Last week, in among the variety of email that I
receive, was an inquiry from a gentleman who was wanting to buy
a new varmint rifle. His question was simply this:
"Jeff, if you could have any varmint
rifle you wanted, regardless of price, what would it be?"
That is a simple enough question. There are lots
of good varmint rifles available, and a shooter can spend
relatively little, or a small fortune, on a varmint gun. To me, a
varmint rifle must be accurate; not just mechanically capable of
shooting precisely, but also it must have a good trigger and a
comfortable stock, so that the shooter can take full advantage
of the rifle’s accuracy. A varmint rifle can be beautiful, but
it need not be so. It is a precision tool, for placing
fast-moving bullets into small targets at long range, everyday,
all day if necessary. My answer to the reader was this:
"If I was looking for the best varmint gun
at an affordable price, I would get a Savage. If I was looking
for the best varmint gun, regardless of price, I would still
choose a Savage."
I had never really thought of it that way
before, but if I had to bet the farm on which factory rifle
would shoot the best, right out of the box, I would grab a
Savage every time. Until someone proves differently to me, that
will be my choice, based on my experience with numerous varmint
rifles from many manufacturers. Savage has proven to me over and
over again that they make rifles that will shoot. Now, the
hard decision would be, which Savage varmint rifle to choose?
Savage makes several variations of their basic Models 12 and 112
varmint rifle. The actions are the same; either blued or
stainless steel, and they all have that wonderful AccuTrigger.
Variations differ in choice of stock, caliber, action length,
barrel, and cartridge chambering. Savage also makes a few
rimfire varminters, and their Model 40 chambered for the .22
Hornet cartridge, but the meat of the Savage varmint line is the
Model 12 and Model 112. The 12 is the short action, and the 112
handles the longer cartridges such as the .25-06 and .300
Savage's newest varmint rifle is called the Long
Range Precision Varminter, and is the subject of this review. I
recently received a sample chambered for the .223 Remington
cartridge, which is one of the most popular cartridges for long
range varmint hunters, such as those who shoot prairie
dogs. Most prairie dog hunters want a heavy barrel to absorb
heat, and the Precision Varminter provides that. This varmint
rifle wears a heavy, stainless, one-inch diameter twenty-six
inch long target-crowned barrel with a one-in-nine inch rifling
twist. This rifle also has no magazine. It has a solid-bottomed
receiver that has no magazine cut-out, which provides extra
rigidity to the action. The action is bedded into the H-S
Precision stock using three bolts which firmly hold the
action through a solid aluminum bedding block. The stock has a
matte black slightly textured finish and a beavertail forearm.
It is fitted with front and rear sling swivel studs, and has a
solid synthetic rubber recoil pad. The black and stainless make
for a very good-looking, business-like rifle. The barrel is
free-floated its entire length. The action has a right-handed
bolt, but a left-hand loading/ejection port. This allows the
right-handed shooter to easily open the bolt with his right hand
and eject the fired cartridge into his left palm, if desired. It
also makes loading the rifle very simple and easy. One simply
drops a cartridge into the port, and closes the action. All
rounds tested fed perfectly this way during the shooting
sessions with this rifle. A shooter can get more rounds
downrange quicker this way than by stopping every fifth
round to load the magazine on a box magazine rifle. The bolt
knob is large and easy to grasp. The AccuTrigger releases
crisply, and the release measured two pounds and two ounces on
this rifle, adjusted to its lowest setting. The rifle weighed in
at eleven pounds and thirteen ounces.
I mounted a Leupold VX-III 6.5 to 20 power scope
on the Model 12 for testing. I robbed this scope off of my
Savage 12VSS .22-250 to try out this new rifle, and mounted it
using Leupold rings and bases. This is a wonderful varmint scope
with a 30mm main tube and a 40mm objective lens. The side focus
feature makes it easy to adjust the focus for varying ranges
without reaching out to the far end of the scope. The windage
and elevation adjustments are precise and easy to make without
tools or a coin. This Leupold has the Varminter Reticle that is
exclusive to Leupold, which makes engaging targets at long range
easier. It is the best scope that I have found for a
heavy bolt-action varmint rifle. The chart below shows a graphic
of the Varminter Reticle.
I decided to try this new rifle using some Black
Hills ammunition loaded with 55 grain moly-coated V-Max bullets.
The V-Max is a dandy varmint bullet, offering explosive terminal
performance. I have never been a real big fan of moly-coated
bullets, but I thought that it was worth another try. Moly does
reduce copper fouling, allowing a prairie dog shooter to fire
many shots without stopping to clean the bore. Starting
with a clean bore, I fired a few shots to get the barrel
sufficiently seasoned with the moly coating. The first few
groups measured about one inch at 100 yards, but soon the bore
started getting seasoned in really well, and groups began
shrinking. It took a total of about twenty shots through the
bore before the Savage started shooting into the same hole.
After that, all groups fired from the rifle exhibited superb
accuracy. The three-sixteenths of an inch five-shot group shown
is representative of what this gun will do. I was impressed, but
not at all surprised by the accuracy of this rifle. It is what I
have come to expect from a Savage varmint rifle. Used to be when
I would get a rifle that shot small groups, I would think of it
as a very special rifle; a fluke of some sort in which
everything just happened to be right. Now, I fully expect
the next Savage varmint rifle to shoot as well as this one, and
the next one after that to shoot the same. They are that good.
Choosing just which Savage varmint rifle is the best for you
will be the hard part.
Check out the entire line of Savage rifles and
shotguns online at: www.savagearms.com.
For a look at the Leupold VX-III and other fine
optics, go to: www.leupold.com.
For the location of a Savage dealer near you,
click on the DEALER LOCATOR icon at: www.lipseys.com.
To locate a dealer where you can
buy this gun, Click on the DEALER FINDER icon at:
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