The Savage Impulse – An American Straight Pull

The world of hunting rifles tends to be relatively stable. We have single shots, bolt actions, lever guns, and a few semi-autos. Nothing crazy, and most hunters don’t seem to want anything crazy anyway. Well, Savage decided to shake things up with the Impulse. The Savage Impulse is a bolt action rifle but isn’t your traditional rotary bolt. Instead, Savage went with a straight-pull bolt.

Straight pull bolt guns never caught on in the United States. In Europe, they tend to be quite popular since semi-autos are often illegal or difficult to obtain. Blaser and Browning seem to rule the straight pull market and tend to be quite popular and quite pricey. The Savage Impulse can be considered expensive, especially compared to Savage’s own bolt action rifles. With an MSRP of over $1,300 with variance depending on the model, they are a little costly.

The Savage Impulse Predator in 308 packs a 20-inch barrel.

Straight pull rifles tend to be a fair bit most costly. They are more complicated and can be sensitive to ammunition pressure. The linear motion requires some additional complications to get locking surfaces in and out of line. That makes them costly, but when you compare the Savage Impulse to other straight pulls, it’s downright cheap. Google the price of a Blaser R8 and tell me which is expensive and which isn’t.

Breaking Down the Impulse

The Impulse comes in one of three models. I have the “Predator’ model, but we also have a Big Game and Hog Hunter model. The differences include weight, barrel length, magazine capacity, and calibers.

The Predator comes in calibers ranging from the fast 22-250 Remington to the more powerful .308 Winchester. The Hog Hunter comes in potent and powerful calibers like 6.5 Creedmoor, 300 Win Mag, and 308 Winchester. The Big Game predictable comes in a wide variety of caliber that ranges from 243 Winchester all the way up to 300 Winchester Magnum.

The Savage Impulse is ready for deer season.

Since we have the Predator in hand, we’ll focus primarily on this weapon, specifically the 308 Winchester variant. The Impulse Predator weighs a hefty 8.6 pounds and comes equipped with a 20 inch, medium contour barrel. The magazine is a removable AICS pattern design, and the gun comes with a single, 10 round magazine.

The stock comes with a Mossy Oak camo finish and provides two sling swivels. The stock is synthetic and is the consistently excellent Accustock. The Accustock utilizes a rigid aluminum rail system that’s embedded in the stock. The AccuStock engages the action three-dimensionally.

We also get the famed Save AccuTrigger that is user adjustable. As far as user-adjustable trigger goes, it’s one of the easier-to-use designs. I do advise you, at the very least, to consult the manual to make sure you understand what you’re adjusting.

First Impressions of the Savage Impulse

Oh boy, this is a hefty little gun. You feel the 8.6 pounds immediately. The Impulse feels rock solid. The stock felt quite long, but Savage did the smart thing and made the length of pull adjustable. Remove two screws, remove the space, and bam, your LOP goes from 13.5 inches to 12.5 inches. This is much more comfortable and a fair bit shorter.

You can also adjust the comb to various heights, but for my big head, the stock version worked perfectly fine. As you’d imagine, the first thing I wanted to do was work that bolt. I’d never handled a straight-pull bolt before, so I was excited to run it back and forth.

The safety and bolt release are ergonomic and easy to press.

When the gun is cocked, the bolt locks into place. If you need to clear the firearm or open the bolt to fix a malfunction, a button exists at the back of the bolt. Press the button, and the bolt releases and you can unload the gun or fix a malfunction. When the trigger is pressed, the bolt automatically unlocks, and you can cycle it without issue. That bolt throw, by the way, is incredibly smooth.

Adding an optic was easy. The Impulse comes with a 20 MOA Picatinny rail machined into the top of the receiver. I tossed on the Primary Arms GLx 2.5-10X with a Primary Arms mount. It seems like the perfect combination of optic and gun, especially for my environment.

Blasting Away

Getting the optic zeroed took all of 6 rounds at 100 yards. The gun is way more accurate than I am and is super easy to shoot. I used a supported position with a sandbag, and it’s almost dull how accurate this weapon is. It’s a sub-MOA gun with my worst groups breaking .75 inches. The bedding, the action, and that fantastic trigger make it easy to shoot the weapon accurately. Also, that weight does an excellent job of keeping the gun steady.

One hundred yards isn’t much, so I went out to 300 yards and took a prone position. I dialed up the magnification to 10X and set up a target meant to resemble the front half of a deer.

The Predator comes with a 10 round AICS magazine

I wouldn’t take a shot at 300 yards on a real deer, but on a paper one, hell yeah. I aimed behind that front leg at the illustrated heart and lungs and let .308 caliber rounds fly. Specifically, I used Remington’s new production ammunition.

I’m a bit lazy and don’t have a spotting scope. So I fired 20 rounds slowly before going down range to check my target. 18 of 20 rounds were 100% kill shots, and two broke the line of the lungs. I knew I threw those shots the moment I fired them.

Running the Bolt

That smooth bolt glides rearward and forward with ease. The action is short enough that I don’t have to break my sight picture to run the bolt and load another round. With this capability, I can dial in and take multiple shots on multiple targets. When hunting coyotes or hogs, the opportunity to take a second shot often exists, and the Impulse makes that much easier. I can switch targets at the same time I’m running the bolt.

On top of that, the recoil is fairly light. All that weight does a good job of keeping this from being a real shoulder thumper. Light recoil also makes it easier to get those follow-up shots on target.

A straight pull bolt means a fast and smooth action.

While you are unlikely to need a fast reload with the Impulse in a hunting situation, the magazine release is fantastic. It’s an ambidextrous lever that sits against the trigger guard and makes it easy to pop a magazine out. The only use I see for this is for fixing a malfunction quickly in the field.

From a reliability perspective, the gun goes bang. It’s tough to mess up a manual action rifle, and Savage certainly did not mess up the Impulse. I only used brass cased ammunition and mostly FMJs with a few soft points. I had zero issues, and the Impulse goes bang every time.

It’s That Time Of The Year

General rifle season has started in the great state of Florida, and I have the perfect rifle for this year. My Savage Impulse is zeroed, clean, and ready to bring home the pork and venison. I’ve become quite a fan of the straight pull design and look forward to testing its mettle in the tree stand and deer blind this year.

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