Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Savage Arms 93R17 - putting the fear in Zombie Squirrels everywhere

Varments in your yard? Meet the ultimate anti squirrel device.

The Savage Arms.

The Savage Arms 93R17-BVSS is a heavy barrelled contender in the varmint gun section. Savage has stayed with a field-tested design, a single bolt action, and a basic tubular form with near mid-mounted bolt handle, sited just forward of the trigger common. The bolt knob itself is fairly small, but it lifts easily and with adequate clearance for any scope mounted that came to mind.

The weapon is fairly sleek and light (about six pounds), easy enough for a teen hunting with a parent or a petite woman to handle for long periods in the field. Personally I got my muscles from hauling an 8 mm Mauser around the woods as a kid but don't want to drag a Brinks safe around all day. This is fairly light but most definitely not a "little kids" gun.

I bought it on pricing and frankly, I liked the looks of it.

Savage has always meant value, a quality gun at a fair price, but I found the looks of them sort of basic "meat gun". This one, frankly was two steps above that, with a polished barrel (polished but not so bright it'll blind you in the field), a really well-proportioned thumbhole, a laminated stock and AccuTrigger system. Yes, the butt plate is plastic, as is the trigger guard and the bottom iron is blued, not stainless. But I'm not buying this to show it off, I'm buying this to have something that's accurate and versatile, with minimal recoil. Something I can take to a range that doesn't allow larger firearms and ammo, or out for an afternoon of stalking small varmints. A tight, light but not wimpy, rifle with the looks of full bore.

The laminate stock was a camo pattern with some nicely done cross hatching that was pleasing to the eye. Love it or hate it, laminate is normally weather resistant and should hold up with minimal upkeep. The stainless barrel is really striking, combining a nice polished finish with a varmint heavy profile. You'll find this one has the classic Savage step to the barrel profile and comes out to just a frog hair under 21 inches. The total firearms length is 39 and a half, a trim little firearm for any body but unlike a lot of light rimfire rifles I felt like I had a an adult gun, and not some kid's toy.

What I liked best was the trigger. The 2.5 pound Accu Trigger was flat out sweet to shoot and the part of the firearm I like the best. Clean, crisp with a predicable trigger let out, just the right amount of travel before the sear is released. The trigger can be adjusted from 1.5lb to 6lb weight by the shooter, as a unique safety bar ensures only a safe let-off, no matter how much you adjust the trigger. The Ruger rimfire may have had more rounds in the magazine and a longer barrel. but I just couldn't get past it's crunchy, lawyer proof trigger. This trigger is awesome.

Another nice feature is the 5 round detachable box type stainless steel magazine which just barely sticks out from beneath the stock, and is much less an interference with the bottom lines of the rifle than the 7 round magazine that the Marlin has. Sure you lose two rounds, but unless I'm being attacked by a Zombie Chipmunk swarm I don't think it will make much of a difference. The in-line feed functioned without incident but the magazine release and retention was a bit awkward the first couple of tries, likely to get much easier with practice.

Feeding was reliable. I ran through two boxes of ammo right off the bat and straight out of the box it feed them all smoothly. The action was smooth and worked with less force than the Marlin.

The safety was a simple two position one. I found it a bit stiff, but that may be the newness (or I need to lift barbells with my thumb). But it worked. Can't ask for much more than that.

The rifle doesn't comes supplied with sights, but has Weaver style bases installed. You will be thanking yourself for buying this after you DON'T have to tangle with the grooved receiver scope ring mounts that are standard on most rimfires. Trust me. My Savage soon got a little mounted scope with the aid of some rings picked up at Wally World
.A lesson on scopes for the beginner will come up another day, but what I can say if you are new to scoped firearms is the lower the scope the better (and I don't mean power). A scoped mounted up close and personal with your firearm ensures proper cheek weld on the stock for a stable firing position and allows for rapid target acquisition. (But be careful that the bolt action clears and the scope doesn't contact anything in operation but the scope rings.)

I picked a Redfield Revolution 3-9 x 40 mm scope, not wanting to put a whole lot of money into a firearm I won't use all the time. For just shy of $150, it's got a really good usable field of view, and superior light transmission For absolute long-range precision, (with the Savage, probably a prairie dog at 100-150 yards) the available Accu- Range™ reticle provides hold points to 500 yards . These things are waterproof, shock proof and fog proof and are tested to a level that would make the gang on Mythbusters proud and have a lifetime warranty. Not many products can say that any more. For ammo, a few boxes of Hornady.

HMR is based on the .22 Magnum case necked-down to accept .172" diameter bullet making for some high velocity, flat shooting, and most accurate rimfire small game and varmint cartridge ever produced. They won't work on game birds, and I'm not sure if it would be enough for a big coyote, but for small ground game, oh yes.

When CCI, Remington, and Federal began providing .17 HMR ammunition, also loaded with 17 grain varmint bullets, the sales of both rifles and ammunition took off. Other manufacturers soon followed and the rest is interweb history. The manufacturer and shooters stated it can deliver a velocity of 2,550 fps , 25% faster than the 22 WMR. In the Savage you'd be looking at around 2100 fps but with the accuracy, the 17HMR caliber is well earning the attention they've received in print.

This will be a very accurate load, but suitable for small critters only. The weight of the .17 makes it susceptible to outside influences, such as foliage, rain, high wind etc, that would have an effect on it's accuracy at long range. But for "fair weather" shooting, small game should be looking for a hidey hole.

The Conservation Club where I sighted it in does not have a long range rifle area yet (it's in planning) but shooting at an angle into the berms on the larger back bay I was able to get enough distance to sight it in that first time, with a later sighting in to be done elsewhere. Using traditional bore sighting in a bolt action you can get a good preliminary sighting in using a target only 20-50 yards away.

Once that was done, time for the final step in the initial sighting. The three shot group. Always fire from a rested position when doing this steps and if you used a boresighter, don't forget to remove it prior to loading (hello Blondestar??)

(1) fire a shot

(2) If you're a few inches off of center, (ahem) make an appropriate amount of adjustment to move the reticle to the center of the target

(3) carefully fire a three or four shot group

(4) Use the center of that group as a reference point for the final adjustments to windage and elevation and

(5) holding the rifle steady, center it on the bullseye and carefully turn the adjustments without moving the rifle until the crosshair is on the center of the group. (i.e. if your shots are two inches low and three inches right, and assuming you're sighting in at 100 yards, you'd want to make a 2 MOA adjustment up and a 3 MOA adjustment left). If you do that your next three shot group should be close to the center of the target

At 100 yards the Savage will shoot sub inch groups right up there with the more expensive rimfires and do it all day long. So buy or borrow one if you get the chance and head on out to test her out in some open land. And watch out for the zombie squirrels. I hear they aren't after brains, only nuts.


  1. Nice looking little rifle! Enjoy!

  2. Just like mine, except prettier! (Mine is just black.)

  3. I love my Savage rifles. I have 3, including the 22LR version of your rifle (Savage Mark II BTVS). It is much more accurate than I am.

  4. Those Savage Accu-Triggers are swweeeettt right out of the box...

    Dann in Ohio

  5. A most excellent article...as usual.

    I'm still mad that Savage came out with the accu-trigger the very next year after I bought my Savage 110 .308 tactical left-hand rifle...and the old ones cannot be upgraded.

    Love the rifle, but still miffed.

  6. I have the proper (ie left)-handed version of this rifle, and it really is sweet - if the wind isn't bad it's accurate a lot further out than I am.

  7. Savage just keeps getting better and better. You are very right about the new trigger, and their barrels are anywhere from quite good to freakishly amazing.

    I had a choice between going to Savage and running their 110/112 receiver line or going home to Continental and doing the new 1911 line.

    I think I could have gone either way and had a good time.

  8. Thanks for the review, Brigid. It's now on my "next gun to purchase" list :)

  9. Great review. I love mine. Bought an extra magazine for it just in case of zombie chipmunks :) Take care.

  10. Nice Rifle! I am not a "rifle person" but if I was going to get one I would take your recommendations!

    Having said that can you help sight in a Winchester Model 100 .243?

  11. Go Savage!! The .17 HMR's are super prairie dog whackers.

  12. "...if you used a boresighter, don't forget to remove it prior to loading...."

    Wonder how often that happens--you just KNOW it has!!!!!

  13. I think My Savage 93/17 is the most accurate rifle I own. Feels like shooting a LASER beam. I do wish there were other magazine options for it.

  14. I have the same rifle, only without the varmint barrel and Accu-trigger.

    I love it. Matt G., Gay Cynic and I were able to take prairie dogs with it out to 200 at Blogorado.

    It's a plaything of the wind, though.

  15. You just inspired me to pick up a couple of extra magazines. $15 each.

    This weekend: Ammo run.

  16. My son has one of those, but with the black stock. The last time we went shooting he brought it along.
    He's a far better shot than I am!
    At 100yds, he was 100% in the ten ring!

  17. I expected that squirrel picture to say something about corn nuts.

  18. which height profile of rings did you use ?


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