Savage Storm .270: An Updated Classic Rifle In A Classic Caliber
I’ve always had a soft spot for Savage rifles. Savage Arms was one of the very few gun manufacturers that produced left-handed bolt rifles as a standard item when I was a young shooter — for us lefties, we are grateful. Prices on Savage bolt guns, 110 series, are also very affordable. Some thought the rifles were ugly, but for me, the beauty that mattered was the size of the groups it produced. Others besides me must have thought highly of them because several million Savage 110s have been manufactured. In those early days of production, the buyer had a choice ranging from economy to expensive, with the standard-grade rifles having decent walnut and some cut checkering. You got a lot for your money with a Savage.
Savage still makes the same bolt rifle that over time has evolved into a very accurate shooting machine. For more than five decades, Savage has built an enviable reputation for crafting some of the most accurate barrels in the business. They’ve also upgraded fit and finish along the way, making the newer Savages more appealing.
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In 2002 Savage fixed the lawyer-mandated heavy trigger issue with a safe, user-friendly adjustable trigger design. No more trips to the local gunsmith for a “trigger job” or having to buy an expensive replacement. Called the “Accutrigger”, the Savage unit offers the shooter a two-stage pull that is totally safe, creep-free and adjustable for weight of pull by the user. The trigger weight can be easily set by the owner for anywhere between 1.5 lbs. to 6 lbs. When I got in the new Storm chambered in .270, I set my Accutrigger weight for just under 3 lbs. I’ve shot all kinds of rifles with adjustable triggers and I have to say the Accutrigger is the best factory-produced adjustable trigger available today. Yes, it’s that good.
The safety that Savage uses in conjunction with the Accutrigger is a 3-position top-tang design that is comfortable, accessible and ambidextrous. Fully forward is fire, middle position is on-safe/bolt operable (used for loading/unloading) and fully to the rear is on-safe, bolt locked. It works smoothly and silently when pushed forward to the fire position. A tang safety is another Savage feature that isn’t seen on most other bolt guns but makes total sense on a hunting rifle.
The most striking feature of the new Storm is the stock. It incorporates the “AccuStock” bedding system, Savage’s attempt at factory-bedding their barreled actions into the stock snugly and efficiently. Basically, it’s a rigid chassis that locks the barreled action into the stock, not allowing any movement during firing. The chassis runs the full length of the action and forend, contributing to the stiffness of the entire unit. A great idea and another step forward in the evolution of the Savage bolt rifle.
The problem before the introduction of the Storm (and the Accustock) was the stock itself — it was flimsy, cheap-looking and not really a good stock for an accurate rifle. Savage factory synthetic stocks were usually replaced or extensively modified after purchase. Many owners then covered the stock with some interesting spray paint color schemes in an attempt to help the appearance. A good aftermarket fiberglass stock would have worked better, but that takes the Savage bolt rifle out of the best-buy realm. The synthetic stocks from a few years ago turned off a lot of potential Savage customers.
Enter The Storm.
Savage got it right with the new stock. It’s rigid from the tang to the end of the forend due to the chassis the barreled action rides in. No more flimsy, thin forends rubbing the barrel on one side or the other. The barrel channel is floated without a huge gap on either side. The stock itself has a “modern” look to it (along with a square trigger guard) that isn’t too jarring for a traditionalist like me. It’s also adjustable for length of pull and comb height — for the perfect fit. It looks great and feels super solid.’
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Savage calls this synthetic stock an “Accufit” — for good reason — It sets the bar high for what I would call semi-custom fit. The Savage Storm is one of 13 rifles getting revamped in 2018 with the new stock, which is easily adjustable by the user. All that’s needed is a Phillips-head screwdriver and a few minutes. Packed inside the box along with the rifle are 4 comb-risers that adjust the height in 1/8″ increments and 3 extra inserts that adjust the pull length in ¼” increments. You end up with a rifle that fits you perfectly and takes into account your neck, scope height and eye relief. The recoil pad is thick, well fitted and soft. It works well in reducing the felt recoil of a lightweight hunting rifle.
Over the course of a month, four range sessions and 120-plus rounds I got to know the Savage Storm rifle well. Along with the usual accuracy stuff at 100 yards, I was able to do some chronograph/velocity comparisons, using a LabRader Doppler chronograph.
I mounted an older, proven Zeiss Conquest 3-9X on top, in Warne quick detachable (QD) steel rings. Savage thoughtfully supplies Weaver-style bases with the Storm, already installed, so adding a scope of your choice is an easy 20-minute job. The Warne QD rings went on without a hitch. I’m warming to the idea of QD rings on a well-traveled rifle. Having 2 pre-zeroed scopes in QD rings along on an expensive hunt isn’t a bad idea. I like Warne rings and have used them on several other rifles. They’re rugged, beautifully machined and nicely finished. And they hold zero after being removed and replaced.
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I didn’t do a barrel break-in — I shot the rifle and then cleaned it after each range session, which has been a routine of mine since my Army Marksmanship Unit days. What I’ve noticed in many light-barreled rifles is a change in the point of impact of a clean barrel versus a fouled one. First shot from the clean cold barrel of the Savage was usually about an inch high. Not bad, but noticeable. The best advice I can give is to confirm your zero before the hunt, then leave your barrel “dirty” throughout the season. A zero check mid-season isn’t a bad idea, also. This should keep point of impact surprises to a minimum.
Nothing unusual occurred during my range sessions with the Savage — it grouped like I thought it would. I was really impressed with the performance of the Federal “Non-Typical Whitetail” ammo, though. Best group of all was with the 150-grain “Whitetail” softpoints; one 3-shot string grouped into ½”. It was also the most consistent from shot group to shot group. The Fed Premium 130-grain Partitions took follow-up honors. That’s amazing accuracy from a light hunting rifle and factory ammo. No loads went over 2″, with the majority of the groups staying within 1.5″. I started each day with a clean, cold barrel, shot 3 round groups exclusively and let the barrel cool for several minutes between each group.
The most interesting part of preparing this article was working with the LabRadar chronograph and finally getting accurate feedback on the velocity of the loads I used. Prior to this I relied on other shooters with a Chrono or called the factory engineers at the various ammo companies and asked them what their best guesses were. Due to the shorter barrel lengths, I was working with (most companies use 24″ to 28″ test barrels), the “educated guesses” I got from the ammo companies were just that — guesses. There are other factors that go into accurate velocity readouts besides rifle barrel length like the smoothness of the bore and barrel wear, outside temperature, different ammunition lots, etc. Without a chronograph, I was literally “flying blind” when I wanted to know what the actual velocity was.
The chronograph that LabRadar sent me ended all that speculation. Velocities obtained via this Doppler radar chronograph are, according to the manufacturer, the most accurate readings you can get. It’s easy to set up and take down and isn’t affected by wind or light conditions. Just put your LabRadar next to the rifle (within 18″), “aim” the chrono at the target and you’re set. And it also works with arrows and pellets.
After I completed bench testing, I had some fun shooting 3 and 4-shot strings at a small steel plate 200 yards away. I shot from sitting and offhand, using a hasty sling in the sitting position. It was easy whacking the plate consistently, staging the Accutrigger while snugged up in a Montana sling. I had the Zeiss set at 4 power. This little exercise confirmed the rifle functioned flawlessly after zeroing. Feeding and chambering was smooth; a touch of heavy grease on the receiver rails helped slick up the new stainless action. It’s always a good idea to shoot your rifle away from the bench after you’ve gotten your zero. Rifle zeros can change, sometimes quite noticeably, from bench to field. And a few strings will confirm that your rifle actually functions as intended. Basic stuff, but many shooters never leave the bench nor get away from single-loading their hunting rifle during pre-season range practice.
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All groups were 3 shots, fired from 100 yards using a heavy bag and a smaller toe bag. A minimum of 4 groups was fired with each load. Temperatures ranged from the mid 60’s to the low 80’s, sunny with negligible wind and low humidity. All shooting was done with Federal factory ammo.
Federal Premium 130-grain Nosler “Partition” – Smallest: ¾” Largest: 1.2″
Federal Premium 130-grain Barnes “Triple Shock” – Smallest: 1.5” Largest: 2.0″
Federal 130-grain softpoint (blue box #270AC) – Smallest: 1.5” Largest: 1.8″
Federal “Non-Typical Whitetail” 130-grain softpoint – Smallest: 1.0″ Largest: 1.4″
Federal “Non-Typical Whitetail” 150-grain softpoint – Smallest: ½” (best group overall) Largest: 1″
Federal “Fusion” 130-grain softpoint – Smallest: 1.4” Largest: 2.0″
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I got my chronographed velocities from an average of three-shot groups. Some of the velocities recorded were eye-openers — especially the “blue box” Federal 130-grain, which was faster than the manufacturer’s stated velocity. All the averages were very close to the published factory velocity of each load. Looks like you’re not losing too much speed with a shorter, 22″ barrel. “Actual” is the chronographed readings I got from the LabRadar unit.
Fed Premium 130-grain “Partition” – Actual: 3,027 fps Published: 3,060 fps
Fed Premium 130-grain “Triple Shock” – Actual: 3,049 fps Published: 3,060 fps
Fed 130-grain softpoint “blue box” – Actual: 3,065 fps Published: 3060 fps
Fed “Non-typical Whitetail” 130-grain softpoint – Actual: 2,936 fps Published: 3060 fps
Fed “Non-typical Whitetail” 150-grain softpoint – Actual: 2802 fps Published: 2,830 fps
Fed “Fusion” 130-grain softpoint – Actual: 2,920 fps Published: 3,050 fps
AN AMERICAN CLASSIC
I like this rifle a lot — it functioned reliably and shot superbly “out of the box”. It’s light, quick handling and looks pretty good, too. After almost 60 years of production, Savage knows how to build an accurate, functional, user-friendly rifle. And it’s made in a lefty version, too. Despite the revisions and upgrades, Savage Arms is still making the same bolt rifle that American shooters want, at a price that shooters can afford.
SAVAGE 110 STORM SPECIFICATIONS
- Manufacturer: Savage Arms Co, Westfield, MA
- Caliber (tested rifle): .270 Winchester. Seventeen (17) calibers available in right-hand, nine (9) in left-hand
- Action: magazine-fed stainless steel. Push-feed, two-lug rotating bolt, left or right handed
- Magazine capacity: 4 (.270), detachable box
- Barrel: 22″ length (standard calibers), matte stainless, button rifled. Magnum calibers, 24″
- Stock: Gray/black synthetic with “AccuStock” bedding. Easily user-adjustable for comb height and length of pull
- Trigger: two-stage “Accutrigger”, adjustable from 1.5 to 6 lbs.
- Safety: Top-tang, three position
- Weight (empty): 7.15 to 7.35 lbs.
- Overall length: 42-44″ (depending on caliber/barrel length)
- MSRP: $849.00
Weaver-style bases for scope mounting, factory-installed. New “Accufit” stock is easily adjusted for length of pull and comb height by the user, with only a Phillips head screwdriver.
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For more information:
Savage Arms Co: www.savagearms.com
Federal Ammunition: www.federalpremium.com
Warne Scope Rings: www.warnescopemounts.com
Montana Rifle Slings: www.montanagunslings.com
LabRadar Chronograph: www.mylabradar.com