View Full Version : Range report - Savage Lightweight Hunter (pic heavy)

10-07-2012, 10:43 AM
So, I had a dilemma those of you that have been around long enough can relate to - I changed the optics on one of my ARs and was left with a homeless scope. But this wasn't just any scope, this was a made in USA Burris Compact 2-7, in fact the first scope I had ever purchased. Seeing it in its nice blue felt pouch every time I opened the safe was driving me nuts. So I started looking for a new home.

Two reasons I love this scope - it is almost supernaturally bright, and made in USA. Plus it was the first scope I ever bought.

While out shopping one day, I noticed a nice-looking but diminutive rifle on the shelf with a bunch of weird slots cut into the forearm. I asked to see it, held it, and knew at once the Burris had a new, appropriate home. One and a half pounds doesn't sound like a lot, but when you handle a 5.5lb. rifle after years of handling 7lb. rifles, it is like holding an anti-gravity device, or a helium balloon - it hardly seems possible. The shelf model was .308, which didn't excite me, and after toying with a .260 model I opted to order a 7mm/08, avoiding having to stock yet another bullet size as I already reload for my 7mm Rem. mag.

The rifle arrived, I ordered up a set of Talley 1pc. rings (determined to keep everything as iight as possible) and waited my ten days. Pickup day came, I got the rifle home, and a big problem became apparent - with this tiny scope, there was no way even the Talley extended rings were going to allow it to mount. Even using extended rings on both sides was not going to cut it. After much internal debate, including the consideration of buying a larger scope (negating the purpose for the rifle to begin with), I settled on the only solution I could identify - a full length rail and standard rings. The EGW rail and Burris Zee rings were 3oz. heavier than the Talleys, but let me put the scope where it needed to be, and the finished package was still under 6.5lbs.

Size comparison to 26" barrel Remington 700 7mm mag

One of the Savage Lightweight's most distinctive features, the spiral fluted bolt, apparently is 2ozs. lighter than the standard bolt. Almost 1lb. of the weight savings come from lightening cuts in the stock. One day I will get ambitious and cut off that extra rail that extends in front of the scope - I'm not crazy about rails on hunting guns as it is, and that rail out front drives me nuts, but you can see how far back that front ring needs to be.

I went to the range with a variety of commercial 140gr. loads, and hand loads I made up with 140gr. Accubonds and 120gr. Ballistic Tips. Here are the results:

PPU 140gr. - This is the poorest ammunition I have ever shot. It would not group under 10 inches at 100 yards. I honestly thought something in the rifle or scope was broken.

Federal Fusion 140gr. - Weird results with this one. With every 3-shot group, two rounds would group under an inch and one would be six inches out in a random direction. Some rifles may like it - this isn't one of them.

Hornady Superformance 139gr SST - This is the first one that shot well. Groups right at 2" were the norm. It also didn't heat the barrel at all - even the brass comes out cool to the touch.

Winchester 140gr. Ballistic Silvertip - I had read this was the ammo for this gun, and it proved true. Groups were about 1.8" consistently.

I was really hopeful that I would find better accuracy when I switched to hand loads, and I have found the 140gr. Accubonds to be supremely accurate in my 7mm mag. But I could not better the Silvertips - my 140gr. hand loads shot into about the same 1.8 inches.

Typical 140gr. Accubond accuracy. I had high hopes as I get extremely good performance with this bullet in my 700 CDL
Same bullet from my 7mm mag

Then came the 120gr. Ballistic Tips. With this light rifle, the lighter bullets seemed like an obvious fit, and they were, grouping into about half the size of any 140gr. load I tested.


However, point of impact with the 120gr. loads shifted 3 inches left and 10 inches up. Again, I though something had come loose. I've never seen that dramatic a change in point of impact with a change in load, and I can't explain it (if any of you can, I look forward to learning something). After re-zeroing the scope, I went back to the 140gr loads and sure enough, 10 inches low and 3 inches right. So I guess we're staying with 120gr. bullets in this gun. I will be testing Barnes 120gr. TTSXs next and hope I can get the same POI as the BTs. The rifle's first field test will likely be a pig hunt in a lead-free zone.

Overall, I'm thrilled with this addition. The rifle looks small, but doesn't feel it. The stock is full size, and with the light scope the rifle balances beautifully. On the sling, you hardly notice it's there, and recoil with the 7mm/08 is not at all objectionable. It's very sharp, but does not have a lot of energy - really more of a slap than a shove. The 2-7 scope will discourage me from taking shots I shouldn't be taking, and I think it will be the perfect piece for long stalks, and for teaching my young nephews how to hunt. The bolt really smoothed up after less than 100 rounds, and I cannot say anything about the Accutrigger that has not already been said - it is terrific. If you're looking for a lightweight rig and are not part of the school that says a .338 mag is barely adequate for antelope, give this rifle a look. It might change how you look at your other bolt guns.

10-07-2012, 1:11 PM
Thanks for the range report! Glad you found a new mate for your scope. Seems like they all meshed pretty well together.

black gun addict
10-07-2012, 1:34 PM
Nice shooting!

10-07-2012, 8:23 PM
Love the gun and scope combo! I think you really did the gun justice by keeping it with a scope that matches the directive of such a light rifle.