Savage Model 11 Lightweight Hunter 7mm-08 Rifle
Introduced at the January 2011 Shot Show in Las Vegas, as part of Savage Arms growing Specialty Series of rifles, was the new Lightweight Hunter. It shaves a full 1.5 pounds off the equivalent Model 14 American Classic, one of my favorite hunting rifles. The Lightweight Hunter shipped to me for review, at my request, is chambered in 7mm-08 Remington and its published specifications are as follows.
· SKU: 19207
· Caliber: 7mm-08 Rem.
· Rate of Twist: 1 in 9.5"
· Barrel Length: 20"
· Overall Length: 40.25"
· Approx. weight: 5.5 lbs
· Capacity: 4 rounds
· 2011 MSRP: $875.00
Savage accomplished exactly what they set out to do, as the Model 11 7mm-08 weighs five pounds, nine and one-half ounces with scope bases and detachable box magazine installed, according to my Lyman electronic scale. The Lightweight Hunter is also available in .260 Remington, .308 Winchester, .243 Winchester, 223 Remington and 6.5mm Creedmoor.
Savage used several techniques to remove the weight, most a matter of aggressive machining away of extraneous metal. The barrel is two inches shorter, the bolt has a deep “Twizzler” licorice style of spiral fluting and the action frame itself has multiple lightening machined relief areas. The forearm of the oil-finished American walnut stock is aggressively populated from beneath with lightening slots. The trigger guard is techno-polymer, with the new style bolt release nestled at its front. This rifle also features the industry-leading Accu-Trigger and the new, smooth barrel nut.
The factory test target, fire on June 22, 2011, showed a 1.3 inch group at 100 yards using Winchester 140 grain Ballistic Silvertip ammo. After mounting a 3-9x40mm Bushnell Elite 3200 scope, I started with the ammo I hunted with last year, Hornady Superformance GMX 139 grain (#80576). It shot into an inch at 100 yards with the first three shots and continued to do so for as long as I cared to shoot. Wearing a thin t-shirt on a hot day, that wasn't very long.
While the 7mm-08 is not particularly abusive in a standard weight rifle, there is no getting past physics. Dropping the weight by slightly over twenty percent increases recoil commensurately, just as you would expect, despite the extremely well-fitted Pachmayr Decelerator pad that is factory installed on the Lightweight Hunter.
This rifle is far more accurate than needed for big game hunting and does exactly what it is supposed to do, shed weight without any tangible, real-world performance loss. It is a strikingly handsome rifle, helped in this instance by the gorgeous piece of American black walnut used for the stock. When you test a rifle that is this nicely done and performs this well, you cannot help but buy it for yourself, which is exactly what I did. For a paper pounding target rifle, naturally you would look to other models in the Savage line. The Lightweight hunter clearly is not supposed to be a dedicated paper-puncher. For an attractive, lightweight, easy-handling hunting rifle, however, the Model 11 Lightweight Hunter should satisfy almost anyone.
Copyright 2011, 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.