Last week we got the opportunity to attend an event hosted by Savage Firearms, Federal Ammunition, and Bushnell Optics. We shot a mountain of ammunition around the T-Diamond Ranch in Texas, engaging targets from 10 yards all the way to 1,620. It was a great opportunity to get hands on with some of the new toys being released this year, and to pick the stuff for review that our readers are going to want to know more about. We will have some full-length features coming up over the coming months, so hit us up in the comments section if something strikes your fancy.
Savage has been a major player in the rimfire department forever, and they are coming on strong with some new models this year. The B series of rimfires are all bolt action in calibers 17 HMR, 22 LR, and 22WRM. The new models feel more like a grown up rifle, which is going to make them perfect for sub-caliber rifle training. There are more barrel configurations than you can shake a stick at, but the ones that grabbed my attention were the bull barrel models that are threaded for a suppressor. We shot what felt like a train car of rimfire over the course of four hours, a big chunk of which was the new Federal Hunter Match. This a nickel-plated match grade .22 LR round, and it did not disappoint. One detail I noticed that stuck in my mind, which is a testament to both the rifles and the new ammo—dozens of people shot thousands of rounds of rimfire in the same place. I didn’t see a single light struck or misfed round on the ground, and I looked.
The .17 HMR offerings were very impressive too. I had never spent much time with this little round, so I took this opportunity go a little nuts. Take this bit with a grain of salt, I am the first to admit we were shooting at what I would term “confidence targets.” That means they were at least 4 MOA, meaning a 20 inch square at 500 yards. Still, in 10-12 MPH wind, I was able to push the Savage B17 that distance, with repeatable hits in a reasonably sized group. The elevation on the rimfire scope was maxed out, and I had to hold on the 700-yard targets for elevation, but it did work. Spending some time with it has gotten me intrigued about using it as a cheaper way to teach my students to call wind, as well as training non-standard position shooting. I think the B17 HMR has a lot of potential, and I am looking forward to spending some more time with it.
In the normal-sized gun category, the Model 10 GRS takes the cake. GRS is a Norwegian stockmaking company, and they have teamed up with Savage for an out of the box hunt/race ready firearm. The stock is pretty fantastic, and features quick adjustments for comb height and length of pull. The relief cut for your trigger hand feels a little strange at first, but I liked it in short order. Combined with Savage’s legendary accuracy, this detachable magazine-fed beast is going to be hard to beat this year. It is available in .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 6mm Creedmoor.
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The most exciting thing I got to shoot was also what I see as the best bargain. I am not sure I “need” a .338 Lapua Magnum, but I certainly want one. What if some of that Jurassic Park nonsense happens, and I need to kill a T-Rex next week? Savage has succeeded in making a .338 rifle at a price point normal dudes can afford. The Model 112 Target Magnum has an MSRP of just over $1100, putting it well within the reach of anyone that has seriously considered the price of feeding this beast. I really liked the wood stock this comes in; it is a beautiful weapon. It features a target AccuTrigger, user adjustable down to 6 ozs. The rifle only weighs 12 pounds before scope, but the muzzle brake does a fantastic job of dampening the recoil to a manageable level. The rifle is a single shot, but if you shoot it with .338, that should be plenty. We were only able to push this rifle out to about 1,600 yards, which isn’t really stretching the capability of the round. I am looking forward to fully testing this model at the home range, where the Sawtooth Mountains are our backstop.
Bushnell has some new additions to the line as well. The big story was the new ENGAGE series of riflescopes, featuring an MOA-derived reticle. Some of our hunting crowd are going to love this, and everything in the line is below $500. The glass in these scopes is fantastic for the price point. We used quite a lot of the DMR 2 with the G3 reticle as well, for those that prefer a Mil-based reticle. Bushnell has long been the leader in mid-priced optics, and these two options are sure to find some fans.
This was another big leap for Federal. In addition to the rimfire mentioned above, there are some serious additions to the Gold Medal line. New for this year is the Gold Medal Berger, featuring Gold Medal quality control mated with Berger bullets in .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor. The .308 is called the Juggernaut, and has an impressive weight of 185 grains. Both of these calibers, along with the soon to be released .300 Win. Mag., are winners. We managed to, uh, …… acquire some samples for testing at home, so a full report will be coming soon. We didn’t waste any on paper or steel, but also new this year are the Edge-TLR hunting bullets. I sat down and talked with one of Federal’s ballistic engineers, and he promised impressive expansion with these bullets, even at extended ranges. That coupled with match grade accuracy. If these fly like they are alleged to do, long range hunting just got a whole lot easier.
Champion had on display an array of new rimfire targets, which I should point out say in big letters “22LR only”. We were attacked by a flock of Raptors, and proceeded to .17 HMR them anyway. They held up surprisingly well, but we did break a few of them by the end of the day.
For grown up guns, Champion has also released a line of AR500 steel targets, at a very affordable price. We shot quite a lot of these at distance, and they took everything we threw at them. They are available at your local gun store.
My absolute favorite from Champion, they introduced a polymer target that will take abuse from anything, including .50 BMG. And it’s a duck. So sitting in the shop right now is a rubber bathtub duck, that we will be shooting with everything under the sun until we figure out a way to break it.
For more information, please visit the following:
To purchase the Savage firearms mentioned in the piece on GunsAmerica.com, click these links:
- B Series: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=Savage%20B
- Model 10 GRS: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=Savage%20GRS
- Model 112 Target Magnum: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=Savage%20112%20338