Right Back at Ya! Savage’s Impulse Hog Hunter Featuring a Straight-Pull Bolt

Savage Arms started off 2021 by launching the Impulse line of rifles, and the immediate buzz was all about the straight-pull actions. None of that up and back with the bolt on an Impulse—just give the Impulse’s bolt a pull right back towards the shoulder, eject the spent brass, push forward and you are ready to shoot again.

Savage touted the straight-pull feature as a key for faster reloads. So, I requested a Savage Impulse Hog Hunter chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor to see just how fast that straight pull actually was and to rate the rifle’s overall performance. 

Savage’s new Impulse Hog Hunter featuring a straight-pull bolt action.

Overall? The Impulse Hog Hunter is a very accurate rifle, capable of taking game out to 400 yards without a problem. The straight-pull bolt operated effectively and actually got me on target faster for that follow-up shot.

Rifles featuring straight-pull actions have been offered in Europe for a couple of decades. They were available here, too, but haven’t received much attention, in part because the Euro models cost several thousand dollars apiece. With the Impulse line, Savage created an American-made straight pull in popular hunting calibers at a price under $1,500—still not inexpensive but thousands less than their European counterparts.

Savage designed what it terms a “Hexlock” mechanism to make the straight pull action work. Essentially, six steel ball bearings are embedded into the perimeter of the bolt head. When the bolt is pushed fully forward, a plunger inside the bolt pushes the bearings out, locking them into recesses machined into the barrel extension. Pull back on the rotating bolt handle, and the plunger action is reversed, drawing the bearings back into the bolt. The bolt detaches from the inside of the barrel extension, allowing the shooter to cycle back the action and eject the spent brass.

The Hexlock features six ball bearing that lock into the barrel extension when the bolt is fully forward.

I did find the Impulse straight-pull a split-second faster to work than a traditional bolt. But the real time savings was this: the rearward pull kept me on my optic much better than a traditional up-and-back bolt, saving me a second or two it takes to get my eye lined up back behind the scope. It’s never been easy for me to keep my eye behind an optic when working a traditional bolt, especially since the initial movement of the bolt for me, a righty, shifts the receiver up and to the left.

The Impulse’s straight pull also required a learning curve for me. I am so used to operating a traditional bolt that even as I was telling myself to pull straight back, I discovered I was putting upward pressure on the Impulse’s bolt. Which caused it to hang up. Once I got my head around “straight back, no upward pressure,” the bolt worked smooth and fast.

The angle of the Impulse’s rotating bolt handle of the Impulse, by the way, can be changed by the shooter without tools, and can even be switched to the other side of the receiver, again without tools.

The rotating bolt handle can be adjusted for angle and switched to the other side for lefties.

The Impulse Hog Hunter is one of three models in the Impulse line, the other two being the Impulse Big Game and the Impulse Predator. 

The Hog Hunter model features a 20-inch barrel, plus sports a matte black aluminum receiver and an OD Green AccuStock with Savage’s AccuFit adjustable length-of-pull and comb height capability.

Savage’s AccuFit stock lets the shooter adjust for length of pull and comb height.

The medium contour barrel is threaded at the muzzle at 5/8-24-inches for a suppressor or brake. Ammunition is fed via a flush-fit detachable box magazine, while a one-piece 20 MOA rail is machined right into the receiver for easy optic mounting.

Threaded barrel is standard on the Impulse Hog Hunter.

For my accuracy testing I used three brands of 6.5 Creedmoor hunting rounds in my Impulse Hog Hunter: Hornady Outfitter, firing a 120-grain GMX bullet; Norma Professional Hunter loaded with a 130-grain Scirocco II bullet; and Sig Sauer Elite Hunter with a 130-grain Controlled Expansion Tip bullet.

All brands did very well. Shooting at 100 yards from a rest, the Hornady and Sig averaged five-shot groups at 1.25-inches and 1.40-inches, respectively.

Norma’s Professional Hunter ammunition in 6.5 Creedmoor worked extremely well in the Impulse Hog Hunter.

The Impulse really loved the Norma Professional Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor rounds, with a four-shot group at 100 yards of 1.0-inches, and three of those shot stacked onto each other for a spread of under .50-inches. Using the Birchwood Casey Darkotic Splattering Target, the Smokehouse hog version, I placed three shots into the hog’s snout at 100 yards at just shy of .50 inches.

That’ll do, Pig! Three in the snout at 100 yards, measuring under a half inch.

If I was actually hog hunting, I’d definitely use the Norma Professional Hunter rounds.

The trigger on the Hog Hunter as well as the other two Impulse models is Savage’s user adjustable AccuTrigger, which can be set from 1 pound, 8 ounces up to 6 pounds of pull. The trigger on my review rifle arrived with a very crisp 1 pound, 12 ounces, according to my Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, and I didn’t feel the need to adjust it at all. I also appreciated the bladed safety, which helped the trigger operate almost like a two-stage trigger.

Savage’s AccuTrigger, standard on all Impulse rifles, was a pleasure to use.

To unload a live round, press in the bolt release button at the back of the bolt. This allows you to work the rotating bolt handle, move the bolt rearward and eject the live round.

Release button at the back of the Impulse’s bolt unlocks the bolt and allows a live round to be removed.

Live or spent brass, you need to give the Impulse’s bolt a pretty forceful pull back to make sure the brass exits the receiver. A slow or half-hearted pull and the brass will hang up inside the receiver.

The Impulse’s tang safety was very ergonomic and extremely functional.

Even with that shorter, 20-inch barrel, the Impulse Hog Hunter is not a nifty little mountain rifle, not at 8.5 pounds unloaded. Add an optic, a sling, and ammunition, and you are toting a good 10-pounds of rifle, and this would not be my first choice for spot-and-stalk hog hunting especially in rough terrain.

But for those of us hunting critters from a fixed position? We will be putting critters on the ground!

The Impulse Hog Hunter is also available in 30-06 SPRG., .308 Win, and 300 Win Mag. Of course, the two other Impulse variants, the Impulse Big Game and the Impulse Predator, can be had in various other calibers, too.

The Impulse Hog Hunter: a 400-yard critter killer!

Specifications: Savage Impulse Hog Hunter

Caliber (as tested): 6.5 Creedmoor

Action: Straight-pull bolt

Barrel: 20” Carbon Steel, Black Matte Finish

Twist Rate: 1:8

Receiver: Aluminum, Black Matte Finish

Stock: Synthetic, OD Green, AccuFit

Length of Pull: 13.75”

Trigger: AccuTrigger, user adjustable.

Magazine: Detachable Box, 4 rounds.

Length: 41.5”

Weight: 8.5 Lbs. (unloaded)

Safeties: Rear Tang and Bladed Trigger

MISC: One-piece 20 MOA rail machined into the receiver.

MSRP: $1,379.00

For more information visit Savage Arms

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About the author: Brian McCombie writes about hunting and firearms, people and places, for a variety of publications including American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, and SHOT Business. He loves hog hunting, 1911’s chambered in 10MM and .45 ACP, and the Chicago Bears.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • S C Tatum May 10, 2021, 2:04 pm

    Why do you need a $1400 rifle and a $2000 scope to hit targets at 400 yards? That’s iron-sights-on-my-levergun range!

  • Jamed May 7, 2021, 2:12 pm

    Savage, make a 10 round magazine for this rifle.
    Also chamber it in the following cartridges:
    308 Marlin
    300 Savage!
    338 Federal or
    338 Marlin
    357 Maximum
    358 Winchester
    414 Supermag
    444 Marlin
    Any one of these cartridges would be great for hunting hogs and it would give hunters many choices of cartridges.

  • John P May 4, 2021, 10:49 am

    I really like my 110, I will have to take a look at these. Nice to see them making some new things.

  • Kurt May 4, 2021, 9:46 am

    I think that Savage needs to move out of the New England and/or liberal states to a more industry friendly location.

  • David Boerboom May 4, 2021, 9:14 am

    I’d like to sporterize a Steyr m95…Scout configuration. …I think I would even like it to remain an 8x56R … I would handload for it, of course… Hornady 205gr SpirePoint SP @ 2550? 2600? Of course, it would be much more than a simple sporterization…it would be a complete rebuild w/fabrication galore..it would be a nice compliment to my Super-Ultra Severe-Duty commercial m98 in 8x57IS … with Nosler 200gr Accubond LR @ 2800 … You can do so much with the oldie-but-goodies…

    This was a nice article. I enjoyed reading it, and I look forward to more.

  • Roger W Foster May 4, 2021, 9:07 am

    Is there a 10 round magazine available?

  • Allen Bryce May 4, 2021, 8:52 am

    I don’t see a price or how to buy. Maybe I’m not awake yet. I’ll keep looking.

  • charles r rutledge May 4, 2021, 6:59 am

    What type/brand of scope rings did you use on the Impulse Hog Hunter, as I really like the big and secure-looking nuts on the side?!

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