Perfecting the Savage Tactical Rifle


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

November 7th, 2004




Back in June of this year, I tested a new Savage .308 Tactical rifle, which proved to be one of the most accurate production rifles that I have ever fired. Savage rifles, and the Tactical series in particular, seem to be that way. The shoot great right out of the box. Most of the time when a rifle comes in for a test and evaluation article, when we are finished with it, we box it up and ship it back. Occasionally, we purchase  them for our own use. More often than not, if the gun is a Savage, I just call and have it put on my charge card. It seems that their guns always shoot very well. The Savage tested back in June stayed here, and has since been enhanced a bit, not to improve its accuracy, but to make it easier to hit with at extended range.

I initially tested the Savage Tactical with a Burris 6 to 18 power varmint scope that I had on hand, but to improve my hitting ability with the rifle at long range, I mounted a Leupold 6.5 to 20 power VX-III long range target scope. This scope is built on a thirty millimeter tube that allows more elevation adjustment than with a one inch tube. It has a beautiful and business-like matte black finish that matches that of the rifle very well. I bolted the scope to the rifle using a Leupold base and rings that securely tie the two together without a trace of movement. I really love the fact that Leupold supplies Torx screws with its mounts and rings, and that the system is made of genuine steel, instead of some cheesy lightweight alloy. The VX-III Long range scope has seventy-two inches of adjustment at one hundred yards. Thatís a full six feet of adjustment! The adjustment turrets have finger-operated knobs which make elevation and windage corrections easily, yet are of a low profile design so as to not be obtrusive.  The scope also has a full five inches of eye relief at six and one-half power, and still has over three and one-half inches of eye relief at twenty power.  This much eye relief makes shooting from various field positions quick and easy, without having to crawl the stock or getting smacked in the eyebrow by the ocular lens. The glass on this Leupold is excellent, and the adjustments proved precise. The scope comes with a screw-on sunshade, and the scope/mount package is the perfect compliment to an accurate rifle set up for long range precision work.

While the factory stock on the Savage worked well, I like to get a good cheek weld when shooting. Factory stocks are set up to fit the average shooter, whoever that is. It ainít me. Every rifle on the market comes with a cheek piece that is lower than I like. A good cheek weld on the stock helps me greatly to shoot better from field positions, especially from the prone position, which is often used with a tactical precision rifle. The McMillan A-5 Tactical stock was selected for several reasons. It is built of quality fiberglass material, not cheap injection molded plastic as some stock makers use. The McMillan does not flex. The A-5 has all of the features needed to be the best tactical rifle stock in the world, and it is. My favorite feature is the thumb wheel adjustable cheek piece. It allows the cheek piece to be easily and quickly elevated to place the shooterís eye precisely behind the scope. This is important. If you are having to raise your head to align your eye with the scope, you are not properly positioned to do your best shooting. The thumb wheel adjustment on the A-5 is perfection. The butt plate has an interchangeable spacer system to vary the length of pull to suit individual shooters. The A-5 has a very well designed beavertail forearm, and is equipped with an extra sling swivel stud to allow the easy mounting of a Harris lightweight bipod, which I did. The pistol grip on the A-5 is the most comfortable that I have used on any tactical rifle. The barrel channel is plenty big to not interfere with the free floated heavy Savage barrel. The bottom of the buttstock has a slight hook, for placement of the support hand, if desired. The textured black finish on the McMillan A-5 helps in a secure grip, and looks great on the Savage. The A-5 stock is about twenty ounces heavier than the factory synthetic stock, but is robust and very durable. It beds the barreled action securely, and is the next best thing to a benchrest for accurate shooting. The Harris bipod is their swivel model, and works great on this rifle. It adds little weight, but offers stability to greatly aid in shooting from the prone position.

The weight of the Savage rifle with the improvements shown is just over thirteen pounds. It is not a rifle that one would want to carry over the Beartooth mountains on foot in pursuit of rock chucks. The Leupold VX-III target scope and the McMillan stock are however, along with the Harris bipod, the perfect enhancements to an already accurate rifle. A rifle is only as accurate as the shooter can hold it, and these accessories make it much easier to accurately shoot a precision rifle. Set up like this, and using high quality ammo such as the Winchester Supreme that I used exclusively in testing the improvements to this rifle, this is the most accurate and easy to use precision rifle package that I have ever touched. It will place its shots in the same hole at one hundred yards, every time, and groups incredibly well at extended ranges. It is the definition of a precision rifle.

Check out the Savage Tactical rifles online at:

Leupold scopes can be found at:

To order the best precision rifle stocks on the planet, go to:

Jeff Quinn


To locate a dealer where you can buy this gun, go to:


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