If this is going to be your first Savage rifle knowing, the importance of these features is critical. Let’s start with the floating bolt head. On your average hunting rifle once the bolt is closed the surface for which your case will be forced against during firing is set in relation to the locking surface, think of this as your launch pad and your case and bullet as a rocket. If your launch pad is tilted then your rocket is not going to fly straight. This has always been a major determining factor of accuracy. In the past the only solution was to send the rifle to a gunsmith and have these surfaces hand lapped and “trued” to provide the ideal 90 degree angle. The only problem is that hand lapping is tedious work and the process may cost you more than the rifle itself. Savage addressed this by allowing the bolt head to move slightly during firing. This movement self centers the cartridge and creates an optimal touch off surface each and every time, right out of the box!
If you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard of the Accutrigger, then you are in for a major upgrade in the bang switch area. The Accutrigger is the feature that put Savage rifles on the map. Imagine a user adjustable trigger that can be set to as light as 6 ounces in some models, yet survives the drop test AND has zero creep. I fell in love with this feature on my very first Savage rifle back in 2003. Utilizing our Lyman Digital trigger pull scale (lymanproducts.com, $74.99) we measured a range of 5 lbs. 7 oz. all the way down to 3 lbs. 6 oz.
Lastly the 3 position safety gives you the flexibility of opening and closing your bolt while still blocking the trigger from movement. This allows you to load, unload and change ammo while keeping the rifle safe. For the hunter who may be out during cross seasons this allows you to safely change loads should another species present itself.
The rifle was obviously made to shave every ounce possible. I really liked how this was accomplished with aesthetics in mind. The horizontal cuts along the receiver take weight off without compromising rigidity and the spiral fluting on the bolt makes for one very sexy firearm. One might argue further fluting on the barrel would have fit the motif, however, the use of a pencil thin contoured barrel didn’t really call for it. Using the plain barrel helps shave off something else that is just as important: price. At just $754, this specialty hunting rifle is well within reach of most moderate budgets.
The Lightweight Hunter comes drilled and tapped for your favorite bases. For our 7mm-08 test rifle, we put on some simple, inexpensive Weaver mounts and then topped them off with the new Nightforce 3-10x42mm SHV riflescope (nightforceoptics.com) mounted in a pair of Nightforce X-Treme Duty Ultralight 30mm rings. In terms of value, the Nightforce SHV closely parallels the Savage’s bang for the buck, giving top-quality optics, features and killer reticle options without the premium price. Our SHV was equipped with the IHR (International Hunting Reticle) reticle, which present a lightning-quick, uncluttered sight picture for those time-sensitive shots.