The Savage Model 93R17-BTVS Varmint Rifle
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
The 93R17-BTVS is Savage's new for 2006 full-tilt-boogie rimfire varmint rifle, featured on the cover of their 2006 catalog. It is chambered for the .17 HMR cartridge, the hottest rimfire round on the planet, and features a stainless steel barreled action with a heavy barrel and a futuristic looking, brown laminated hardwood, thumbhole stock. This attention getting stock has a straight, rollover comb; the forend is ventilated to assist barrel cooling.
The 93R17-BTVS is also Savage's top of the line rimfire rifle, and the most expensive rimfire rifle that they have ever manufactured (although still a heck of a good buy). It has been an immediate sales success, so much so that Savage has had to increase their forecast three times during its first 6 months of production. That is saying something for the company that is already number two in rimfire rifle sales in North America.
A Model 93 action is the heart of the Savage 93R17-BTVS. This cock on opening design features dual extractors, a fixed blade ejector, and a cocking indicator. The bolt locks closed when a square lug at the root of the bolt handle is turned down into a deep notch in the tubular receiver. Bolt rotation is approximately 90 degrees. The bolt is removed for cleaning or other purposes by simply pulling the trigger all the way rearward and sliding out the bolt.
Cartridges are fed from a removable 5-round box magazine. The two-position safety (rearward is "safe," forward is "fire") is located behind the bolt handle at the right rear of the action.
Perhaps the biggest functional improvement over previous Savage rimfire rifles is the addition of the justly famous AccuTrigger to their 17 series line. This is simply the best factory-built trigger to be had, at any price. It is user adjustable over a range of approximately 2.5-6 pounds and provides a light, clean release without creep or objectionable over-travel. It is also an inordinately safe design, although the only real safety is between the shooter's ears.
To adjust the AccuTrigger, remove the stock and rotate the adjustment spring with the (supplied) trigger adjustment tool. The AccuTrigger has a single adjustment screw and is designed so it cannot be adjusted below the minimum setting. When the trigger spring is at maximum compression the pull weight is maximum; when the spring is at minimum compression the pull weight is minimum. We set the trigger in our test rifle for a pull weight of 2.5 pounds.
The styling of the new stock is anything but subtle, but there are subtle improvements in this rifle. Someone at Savage must be listening (actually, we know that they are!), as the 93R17-BTVS corrects the few complaints we had about our 2005 vintage Savage 93R17-BVSS varmint rifle. The bottom iron is now inletted into (rather than screwed onto) the bottom of the stock and the trigger guard appears to be made of cast metal (rather than plastic). Detachable sling swivels bases are provided, with two studs on the forearm to allow the simultaneous attachment of a sling and bipod. Included with the rifle was a gunlock, scope bases, Instruction Manual, One Year Limited Warrantee, AccuTrigger literature and adjustment tool, and some safety literature. Savage does things right!
Here are the basic specifications for the Savage 93R17-BTVS rifle:
A Mueller Optics 4-16x50mm AO Sport Dot riflescope was installed on the new Savage rifle using the supplied Weaver style bases and Weaver rings. This scope features fully multi-coated optics, 1/8 MOA fingertip adjustments, Mueller's German #4 illuminated Sport dot reticle, and a matte black finish. The view through this scope was sharp and clear, and added to the pleasure of paper punching with the 93R17-BTVS rifle.
Our exotic little Savage test rifle is, of course, chambered for the .17 HMR cartridge. We have previously written so much about this hot little number that it would be redundant to repeat it all here. Suffice to say that the .17 HMR is the highest velocity, flattest shooting, and most accurate rimfire small game and varmint cartridge in the world. Typical factory loaded .17 HMR ammunition spits out a 17 grain varmint bullet at catalog muzzle velocity of around 2550 fps from a rifle barrel (and actually averaged faster in our chronograph testing).
Our testing of the 93R17-BTVS was done at the Izaak Walton gun range south of Eugene, Oregon. This outdoor facility offers target stands at 25, 50, 100, and 200 yards, and solid bench rests from which to shoot. We shot all recorded groups with the rifle nestled in a Caldwell Lead Sled rest.
The shooting for this review was accomplished over a couple of sunny early summer days with clear skies and light, variable winds. As always when reviewing .17 HMR rifles, we tried to shoot between the puffs of wind. The ambient temperature in the shade was in the low-70's (F).
After first bore sighting the rifle, the first shots from the new Savage were fired at 25 yards. Using the scope's adjustments to "walk" the bullets into the "10" ring at 25 yards took about 5 rounds and insured that the rifle would at least hit the paper when we moved back to engage 100 yard targets. At that distance, for testing purposes, the scope was adjusted to put the bullets approximately at the point of aim. (For use in the field it is usually best to sight a .17 HMR varmint rifle to hit about 1.5" high at 100 yards.)
The shooting for record was done at Champion Score Keeper targets at 100 yards. All groups consisted of 5 shots.
The barrel was allowed to cool between shooters, but not between shot strings. It never seemed to get excessively warm despite a considerable amount of shooting, one of the many nice things about .17 HMR varmint rifles in general.
Four brands of ammunition were used: CCI (Speer 17 grain TNT-HP bullet), Federal Premium V-Shok (17 grain Speer TNT-HP bullet), Hornady Varmint Express (Hornady 17 grain V-MAX bullet), and Remington Premier Gold Box (Rem. 17 grain AccuTip-V bullet). We are well aware that this is all high quality ammunition, capable of delivering MOA groups at 100 yards in many rifles. But we also know that all rifles are individuals. To find out this rifle's preferences, the three of us shot groups with all four brands of ammunition with the following results.
AVERAGE GROUP SIZE FOR ALL AMMUNITION = 1.56".
Overall, this rifle seemed to prefer the Speer 17 grain TNT-HP bullet, which is loaded in CCI and Federal ammunition, to the Hornady V-Max bullet loaded in the Remington and Hornady brands. Your 93R17-BTVS may vary.
This time out Bob shot the smallest single 5 shot group using Federal ammunition. Kudos to Bob! On the other hand, he occasionally had a little trouble with the magazine and experienced a failure to feed. Nate and I had no trouble in that regard and gave the new Savage high marks in every department.
Not everyone on the Guns and Shooting Online staff appreciated the aesthetics of the Savage 93R17-BTVS thumbhole stock, but all three of us liked it. The racy looking stock actually proved to be quite functional at the range.
The 93R17-BTVS is heavier than the Savage 93R17-BVSS that we tested last year, but still not a burden to carry in the field if you need to do a little hiking to get where the varmints live. And because it is heavier it is a little steadier when shooting from field positions.
We certainly enjoyed shooting Savage's newest varmint rifle, due both to its intrinsic accuracy and its AccuTrigger. It got three thumbs-up and has to be regarded as a "best buy" (maybe the best buy) in .17 HMR varmint rifles, given its moderate MSRP. Nathan was so enamored of the 93R17-BTVS that he took it home with him and we haven't seen it since. I guess Guns and Shooting Online will be purchasing another Savage rifle!
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
Copyright 2006 by ChuckHawks.com. All rights reserved.
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