Savage owners rejoice…there’s a new stock-option in town.

As you will read elsewhere in this issue, the new Savage Model 16/116 Lightweight Hunter is the recipient of a 2016 Editors’ Choice Award. Our sample rifle was the Model 16 short-action version chambered in .308 Win., and we were so taken by its light weight, stainless steel barreled action, accuracy and reliability that we decided to buy it.

The On Target Editors’ Choice Award winning Savage Mo. 16 Lightweight Hunter is an awesome rifle at a great price. The factory polymer stock, however, is not one of its more-difficult components to improve on.

Our only reservation was the rifle’s really pedestrian looking, flex-prone black composite stock, so we decided to make it go away. We’ve become big fans of Boyd’s laminated hardwood stocks, so we went to them for a top-quality, inexpensive replacement. Unfortunately, because the Savage Model 16/116 Lightweight Hunter does not have a removable floor plate, Boyds did not have a stock template for it. Not a problem—we simply sent them our rifle and they made a template, so now anyone who buys a Savage Model 16/116 Lightweight Hunter can order a Boyd’s replacement stock.

We opted for the extra-cost, 1-inch Hi-Viz X Coil butt pad and we’re glad we did…these things work. The “Classic” stock shape we chose comes equipped with a Monte Carlo cheek piece for a much better cheek weld when using an optic; the rifle’s factory stock had only a straight comb.

One of the great things about dealing with Boyds is that you can custom configure your own stock right on their website, and after getting the template issue solved, that’s what we did. We wanted a distinctive-colored laminate pattern to complement the distinctive receiver design of the rifle, so we started out with a Boyds Classic laminated hardwood stock design ($129) in Royal Jacaranda Laminate, which has alternating laminations of red, brown and gray (+$15), which blend into New England’s fall-foliage exceedingly well. An even dozen other laminate color combinations are available, as are three grades of solid walnut (+$101 to +$218.29 and two grades of solid maple (+$57 to +$155). We opted for the standard satin finish at no additional cost, but a “High Shine” finish is offered for an extra $25.

Not only does the Boyd’s stock provide a much-more-rigged/much-less-flexible bedding platform for the Mo. 16’s action, the barrel is free-floating along its entire length. You do pay a small weight penalty for the solid attributes of of a laminate stock, but they have proved well worth the tradeoff.

We also went with the standard 13-3/4” length of pull, but ponyed up and extra $70.96 to have a 1-inch Hi-Viz X Coil butt pad with 1/4-inch black plastic spacer installed. Another $34.16 got us a beautifully sculpted Bubinga wood grip cap. We were going to add a matching Bubinga wood angled forend tip ($36.32) but screwed up and forgot to order it. Too bad, because while the Bubinga wood grip cap looks classy, a matching Bubinga wood angled forend tip would have really dressed it up.

Our last extravagance was to add laser engraving in a tasteful ribbon pattern with stippled negative areas rather than checkering ($55). The laser engraving covers both sides of the neck and both sides of the forend, and because it cuts through multiple layers of laminate, the stippling appears black in color while its ribbon borders retain the full color range of the laminates. The grip traction afforded by the stippling is every bit as good as that of deep-cut checkering, but is a lot easier on ungloved hands. Fore and aft sling-swivel studs are standard equipment.

The stippled, ribbon-pattern laser engraving on the forend and palm swell look great, but the traction they afford (especially with thick, cold-weather gloves) is equally as impressive. Sling swivel-studs come pre-installed.

Due to their multiple layers of laminated hardwoods—a total of 34 in our new stock—Boyds laminated hardwood stocks are very stiff and permit zero movement of the action inside the stock or flexing of the stock in any dimension; both of which are precision killers and both of which were present with the Savage’s factory-equipped stock. The barrel is free floated over its entire length, which further enhances precision and consistent accuracy. As a side benefit, percieved recoil compared to the factory stock was noted as being actually reduced by all three testers.

Between the Hi-Viz recoil pad and inherant recoil-reducing characteristics of a rigged laminate stock, felt-recoil was dispatched to a measurable degree…and opinion shared among three separate testers. Faster follow-up shots were a welcomed side benefit.

Life is full of trade-offs, and restocking our Savage Model 16 Lightweight Hunter was no exception. The rifle with original plastic factory stock weighed 5.65 pounds, but the more dense Boyds laminated hardwood stock brought empty weight up to 6.50 pounds—more than worth it considering that our rifle is now capable of sub ¾-inch groups, which is nearly a ¼-MOA improvement. Fix your own Savage by contacting Boyds Hardwood Gunstocks, Dept. OT; Tel.: (605) 996-5011; Web: www.boydsgunstocks.com