All righty then. Here's the low down on the new Savage.Barrel: Gets and A++. Nice and long. Nicely machined.
Action: A++. Really nice and smooth. I particularly like the oversized bolt.
Accutrigger: Wow! I wish all my rifles had this. This is probably the best new feature to be built into a gun in 50 years. I thought that I wouldn't like it very much and might eventually put another trigger on but now you couldn't give me another trigger. Super smooth and easy to adjust. I put it on the lightest setting and was very pleased with the results.
Stock: Gets a C. The fit and finish wasn't real nice. A lot of sharp edges from the molding process. I ended up taking a razor blade to it and smoothing the edges out.
But since I picked this baby up for only $499 new I guess a little trimming isn't too bad.Assembly: D+ I was having a ton of problems with feeding shells from the magazine to the chamber. It kept getting stuck so I took it apart. It looks like when the stock was attached part of the magazine spring got pinched in the wrong spot bending the end of the spring. I did a little rebending and it now is about 99% better. Just a careless assembly job. While it was not a difficult fix this like the poor stock finish just caused me to spend more time on things that should have been taken care of at the point of production.
Performance: An A++++++++ What a fun weapon to shoot. I did a quick and dirty bore sight at my house to get the right and left close. The next day I headed up to the family ranch and set up on the bench rest. I shot of few shots at 25 yards and got it dialed in much closer. Then I went out to 100 yards and was shooting about .75" high. Then I put it out to 150 yards and made a nice quarter size group about 1/4 inch left of center. One click to the right and I was good to go. I was using the Winchester white box 45 grain hollow points from Walmart. Eventually I plan to reload and can probably tighten the groups even further with a little experimentation.
Balance and Weight: This is a very heavy gun with a nice heavy 26" barrel. Freestanding shots are very difficult although the occassional snap shot on larger moving game would probably be fine. For getting long squirrels you have to use a rest. I have a Harris Bi-Pod but prefer using Varmint Al's Bi-Fur-Pod that I made. If it were not for the current weight of the gun I would be tempted to put the Harris Bi Pod on it and may still do so. The rifle is well balanced and shoots very well. The recoil of the 223 is light on this rifle.Scope: I did spend more than $50 on the scope. I chose a Bushnell Trophy Series 3x9 with a Mil Dot recticle. Most of my shooting is in the hills so 3x9 works perfect. Anything more would probably go unused where I hunt. I kept it on 6 power for the close up shots and then on the squirrels at 80 yards plus I cranked it up to nine. I chose the mil dot because it was something new and I was curious about using it for range finding. I didn't really get a chance to use the mil dots but will do so in the future. I really liked this scope. It was accurate, easy to use, and very clear. I may get another one to replace the 6 power fixed Simmons on my Rem 17.The first squirrel I shot was about at 50 yards. Not much of a challenge. I later tried it on a Jack about 80 yards away. It blew the jacks insides into the nearby bush. I shot another squirrel at about 85-90 yards away. It did a real nice job tearing it apart. Shot a cottontail and blew it in three different pieces which my young nephews thought was really cool. I had my nephews and brother in law with me most of the time so I switched over to the 17 HMR for most of the day so they didn't have to cover their ears so often.Here's a couple quick pics of me holding the rifle after a couple of field tests.
Overall, aside from the problem with the magazine spring and the finish of the stock I would have to give this rifle a recommended buy for someone looking to purchase a 223 for varmints. It is priced very nicely and it performs as well as any rifle I have ever shot. I can't wait to get back up there and shoot some more.Jason