AccuStock, Big News from Savage Arms for 2009
Savage Arms introduced one of the most significant advances in the realm of bolt-action firearms in modern times 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 site, or 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 rifle smithing and tedious handwork for many applications. It is the new Savage “AccuStock” system for polymer-composite stocks.
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 will not find many two-piece stocked rifles winning accuracy accolades: a one-piece stock is fundamentally more rigid and generally superior.
Most 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 was not all that long ago that hand bedded stocks were standard procedure from many quality rifle makers. However, that has changed. The industry bet that if they eliminated precise inletting couple 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 bedding and crummy triggers. We don’t get what we just say we want; we get what we vote for with purchase dollars.
A Guns and Shooting Online test compared the accuracy improvement from hand-bedding rifles, among other procedures. While one rifle in particular responded amazingly well, cutting group sizes in half, another rifle given the same care showed a zero percent decrease in group size. This wide dispersion of results makes absolute predictions about “accurizing” a practical impossibility. A proper hand-bedding job never hurts accuracy, it is just the extent to which it directly accounts for more consistency that 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 decrease performance distributions is a continuing goal.
The bedding block style stock has been successful, offered for years by Accurate Innovations in walnut and hardwood laminates and H-S Precision in synthetic composites. What is lacking, of course, is total in-house assembly and quality control for notoriously flexible polymer stocks.
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 superior to aftermarket treatments and hand epoxy bedding. I’d theorize that the real-world benefits of the AccuStock 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 AccuStock system, in my opinion, is the most important innovation for polymer stocks released to the consumer in a very long time and we here at Guns and Shooting Online are looking forward to testing several AccuStock equipped Savage Arms models as they become available.
Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.