by Bryce M. Towsley - Thursday, August 17, 2017
Arthur William Savage founded Savage Arms in 1894 and sold it in 1904. By the 1920s Savage was the largest firearm company in the free world, and yet in 1988 it filed for bankruptcy protection. Ron Coburn took over and reduced the product line to one centerfire rifle, the Model 110. The future looked bleak but Coburn proved a visionary who brought the Savage brand back to glory. In 2013 he sold the company to ATK, now Vista Outdoor. Under that leadership Savage is seeing unprecedented growth, with entries into many new rifle markets.
Part of the current strategy is a huge commitment to rimfire rifles. A couple years ago Savage came out with the A-Series of semi-auto rifles in .17 HMR, .22 Mag. and .22 LR, which are all excellent firearms. The company seems to do things backwards. For example, with the A-Series it introduced the .17 HMR first, .22 Mag. next and .22 LR last. Most companies would have led with the .22 LR.
Now Savage has done it again with the B-Series of bolt-action rimfire rifles. Most manufacturers would have started with bolt-actions and moved on to semi-autos. But you can’t argue with success, and I predict these rimfires are going to be a hit no matter where in the introduction chain they fall.
Savage launched a full B-Series line (I count 15 versions) all at once this year, with three rimfire chamberings and a wide range of variations, including some that are suppressor ready. For this review I selected what I think will become the most popular, the B22 FV. This is a basic bolt-action with a heavy barrel in .22 LR.
The B22 FV features a 21-inch button-rifled barrel that measures .80 inch in diameter at the muzzle, which has a recessed crown with a chamfer. The barrel is finished in matte-black oxide, as is the receiver. Like with its centerfire rifles, Savage uses its proven barrel-nut system to screw the barrel to the receiver. This allows precise control of the headspacing for accuracy and reliability.
The round receiver has flats milled on each side to provide more aesthetic appeal. It comes from the factory with two scope bases installed.
As is common with rimfires, there are no lugs on the bolt, which locks up with the handle against the receiver. A button cams against a slot in the receiver when lifting the bolt handle to cock the firing pin. The wide, blade-style firing pin is at the top of the bolt. There are two spring-loaded extractors located on each side of the bolt face for increased reliability. The ejector is a standing blade in the receiver; the faster you work the bolt, the farther the empty case is thrown. A large, knurled knob on the bolt handle is easy to grip for working the action quickly and positively.
To remove the bolt, pull it back against the bolt stop with the safety in the off position, and then pull the trigger to release the stop. Each section of the two-piece bolt can swivel independently of the other and both must be carefully aligned to place the bolt back in the rifle, which can be a bit frustrating until you figure it out.
The two-position, sliding safety is located on the tang. Sadly, it does not lock the bolt shut as with Savage centerfire bolt-action rifles.
In my sample B22, the Savage AccuTrigger breaks nicely at 2.5 pounds as measured with a Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. It’s adjustable, but I am not messing with this one as it’s perfect.
The flush-fitting, 10-round magazine is the same hybrid, polymer-metal, rotary design Savage uses in its A-Series semi-auto rimfires. It can be difficult to seat a fully loaded magazine on a closed bolt, which is pretty much my only criticism.
A gap in the back of the magazine body fits against a protruding wire in the receiver to secure that end. The front of the magazine has a plastic tab that acts as a spring to click into a shelf at the front of the magazine well and lock that end in place. Pressing back on the tab releases the magazine for removal.
The stock is a futuristic-looking, injection-molded design with a pistol grip that drops at a steep angle to position the shooting hand perfectly. The comb is high for use with optical sights. Recoil is virtually nonexistent in this hefty rifle, so the thick, hard plastic buttpad works fine. Grooves molded into the gripping areas of the stock enhance purchase, and there are front and rear sling swivel studs. Fit and finish are very good.
The B22 FV does not have iron sights and is instead designed to use with a scope. On my test gun I mounted a Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 3X-9X-40mm. The scope has adjustable parallax, which helps with precision shooting at any distance. And make no mistake, as .22 LR firearms go, this one can go the distance. It is one of the most accurate production rimfire rifles I have ever tested. It is capable of minute-of-angle accuracy, which is .5 inch at 50 yards—more than accurate enough to hit a squirrel’s head at that range or take out a prairie dog at double that distance.
I tested three different ammo products in the B22 FV for accuracy and velocity. It’s a hunting rifle, but I included match-grade Remington/Eley ammo to see how it would fare. It averaged .68 inch for three, three-shot groups at 50 yards. The new Federal Premium Hunter Match ammo was the accuracy winner with a group average of .55 inch. This gun is not fussy, and even my old-standby hunting ammo, CCI Stinger, shot well. While the terminal performance of this ammo is legendary, it’s not always the most accurate. In this rifle it averaged .6 inch, beating the target ammo by a slight margin.
The gun had no function issues during the test, and it ran flawlessly. I am impressed with the new Savage B22 FV and have plans to turn it loose on some fixings for Brunswick stew just as soon as the squirrel season opens this fall.
• Type: bolt-action rimfire rifle
• Caliber: .22 LR
• Barrel: 21"; carbon steel; varmint contour; button rifling; 8 grooves, 1:16" RH twist
• Magazine: rotary, detachable box; 10-rnd. capacity
• Trigger: single-stage, user-adjustable AccuTrigger; 2.5-lb. pull weight
• Sights: none; receiver drilled and tapped for bases
• Safety: 2-position tang
• Stock: raised-comb, matte-black, injection-molded polymer; LOP 13.25"
• Metal Finish: matte black
• Overall Length: 39"
• Weight: 6.2 lbs.
• Accessories: factory-installed scope bases
• MSRP: $308
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