New Savage Impulse Straight Pull Rifle – First Look

Last month, Savage invited me to the FTW Ranch in Barksdale Texas to shoot their all new straight-pull rifle, the Impulse. Ammo selection was limited (thanks 2020) and these were the first batch of rifles pulled from the factory floor, but they were impressive. Below is the first look of the Impulse rifle – stay tuned for a full review coming soon!

The New Impulse Big Game straight-pull rifle from Savage.

With an outstanding reputation for accuracy and innovation, Savage Arms is one of the few remaining American firearms manufacturers who continues to revolutionize the industry. They have a long history of producing superior firearms with advanced features that everyone can afford.  We saw it in 2003 with the development of the AccuTrigger system, in 2009 with the AccuStock and again in 2020 with the Renegauge auto-loader.

Impulse Hog Hunter in .308 with an 18″ barrel.

This year, Savage is disrupting the bolt action rifle market (again) by introducing the first American made straight-pull rifle – the Impulse. Straight-pulls have been around almost as long as traditional actions and are wildly popular in European markets but have been ignored by American manufacturers until now. (Browning has the T-Bolt, but that’s not made in America and offered only in rimfire calibers) With 13 new patents and 2.5 years in the making, the Impulse rifle is truly unlike anything else currently being produced in the US.   

The Impulse currently has 3 different model offerings.

What is a straight-pull rifle?

A straight-pull rifle is cycled by just two motions, backwards and forwards on a linear path. This differs from a traditional bolt action where four motions are required- rotate bolt, pull back, push forward, rotate down.  The result is speed, accuracy, and reliability. Conventional bolt actions offer unmatched accuracy and reliability but are slow to cycle. Semi-autos are fast to cycle but not well regarded for accuracy or reliability. The Impulse delivers all three with no compromise.

Pull back on the bolt handle, and push it forward. It’s that simple.

The straight-pull action means there is no need to take my head off the gun or eyes off the target. Just pull it back and push it forward. This makes follow up shots unbelievably fast. For precision rifle shooters and big game hunters, keeping eyes on target with rapid follow up shots could mean the difference between a match win or a lost trophy.

Back to the Impulse

The Impulse comes maxed out with all the features found on popular Savage rifles and more. It features a blueprinted action, floating bolt head, AccuStock with adjustable cheek risers and length of pull, AccuTrigger, removable box magazines and an integrated 20 MOA picatinny rail for optics. The barrels are the same ones on the 110 models that are proven to be accurate. However, the Impulse uses a new steel barrel extension with locknut that fits into the aluminum receiver and is secured with a tried and true four-bolt barrel clamp. Swapping barrels has never been easier and the aluminum receiver helps save on weight.

Here is the barrel extension that slides into the aluminum receiver and locked down with a four-bolt clamp.

On the left side of the receiver is a bolt release that allows the bolt to be placed back into the receiver without any weird manipulation. It just slides straight in. The rear of the receiver has a steel insert where the bolt makes contact. There is no steel directly contacting the aluminum receiver.

The rear of the aluminum receiver has a steel insert where the bolt rides.

The straight-pull bolt is where the magic happens. The bolt is completely cylindrical which allows for smooth handling and prevents bolt binding. The floating bolt head can be removed without tools and swapped to change calibers (with a barrel of course). One of the coolest features of the bolt is the handle itself. The handle can be positioned in three different ways to accommodate any shooting style. Are you a lefty? No problem. Just switch the bolt handle to the left side of the bolt and you are good to go. It can be swapped to the left side in about a minute. The whole bolt is a toolless design so nothing special is needed to make any changes to the bolt head or handle.  

The entire bolt features a tool-less design.

The floating bolt head features a “Hexlock” ball bearing lock mechanism. It uses six ball bearings that are swaged into the bolt head. When the bolt handle is fully closed, a plunger inside the bolt body forces the ball bearings outward locking into the recessed area of the steel barrel extension. When a round is fired, the bearings tighten relative to pressure increase and provide an even tighter lockup for safety.

The Hexlock system is really unique and robust.

The Hexlock system has proven to be extremely tough and can safely handle magnum cartridges and high-pressure rounds. Once the bolt is closed with a live round, it remains locked and cannot be cycled. On the back of the bolt is a quick release button that unlocks the bolt to cycle or eject a live round.  Safety was the top priority for Savage when designing the Impulse.

Switch the bolt handle for left or right handed shooters in about a minute.

Like most other Savage rifles, the Impulse features the user adjustable AccuTrigger. It can be adjusted anywhere from 2.5-6 pounds without removing the action from the stock. The AccuFit stock allows for four different length of pull adjustments and five different cheek riser adjustments. The mid-height cheek riser was perfect for me and made the Impulse fit like a custom rifle. A Phillips-head screwdriver is required to adjust the stock.

Changing out the cheek riser is simple and only requires a screwdriver.

Performance

At the event we used Hornady Precision Hunter, and Precision Match ammunition and the Impulse loved it. Starting from the prone position at 100 yards, we zeroed our scopes and then backed out to 700. I had no problems ringing steel using the 6.5CM, .308, and 300 Win. Mag.  

There is a slight learning curve to the straight-pull system. Seeing the bolt fly back at your face when cycling the action is unsettling but something you get used to. At first, I had a tendency to short stroke the action. With a little practice this was quickly remedied, and I found the bolt just flies back and forth effortlessly. It was enjoyable shooting prone, but the straight-pull system shines when shooting from a standing position.

Charging Safari animals station.

The next shooting scenario featured a 12-inch target darting from side to side. The goal was to place 8 shots inside the target as quickly as possible, freestanding. I managed to score 7 out of 8 hits with one hit landing on the rim of scoring area. Here is where I could really see the benefits of the straight-pull action. I was able to keep my head down and eyes on target when firing all 8 shots with minimal sight picture movement. The way the straight-pull cycles puts the forces straight back in your shoulder allowing shooters to stay on target. On a conventional bolt action, lifting the bolt handle causes the sight picture to be tilt. We did a few moving target scenarios walking through the woods with charging animals. On multiple occasions my reloads were so quick I had to wait several seconds for the next target to show.

On the last day of shooting, we engaged targets out to 1,400 yards. I was repeatedly able to shoot the 6.5 CM out to 1,200 yards and the 300 Win. Mag. had no issues at 1,400. For the first batch of Impulse rifles made, using standard factory ammunition, I was mystified by how accurate they were.

Throughout the weekend we put hundreds of rounds through each gun and only encountered 2 issues that were both magazine related. There could be some improvement with the Savage box magazine, but overall, the Impulse exceeded my expectations in every way. The Impulse has me convinced straight-pull rifles have the next fastest cycling action compared to semi-autos.  

Impulse rifles should be available now at your local dealers. MSRP starts at $1,349.

Learn more at Savage Arms

{ 54 comments… add one }
  • Dale Kehrer January 16, 2021, 12:40 am

    I love it! If they could drop the price 800 to $1000, I’d love it more.

  • Pat J January 15, 2021, 4:00 pm

    I’ll be the first to admit that I am clumsy, and age and MS haven’t helped things out. I used to hate dinging my Model 70s, so I bought a Savage Weather Warrior in 30.06 ten years ago. Put a Zeiss with a strong mount on it, and single-shot killed everything that I deployed it toward with 155 and 180 grain handloads. I’ve never treated it precious, carried and hauled it thousands of rough country miles, and it’s held up well. The 70s are in the safe for my survivors, (most likely to be sold), but I’m not finished finding meat and horns with that Savage.
    I am really close to talking myself into a similar model 300WSM, mostly because I’ve never owned that caliber.

  • kerry purcell January 15, 2021, 9:32 am

    looks like it should be a problem,,,,,looks weak,,,,

  • Mark Cluelow January 12, 2021, 4:09 pm

    how can I order one…?

  • jack January 12, 2021, 3:59 am

    I wonder how well this type action would be at ejecting a hot load that would be mildly hung up in the chamber, if it has the camming feature like a turn bolt.

  • Gordon Young January 11, 2021, 6:26 pm

    I’m surprised, not one mention of the Blaser straight pull…Works on the same principal and uses ball bearings, too. I’ve not heard a word of failure and they’ve been out for a long time…Very popular in Europe.
    Love the idea of left hand/right port, puts the lefty, being able to view the port without lifting your head…Great news!

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 12:38 pm

      The Blaser wasn’t mentioned since it’s not American. But yes they have been out for a long time using the ball bearing bolt head system. Just a lot more expensive, and not as many features!

  • Robert USMC January 11, 2021, 4:38 pm

    What’s the matter with you guys?? Too heavy?? When I carried the loaded M14 (before I was made gunner of the M60), I was humping 10.7 pounds of weapon. Loved the weapon, saved my life many times. Of course – the M60 weighed 23.1 pounds by its lonesome. THAT was an awesome weapon.

    • Phred January 12, 2021, 9:17 pm

      Semper Fi

    • Doug January 16, 2021, 12:55 pm

      Up hill, Both ways! Hooah!

  • trailmut January 11, 2021, 3:41 pm

    finally, the 2nd biggest thing here is savage has made a 22″ threaded barrel. love the left hand feature but whats the 3rd position?

    • trailmut January 12, 2021, 3:45 pm

      i get it now… besides left or right side, the bolt handle can be positioned in 5, 6 or 7 o clock positions. looks like the preferred choice is 5 o clock in the pics which makes the straight pull stand out more, but i think 6 will work just fine.

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 12:36 pm

      What Trailmut said is correct. The bolt handle can be rotated in a forward, middle, backwards position if you find one fits your style better.

  • archangel January 11, 2021, 2:28 pm

    What, no offerings in the time tested ever reliable 270?
    The best cartridge ever designed and it gets snubbed by Savage?

    • 43north January 12, 2021, 7:12 pm

      Every time someone drools over the Creedmore, I mention the 6.5×55 and 6.5×54 which have as much for the past 120+ years. In modern rifles with modern pressure limits, perhaps more.

      Prediction: in 2027, someone “discovers” the .270 Winchester, and writes “this is the ONE GUN you really need”.

      In reality, I’ve seen the .270 Winchester wound a lot of deer when shot by guys having no business in the woods.
      Deer that would have dropped with a .358 or .375 Winchester.

      The .270 was a rifleman’s rifle, not the rifle for those without skill or shooting at extreme limitations.

      • singleshotcajun January 15, 2021, 5:30 am

        Jack O’Connor approves.

  • Dan Bisone January 11, 2021, 1:54 pm

    The weight would keep me from buying it. It’s 50% heavier than the Savage Ultralight that caught my eye last year. I’m sure the straight pull is more accurate in field conditions. I would need a gun bearer to carry it, and that would eliminate the benefit to fast second shots. The bear would kill me before I ever got the gun in my hands!

    • Michael Christensen January 11, 2021, 4:09 pm

      Yes this straight pull is heavy, but you cannot put these two rifles in the same class. You are comparing apples to oranges with your statement.

  • Gerald Schlenz January 11, 2021, 1:32 pm

    Nice concept. Put a forend slide on it and get rid of the bolt handle and I’ll buy it!

  • Paul in IL January 11, 2021, 11:23 am

    I hope it’s not a lawsuit waiting to happen. If you look at say the swiss rifles like the K31 and earlier Schmidt-Rubin designs, they had a rotating bolt head in spite of the straight pull. The head was rotated by drawning back a sleeve that had a cam slot in it. The down side is that it meant a large diameter bolt assembly since there was the inner bolt and the outer sleeve to actuate the bolt head. Multiple lugs are engaged and would all have to fail simultaneously for the bolt to shoot rearward at the shooter.

    Here it appears they use balls in some sort of pocket or groove as the locking mechanism. If that inner piece that pushes the balls into position were to crack, I would anticipate that all the balls would drop out of position simultaneously and someone might end up with a serious injury. I hope that’s not really the case. I wish there were photos of the disassembled bolt head.

    • Mike in TX January 11, 2021, 12:53 pm

      Paul, Carr-Lane has used a ball-lock pin on their hoisting loops to lift TONS of tooling for years. Those pins have 4 balls, so I have no distrust of this design using 6. The pressure forces would be compressing the core pin – which is when its material’s strength is at its strongest. (The core pin’s metal would need to be crushed to “powder” to fail)

    • Kurt January 11, 2021, 10:36 pm

      This is pretty much identical to the Heym SR-30 that’s been available for years, to the point where Ian did a video on it on Forgotten Weapons. It’s a simple, robust, reliable, and extremely strong system…

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 12:35 pm

      Hey Paul,

      This hexlock system isn’t new and has been proven to be safe. I’m not saying failures are impossible, but rather highly unlikely using factory ammunitions. If the plunger inside the bolt failed to lockup the bearings to the barrel extension, then the action wouldn’t seat and it wouldn’t fire.

  • Richard Guard January 11, 2021, 10:01 am

    Great looking rifle. At eight plus pounds before scope and ammunition, I think I’ll pass.

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 12:27 pm

      Other rifles in these caliber before scope and ammo are around the same weight.

      What are you shooting? And do you really want to be shooting a 300 Win. Mag. from a sub 8 lb. rifle?

  • Martin Beijersbergen January 11, 2021, 9:47 am

    I second the accuracy test.
    I liked everything I read and as a lefty I like the concept.

    The ball bearing concept is a copy off the semi-automatic Heckler & Koch.

    I am curious about how much force is necessary to cycle the action?
    A Swiss Schmidt Rubin straight pull needs forcefull cocking.
    Nice art. Thank you

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 12:23 pm

      Hi Martin, Thanks for the comments.

      The accuracy test is coming soon in our full review. I didn’t have access to different types of ammo or the time needed to conduct a proper accuracy test at the event.

      To me, the action feels like it takes about 10-12 lbs. of pull force to cycle the action. About what it takes to pull a double action revolver.

      This spec was not given, and is purely based on my “feeling” of the bolt.

  • Rich Lamothe January 11, 2021, 9:15 am

    Not impressed by the action or the price. I collect savage rifles and love the simplicity of the model 340’s. Its sad that it has come to this. Like the Gun Geezer said how stupid to carry a Camo rifle when your covered in hunter orange. Synthetic no way, will always prefer and buy walnut stocks. Price sure limits me to buy more guns unless i’m a Rockefeller. Where’s the 350 legend? Just another change but not for the better. Can’t anybody stay traditional, remember your past and the great guns Stevens/savage made. This is not a rifle I would take into the woods. Next you’ll have a Lazer guided round so all you have to do is pull the trigger. Or get an app for your phone to do it for you.

    • James January 11, 2021, 11:50 am

      I agree with every word! I hate ugly plastic rifles! I know they’re good, but I long for the classic beauty of fine walnut, crisp hand cut checkering and beautifully blued and polished metal.

      • TommyD January 13, 2021, 12:40 am

        We are showing our age here guys. Lol, at least that is usually the case. There are sometimes younger “traditionalists”, but not usually. I also don’t like the modern look and all the plastic (polymer) but I’ve learned in the last year or two that most of these firearms are darn good. I finally caved in and got my first red dot a few months ago. Boy, was I crazy for not getting a few of those dots, they make my eyes work again, lol. Sure, for us these guns are ugly and we still don’t know how they will hold up after 50, 60 100 years BUT they will have easily replaceable this and that by then anyway. Firearm manufacturers have to keep reinventing the wheel or else people would own a couple of quality rifles and pistols and never buy another one. That would put most of the industry out of business……… at least a large portion of it anyway. We’ve seen all the gimmicks and add-ons for AR’s, etc. for years. Whoever thought people would buy a rifle and then buy accessories at the same moment so they could make it look “cool” or “just because”? Lol, they think we are nuts and we think they are nuts. At least we are all pro 2A and have to look at for each other. God bless America and God bless you all.

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 12:17 pm

      When has Savage ever been a conventional “do what everyone else is” type company? Never. Since day 1 they have pushed firearms tech to the next level. I think the price point for this type of modular, ambidextrous system that shot out to 1,400 yards repeatedly is exceptional value. Blueprinted action, custom fit stock options, adjustable trigger, modular bolt, modular bolt handle- and it’s straight pull! You can’t find any straight pull rifle for less than $3,000. This change IS for the better. If you have ever needed to take multiple shots with a “traditional” bolt action, I guarantee you this is faster.

      Maybe they will offer a traditional stock, but that also limits your fitting options. And who wants to take a beautiful wood stock into the woods? I don’t want my nice stocks getting roughed up. Don’t get me wrong, the Turkish Walnut on my shotguns is some of the most beautiful wood I’ve seen. I appreciate is as much as the next guy, but I’m not taking it into the salt marshes to go duck hunting. That’s what synthetic is for. The Impulse is clearly made for hunters and not meant to be a wall-hanger.

      If there’s demand for the 350 legend I’m sure it will come. This is a brand new rifle and released in the most popular calibers for now.

  • David January 11, 2021, 9:07 am

    Nice. But too damn heavy.

    • jack January 12, 2021, 7:07 am

      What is with all the belly-aching about the weight, if you can’t lift or carry an extra two pounds around you need to stay at home in your recliner and keep shoveling in the ice cream, beer and potato chips and forget about hunting, you’re too far out of shape. Here’s a suggestion, leave a couple cans of that twelve pack out of your back pack then maybe you can handle that enormous gun weight better.

      • Martin Beijersbergen January 12, 2021, 12:24 pm

        👍👍😁

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 12:26 pm

      8.4 lbs is too heavy? Normal bolt actions in these calibers are 7-8 lbs. The extra weight is negligible.

  • triggerpull January 11, 2021, 8:47 am

    I guess it’s never too soon to start planning for a hybrid rifle in case semi-auto AR’s go bye-bye.

    • jack January 12, 2021, 10:11 am

      Lever actions aka Winchester/Marlin/Browning/Henry are my go-to weapons if the BIG BAD BLACK guns have to go under ground, you can fire one accurately pretty fast if you practice with it, BUT, we know the neo-commie’s won’t stop there so I keep a couple of flintlock muzzle loaders in reserve with a large supply of bp, cap locks are not an option, they can ban the caps.

    • Martin Beijersbergen January 12, 2021, 12:31 pm

      Great alternative
      for LH and for the to be confiscated semiautomatic and soon to be followed rest here in Canada.

      PS my condolences for joining the socialistic governments.

  • Dr Motown January 11, 2021, 8:39 am

    Is this a multi-caliber switch-barrel like the T/C Dimensions models?

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 12:10 pm

      Yes! The removable bolt head and barrel can be swapped to accommodate different calibers.

  • Gerald Brickwood January 11, 2021, 8:37 am

    Looks great! I’d like 2! One “Big Game” and one “Predator”! But for the Predator, chamber it in 5.56 NATO or .223 Rem with a Wilde chamber and capable of accepting standard AR magazines.

  • DavidInCO January 11, 2021, 8:34 am

    Being a lefty and having learned on right handed bolt actions, I have always wanted a left handed bolt with the right side eject. Without doing a custom build with fairly rare options, this has been a near impossibility. I am interested in checking this out. I am also very interested in seeing some accuracy tests on this. Thanks for the info.

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 11:30 am

      Thanks David. We have a full review coming soon with accuracy testing. I didn’t have the time or ammo selection to conduct a proper accuracy test at the event.

      I can tell you they all shot sub-MOA or better with the ammunition we were using.

  • Tim January 11, 2021, 8:17 am

    Maybe I missed it but I didn’t see any accuracy results. I read about long range shooting and ringing steel but I would have liked to have know group size at 100yds. Y

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 11:29 am

      Hey Tim!

      I didn’t have access to multiple types of ammunition or the time at the event to conduct a true accuracy test. While they did shoot MOA or better, we have a full review coming soon with accuracy tests done with different ammo brands.

  • Darrell L Wilson January 11, 2021, 5:56 am

    Nice rifle..but 2 things concern me.
    1. Aluminum receiver with steel insert?
    Steel is the material for a rifle receiver

    2. Price point
    Savage has always been known for excellent products at fair prices.
    In my opinion this offering doesn’t meet that standard.

    Darrell L Wilson
    ETC(SS)USN Ret

    • triggerpull January 11, 2021, 8:42 am

      I had a similar initial reaction–the offset steel sleeve retainers inside an aluminum receiver gives me pause–especially if the receiver is machined from conventional aero grade aluminum (a la AR). I wonder why the floating bolt head if the action is blueprinted. I congratulate the innovation–but my experience is that critical tolerances that rely on ball bearings always drift eventually. Looks great–you go first is my take. : )

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 11:27 am

      Darrell – Thanks for the comments.

      1) Materials science has come a long way in the last 25 years. I have zero doubt this will be durable and outlast the lifetime of the shooter.

      2) Price point – What other straight pull rifle have you seen that offers this type of modularity under $1,500? The guns all shot sub-MOA or better, and it’s modular. You won’t find anything that comes close to this for this price.

      It’s an incredible value.

  • Isaac Houchins January 8, 2021, 8:58 am

    I’m a lefty so I love the bolt I will sure look at this rifle thanks.

  • Blue Dog January 7, 2021, 12:49 pm

    Straight-pulls are a neat idea but not really executed well. The Browning Acera might be the ugliest Browning ever. I am curious but my expectations are low – the positive side is that I could be easily impressed.

    I do admire a family of straight-pull shotguns from the 40s, the Savage/Stevens 124/1240/1244 family. Nice looking plastic stocks for the era and good lines. I have seen more than one advertised on online auction sites as a broken semi-auto.

    • Austin Van Gilder January 15, 2021, 11:24 am

      If you’ve never cycled a straight pull action, you’ll definitely be impressed. You couldn’t buy a straight – pull for less than $3,000 but now you can.

      Have you ever needed a follow up shot? Then there’s no question this is better than a traditional bolt action.

  • K7AAY January 5, 2021, 10:33 pm

    Take my money please! Will buy the first Predator .308 I see!

  • Edward Odenkirchen January 5, 2021, 8:01 pm

    It’s not the first American made straight pull. Your firearms history needs a serious upgrade. Lee Metford, in 6mm, was America’s first domestically produced straight pull. That rifle is over 100 years old.

    • Austin Van Gilder January 7, 2021, 3:14 pm

      The Lee Model 1895 is fascinating – I never knew it existed. Thanks for the information.

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