May 29th, 2014

Bargain-Priced Hunting Rifles Reviewed In American Rifleman

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.”

Bargain Hunting Rifles American Rifleman

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.

Bargain Hunting Rifles American Rifleman

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

Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals 2 Comments »
April 21st, 2014

.338 Lapua Magnum at 1.43 Miles — Video Shows Hits on Steel

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.

Savage 110 BA .338 Lapua Magnum Berger Hybrid Bullets

Savage 110 BA .338 Lapua Magnum Berger Hybrid BulletsShooting .338 Lapua Magnum at 2530 Yards
(1.43 miles, 2.3km)

Grizzman explains: “A few days ago I took out the [Savage 110 BA] .338 Lapua and attempted the 2500-yard shot. So I placed the target at 2530 yards or 1.43 miles away. At that distance the bullet flight time is almost 4.5 seconds!

I went out early in the morning to beat the mirage, luckily there was very little wind around 3-4 mph coming from the left, I dialed 2.6 mils Left. I had to dial the maximum elevation my [Nightforce NSX 5.5-22x56mm] scope had at 27.4 mils, then held over 2.5 mils… to get me to 29.9 mils [total].”

WATCH Video — Second camera at target records bullet impacts (see and hear the hits):

You can see more Long-Range Shooting Videos on Grizzman’s Live Leak Channel. Among the interesting videos is a 1K Cinder Block Shoot: .338 LM Shoot Cinder Blocks at 1000 Yards.

Savage 110 BA .338 Lapua Magnum Berger Hybrid Bullets

Savage 110 BA .338 Lapua Magnum Berger Hybrid Bullets

Savage 110 BA .338 Lapua Magnum Berger Hybrid Bullets

Permalink - Videos, Tactical 2 Comments »
January 22nd, 2014

Mike Miller and Stan Pate Provide Expert F-TR Tips

F-TR Stan Pate SavageOver 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.

Mike Miller Stan Pate F-TR F-T/R

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

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
October 12th, 2013

Greatest Hits: Shooting at One Mile with Savage .338 LM

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!

Savage BA110 .338 Lapua magnum 1 mile

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.

PLAY BUTTON
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.

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
May 13th, 2013

ATK Acquires Savage Arms (Savage Sports Corporation)

ATK buys SavageATK 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.

Here is the text of ATK’s 5/13/2013 Press Release announcing the Savage Acquisition:

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.

Permalink - Articles, News 5 Comments »
April 3rd, 2013

Scores of New Products at NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits

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.

The editors of American Hunter magazine have prepared a handy “round-up” of the new-for-2013 products that will be exhibited next month in Houston, Texas.
CLICK HERE to read American Hunter’s 2013 New Product Guide.

NRA 2013 Meeting Products

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.

Permalink New Product, News 1 Comment »
December 9th, 2012

Tuning Savage Actions Using Action Screw Torque Settings

This article originally appeared in the SAVAGE ACCURACY Blog

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.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 15 Comments »
June 26th, 2012

Coaxial Rear Rest on Heavy Gun Benchrest Rig by ‘Straightpipes’

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.

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

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.

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

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.

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

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.”

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

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.

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
June 6th, 2012

New Product: High-Quality PT&G Bolt Heads for Savage Bolts

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.

Pacific Tool PTG Savage Bolt Head

CLICK HERE for Full Product Review of PT&G Savage Bolt Head

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.”

Pacific Tool PTG Savage Bolt Head

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.”

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing 9 Comments »
May 31st, 2012

Savage Cancels 300 AAC Blackout Carbine Project

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.

Savage 300 AAC Blackout cancelled

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.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 11 Comments »
May 30th, 2012

Jim Crofts’ New Savage F-Class Rig with PR&T Walnut Stock

Forum member Jim Crofts (aka “VA Jim”) is one of the nation’s top F-TR shooters. He finished first at the Berger Southwest Nationals, and just this past weekend Jim won the F-TR class at the “Remember the Brave” match at Quantico. Jim has also won numerous regional and club F-TR matches.


Recently Jim commissioned a new .308 Win rifle with a premium barrel and fancy wood stock. Perhaps surprisingly, Jim started with the model 12 target action that came with a Savage factory F/TR rifle. The action is supported in the new gun with a Whidden Gunworks aluminum V-block. Jim observed “I liked the action, and have no problems with the Accutrigger so it made sense to stick with the action I had and save $1000.00 or more vs. a custom action.” Jim did dress up the action a bit. He told us: “The action and barrel nut were polished — just me and a buffer wheel.” Jim also added an extended “tactical” bolt handle from Sharp Shooter Supply. This provides extra leverage according to Jim.

Jim’s new rifle was built by Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool, LLC (PR&T) using a PR&T stock with custom wood. The rifle with which Jim won the Berger SW Nationals shares this same PR&T F-TR stock design, and Jim decided to stick with a winner. Jim explained that the PR&T F-TR stock “is one of the most forgiving out there. It’s got the long fore-end on it that lets you get the bipod out there and that really allows the rifle to recoil in a straight line.” The stock for Jim’s new rig is made of hand laminated, highly-figured west coast Black Walnut with two layers of strong, straight-grain East Coast American Walnut. Augmenting the beauty of the natural figure, twelve layers of clear-coat were applied to the stock, with careful sanding between coats. The buttplate, adjustable cheekpiece hardware, and +30 MOA scope base were all supplied by PR&T.

Jim Crofts Lined Up Behind his New F-TR Rig

Doubtless you’ve noticed the fancy fluting on the 30.5″ Brux Barrel. This “Chain Link” fluting was done by the barrel-maker (Brux) as an extra-cost option. It does look distinctive and it may provide some enhanced cooling benefits (but Jim admits “it’s mainly for looks”). This 1:11″-twist barrel is chambered in .308 Winchester, with the throat set up for Berger 185gr and 200gr Hybrid bullets. Note that Jim decided to retain the Savage barrel nut, even though this is a custom barrel. Jim says: “The Brux barrels shoot great… they clean up well, I get very little copper out of the Brux barrel.”

Jim Crofts Talks About His Savage
F-TR Rifle and PR&T Stock

Click Button to Hear Audio

Jim uses a height-adjustable Phoenix Precision bipod with sled-type feet. This suits Jim’s shooting style very well. Jim is a “handshake holder”, who employs “firm contact with the shoulder”. In the audio clip above, Jim explains: “I shoot with a tight grip. I like to keep this thing up in my shoulder… that helps me control the tracking of the rifle. If I do my part this rifle will definitely keep ‘em in the ten ring (most of the time) out to 1000 yards.”

Savage FTR Crofts targetMeticulous Reloading Yields Great Accuracy
Jim loads Varget powder in Lapua Brass with Berger 180gr and 200gr bullets. He hasn’t shot the new gun in competition yet, but in testing at 100 yards it delivered “multiple five-shot groups that could each be covered by a dime.” Jim’s meticulous brass prep contributes to that excellent accuracy. Using a Benchsource annealing machine, Jim anneals his brass after every firing. He has noticed that the regular annealing makes bullet seating more consistent. “I use a K&M arbor with the seating-force gauge. Both by feel, and by monitoring the gauge, you can definitely tell that the bullets seat more consistently if you anneal the cases regularly.” Jim also cleans his brass with stainless media after every firing.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 11 Comments »
May 13th, 2012

Savage Days in Colorado (Free Gun Tests, Free Hornady Ammo)

Readers in the Rockies region should head to the Colorado Rifle Club (CRC) range on Saturday June 2, 2012, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. There you can try out a variety of Savage rifles from 17 HMR all the way up to a big magnum. All Rimfire ammo is free, and your first five (5) Centerfire rounds per gun are free (except for .338 Lapua Magnum, $5 per round). Can’t beat that. This June 2 “rifle test-ride” at CRC is part of Savage’s Arms Club Program, which lets potential rifle buyers try out target and hunting rifles, both centerfire and rimfire, at no cost.

Savage Arms provides the rifles, Nikon supplies the optics, and Hornady provides free ammo for testing. Caliber options include .17 HMR, .223 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua Magnum. (For the .338 Lapua Magnum, premium Lapua ammo is $5.00 per round). If you have not shot Savage’s F-T/R or Law Enforcement Series rifles, now is your chance. We also recommend Savage’s model 93R17 TR, a .17 HMR rimfire with the look and feel of full-size centerfire rifle. The 93R17 we tested last year was very accurate and we liked the look and feel of the matte-black tactical-style stock.

Directions to Range:
The Colorado Rifle Club range is located at 76099 East 96th Ave., Byers, CO 80103. Byers is 40 miles east of Denver on l-70 at exit 316. To get to the range, travel 8 miles east of Byers on U.S. 36, then about 9 miles north on Leader Road (52N), then one mile west on 96th Ave. to the range gate, then one mile north to the ranges. CLICK HERE for map to CRC range.

Latitude and Longitude: 39° 52′ 12.58″ N, 104° 05′ 39.47″ W

Story Tip by EdLongRange. We welcome reader submissions.
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