Big News from Savage Arms for 2009

One of the most significant advances in the realm of bolt-action firearms in modern times was introduced by Savage Arms at this year's SHOT show in Orlando, Florida. It is not a specific gun, nor is it another esoteric recoil pad, mythically revolutionary light-pipe sight, or a new plastic coating as has been an annual trend. What it is a new platform for making accurate, affordable rifles as a factory item-- relieving the necessity for custom riflesmithing and tedious hand-work for many applications. It is the new Savage "Accu-Stock" system.

A little background is in order. For many years, out of the box accuracy has been the holy grail of center-fire rifles. There are many components to accuracy of course, but proper integration of the barreled action to the stock is a vital one. You won't find many two piece stocked rifles of years past (or today) winning accuracy accolades: a one-piece stock is fundamentally more rigid and generally superior. Most all rifles can be improved, of course, or at least "changed." Those with a sincere interest in these matters like are conversant with Mic McPherson's "Accurizing The Factory Rifle," the standard reference work on the matter. There may be issues with barrels, actions, triggers, and other components as well to be sure-- but the stock has been ignored for too long by too many. It wasn't all that long ago that hand bedded stocks were standard procedure from many quality riflemakers. But that has changed, in large measure. The industry bet that if they eliminated precise inletting coupled with hand bedding from their production rifles, few people would notice. They were right, of course. Internal inletting and hand bedding is not something you can appreciate from glancing at a rifle on a rack, so other marketing brags became easier to implement. When it comes down to it, though, in the minds of many, "Only accurate rifles are interesting," as noted by Col. Whelen.

The challenge of course it to make this premise a reality in terms of availability and affordability. We all have our own notions of accuracy, of course. Most of us want it, but not enough to pay for it in terms of not just the rifle but scope, rings, mounts, and ammunition. So it goes with stocks; few of us have all of our firearms hand-worked to a high level. In two recent triple-tests of "premium rifles," I was a bit dismayed at the obviously poor wood-to-metal fits, lack of proper barrel floating, and crummy triggers in several cases. We don't get what we just say we want, we get what we demand and vote for with purchase dollars.

A G & S Online test compared the accuracy improvement from hand-bedding rifles, among other procedures. While one rifle in particular responded amazingly well, cutting groups sizes in half - - - another rifle given the same care showed a zero percent increase in group size. It is this wide dispersion of results that makes absolute predictions about "accurizing" a practical impossibility. A proper hand-bedding job never hurts accuracy, it is just the extent to which it can directly account for more consistency which remains an open question.

To the extent that a barreled action can more around in its stock, accuracy is at peril. The distribution of the variables can quickly dissolve into a myriad web of mathematics and statistical predictions that if not making your head spin, are at the least very dry reads. The "normal distribution of data" is not something typically connected to firearms. Nevertheless, all rifles are individuals and to the extent that performance distributions can be tightened and shrunk from what is sought is a continuing goal.

The bedding block style stock has been successful, offered by H-S Precision and others for $340 or so in times past. What is lacking, of course, is total in-house assembly and quality control, with final fitting and perhaps bedding left to the consumer or perhaps a riflesmith to get it completely right. The recoil lug area is normally not properly addressed, nor could it be.

What Savage Arms has sought here is total integration of barreled action, recoil lug, and stock that retains its integrity and rigidity regardless of conditions with precise metal-to-metal fit throughout the system. Savage feels it is both superior to aftermarket treatments and even hand glas-bedding. I'd theorize that the real-world benefits of the Accu-Stock will be more obviously realized with the hotter cartridges and longer actions, or both-which, as a matter of course are under greater stress during use and can benefit from greater rigidity.

True custom rifle quality and performance at an affordable price, right out of the box is a lofty goal. The Accu-Stock system, in our opinion, is the most important innovation released to the consumer in a very long time-and we are looking forward to testing several Accu-Stock equipped Savage Arms models with a critical eye as they become available.


Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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