Savage centerfire bolt action rifle has been in
production now for several decades. It has gained the
well-earned reputation as an affordable and accurate hunting
rifle. The Savage is offered in two different action lengths, a
choice of blued or stainless steel, and with several different
stock and barrel options. The choice of chamberings available
covers every possible need. Savage builds some of the most
accurate varmint rifles that I have ever had the pleasure of
shooting. Last year, Savage introduced the AccuTrigger
into their varmint rifles, and instantly earned my eternal
affection for doing so. For too many years rifles have left the
factories with horrible triggers, but the AccuTrigger has
corrected this long-standing problem with production rifles. For
2004, Savage plans to incorporate this fine trigger into their
line of big game hunting rifles. The most popular big game in
the USA is whitetail deer, and I would bet that most of the
centerfire bolt-action rifles sold in this country are for the
purpose of whitetail deer hunting.
has long been a controversy about using bullets of .243 diameter
on medium-sized big game, such as whitetail deer. The .243
Winchester is very popular as a deer rifle, and for good reason.
The .243 has a flat trajectory, low recoil, and good accuracy.
It also can double as a great rifle for predators and vermin.
This double life that the .243 leads has led to much of its bad
reputation as a marginal killer on deer. There are many good
varmint bullets available in .243 caliber. They are built to
open up quickly upon contact with small vermin, and therefore
fail to penetrate when used on larger animals. Even some so
called "deer bullets" fail to achieve sufficient
penetration at close range due to high impact velocities. Some
of these bullets just cannot hold together upon impact at
velocities approaching 3000 feet per second.
.243 Winchester can be an excellent deer cartridge with the
right bullet. It only requires a bullet that will hold together,
expand, and penetrate. My favorite .243 bullet for this purpose
is the Barnes 85 grain XLC. While 85 grain bullets of
conventional cup and core construction can be too fragile for
large deer, the solid copper construction of the XLC assures
adequate penetration. The proprietary coating of the XLC allows
it to be pushed to 3400 feet per second in the .243 Winchester,
and the ballistic coefficient of .401 provides a very flat
trajectory. I have always experienced complete penetration of
deer with this bullet, from any angle. I have never had one fail
to penetrate, and the wound channel always showed signs of good
expansion. I have never recovered an X-Bullet from a deer. They
do their job and keep on going.
of the best values in a hunting rifle today is the Savage
package rifles. For very little more than the cost of their
rifle alone, Savage includes a variable scope, mounted and
bore-sighted. Also included in the price is swivels and a sling.
All that is needed is the ammunition, and one is set to start
test rifle was a Savage Model 16FXP3, which is their stainless
rifle with a black synthetic stock. The action is pillar bedded
into the stock, and the twenty-two inch button rifled barrel is
free-floated. It comes with a 3 to 9 power Simmons scope
mounted, and a black nylon sling. The 16FXP3 has an internal box
magazine with a capacity of four cartridges, plus one in the
chamber, for a total capacity of five. The trigger guard is
stainless steel also, and the two-tone silver and black makes
for a good-looking, weather resistant package. The rifle has an
overall length of forty-one and three-quarters of an inch. The
rifle with scope and sling mounted weighs in at eight pounds and
one ounce. The length of pull is thirteen and one-quarter
inches. The trigger pull, while crisp, measured just under
five pounds, which is a bit heavier than I prefer, but by the
time you read this, the AccuTrigger will be available in this
accuracy of this Savage was even better than I had expected,
grouping factory Remington Core-Lokt ammo into less than
three-quarters of an inch at 100 yards. I did not spend any time
developing a specific handload for this rifle, instead I just
fed it my favorite load of 44.5 grains of Accurate Arms
4350 powder behind the Barnes 85 grain XLC bullet. With this
load, the Savage grouped into less than one-half inch at 100
yards, and accounted for two whitetail deer this season.
Simmons scope performed very well, provided a nice clear image,
and stayed zeroed. The Savage package rifle provides an
exceptional value in a modern deer rifle, and has better
accuracy than many rifles costing three times the price. Check
out the entire line of Savage firearms online at: www.savagearms.com.
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