Savage 12BVSS .22-250 Varmint Gun
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Becky Quinn

January 6th, 2003



A dedicated varmint rig has been long considered a luxury by many shooters. Spending the money and setting up a gun just for the purpose of varmint hunting is looked upon as frivolous by some. This is a mistake. A rimfire twenty-two or an available deer rifle can be used to pop the occasional coyote or groundhog  that may cross your path, but to really pursue the sport of varmint and predator hunting, more accuracy  and a flatter trajectory can be of real benefit to the shooter.

Varmint hunting can also be, in many areas, enjoyed year round. While big game hunting in most places lasts only a few weeks, the pursuit of predators and vermin usually has no season, allowing many months of hunting, while providing a welcome service to the world in keeping undesirable pests and predators under control. A good, accurate, and dependable varmint rifle is a great asset in the pursuit of small targets at long range. A flat shooting cartridge without excessive recoil is also of great benefit, allowing the shooter to really reach out across a bean field or pasture to eliminate a wary target that could disappear in a heartbeat if spooked.

Over the years, several good varmint cartridges have been introduced by both ammunition manufacturers and wildcatters, but the one cartridge that has risen to the top of the heap is the .22-250. The .22-250 was for many years a wildcat based upon the .250 Savage case necked down to accept .22 caliber bullets. It became so popular that Remington legitimized the cartridge many years ago, and it has continued to grow in popularity ever since. The .22-250 offers high velocity, flat trajectory, good accuracy, low recoil, and plenty of punch for vermin and predators out to several hundred yards. In some states, where legal, the .22-250 is used to take deer, and does a good job with the proper bullets. While not my first choice as a deer cartridge, the .22-250 cartridge is about the best choice available for a dedicated varmint rifle.

I recently received for testing one of the better varmint rifles available on the market today; the Savage Model 12 BVSS chambered for the .22-250 cartridge. We tested here at the Model 12 FLVSS a little over a year ago, which is similar except in the configuration and material of the stock. The FLVSS is equipped with a synthetic stock of standard configuration, while the BVSS tested here wears Savage’s laminated wood stock of target design. The main feature of the rifle reviewed in this article that piqued my interest is Savage’s new AccuTrigger, of which I go into detail in a separate article. While the trigger on the FLVSS tested here earlier was very good, the new AccuTrigger is amazing! It is quite simply the best trigger for  precision shooting that I have ever seen on a production rifle.

The model 12 BVSS is Savage’s top of the line varmint gun. Upon opening the box containing the rifle, I was really impressed with the quality of fit and finish of the BVSS. The gun wears a fluted twenty-six inch stainless heavy barrel with a recessed target crown. While most rifle manufacturers now use other rifling methods, Savage button rifles their target barrels for greater accuracy. Several factors combine to produce an accurate rifle, but without a quality barrel, accuracy suffers. The BVSS wears a quality barrel.

The action on the model 12 BVSS is constructed of stainless steel, and is of push-feed design. The barreled action is pillar-bedded into the laminated stock for greater accuracy and stability. The barrel is free-floated its entire length, also to enhance the repeatable accuracy of the gun. The 12 BVSS has a blind four-round magazine in .22-250 chambering.

The brown laminated stock is set up just right for a heavy varmint gun. It is of a prone shooting design, with a two and one-quarter inch wide forend and an ambidextrous Wundhammer palm swell, which makes for a very comfortable hand position. The stock has a black forend cap and a red rubber butt plate. The 12 BVSS has an overall length of forty-six and one-quarter inches and weighs ten pounds. In .22-250, the Savage’s barrel is rifled one turn in twelve inches, and measures .812 inches at the muzzle.

Before shooting the 12 BVSS, I mounted a Bausch & Lomb 6 to 24 power target scope. This scope has proven reliable on several rifles, and makes a perfect sight for the Savage varmint rifle. The trigger pull was set to one and one-half pounds with the tool provided.

I assembled an assortment of .22-250 ammunition using bullets from Speer, Hornady, and Barnes. While the bullets from Speer and Hornady were labeled as match grade, the Barnes VLC varmint bullets proved to be as accurate as any in this gun. I continue to be favorably impressed with the Barnes VLC bullets in .22 caliber. They wear a proprietary coating that reduces friction and allows the 50 grain bullet to be pushed to over 4100 feet per second in a good .22-250, resulting in spectacular terminal performance and a very flat trajectory.

Accuracy testing took place in less than desirable conditions, with temperatures hovering just above freezing with a strong gusty crosswind. I set up at the shooting bench using my Rifle Rest from Target Shooting Incorporated. This rest is a great aid to accurate shooting, both at the bench and in the field. After sighting the rifle in at 25 yards, all accuracy testing was done at a range of 110 yards. Waiting to shoot between wind gusts as best as I could, I was able to get very good groups with every load tested in the BVSS. Again, the AccuTrigger was amazing, and proved to be a great asset in accurately shooting the Savage. 

The cartridges fed smoothly from the magazine into the chamber, and could also be dropped onto the follower and fed singly if preferred. Ejection was smooth and positive.

The model 12 BVSS proved to be very accurate, especially considering the wind conditions, with one-quarter inch three-shot groups with the Hornady and Barnes bullets. In fact, two of the better loads with the Barnes VLC bullet achieved one-quarter inch groups.  Of all loads tested, the worst group of the day was just over five-eighths of an inch at 110 yards, with the wind playing a major part in that group dispersion.

The exceptional accuracy of the Savage 12 BVSS is due to the quality of assembly of precision parts into a very user-friendly package. The comfort of the stock, along with the superb trigger, allows the shooter to use every bit of accuracy built into the heavy button-rifled stainless barrel. The BVSS is available in several chamberings from the .223 up through the .300 magnums.

For a shooter looking for a dedicated varmint gun, the Savage .22-250 model 12 BVSS would be hard to beat. It has all of the accuracy needed for precise long range shooting, an excellent stock, and the best trigger on the market. 

I like it.

Check out the 12 BVSS, and other fine Savage products online at:

Jeff Quinn

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Jeff was greatly impressed by the Savage Model 12 BVSS. With Savage's new AccuTrigger making this fine rifle very nearly perfect, the Model 12 BVSS represents one of the best values to be had in today's market.



For the 12 BVSS, Savage uses a finely-crafted stainless steel barreled action nicely fitted to a laminated wood stock.



The Savage Model 12 BVSS's stock is pillar bedded for accuracy.



The laminated wood stock is attractive, rugged and well-designed, featuring a black forend cap and a nice, hand-filling target-style palm swell.

The button-rifled stainless steel barrel is fluted for weight reduction and just plain good looks, and is free-floated along its entire length for maximum accuracy. The nicely-executed target-style recessed crown is also an aid to the superb accuracy of the Model 12 BVSS.



The Model 12 BVSS's bolt is a smooth and effective push-feed design with spring-loaded ejector.



When Jeff wants to see what a target-grade rifle will do, he reaches for the amazing Barnes VLC coated bullets first. The VLC bullets once again proved to be a top accuracy choice, and their design results in spectacular terminal performance and flat trajectory.



With a variety of loads and bullets, the Model 12 BVSS proved to be capable of jaw-dropping accuracy. In windy conditions, the worst group of the day measured a scant 5/8" at 110 yards!



Author was very favorably impressed by the Model 12 BVSS. Savage has taken a fine rifle design, improved it with the finest trigger system available on a production rifle, coupled it with excellent craftsmanship, and produced a "must-have" rifle for serious varmint hunters. We highly recommend it.