Widespread, plentiful and nearly as destructive as one of the biblical plagues, feral hogs have rapidly earned the enmity of landowners nationwide and, in turn, made themselves popular targets for hunters who take enjoyment in working to control the species’ burgeoning population. The firearm industry has responded in kind, and companies have rolled out no shortage of products that cater to those looking to make their own bacon. Many of those products, though, lend themselves more to the “tactical” approach that’s become commonplace in the swine-shooting community. It’s not often that you’ll have a bolt-action recommended to you when inquiring about a new pig gun, but that hasn’t stopped Savage Arms from changing minds with its Hog Hunter—a dedicated boar slayer that delivers versatility and bolt-gun reliability in a compact package.
Officially the Model 11/111 Hog Hunter, the rifle is built around the company’s venerable push-feed action, which, like many of Savage’s centerfire bolt-action rifles, traces its roots back to the company’s original Model 110. That said, the Hog Hunter is currently offered in only the short-action (Model 11) version, chambered in .223 Rem., .308 Win. and, most recently, .338 Federal. When the platform was launched, a long-action .338 Win. Mag. variant was offered, but it has since been phased out.
Chambering aside, the three actively manufactured versions of the Hog Hunter are nigh identical. They sport the same green composite stock, LPA adjustable sights and a somewhat beefy 20-inch carbon steel, medium-contour barrel, which ends in a 5/8x24 threaded muzzle. The receiver is drilled and tapped for optics.
Aside from the rifle’s compact build—crafted with quick, swinging shots on running pigs in mind—its most distinguishing feature is the threaded muzzle. Yes, you’re free to throw a muzzle brake on there if you’d like, but it’s no secret the rifle is meant to be joined by an aftermarket suppressor, should such amenity be legal in your hunting area. It’s not uncommon for feral pig hunting to be done in populated regions or at night, traits that have ratcheted up suppressor use among devout hog hunters. As it stands, suppressors are legal for private ownership in 41 states and can be used for hunting in 37 of them, meaning more readers than not could put a suppressed Hog Hunter to work. And, with luck, that’ll soon be easier than ever. As this went to print, the NRA-backed Hearing Protection Act of 2015—which, among other things, is meant to eliminate the $200 transfer tax on firearm silencers—had been introduced in the House.
Even sans suppressor, though, the Hog Hunter presents an attractive package, though perhaps not in a literal sense. A beauty, she is not: The olive-green composite stock—Savage lists it as “natural” in color on the company website—and matte-black finish on the barrel and receiver produce about as plain a look for a rifle as you’ll find. Given the prey the Hog Hunter’s designed to kill, and the terrain that prey often likes to call home, I find the utilitarian approach fitting. Pigs aren’t pretty, either, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be hanging your hog rifle above the fireplace.
As with essentially any Savage centerfire offering, the Hog Hunter features the company’s popular AccuTrigger, which can be adjusted to its operator’s liking. The rifle has a blind internal box magazine, seemingly with the aforementioned tough country in mind. No one wants to inadvertently drop a detachable magazine or open a floorplate when traversing thick brush. The bolt handle is oversized, making it easy to rapidly chamber a follow-up shot—which is ideal for shooting hogs, but not a bad feature to have when you’ve got a whitetail or bear in your sights, either. Despite a rather on-the-nose name, the Hog Hunter can make a suitable companion in the deer woods and when hunting bruins, too. The stature of the .338 Federal version made the rifle an ideal partner for me on a baited black bear hunt last spring. The whole package weighs just a bit more than 7 pounds, though you might find the rifle to be a little muzzle heavy, even more so if you add a suppressor. At 40.5 inches long, it’s not the most compact centerfire offering, but it’s definitively in that class.
Though the barrel may seem a bit heavy, the damage the Hog Hunter does to the wallet is not. Savage ships the rifle with an MSRP of $578, and odds are you will find it on the shelf at an even lower price. Even if feral pigs aren’t something you often find in your crosshairs, Savage’s little utilitarian bolt-action should draw your attention. The Hog Hunter is built to be tough, affordable and deliver results, too—and it succeeds on all three counts.