Savage Impulse Straight Pull Bolt Gun

The Boar Buster rifle should live up to its name.

Savage has a long history of producing rugged reliable and accurate rifles. They have manufactured military wares and in general become a well respected American icon. Their latest may be the best rifle yet from Savage. The Impulse is a straight pull rifle. That is enough to get your attention. The rifle also features a solid optics rail adjustable trigger and adjustable stock. There must be a compelling reason to adopt this rifle. It is pricier than a comparable bolt action rifle. The bolt action rifle offers is reliable and more accurate than any other type of rifle action on average. A straight pull would have to have commanding advantages to offset the extra cost. The Savage Impulse does that and the advantages are indeed commanding in some areas. Advantages include speed of follow up shots and the ability to mount a scope low without concern for bolt throw and angle. But that isn’t the only advantage of the Impulse over other rifles. The bolt may be changed easily from left to right hand operation!

A straight pull rifle is similar in design and lockup to a turn bolt action rifle. The difference is that the action of the bolt is linear. With one straight pull to the rear the bolt unlocks ejects a cartridge and unlocked. Press the bolt forward and a cartridge is rammed into the chamber and the rifle is locked up again. There is less motion with the straight pull rifle. A trained shooter may keep their eye on the target and deliver fire quickly with the straight pull rifle.  A competitive straight pull rifle must be affordable, reliable, accurate, strong, and have traditional American styling rather than European styling to be successful in the American hunting market. The Savage Impulse rifle does all of that and came to the market with thirteen patents.

The rifle looks somewhat like the comparable Savage Model 110 or Model 10. (A 110 is a long action rifle the 10 is a short action rifle.) The most innovative feature is the massive bolt.  This is a strong bolt designed for fast action in an aluminum receiver. The bolt head features six stainless steel ball bearings for lockup. The bolt head locks up with the patented HexLock bolt head.  Six stainless steel ball bearings take the place of locking lugs. These stainless steel ball bearings extend outward to lock the Hexlock bolt in place. The Hexlock bearings  respond to chamber pressure and lock even more solidly as the rifle is fired. After pressure drops after firing the Hexlock ball bearings drop back into place and allow the straight pull bolt to move smoothly to the rear and then forward again. The bolt head features a lever that may be actuated to unlock and remove the bolt head for easy cleaning and access to the firing pin.

But that isn’t all- the Savage Impulse rifle may be adjusted for bolt throw and angle and it may even be changed from right side to left side pull without difficulty by simply turning the bolt handle over to the opposite side. This is fantastic engineering and it works well in practice. A cover plate and covering sleeve are part of the bolt design. During administrative a bolt release button unlocks the bolt.  A lever mounted on the left of the receiver allows the bolt to be removed easily for cleaning and inspection.

The rifle will be available in both long action and short action configurations depending on the caliber. The Impulse rifle barrel is the same button rifled barrel used in other Savage rifles. The Impulse barrel is threaded for a suppressor or muzzle break. The barrel extension is specific to the Impulse. I have always felt the Savage locknut design is among the strongest of rifle designs with plenty of accuracy potential. There isn’t a separate optics rail but a tough integral optic mounting rail.  The rifle features the AccuTrigger a feature copied by about everyone in the business. The trigger may be set for a light touch and remain safe as the trigger features a blade type safety lever.

The AccuStock is a great feature that allows fitting the rifle to the shooter. Length of pull is easily set. The AccuStock features both riser and spacer inserts. They are not difficult to set and adjust. Short medium and tall shooters will find a happy spot with the AccuStock. My rifle is the .308 caliber Hog Hunter with 18 inch barrel. Other calibers including 6.5 Creedmoor, .30-06 and .300 Winchester Magnum are offered.

The Savage Impulse was accurate and reliable with a wide range of loads.

Here are the particulars of the rifle:

  • Type: Straight­pull, bolt action
  • Cartridge: .308 Winchester
  • Capacity: 4 rds. (.308 Win.)
  • Barrel: Carbon steel, heavy contour, threaded muzzle (5⁄8-24); 18 in., 1:10-in. RH-twist rifling
  • Overall Length: 39.75 in.
  • Weight: 8 lbs., 6 oz.
  • Stock: Savage AccuStock; molded polymer and aluminum; adjustable comb height and length of pull
  • Trigger: Savage AccuTrigger, adjustable; 3 ­lbs tested
  • Sights:  20-MOA integral rail SIG Buckmaster scope fitted

I evaluate a good number of firearms. I keep an affordable but useful optic or two on hand for certain chores. I mounted the SIG Buckmaster 3 x 12 x 40. The scope has worked for me in a number of applications. Next I collected a variety of loads including a good number of handloads to wring the rifle out.

The Savage Impulse was easily sighted in. I began working over the targets at 50 yards. The rifle is fast very fast to operate. I was able to shoulder the rifle, get on target, get a hit, and then snap the bolt quickly and fire again. Don’t baby the bolt and work it slowly. Fire, work the bolt aggressive to eject the spent round, and slap the bolt back in place. The operation is fast and smooth. Bring an open palm back bringing the bolt to the rear. Let the ejected case fly as you use the heel of the hand to quickly press the bolt forward. This makes for fast shooting. Robustness and solid lockup of a bolt action rifle are combined with real speed. I like the Savage Impulse a great deal.

Moving to firing the rifle off the benchrest I used several loads from Hornady Manufacturing. When sighting in the rifle in during the initial wring out I fired several groups at fifty yards that put three shots into a single ragged hole. Moving to a long 100 yards the rifle continued to deliver. I like to sight the rifle for an inch high at 100 yards. This seems ideal for deer and hog hunting providing a little stretch past 100 yards. The 168 grain Hornady loading put three shots into .9 inch. Several loads grouped into 1.2 to 1.24 inch. Federal’s loads also delivered excellent results. While the Boar Hunter configuration is designed for relatively short range use the rifle is accurate enough for medium game to 200 yards with a rifleman behind the scope.

It also struck me that the Impulse will be viable for tactical use. Accuracy is plenty for any use inside of 200 yards. No matter the firing position the straight pull bolt doesn’t interfere with the scope and there is no wrist turning or special effort to work the work. Straight to the rear and straight back and very fast. The Savage Impulse has a bright future.

248 Shooter
Charles is the editor for 248 Shooter a midwest based gun news and gear review site as well as Online Content Director for On Target Magazine. He is an avid student taking classes from top tier trainers around the country. Charles shares his love for training as well as experience and opinions on some of the most talked about gear and products used by competitive shooters, military, leo and civilians.