Savage Model 16FSS Weather Warrior
By Chuck Hawks and Nathan Rauzon
Friend and Guns and Shooting Online Technical Assistant Nathan Rauzon ran across a deal on a brand new Savage Arms Model 16FSS Weather Warrior at a local gun shop that he just couldn't resist. He had been impressed by my Savage Model 12 Varminter Low Profile rifle and was looking for an AccuTrigger Savage in .22-250 to use as an all-around varmint and predator rifle. And there, marked down on a Holiday Special gun rack (10 shopping days until Christmas!), was his new Savage, beckoning to him.
Needless to say, he closed the deal on the spot. Included with the rifle were the usual assortment of warning tags, an owner's manual, warrantee registration cards, and an AccuTrigger adjustment tool.
The 2004 Savage Arms catalog says this about the main features of their Weather Warrior series:
". . . Savage offers the Weather Warrior, a rifle tough enough for any conditions. It starts with a stainless steel action and barrel for maximum corrosion resistance. The barreled action is dual pillar bedded into a synthetic stock impervious to moisture. Savage's revolutionary AccuTrigger lets you safely set pull weight just the way you want it. This diverse line includes left-hand models in both short and long actions."
Other notable features include a three-position tang mounted safety, smooth bolt knob, and black synthetic magazine follower. The AccuTrigger is adjustable from about 2.5 to 6 pounds on this model.
The test rifle came with its trigger set close to the maximum setting. Nathan lowered the pull weight to a clean 2.5 pounds, using the supplied AccuTrigger adjustment tool.
The Savage AccuTrigger is a breakthrough for which Savage Arms deserves all the credit they have received. The AccuTrigger is simply the best trigger assembly available on a mass produced rifle.
The lightweight black synthetic stock is well shaped in the modern classic style. The fluted comb is high and straight, intended for use with a telescopic sight. It is finished with a point checkering pattern that helps break up the blandness of the synthetic stock and improves the grip. The black plastic pistol grip cap bears a Savage logo and the butt pad is black rubber. Studs for detachable sling swivels are included.
Like practically all injection molded plastic stocks, this version has too much flex. It is easy to twist or bend the forearm so that it touches the barrel on either side by applying a moderate amount of lateral pressure. Shooting this rifle with a tight sling is likely to change the point of impact.
Here are the basic specifications of the Model 16FSS Weather Warrior test rifle:
The Savage 110 action coupled with the extremely accurately headspacing permitted by the unique Savage barrel attachment system have long been noted for superior accuracy. The rigid action is machined from bar stock and dual pillar bedded. The barrel is free floating for its entire length.
The plastic forearm was touching the left side of the barrel when Nathan purchased the rifle. Removing the barreled action from the stock is a simple matter of unscrewing two convenient Allan head bolts. We did so, and reinstalled it with the barrel centered in its channel. No big deal.
As with all Savage 110 actions, to remove the bolt the operator must simultaneously pull the trigger and press down on the cocking indicator/bolt release at the right rear of the action. This two step procedure is more awkward than it needs to be.
Another quibble about pre-2005 models is the lack of a hinged magazine floorplate. This is usually of little consequence at the range, but makes unloading a rifle in the field considerably slower. Any cartridges remaining in the magazine at the end of the day must be cycled through the action to unload the rifle. At least the 3-position safety allows this to be done with the safety in the middle ("ON") position. This deficiency was corrected in 2005 with the introduction of a convenient, detachable box magazine in Savage Weather Warrior rifles.
The only big improvement that I would suggest would be to offer this rifle with a brown laminated hardwood stock of similar shape and greater stiffness. This would look better and further increase the rifle's accuracy potential. It would also add perhaps a pound of additional weight, improving the rifle's balance, making it steadier to shoot from unsupported positions, and reducing recoil. I am not suggesting discontinuing the present model, just offering customers another option.
Nathan mounted a Visiontac 6-24x42mm AO scope in Burris rings and Weaver bases on the Savage Model 16 rifle. This inexpensive scope is 16" long and comes with target knobs and 1/8 MOA fingertip click adjustments, fully multi-coated lenses, an adjustable objective for parallax correction from 50-300 yards, traditional (slow) American eyepiece focus, and (like most hunting scopes) a knock-off of the Leupold Duplex reticle.
The optimum eye relief is 3", sufficient for a .22-250 but marginal for most big-game calibers. Eye position is fairly critical; the eye must be well centered behind the scope to see the best quality image. The adjustable objective did successfully eliminate parallax and the markings on the lens barrel (in both feet and meters) seemed to be accurate. The windage and elevation adjustments were also reasonably accurate, better than I expected from such a low priced scope. The zoom ring did what it was supposed to do.
The optics are inferior in both resolution and contrast to the 3.8-12x44mm AO Simmons AETEC, 6-18x50mm AO Bushnell Banner, and 8.5-25x50mm AO Mueller Eraticator varmint scopes reviewed earlier this year for Guns and Shooting Online, but were satisfactory for our purposes at the range. We did most of our shooting with the scope set at about 16x, which seemed to provide the best available view of the target.
After mounting and bore sighting the scope, we were anxious to get to the range to shoot the new rifle. The Savage Weather Warrior was test fired for this article during two chilly and overcast range sessions. The ambient air temperature was about 40 degrees F. Fortunately, there was practically no wind on either day.
Factory loaded ammunition used for testing included Winchester/USA 45 grain JHP (MV 4000 fps) and Hornady Varmint Express 55 grain V-Max (MV 3680 fps) varmint hunting fodder. The shooting was done from a bench rest at Outers 100 yard rifle targets.
The first thing Nathan and I noticed at the range was how slick the Savage fed single cartridges from the magazine. There is noticeably less resistance than with most bolt action rifles when the bolt feeds a cartridge from the magazine. I suspect that the synthetic follower has something to do with this.
After initially zeroing the rifle at 25 yards, we moved back to 100 yards (actually closer to 100 meters at the Isaac Walton outdoor range outside of Eugene, Oregon) to shoot some groups, confident that we would at least be on the paper. All groups consisted of three shots. We used a Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest for the bench rest testing. The barrel was allowed to cool between shot strings.
The Winchester/USA "white box" ammunition with the light 45 grain bullet at 4,000 fps achieved groups that consistently ran 1" to 1 1/4" regardless of who did the shooting. Typical groups showed two bullets very close to each other with the third about an inch lower.
The Hornady 55 grain V-Max bullets consistently shot the smallest and most regular groups. The largest was about 1 1/16" (mine) and the smallest only 5/8" (Nathan's), with the average group measuring about 3/4" center to center. The groups with the Hornady ammunition almost always formed small equilateral triangles. Very pretty.
Due to cumulative manufacturing tolerances all rifles are individuals. This one clearly preferred the Hornady Varmint Express ammunition. Function was 100% with no problems encountered.
Nathan and I gave the Savage Model 16FSS Weather Warrior two thumbs up. The accuracy of modern Savage rifles, centerfire and muzzleloading, continues to amaze me. They really live up to their motto, "The definition of accuracy."
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
Copyright 2004, 2011 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.