Savage Model 16
- By Pete Moore
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 21/02/2018
First impressions can be confusing, as when I opened the box containing the Savage Model 16 Lightweight Hunter in 308 Winchester, I thought, this is going to be a bastard to shoot! 308 Win, though a great all-round calibre, is known for being a bit jumpy, even in heavier rifles and this one was tipping the scale at a mere 5lb 10oz un-scoped, hence my comment. The 20” heavily tapered, stainless steel barrel is about as light as you go before confusing it with a knitting needle. And the fluted/spiral bolt and material machined out of the sides of the receiver further attests to Savages’ desire to shave weight wherever possible. Then there’s the slim, synthetic stock and even though this model wears their AccuTrigger, the furniture does not feature the AccuStock with integral, aluminum bedding block. So, a few more ounces saved!
Though it’s results and not looks that count, I feel that Savage must get the award for building some of the ugliest rifles around. It’s like they were designed by a committee who could not agree on anything, however, experience with the brand has shown they can shoot! This last has everything to do with how they are designed, assembled and set up.
Headspace for example is controlled by a separate locking collar. A minimum headspace gauge is chambered, and the barrel screwed back into the receiver until the measurement is perfect, in this position the collar is then tightened down to lock the setting. Savage also uses a floating bolt head that allows the bolt face and locking lugs to engage fully and concentrically. And of course, their AccuTrigger, which is easily user-adjustable and gives decent pulls and can’t be set too low as it goes into a fail-safe position. It’s clear to see that there’s a lot of innovation going on in their centerfire range!
Proportionately, the Model 16 looks a lot shorter than it is and I assumed it wore a 16” barrel, which was not the case, with its 20” tube being a good working length for a 308. As can be seen the Model 16 Lightweight Hunter has been built to be just that, which means easy to carry and fast to handle, so ideal for mountain hunters, those who like back packing or long stalks and shooting from blinds or vehicles. The short-action gun weighs 5lbs 10oz and the long-action 6 lbs. But I’m not sure I’d like to shoot it in 270 Win, but in 308 it was surprisingly well behaved, even without a moddy!
For a synthetic build, the stock is OK with inset chequering panels, a 14.5” length of pull and a 7/8” thick, squidgy rubber recoil pad; thank god! The forend is tapered, and although flexible, shows a generous free-float for the barrel. Due to the light weight of the tube, and even when using a bipod, there’s no metal to plastic contact. The muzzle comes threaded ½ x 20 UNF.
The detachable box magazine, with integral, front-mounted catch holds 4-rounds and feeds from a central position. The medium length bolt handle shows a round knob and the action cocks on opening. The safety is tang-mounted and pushes forward to FIRE and reverses for SAFE and is easily operated by the firing hand thumb with little disturbance to the shooting position. I did not like the fact that when SAFE the action is locked, so you must set it to FIRE to cycle the first round. Inserting the bolt requires the trigger to be pulled, to remove it the action must be fired and the plastic sliding button at the front of the trigger guard pushed rearwards and held.
Though not the prettiest of rifles, the Savage feels good in the shoulder, handles nicely and is light to carry, however at this stage I was expecting a bit of recoil. It came with a set of S46 Weaver-style bases, so scoping up was not a problem. I chose a Hardy Gen III moderator, for the simple fact it incorporates an integral muzzle brake, which in the past with heavier calibres has tamed recoil a bit.
The real beauty of this lighter build is that even when fully bombed up with scope and moddy you’re probably still 1.5 to 2 lbs lighter than a comparable weight, full-length hunter. For the test, I used five brands of ammo: Winchester 150-grain PowerPoint, 165-grain RWS HIT (non-lead), 170-grain Norma TipStrike BT, 170-grain Geco round nose soft point and Hornady 178-gran Precision Hunter. On the point of calibre choice, you get- 223 Rem, 243, 270 and 308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor and 7mm-08 Rem.
Not bad figures for a 20” tube, the only load that I thought was on the edge was the non-lead RWS HIT, with 2” groupings that would spread too much out past 100m. But I have found that some guns don’t like non-lead bullets, whereas others do. On velocity loss, lets take the factory figure for Hornady’s 178-grain Precision Hunter, which is quoted at 2671 fps, over the chrono it was doing 2613 fps, which works out at a loss of just 58 fps, plus the energy was excellent!
Shooting the Savage un-modded showed it comfortable with the 150-grain loads, but it got punchier as the bullet weights increased. The Hardy tamed that down acceptably and I doubt I’d use it bare-backed. Feed and function was good, so overall a capable rifle for those looking for a smaller/lighter hunting package.