custom “pre-fit” barrel and a state-of-the-art chassis system can transform a “Plain Jane” Savage into a serious tactical rifle. And now Kinetic Research Group (KRG) offers a new fully-adjustable chassis that’s just the ticket for a Savage tactical conversion. Just get a used Savage action, spin on a Criterion, Pac-Nor, or Shilen pre-fit barrel, and add the new 180-Alpha Chassis from KRG.
In 2015 KRG will introduce the NEW 180-Alpha Chassis for Savage rifles. This fully-adjustable, light-weight (3.4 lbs) chassis fits Savage short action rifles with 4.4″ action bolt spacing. If you like user-configurable stocks, you’ll love the 180-Alpha. It features tool-less cheek-piece height adjustment, spacer Length-of-Pull (LOP) adjustment, buttpad height adjustment, and plenty of accessory mounting positions. Suggested retail price for the 180-Alpha is $770.00 in either bottom bolt-release or side bolt-release action configuration.
Compare KRG’s 180-Alpha Chassis to the hardware on the real deal — a Sako TRG 22 with adjustable, folding stock (model JRSM416, shown below). This SAKO TRG22 rifle in .308 Winchester retails for $5,198.00. With KRG’s 180-Alpha chassis you can put together an ergonomically-similar tactical rifle for thousands less.
Using the KRG Chassis, a take-off Savage action, and a premium pre-fit barrel, you can build a similar system for under $1600.00. Here’s how we get that figure: $370.00 for Criterion pre-fit barrel, $400.00 for action (YMMV), and $770.00 for stock (Total $1540.00).
KRG produces other adjustable, modular chassis systems for bolt-action rifles. KRG’s popular Whiskey 3 Chassis system fits the Tikka T3, Remington® 700™, Sako M995, Badger M2008, and 700 Long Action. The value-priced KRG X-RAY Chassis fits the Rem 700 Short Action, and Tikka T3.
New Product Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Put the same load in a variety of barrels (with the same length and chamberings) and you’ll see a wide variance in muzzle velocity. In fact, it’s not unusual to see up to 100 fps difference from one barrel to the next. We demonstrated this with a comparison test of Lapua factory ammo.
Chron Testing Lapua Factory Ammo
At our Southern California test range, we chronographed Lapua 105gr 6mmBR factory ammo in three different 8-twist barrels of similar length. The results were fascinating. Lapua specs this ammo at 2790 fps, based on Lapua’s testing with its own 26″ test barrel. We observed a speed variance of 67 fps based on tests with three aftermarket barrels.
Brand ‘S’ and Brand ‘PN’ were pre-fit barrels shot on Savage actions. Brand ‘K’ was fitted to a custom action. All test barrels were throated for the 100-108 grain bullets, though there may have been some slight variances in barrel freebore. With a COAL of 2.330″, the rounds were “jumping” to the rifling in all barrels. Among the four barrels, Brand ‘PN’ was the fastest at 2824 fps average — 67 fps faster than the slowest barrel. Roughly 10 fps can be attributed to the slightly longer length (27″ vs. 26″), but otherwise this particular barrel was simply faster than the rest. (Click Here for results of 6mmBR Barrel Length Velocity Test).
Results Are Barrel-Specific, Not Brand-Specific
These tests demonstrate that the exact same load can perform very differently in different barrels. We aren’t publishing the barrel-makers’ names, because it would be wrong to assume that ‘Brand X’ is always going to be faster than ‘Brand Y’ based on test results from a single barrel. In fact, velocities can vary up to 100 fps with two identical-spec barrels from the SAME manufacturer. That’s right, you can have two 8-twist, 26″ barrels, with the same land-groove configuration and contour, from the same manufacturer, and one can be much faster than another.
Don’t Demand More Than Your Barrel Can Deliver
We often hear guys lament, “I don’t get it… how can you guys get 2900 fps with your 6BRs and I can only get 2840?” The answer may simply be that the barrel is slower than average. If you have a slow barrel, you can try using more powder, but there is a good chance it may never run as fast as an inherently fast barrel. You shouldn’t knock yourself out (and over-stress your brass) trying to duplicate the velocities someone else may be getting. You need to work within the limits of your barrel.
Factory Ammo Provides a Benchmark
If you have a .223 Rem, 6BR, .243 Win, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5×55, .308 Win, 30-06, or 300 WM Rifle, we recommend you buy a box of Lapua factory-loaded ammo. This stuff will shoot great (typically around half-MOA), and it can give you a baseline to determine how your barrel stacks up speedwise. When you complete a new 6BR rifle, it’s wise to get a box of the factory ammo and chronograph it. That will immediately give you a good idea whether you have a slow, average, or fast barrel. Then you can set your velocity goals accordingly. For example, if the factory 6BR ammo runs about 2780-2790 fps in your gun, it has an average barrel. If it runs 2820+ in a 26″ barrel (or 2835 fps in a 28″), you’ve got a fast tube.
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If you own a Savage rifle, here’s a product you should consider. Pacific Tool & Gauge now offers precision-machined replacement bolt heads for Savages. This product, available in a variety of bolt face sizes for $49.50 per unit, can benefit nearly everyone who shoots Savage bolt guns.
German Salazar’s excellent Rifleman’s Journal website features an in-depth review of the PT&G Replacement Bolt Head for Savage Bolts. Written by Norm Darnell, this detailed review explains the benefits of the PT&G replacements, compared to the standard Savage bolt heads. After polishing, the factory bolt head can become slightly dished. According to Darnell: “The area around the firing pin hole sometimes has an indentation deep enough to allow the primer to flow into this void. This makes an unsightly blemish on a fired primer and can lead to hard extraction or worse. One [Savage] rifle I inspected had a continuing problem with pierced primers despite reasonably mild loads[.]” Even after machining the factory bolt face to make it flat, Darnell encountered problems: “The firing pin hole seemed to wear excessively which was of some concern. Material strength of the … bolt head* appears to be the source of these recurring problems.”
After testing out PT&G replacement bolt heads, Darnell found that his problems were solved. With the PT&G replacement bolt head, “the cartridge case heads and primers indicated no case-head rounding or primer damage”. Darnell was convinced, so he proceeded to fit PT&B bolt heads “on all three of my 308 bolts and one 223 with one spare bolt of each.” It appears that PT&G has a winner here — a smart, very affordable product that remedies a commonly-observed problem with factory Savage bolt heads.
* In the article, author Darnell writes that Savage factory bolt heads are investment cast. Fred Moreo of Sharp Shooter Supply says this is not correct: “Savage bolt heads were NEVER investment cast. From the get-go they were machined from solid stock. In 1988 they went to special profiled 41L40 bar stock to save machining operations and heat treated to 35-42 RC.”
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Hunting season is right around the corner. If you don’t own a worthy deer-hunting rig, there are many affordable options available. You can often save yourself $100.00 or more by purchasing a “turn-key” deer rifle package — a hunting rifle combo complete with rings and rifle-scope.
The American Hunter magazine website recently published a guide to affordable package hunting rigs. Jon Draper spotlights Four Off-The-Rack Deer Rifle Combos from Howa, Mossberg, Ruger, and Savage. Two of the four rigs, the Mossberg and Savage entries, come in at under $500 including scope/rings. Next up is the Ruger American Rifle, priced at $679.00 MSRP with 3-9x40mm Redfield Revolution scope.
The priciest entry is Howa’s Hunter Zeiss Walnut Package. MSRP is a not insubtantial $1103.00 for the Howa package, but this includes a premium-quality Zeiss Terra 3-9x42mm optic. The Howa also has a very nice two-stage 2.5 to 3.8-lb HACT trigger* that we prefer to the triggers on the other three, lesser-priced rifles.
To learn more, CLICK HERE to read the American Hunter Deer Rifle Combo article.
* HACT stands for Howa Actuator Controlled Trigger. Howa’s HACT assembly is a trigger and sear unit that works like a two-stage trigger. This allows the shooter to take up trigger creep before squeezing through. HACT trigger pull weight adjusts from 2.5 to 3.8 pounds. We like the lower weight for varmint rifles shot from prone or portable benches, while we prefer the heavier pull weight for a carry rifle.
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Looking for an inexpensive hunting rifle — something to harvest a buck this fall? American Rifleman Magazine has done a comparison review of four budget-priced, American-made bolt-action rifles: Mossberg ATR—$290; Remington 783—$320; Ruger American—$300; Savage Axis—$300. The costliest of the four is $320, leading review author John Barsness to write: “Considering inflation since 1950, they all cost considerably less than the Remington 721/722 did, so they really are valued priced.”
Highlights of Review
The Ruger stood out due to the three-lug bolt and steel bedding blocks, but otherwise the features were mixed up pretty well. Three of the four have adjustable triggers with little tabs in the blades to prevent unintended discharges; the lone exception is the [Savage] Axis. (This is a little strange, since Savage’s Accu-Trigger introduced the concept to American rifle shooters.)
The Mossberg’s action looks a lot like a Remington Model 700, and it’s the only rifle of the four to have a blind magazine. The other three use detachable-box magazines partly made of polymer, though in the Remington polymer parts are combined with sheet steel.
The Mossberg, Remington and Savage all have separate recoil lugs between the barrel and the front of the action, and all four rifles use lock-nuts to attach the barrels, a faster and, thus, less expensive way to set headspace.
All four have “plastic” trigger guards (on the Mossberg and Ruger they are integrally molded with the stock), soft recoil pads and sling-swivel studs.
All four rifles have more from-the-factory features than the typical “affordable” bolt-action hunting rifles of half a century ago, and better trigger pulls than the average factory rifle of any price 25 years ago. They shoot reasonably accurately to really well with the right ammunition, and none of them malfunctioned in any way during the testing. — John Barsness
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Over the past few years, interest in F-Class competition has grown dramatically. At the 2013 SHOT Show we had a chance to talk about F-TR competition with U.S. National F-TR Team members Mike Miller and Stan Pate, two of America’s top F-TR shooters. We are reprising this interview for readers who may have missed it the first time around. If you shoot F-TR (even if you’re a High Master), we think you’ll learn a few things from this interview.
In this interview, Mike and Stan agreed to share their vast store of knowledge about long-range shooting. In a wide-ranging dialog, we discussed many topics of interest to F-Class shooters: position set-up, bipod shooting techniques (and hardware), gun-handling, and bullet selection. In addition, Mike and Stan offer some great advice on wind reading and precision reloading. These general tips will benefit all competitors, no matter what their discipline.
If you shoot F-TR or you are considering getting involved in this fast-growing shooting sport, definitely watch this 14-minute video interview from start to finish. Mike and Stan are true F-TR gurus whose knowledge of the F-TR game has been gleaned from years of top-level competition. If you shoot a .308 from a bipod, we guarantee you can learn much from Mike and Stan. If you follow their advice, we bet you’ll see your scores improve in future matches.
Watch Video for Tips from U.S. National F-TR Team Members Mike Miller and Stan Pate
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When we first ran this story 18 months ago, it proved immensely popular with our readers. In case you missed it the first time around, check out what can be done with a factory Savage 110 BA at extreme long range — 1760 yards. Shooter Mark Dalzell did a great job with the video, which features multiple camera views so you can see the shooter and the target at the same time. Enjoy!
This video by Mark Dalzell demonstrates the long-range capabilities of the Savage 110 BA chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. Mark took his “BadAss” rig out to the southwest Nevada desert just north of Jean Dry Lakes. He placed a 2’x3′ target way, way out there — a full mile (1760 yards) away. At that range, flight time to target was 3.75 seconds! Sighting with a Nightforce 5-22x50mm NXS scope, Mark needed a few shots to get on target, but eventually made multiple hits, using 67 MOA of elevation and 2.25 MOA left windage. You can view the hits starting at 1:56 time-mark on the video. (Mark had a second camera set up closer to the target — this displays frame in frame in the video, and if you watch carefully you can see the strikes.) The ammo was HSM 250gr HPBT match with a 3.600″ COAL. The shooting was done at 8:13 in the morning, with clear conditions, very light winds. Temp was 57°, humidity 24.5, Density Altitude 3666. Video soundtrack is La Grange by ZZ Top.
LISTEN TO MARK TALK about One Mile Shooting:
CLICK Play Button to hear Mark Dalzell TALK about his .338 LM Savage 110 BA and how he scored hits at 1760 yards.
Good Shooting Mark. That’s darn good for a factory rifle. You also had the elevation dialed in real close before the firing started! That shows a good knowledge of your ammo’s long-range ballistics. We also noticed how effective that muzzle brake was. Recoil looked about the same as an un-braked .308 Win.
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ATK announced that it will pay $315 million to acquire Caliber Company, the parent company of Savage Sports Corporation which runs Savage Arms, and Stevens. Savage will be integrated into ATK’s Sporting Group business which includes Federal Premium, Alliant Powder, CCI, RCBS, Speer, Champion Targets, and other outdoor sports brands.
The acquisition of Savage by ATK will expand ATK’s portfolio offering by adding a respected producer of long guns to its family of leading brands in the shooting and outdoor sports industries. ATK anticipates closing the transaction in the first quarter of its Fiscal Year 2014, which ends June 30, 2013.
ATK (NYSE: ATK) announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Caliber Company, the parent company of Savage Sports Corporation (Savage). Savage is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hunting rifles and shotguns, delivering innovative products for more than 100 years. The acquisition would expand ATK’s portfolio offering by adding long guns to its leading brands in commercial and security ammunition, shooting sports and security-related accessories. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. ATK anticipates closing the transaction in the first quarter of its Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14), which ends June 30, 2013.
Under the terms of the transaction, ATK will pay $315 million in cash, subject to a customary working capital adjustment. This represents a trailing twelve months ended March 31, 2013 EBITDA multiple of approximately 5.5 times (unaudited). ATK believes the acquisition will be accretive to FY14 earnings per share. ATK will finance the acquisition with cash on hand and funds available under its existing credit facility.
“The acquisition will complement ATK’s growing portfolio of leading consumer brands,” said Mark DeYoung, ATK President and CEO. “This opportunity will allow us to build upon our offerings with Savage’s prominent, respected brands known for accuracy, quality, innovation, value and craftsmanship. Savage’s sales distribution channels, new product development, and sophistication in manufacturing will significantly increase our presence with a highly relevant product offering to distributors, retailers and consumers.”
Operating under the brand names of Savage Arms, Stevens, and Savage Range Systems, the company designs, manufactures and markets centerfire and rimfire rifles, shotguns and shooting range systems used for hunting as well as competitive and recreational target shooting. The company was organized in 1894 by Arthur Savage and has expanded into market-leading positions. Savage is located in Westfield, Mass. and Lakefield, Ontario, and employs approximately 600 skilled employees.
“Savage offers customers a unique value proposition that is unmatched by any other firearms manufacturer and will be a tremendous complement to ATK’s existing ammunition and shooting accessories portfolio,” said Al Kasper, Savage President and Chief Operating Officer.
ATK will integrate Savage within its Sporting Group business. ATK’s Sporting Group is the established leader in sporting and law enforcement ammunition and shooting accessories. ATK’s ammunition brands include Federal Premium, CCI, Fusion, Speer, Estate Cartridge and Blazer. ATK’s accessories brands include BLACKHAWK!, Alliant Power, RCBS, Champion targets and shooting equipment, Gunslick Pro and Outers gun-care products, and Weaver optics and mounting systems.
Caliber Company has been a portfolio company of Norwest Equity Partners (NEP), a leading middle market equity investment firm, since January 2012. NEP is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn.
ATK is an aerospace, defense, and commercial products company with approximately 15,000 employees and operations in 21 states, Puerto Rico, and internationally. ATK is headquartered in Arlington, Va. News and information can be found on the Internet at www.atk.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atk, or on Twitter @ATK.
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Next month, the Lone Star State hosts the 2013 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits. From May 2-5, an estimated 550 companies will display their latest products across 445,000 square feet of space in Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. There will be scores of new guns and firearms accessories on display.
Here are some of the New Products that will be on display at the NRA Meetings in Houston:
BARRETT: MRAD multi-caliber rifle (.338 LM, .300 WM, .308 Win). BENELLI USA: New M2 Field shotgun variants. BERETTA: New competition over/under shotguns, the 692 Sporting and XT, and DT11. BERGARA USA: New line of “semi-custom” hunting and tactical rifles. BROWNING: New AB3 A-Bolt with new bolt, action, trigger. BUSHMASTER: 308 Hunter, Predator, Varminter rifles now have Magpul stocks. CROSMAN: New AR-style air rifle (MSR77 NP), and MK-177 tactical pump pellet rifle. CZ: New 455 rimfire bolt-actions –Tacticool, SST Varmint, and Varmint Thumbhole. FNH USA: New FN SC 1 over/under target shotgun with 30″ barrel. GAMO: New “Bull Whispers”, bull-barrel air rifles with NS-52 dampener to lower noise. MOSSBERG: New pump-action shotguns wiht Harmonic Damper Technology to reduce perceived recoil. NOSLER CUSTOM: New Model 48 Outfitter Rifle with custom action and hand-lapped ss barrel. REMINGTON: New Model 783, low-priced bolt-action rifle with adjustable ‘Crossfire’ trigger. RUGER: New 6-lb, compact American Rifle models in .243 and 7mm-08. SAVAGE: New B-Mag 17 WSM rifle, chambered for the new .17 Win Super Mag rimfire cartridge. SMITH & WESSON: New M&P 10 flat-top .308 Win AR-platform rifle with factory camo finish. STEYR: Mannlicher Pro African rifle with new soft-finish composite stock that is quiet in bush. THOMPSON/CENTER: New Venture Compact, with shorter barrel and composite stock with LOP spacers. WEATHERBY: Upgraded Back Country Vanguard S2 rifle with Cerakote Tactical Grey metalwork. WINCHESTER: “Ultimate Shadow” m70 bolt-action hunting rifles in stocks with rubberized surfaces.
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Stan Pate is the Captain of Savage’s National Championship F-TR Team. In this article, Stan explains how to adjust the action-screw tension on a three-screw Savage target action to achieve the best accuracy. The procedure described here can be used for any Savage action, including the two-action-screw models. However, the optimal settings for each particular rifle may vary slightly.
Match shooters need to get that extra accuracy edge from our ammunition and firearm. It is easy to get one of the Savage rifles to shoot accurately — even to match standards. If you are looking for that little bit more from your rifle, then please read a method that I have found that works for me. For those of you that are familiar with tuning a receiver (such as a match rimfire action), this article will be nothing new. For the rest of you, this might be new material. The goal here is to find the “sweet spot” for the rifle in relation to the torque settings used on the receiver screws. The proper torque settings [can vary] from rifle to rifle, but they will usually have a noticeable effect on consistent group sizes. A properly-torqued rifle will optimize the “harmonics” of the barreled action using the receiver screws so that the gun delivers peak consistency.
Here is the process I have found that works for me in tuning a Savage rifle receiver to peak accuracy. To use my process you first must already have a load that shoots accurately and consistently in your rifle, and I always use a fouled barrel like I’d be shooting in a match. This process works for me in both the model 10 (two receiver screws), and the model 12 (three receiver screws).
Seat Recoil Lug and Start with Front Action Screw(s)
On the model 12, I will first ensure that the recoil lug is seated securely against the stock by just lightly tightening up the front receiver screw then gently but firmly bumping the butt pad against the floor. Next I will tighten up the front two receiver screws to 30 inch-pounds starting at 20 inch-pounds and working up to the 30 inch-pounds in 5 inch-pound increments, and always tightening the front screw first and then the second screw. Once the front two receiver screws are torqued to the final torque setting, I will set the rear receiver screw to 5 inch-pounds and shoot a 5-shot group [to evaluate accuracy].
Increase Torque Incrementally on Rear Action Screw
After the group is shot and I am satisfied that I called all of the shots as good shots I will allow the rifle to cool off to about the temperature that the fist group was shot at. I will then add 5 inch-pounds to the rear receiver screw and shoot another five-shot group and allow the rifle to cool again. I repeat this process until I have tightened the rear receiver screw to 40 inch-pounds or have seen the groups get smaller and then start getting larger again. Once you have seen the groups decrease and then start to increase in size then you will have found the area of torque to work in. You can then can fine tune this to the exact inch-pound torque settings.
Tuning a Model 10 with Two Receiver Screws
The Savage model 10 action, which has two receiver screws, uses the same process as the three-screw model 12. Measure your group sizes and place the measurements in front of you so that you can see the bell curve showing where your best groups were achieved. NOTE — there may be a better way of doing this and if you should have one, I’d be very interested in hearing it. Good shooting and I hope to see you all on the range. – Stan Pate
This is on the Palma rifle using the torque settings of 30 inch pounds on the front two reciever screws, and 15 inch pounds on the tang screw, it is approximately 1/2″ center to center.
This is my second torque setting which for this rifle and this load is the optimal setting of 30 inch pounds on the front two reciever screws and 25 inch pounds on the tang screw, this group is approximately .180″ center to center.
This is the third torque setting which for this rifle is moving away from the optimal torque setting towards the heavy side of the scale. This torque setting results shows that you will usually see a “bell curve” of accuracy as you move into the optimal torque setting. This group is almost .7″ and the torque setting was 40 inch pounds.
This article was edited for length to appear in the Daily Bulletin.
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Coaxial (joy-stick) rests allow both vertical and horizontal movement with a single control. If you want to make a diagonal shift in point of aim, you can do this with one, smooth, continuous movement. Until now, this advantage has been limited to front rests. Well there’s some new technology in the benchrest world. Forum member ‘Straightpipes’ has created a coaxial rear joystick rest. He built this simple, compact rear rest in his home workshop for use with his 40-lb Heavy Gun. In combination with a vertically adjustable front rest, this new rear joystick rest allows aiming to be controlled from the rear, with your left hand in a comfortable position.
Straightpipes Rear Coaxial Rest — Design and Features
The rear rest is crafted from aluminum with a stainless steel forward-pointing joystick. Total weight, including the long, stabilizing base foot, is about 10 pounds. Though the rear rest doesn’t seem to have a large movement range, the system offers plenty of “on-target” travel. At 100 yards, the rest offers 10 MOA left, 10 MOA right, 5 MOA up, and 5 MOA down adjustment. That’s plenty of range for most targets, once you center the Point of Aim vertically using the captain’s wheel on the front rest, which Straightpipes also crafted himself. Click Square Photos Below to see Large Images.
Inside the rear cradle sits a Protektor rear sandbag, with Cordura fabric filled with ordinary sand. This fits the 3″-wide bottom of Straightpipes’ 40-lb heavy gun. There are some sophisticated components you can’t see in the photos. The rear rest can pivot (right or left slightly) to stay aligned with the front rest (as adjusted to level the cant of the rifle). Straightpipes says: “With the pivot, whatever I do to the front, the rear follows.” The basket (cradle) also employs a 20-lb bias spring system to handle the weight of the Heavy Gun. This prevents the co-axial system from binding, so it is fluid and easy to operate. Even with 20 pounds of gun weight on the rear, the joystick can be easily manipulated with a light touch of thumb and fore-finger.
Video Shows Rear Coaxial Rest in Action
Watch the video below to see how the joystick controls the rear rest. Total joystick movement is about a 2.5″ sweep. This gives 20 MOA total windage adjustment at 100 yards, and about 10 MOA vertical.
About the Straightpipes Front Rest
The coaxial rear rest is designed to work with the massive front rest as a system, though they are NOT connected, so as to comply with IBS Heavy Gun rules. The 30-lb front rest supports exactly half the weight of the rifle and is used to set gross elevation. Windage and fine elevation is controlled in the rear. Straightpipes also designed and built his beefy front rest himself. As with his rear coaxial unit, the front rest pieces were all shaped by hand on a belt sander after being milled out. Straitpipes even “finish-sculpted some pieces with hand files the old craftsmen way.” The main center support column was milled with extremely fine threads. This allows the captain’s wheel to turn with little effort and no locking mechanism is required. Straightpipes does not need to fuss with locking knobs when he sets gross elevation. To help keep the unit from binding, there are stainless guide shafts on the left and right. These shafts slide in oil-impregnated bronze bushings.
40-lb Barrel Block Heavy Gun with Savage Action
Straightpipes built this beautiful set of rests to work with his 40-lb Heavy Gun. Chambered in 7mm WSM, the gun features a Savage Target Action, and a Brux 32″, 1.300″ straight-diameter barrel fitted with a custom barrel nut. The barrel is clamped forward of the action in a 9″-long barrel block. This allows the Savage action to free-float. The block, also built by Straightpipes, looks fairly standard, but it has some clever design features. Between the barrel and the block there is sleeve that is slightly compressed when the block’s bolts are tensioned. This sleeve, made of a proprietary material, eliminates metal to metal contact between barrel and block. Straightpipes believes this enhances accuracy and provides some damping. Other shooters with barrel-block guns have used epoxy between block and barrel, but that makes disassembly difficult. The sleeve system on Straightpipes’ gun allows the barreled action to be easily removed from the stock. In addition, the compressed sleeve system is very stable — Straightpipes doesn’t have to fiddle with the bolt torques on his block.
‘Black Beauty’ Stock Made from Resin-Soaked Laminated Wood, with Rust-Oleum Finish
Straightpipes built the beefy stock himself. It is made from “red oak” wood soaked in resin and then laminated together with JB Weld. The rear section features a polished aluminum buttplate and twin metal “runners” on the underside, where the stock rides the Protektor Cordura bag. Straightpipes says the stock is very stable: “it absolutely does not flex or warp with changes in temp or humidity”. We asked Straightpipes about the stock finish. To our surprise, “Pipes” revealed he used inexpensive Rust-Oleum fine texture outdoor furniture paint. “Pipes” told us: “I’ve been using this stuff for years. It’s abrasion proof and tough as nails — the bags won’t wear it off. It’s solvent-proof, won’t get soft or bubble up. It cleans up with a damp cloth, just rub it down and it looks like new.”
As designed and crafted by Straightpipes, this Heavy Gun rest system is impressive. The rear rest is brilliantly simple, and beautifully finished. But the important question is: “how does it shoot?”. Straightpipes reports that the whole system exceeds his expectations: “The rear rest actuation is smooth and positive. It works smoothly in conjunction with the front rest. Everything is working together — there’s nothing that’s fighting another element of the system. The gun tracks straight. When it returns to battery, the thing is pretty much waiting for you shot after shot.” The rear rest’s small footprint allows the “driver” to sit comfortably behind the rig. Straightpipes reports: “Shooters can ‘address the rifle’ just like a Light Gun — you’re not straining to wrap your arm around something overly massive. Anybody can shoot this, it’s a very easy gun to shoot.”
Is it accurate? In a word, “Yes”. Straightpipes doesn’t want to make claims before the rig has been tested in competition, but he says it has “shot groups at 600 and 1000 yards that would be very competitive.” We promised not to publish group sizes yet, but we can tell you that at 600 yards in good conditions it drilled some “scary small” 5-shot groups, well, well under 1/4 MOA.
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Pacific Tool & Gauge, has an outstanding new product, a precision-machined replacement bolt head for Savages. This product, available in a variety of bolt face sizes for $49.99 per unit, can benefit nearly everyone who shoots Savage bolt guns.
When visiting German Salazar’s excellent Rifleman’s Journal website, we were pleased to see a recent, in-depth review of the PT&G Replacement Bolt Head for Savage Bolts. Written by Norm Darnell, this detailed review explains the benefits of the PT&G replacements, compared to the standard Savage bolt heads. After polishing, the factory bolt head can become slightly dished. According to Darnell: “The area around the firing pin hole sometimes has an indentation deep enough to allow the primer to flow into this void. This makes an unsightly blemish on a fired primer and can lead to hard extraction or worse. One [Savage] rifle I inspected had a continuing problem with pierced primers despite reasonably mild loads[.]” Even after machining the factory bolt face to make it flat, Darnell encountered problems: “The firing pin hole seemed to wear excessively which was of some concern. Material strength of the investment-cast bolt head* appears to be the source of these recurring problems.”
After testing out PT&G replacement bolt heads, Darnell found that his problems were solved. With the PT&G replacement bolt head, “the cartridge case heads and primers indicated no case-head rounding or primer damage”. Darnell was convinced, so he proceeded to fit PT&B bolt heads “on all three of my 308 bolts and one 223 with one spare bolt of each.” It appears that PT&G has a winner here — a smart, affordable new product that remedies a commonly-observed problem with factory Savage bolt heads.
* In the article, author Darnell writes that Savage factory bolt heads are investment cast. Fred Moreo of Sharp Shooter Supply says this is not correct: “Savage bolt heads were NEVER investment cast. From the get-go they were machined from solid stock. In 1988 they went to special profiled 41L40 bar stock to save machining operations and heat treated to 35-42 RC.”
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After “exhaustive testing” with a variety of barrel lengths and twist rates, Savage has deep-sixed its plans to market a Model 10-based repeater rifle chambered for the 300 AAC Blackout cartridge. The reason? The Blackout cartridge simply shot poorly when loaded with heavy bullets for subsonic applications. Since Savage could not achieve good accuracy with subsonic loads, the Savage 300 AAC project has been cancelled. Savage issued the following explanation:
Some time ago, Savage announced it would be chambering the Model 10 Precision Carbine in 300 AAC Blackout. Since that time, we have tested many variants of this cartridge in various barrel lengths and rates of twist. This exhaustive testing left us quite unsatisfied with the accuracy we were able to get from the subsonic loads in this chambering. Accuracy with the lighter, faster loads in this caliber was actually quite good. But we believe the real value in this cartridge lies in the use of subsonic loads for suppressed rifles. Therefore we have decided to scrap the project.
It is our understanding that pushing these heavy, slow bullets presents challenges not found in typical loadings and that our experience is not unique. Subsequently, many in the industry have simply adopted a lower standard for accuracy for these subsonic loads. While this does seem reasonable and we don’t criticize any in our industry that have taken this approach, it just won’t work for Savage.
Our brand was built on accuracy and we are too protective of our reputation for building the most accurate factory rifles available. We would rather walk away from this opportunity than sell a product that requires an explanation.
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