Starting a savage bolt custom build, where do i start?


August 5, 2012, 01:48 AM
So I'm parting with my trusty honda shadow and funding a bench gun and I've chosen savage.

Now I've bought and sold many guns and I hate to just buy this and then sell it because I don't like it and it doesn't fit my needs. So what savage do I start my build?


My local club range only has 300 yards but I'd like to shoot to 600 - punching paper only and if I ever get the chance: shooting varmints at long range, like p dogs but this will be super rare!
Caliber: 223 or 308. Plans to go to 6.5 Creedmore "sometime"
I already own a stevens 200 308 that is my hunting rifle, no plans on modifying it
Factory stock will be fine until i can afford better, trying not to rush this.
I do reload

Optics plan:

Vortex Viper HS from midway ( (Midway exlcusive)

Stock plan:

Either get the HS precision from savage pre done or go to a bell and carlson or chaote aftermarket.

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vegas steve
August 5, 2012, 12:22 PM
go with the stevens 200. get a .243 win if you can. this a very versitle caliber and you can have alot of fun with it while you save up for your upgrades. i have built several tack driving precision guns from the stevens action. all they are is a savage model 10 without the accutrigger(which is horrible anyways,at least to me) . order a high quality prefitted barrel from shilen,shaw,ect. and go with the bell and carlson tactical medalist stock,or the choate tactical.these two stocks are the best bang for the buck as an upgrade to the factory tupperware stock. i myself can rework the factory old school savage trigger to be much better than an accutrigger so i never pay the extra for the savage receiver over the stevens.if you can't rework triggers go with the rifle basix sav2 trigger,it is a great upgrade and is very adjustable to fit your needs.whichever way you go stay with a savage as they are the most changeable do it yourself guns on the market today. not too many brands out there that you can change the bolt face in minutes or change to a tactical bolt handle without any machine's also very easy to change and headspace new barrels at will in your own home.i myself will never shoot anything else. i have a .243 build that uses an e r shaw heavy barrel from brownells with a stevens action and a choate tactical that shoots very well,(shoots consistent .300 or less groups @ 200 yrds with handloads and only a 16x scope). i have shot a best so far of .154 5 shot group at 100 yds. with this budget rig.

August 5, 2012, 12:28 PM
Id start with the Stevens. Long action so you can re chamber to any cartridge you like, your not wasting money on the accutrigger that you will probably trash down the line anyway, and the same with the stock.

August 5, 2012, 12:28 PM
I have yet to see a benchrest competitor using a Savage action.

August 5, 2012, 12:33 PM
I use a stock savage 10fp with a nightforce 5-5-22-x-56 and I am taking shots up to 880 yards on a steel plate.
I as well think I am the only shooter at my club using a savage.

Rollis R. Karvellis
August 5, 2012, 12:44 PM
1) I, just stopped chewing tobacco so anything food related win's.
2) Last time I, was at the Sidney Cabela's, they had a bunch of used Savege bench gun's, so maybe this would be the better route for now.

August 5, 2012, 08:25 PM
I have yet to see a benchrest competitor using a Savage action.

Well I'm not going to competition but I can't afford accuracy international with nightforce but I can afford a $20 wrench and some headspace gauges. Besides I'm not going to win any competition anyway even if I did have some higher end gun, I'm just looking for something fun to shoot at my local club and in the woods when I get a chance to get out of Seattle.

Besides, you didn't recommend a gun to me anyway.

Id start with the Stevens. Long action so you can re chamber to any cartridge you like, your not wasting money on the accutrigger that you will probably trash down the line anyway, and the same with the stock.

I really want to start with a long action also but that limits my availability for stocks significantly. Even the bell and carlson medalist series that was recommended doesn't carry that in a long action. Thanks for the recommendation of the accutrigger though. I did find a replacement that goes down further in pounds for only $100.

go with the stevens 200. get a .243 win

I saw a aftermarket stocked savage .243 at the gunshow yesterday for only $600. I had to pass because I don't want another caliber now. I'd like to be able to load up with the components I have for a caliber I already have dies for. I know .243 will hold up better past 300 yards but I choose not to afford .243 when I have .223 and .308 already available. I'd have to see some very convincing arguments for me to switch immediately at the beginning to .243.

Thanks for the replies. It looks like the 26" varmint barrel is winning so far. To bad savage only offers the .223 in a 1:12 twist and not a 1:9 or 1:8.

August 5, 2012, 08:43 PM
Love me some tacos.:)

August 5, 2012, 08:46 PM
I have yet to see a benchrest competitor using a Savage action.

OP, if I were spending your money, here's where I would start:
12FV, 26" 1:9 twist 223 with Accutrigger. Stock is crap IMO, but serviceable. As funds permit, you can swap the stock for an A2 Medalist (I recommend Red Hawk Rifles, cheapest prices on the net).

Here is my is a 12FV takeoff barrel on a 110 long action, with original long action .378 bolt head, in an unbedded McMillan A5 stock with CDI long action/308 mag box DBM with EGW 20MOA base and your preferred Vortex Viper HS 5-15x44 scope.

Despite the creepy factory 3-screw trigger that needs fine tuning or replacement, it puts five shots of Hornady 75gr HPBT with 24.0gr Varget into 0.5MOA or less at 200yd and is very accurate on steel to 650yd if I don't screw up the wind call. Best group to date is 5 shots into 1/4" @ 100yd, and I believe I'm the limiting factor in accuracy - not the rifle.

Same barrel put 10 rounds of 75gr A-Max with 24.5gr Varget into 0.6" @ 100yd, and I ran out before doing testing at 200yd. Not too shabby from a factory takeoff barrel that I bought used with unknown round count...

Personally, I wouldn't let long action stock options stop you if that's what you want. Sharp Shooter Supply sells a fairly inexpensive kit that allows you to use a short action .378 bolt head in a long action, you can get "tactical-style" LA stocks from Choate or laminate stocks from Boyds, or spend the coin and get a Manners or McMillan (you'll have 16 weeks from order to save). Stockade is a less expensive option, and you can always order a custom benchrest stock from SSS.

Red Cent
August 5, 2012, 09:06 PM

Why a long action with a 223?

Why a 1/9 for the heavy bullets?

August 5, 2012, 10:13 PM

Why a long action with a 223?

Why *not* a long action with a 223? <grin>

Seriously though...long story short, that action belonged to my first centerfire rifle that I got on my 11th birthday. After more than a decade of teenage neglect, the barrel was pitted and the stock had swelled, and I couldn't get ANYTHING to shoot better than about 1.5" @ 100yd. So I decided I'd use the action for a build that I shoot a lot, and I shoot quite a bit more 223 than I do 260.

There's also a novelty factor of having a LA 223...

Why a 1/9 for the heavy bullets?

Once you get beyond about 300yd, 55gr and lighter bullets start getting blown around quite a bit in the wind, and you typically can't stabilize heavier, higher BC bullets in a 1:12 barrel. Savage's standard 223 twist is the 1:9 and it shoots 68-77gr bullets very well; I primarily shoot the 75gr HPBT because 1. they're cheap, 2. their BC is higher than a 68/69gr bullet, 3. they shoot well in the barrel, and 4. they're cheap. The 75gr A-Max has marginal stability in a 1:9 barrel, but if they work, their higher BC cuts the wind even better.

August 5, 2012, 10:31 PM
I aint done much to my Stevens 200 7mm-08 but add a new Boyds walnut stock, a little bedding work and it shoots dime groups at 100, will outshoot friends high dollar rifles.

vegas steve
August 5, 2012, 10:53 PM
I have yet to see a benchrest competitor using a Savage action.
to the gentleman that posted this:you need to get out to more bench rest matches. savages are tearing up the meets nowdays,especially the stock and f classes.

August 6, 2012, 02:14 AM
Do you guys know about the Savage Target Action and AccuTrigger? ( They are becoming more popular and are a big step up from the lower level actions and triggers. There are actually 3 levels of AccuTriggers. The target version is the best one by a big margin. The action and trigger costs more than most Savage rifles. You can buy this setup on certain models of Savage rifles and in the past other models had this level of quality.

As for the fact that benchrest shooters don't use these actions that has more to do with gunsmiths being established with working with certain setups. They are slow to change because change means lots of work and money for testing. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel they stick with what they know works. And there are certainly better actions available. But that isn't what the OP asked about. He said he wanted a Savage setup and there are good reasons for choosing that. You can get a lot of accuracy for less money than it takes to build a top of the line bench gun.

For the record certain models of the .223 12 LRPV came with the target action and trigger at one point. Mine has it. You can tell them by the red center blade on the trigger. IMO that's an excellent place to start. You get a 26" barrel which the people at the Savage board like more than any other Savage barrel because it is balanced better. At least they did when I bought mine about 2-3 years ago. I haven't been on that board for a while. That rifle has a left port, right bolt setup that is a pure pleasure IMO. It's so easy to load the rifle it's amazing. It is a single shot BTW which is certainly a plus for bench work or varmint work. They come with either a 1:7 twist or a 1:9 twist both of which can work with bullets up to about 75 gr. but the 1:7 can go heavier (longer actually) of course.

I have no problems doing 500 yards with mine but that's the limit at my gun club. I hope to be joining a club that has a 600 yard range soon.

To give you an idea what kind of accuracy I get with a good load I will mention the Shoot N See target someone had put up at about 400 yards at the range. I shot at it 3 times. One shot missed the bull by about an inch. The other 2 were dead center in the bull. That was with Black Hills 52 gr. ammo on a very still day. If the wind is blowing those lighter bullets will be all over the place. I usually shoot 69-75 gr. bullets and always Black Hills. I have yet to find anything else that comes close to working as well.

I am not going to claim I can shoot that well all the time. Far from it. But if I have a good batch of ammo and the wind is low I can shoot a 2" group pretty often. That 3 shot groups I described above is the best string I've ever put together in fact. But I have nailed 2" targets at a rate of maybe 5 out of 7. The rifle is so easy to shoot it really makes me look a lot better than I am. It just doesn't bounce around from nervous energy and it will fire bullets consistently. That's about all we can ask of any rifle.

I usually don't mention actual group sizes because it only leads to problems on a board like this. I really am not doing anything except pointing the rifle and pulling the trigger.

BTW that trigger can be adjusted down to about 4 oz. but it will flip the sear block as soon as you push the bolt down pretty much every time if you set it that low. I can't get mine below about 10 oz. without problems. There are better triggers a person can buy. SSS is great when it comes to setting up Savages but expect to wait almost 2 years to get your rifle back if you send it to them. And they don't work cheap. Still their results are said to be really good. I wouldn't know for sure myself. I'm just repeating what I've heard on the Savage board.

vegas steve
August 6, 2012, 02:01 PM

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