Savage 220F 20 Gauge Slug Gun Performance

By Randy Wakeman

Savage Model 220F 20 Gauge
Photo by Randy Wakeman.

Following my initial Guns and Shooting Online review, I've received a large amount of correspondence about Savage's new, popular, rifle-actioned slug gun. To get the most out of your new Savage 220F, there are a few things you might wish to consider. Scope mounting can be tricky on a long-actioned rifle with the trend towards lighter, short and stubby scopes. If you use the EGW one piece rail, you can mount most any scope, including Aimpoint / Red Dot and EOTech / Holosight genre sights. Further, with most scopes with 44mm objectives or smaller, you can use Warne Maxima �short� rings, either the Permanent or Quick-Release style.


All sabot-shooting guns are sensitive to barrel heating. Make sure you have a cold barrel between shots if you want the best accuracy. If you can feel heat coming off your barrel, it is too hot.


If you think you have accuracy problems, like all rifles, optics issues have to be ruled out. If your scope has reticle float, you're likely going to be wasting your time. That old scope may not be holding its zero and that bubble-packed bargain scope may not be in your best interest to mount.


Savage Arms is not in the ammunition business, so when Savage recommends loads there is one consideration: they want you to save time and get the most out of your rifle. Savage suggests Federal Barnes Tipped Expander shells and Remington AccuTip saboted slugs. If you haven't tried the Savage 220F suggested ammunition, mentioned on the 220F hang-tag that ships with your rifle, you have not tested your rifle. All rifles are individuals, whatever one rifle likes is what that individual rifle likes, so you still have to do a bit of test and trial. I had the best results with 3 inch Federal Barnes Tipped Expander rounds, followed by Winchester Partition Gold 3 inch shells. Your mileage may vary, as you aren't shooting my 220F and I've never so much as seen yours. As new saboted loads come along, if I find something that yields excellent results for me, I'll report them.


With a cool barrel, reliable optics, a steady rest and reasonable range conditions, you should have good results. Slug guns tend to shoot better dirty, the sabot is a wiper. Sure, I clean them after shooting, but never between shots.


Haste makes waste, just like every year, so the last thing you want to do it wait until a few days before season opener to start sighting-in your rifle and your search for the best load. It happens every year, but the old saying that lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part applies.

If you have exhausted all reasonable remedies and still aren't happy, don't be afraid to send your rifle to Savage Arms for inspection. They can't inspect it over the phone, they can't target it over the phone, so back to Savage it goes. They turn them quickly, typically within a couple of weeks after receipt. That's why you bought a Savage.

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Copyright 2010 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.