January 05, 2021
When a company has been around for more than 125 years, there are not a lot of opportunities for “firsts.” However, Savage Arms (savagearms.com) of Westfield, Massachusetts, has achieved just that with its introduction of an American-made straight-pull rifle. Dubbed “Impulse,” Savage hopes to combine the renowned speed and smooth operation afforded by a straight-pull action with the accuracy, safety and reliability that characterizes the gunmaker’s flagship Model 10 and 110 bolt-action rifles. Coming from Savage, American sportsmen can also expect that the Impulse will be competitively priced (MSRPs starting from $1,379).
Though far more popular in European markets in more expensive platforms such as the Blaser R8 (starting at $3,200) and Merkel RX Helix (starting at $3,295), straight-pull actions offer American hunters the same advantages enjoyed by these jaeger cousins abroad, namely fast follow-up shots. Because reloading a straight pull requires two movements of the bolt – backward and forward – it is generally faster and smoother than a conventional bolt action where you lift a handle up, pull it back, push it forward and then down to cycle a cartridge.
Another benefit of a straight-pull rifle’s reduced movement to work the action is the improved ability for a shooter to maintain their cheekweld, and to keep their eyes and optic on the target. These qualities have already proven that straight-pull rifles are fast-shooting and ideal for the driven hunts of the Old World. Domestically, such a fast action would be excellent for placing a quick, so-called “insurance shot” on a trophy buck or bull elk.
Sure, speed is great, but what American riflemen value is accuracy and safety. To address the first quality, Savage is using its proven Model 10/110 barrels in building the Impulse. There is a different barrel extension added to the rear of the tube to engage the new bolt design. Otherwise, the barrels are the same and even feature Savage’s precise button rifling inside the bore. Additionally, it wouldn’t be a modern Savage rifle if it lacked the company’s AccuTrigger. The AccuTrigger installed in each Impulse is user-adjustable for a pull weight ranging 2½ pounds to 6 pounds.
In terms of safety, it’s hard to replace the surety of locking a lugged bolt into place with the last downward throw of the lever. In fact, many shooters will say that straight pulls make them nervous because, should a catastrophic failure occur, they believe there is nothing stopping the bolt from traveling rearward and potentially causing injury to the shooter’s face. There’s nothing to fear while shooting the Savage Impulse. Savage developed its clever Hexlock system.
At the head of the full-diameter bolt, six steel bearings lock the lug into battery, and the lockup strengthens with increased chamber pressure, which ensures the bolt doesn’t move until pressure subsides and the shooter chooses to manually rack the bolt. Savage has also included a tang-mounted safety for the usual peace of mind, which is worth noting.
During the design of the Impulse, Savage submitted more than a dozen new patents applications, and incorporated many of its most popular technologies. For left-handed shooters reading this, there is even a simple method for changing the bolt-handle from right- to left-hand operation.
Three initial Impulse models will be available: Hog Hunter, Predator and Big Game. These will be tailored to the different hunting configurations and chamberings, which span the .22-250 Remington and increase in size to the .300 Winchester Magnum. There really is a lot going on with this first straight pull for Savage, and I can report with experience that there is a lot to be excited about with the Impulse.
Beyond traditional range tests, I spent a couple days with the new Savage Impulse at a premier shooting school in Texas. I left impressed by its speed and accuracy. From 10 long paces out to 1,600 yards, I quickly proved its accuracy against paper and metal targets. For more of Guns & Ammo’s initial impressions, be sure to watch the video that accompanies this article. For a full review, be sure to subscribe to Guns & Ammo magazine, or pick up a copy at your local newsstand.
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