Savage Stainless .243 Bolt-Action Package Gun

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 31st, 2004




The 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.

There 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. 

The .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.

One 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 shooting.

The 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 rifle.

The 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.

The 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:

Jeff Quinn


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to:

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The Savage .243 "package rifle" represents an excellent value in today's market. The reasonable price includes rifle, mounted and bore-sighted scope, sling & swivels...everything you need to start shooting except the ammo!



The Savage Model 16FXP3 features (top-bottom): a checkered bolt knob; stainless steel trigger guard; rubber butt plate; top tang safety button (right where it belongs!); and a free-floated barrel for consistent accuracy.



The Simmons 3-9x variable scope included in the package price is finger-adjustable for windage and elevation. Savage's scope mounts securely and precisely allow the scope to be set to maximize the accuracy of the rifle's design.



The Savage package was even more accurate than Jeff anticipated, grouping Remington Core-Lokt factory ammo into less than 3/4" at 100 yards. Author's favorite .243 bullet, the 85-grain Barnes XLC, is a superb performer in the Savage Model 16FXP3, grouping into less than 1/2" at 100 yards and performing perfectly on whitetail deer.