You wouldn’t think that a gun would be made specifically to bang around behind the seat of your truck, to get banged and bumped on who knows what, and to get dripping wet, dirty, and still work, but that is exactly what Savage has done with the new Hog Hunter line of rifles. They aren’t pretty guns, but they aren’t for pretty game either. You of course can use the Hog Hunter for hunting deer, coyotes, or even zebra, but some guns were made for a lot of things, and some guns are made for one thing. This gun was made to hunt hogs.
The Hog Hunter comes with a tough, no frills synthetic green stock that is meant to get beat up and not mar or scuff. It has a rough texture so you won’t drop it when it is wet. The 20 inch barrel is threaded for a suppressor, and for now it comes in .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, and .338 Winchester. The weight is 7.25 lbs. for the two lighter calibers, and 8 lbs. for the .338. Overall length is 40.5 inches, and one inch more for the .338, and it holds 4 rounds in the magazine.
What makes it specifically a hog hunting gun is a combination of several features. One is of course the short barrel. Hogs tend to hang out in thick woods, swamps, and other places where a long barrel just gets in the way. Hogs are not particularly hard to kill, so though a 20 inch barrel will lose some muzzle energy because more powder burns outside the barrel, you will still have plenty of punch even with a .223.
The stock is a simple green polymer with a slightly rough textured finish, so you can hold on with wet hands. The two things you will notice on first glance about the gun here is that it has the Leupold Hog scope on it, and that it has an attached floorplate for the magazine. The Leupold Hog scope is a 1.25-4 powder heavy duty rugged optic made specifically for hog hunting. It is one of their Fire-Dot series, with a fiber optic, LED driven red dot in the center, and this is actually called the Pig-Plex reticle. i don’t believe that the gun is available with the scope (though I thought it was on Media Day . If it doesn’t, the scope is obviously a good option for the rifle and it is available for just under $500 from internet retailers. You may prefer something without a battery that could potentially explode in weather extremes, and the gun does have open sights, and good one. Up to at least 150 yards or so, the open sights, rested, are just fine on a hog sized target.
The bolted down magazine floorplate is a nice feature so you don’t catch a magazine release as you are breaking through brush, thereby spreading your ammo, or dropping your mag, on the ground as you walk past. As much as you may think this is not really a feature, remember Murphy’s law, and there is nothing like coming on a group of half a dozen hogs, taking your first shot, and realizing that your magazine fell out when you crossed that stone wall that had the pine tree you had to push through. Savage really designed this rifle well for hog hunters and thought about the actual needs of the person relying on the rifle. It clearly wasn’t a marketing idea just to sell more rifles. This gun was created for people who really have to deal with a hog problem.
If you are wondering why the barrel is threaded for a suppressor, in many states it is legal for civilians to own screw on sound suppressors. They have actually become very popular and hog hunting, or more like hog exterminating, is an application where they are extremely useful. Hogs often have to be “hunted” on private property a lot because otherwise they overwhelm the ecosystem and the place becomes infested with hogs. Farmland, and even wooded lots can be completely destroyed by hogs as they root out the dirt for insects and rodents. Hogs are an extremely destructive species and they have no natural predators left in much of their breeding grounds across the country. We even saw severe hog damage on the remote island of Kauai in Hawaii, and someone had to fly hogs in there for them to even exist. There were giant ruts in the woods where the hogs had been rooting. They just destroy everything in their path.
If you come upon hogs, they travel in groups and with a suppressor you can drop several of them with a bolt gun before they figure out what is going on and scatter. With pretty much any Savage you will have MOA accuracy and better, and with a 4 power scope on a hog sized target you are good to at least 300 yards with even a .223. It is also helpful to have a suppressor if your hog hunting/exterminating territory abuts land. Even though it may be legal to shoot at a certain distance away from an inhabited area, gunshots not in the fall hunting season will nearly always elicit a call to the police. Hogs don’t have a season. You can shoot them year round, but people don’t know that.
If you have a hog problem and you have been trying to deal with it using shotgun slugs or a levergun, this new Savage is a pretty good investment on an accurate and durable rifle that will make your job a lot easier. The gun is kind of a no-brainer actually. Savage and Leupold have taken the decision making out of the decision on what to buy for a useful and effective hog gun and optic. The Savage Hog Hunter with the Leupold Hog and its Pig-Plex reticle is pretty much all the gun and optic you could want to deal with hogs.