Savage Model 12 Long Range Precision Varminter

By Chuck Hawks and Rocky Hays

Savage Model 12 Precision Varminter
Illustration courtesy of Savage Arms

The big news in centerfire varmint rifles for 2006 from Savage Arms was the introduction of the Model 12 Long Range Precision Varminter. Any new Savage varmint rifle is news worthy, as the Company leads the field in the category. And this new rifle is going to make it even tougher on the competition. The Long Range Precision Varminter incorporates all the latest bells and whistles in a heavy bench rest / varmint rifle.

This is a heavy rifle, weighing about 13 pounds complete with scope and mount. And the long, extra heavy barrel makes it very muzzle heavy. Clearly the Long Range Precision Varminter was intended to be fired from a bench rest or bipod and not to be carried any great distance. You'll want to do your varminting with this rifle in the immediate vicinity of your vehicle!

The latest single shot version of the basic Savage 110 bolt action is used in the Long Range Precision Varminter. This action does not have the open top and right hand ejection of the other 12 Series single shot rifles. Instead, the tubular receiver has a small loading / ejection port on its left side. This small port means a very slightly stiffer receiver and the potential for even greater intrinsic accuracy than previous Savage Model 12 rifles. The right bolt, left ejection design makes the rifle easier to load and unload at a bench rest--more on that later. The smooth bolt handle is oversized for easy acquisition. The new safety is a three-position slider mounted on the tang where it is most convenient to operate.

One thing that hasn't changed is Savage's rather awkward system for bolt removal. This requires pulling the trigger fully rearward while depressing a tab at the right rear of the receiver and withdrawing the bolt. These three simultaneous actions are easily accomplished while holding the rifle by anyone with three hands.

Of course, the Long Range Precision Varminter comes with the justly famous Savage AccuTrigger. This trigger is simply the best available in a factory built rifle. The AccuTrigger installed in the Long Range Precision Varminter is user adjustable (an adjustment tool and instructions are provided) for a pull weight of 1.5 to 6 pounds. The trigger in our test rifle broke cleanly at about 2 pounds and we saw no reason to change it.

The stock is a composite synthetic H-S Precision Varmint stock with an aluminum bedding block chassis CNC machined from aircraft quality aluminum alloy for increased rigidity. According to H-S Precision, the outer shell of the stock is a laminate of woven Kevlar, fiberglass cloth, uni-directional carbon fiber epoxy based gel coat and laminating resin. The core of the stock is an injection molded, fiberglass reinforced polyurethane foam. This stock is supplied with detachable sling swivel bases and a black rubber recoil pad. The barreled action is dual pillar bedded.

Savage's unique barrel attachment / headspacing technology is applied to the Long Range Precision Varminter, just as with all other Savage Model 12 Series rifles. This achieves very precise headspacing and we are convinced that it contributes to the outstanding accuracy of these rifles.

Here are the basic specifications for the Savage Model 12 Long Range Precision Varminter:

  • Caliber - .223 Remington (also .204 Ruger and .22-250)
  • Action - Single shot; right hand bolt with left side loading/ejection port
  • Capacity - 1 round
  • Trigger - Savage AccuTrigger
  • Safety - Tang mounted, 3-position
  • Stock - H-S Precision Varmint black synthetic; dual pillar bedding
  • Metal finish - Matte silver stainless steel
  • Barrel - 28", extra heavy contour (1" diameter), rifled with 1 in 9" twist (.223)
  • Sights - None, drilled and tapped for scope bases
  • Overall Length - 46.25"
  • Weight - 11.25 pounds
  • 2006 MSRP - $967

Included in the box with our Model 12 Long Range Precision Varminter rifle was an AccuTrigger adjustment tool, Instruction Manual, warrantee registration card, small Savage catalog, safety pamphlet, flyer promoting the Hunter's Edge Knife, discount NRA membership application, Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Fund business reply card, blank target, gun lock, and a pair of disposable foam earplugs. I looked for, but could not find, a sample of beef jerky.

Our test rifle was supplied with 2-piece Weaver scope bases and we used high Millet rings to mount a Simmons Whitetail Classic 6-18x50mm AO scope. This proved to be a good choice, as the "black granite" finish of the scope nicely complemented the textured finish of the rifle's black synthetic stock. They made a very businesslike combination.

Our test shooting with the Long Range Precision Varminter was done at the Izaak Walton outdoor gun range south of Eugene, Oregon. Regular readers are probably tired of reading descriptions of this facility, which offers covered bench rest shooting positions and target stands at 25, 50, 100, and 200 yards. The summer weather was clear and warm with temperatures running about 80 degrees F and light variable winds that were probably not much of a factor.

All shooting for record was done at 100 yards from a shooting bench using a Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest weighted with two 25 pound bags of lead shot. We used Hoppe's "Crosshair" Sighting Targets and fired 3-shot groups, letting the barrel cool between shooters, but not between shot strings.

During the course of our two days at the range with the big Savage, Guns and Shooting Online staffers Bob Fleck and Gordon Landers assisted us with the shooting. We shot groups for record with four types of ammunition. Two of these were Remington / UMC factory loads, one using a 45 grain JHP bullet at a MV of 3550 fps and the other with a 55 grain MC bullet at a MV of 3240 fps. The other two test loads were reloads. The first reload used a 50 grain Sierra Blitz bullet in front of 26.6 grains of H335 powder for a MV of 3300 fps. The second reload used a 50 grain Hornady V-Max bullet in front of 25.7 grains of H335 for a MV of 3300 fps. Both reloads used Remington brass and CCI 400 primers. Here are the results:

  • Reload, Hornady V-Max 50 grain - Smallest group 1/4"; largest group 13/16"; average group size 0.60".
  • Reload, Sierra Blitz 50 grain - Smallest group 7/8"; largest group 1 1/8"; average group size 0.96"
  • Factory, Rem. / UMC 55 grain - Smallest group 3/8"; largest group 2"; average group size 1.25".
  • Factory, Rem. / UMC 45 grain - Smallest group 1 1/8"; largest group 1 3/4"; average group size 1.46".


This time out Chuck shot the smallest group, a 1/4" cloverleaf with the Hornady V-Max bullet, edging out Bob's outstanding 3/8" group achieved with the Remington / UMC 55 grain factory load. Overall, though, the test rifle showed a definite preference for our reloads, and particularly the Hornady 50 grain V-Max bullet. All groups fired with that bullet measured well under 1 MOA, an outstanding result. Remember that all rifles are individuals, so your Long Range Precision Varminter may prefer a different bullet.

During our time at the range with the big Model 12 we all came to appreciate its left side ejection port. This really simplifies loading and unloading a single shot rifle on a bench rest.

The procedure is simplicity itself. You just take a cartridge out of the box with your left hand and drop it into the loading/ejection port. Slide the bolt forward with your right hand to effortlessly chamber the cartridge. After firing, open the bolt with your right hand and the empty case pops out of the loading/ejection port into your waiting left hand to be put back into the box. Really neat!

Unlike a rifle with a conventional right hand bolt action, you don't have to reach across the top of the rifle and scope to catch the empty brass with your left hand as you open the bolt with your right hand. The Long Range Precision Varminter is definitely more convenient to shoot from a bench rest than the conventional, right hand eject, 12 Series Varmint rifles to which we compared it.

In conclusion, Savage definitely has a winner in their new Model 12 Long Range Precision Varminter. It is a very serious, high quality, bench rest / varmint rifle. The only drawbacks that we could find were its size and weight, and those are intentionally part of the overall package.

It is the most convenient rifle in the line to shoot from a bench rest, and probably the most intrinsically accurate. (That question will be explored further in our comparison of three top line Savage 12 Series varmint rifles on the Product Review Page.) I am sure that the Model 12 Long Range Precision Varminter will further enhance the reputation of Savage rifles as "The Definition of Accuracy."


  • Make and Model: Savage Model 12 Long Range Precision Varminter
  • Type: Heavy Varmint Rifle
  • Action: Bolt, single shot
  • Stock: Black composite synthetic
  • Caliber Reviewed: .223 Remington
  • Best Features: Right hand bolt with left hand ejection; AccuTrigger; Tang safety; Precise headspacing; Extreme accuracy; Outstanding bench rest rifle
  • Worst Features: Very long, very heavy rifle; Muzzle heavy; 3-piece bolt; Bolt removal system
  • Overall Grade: B (Good)

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