Savage Impulse: A Tough Rifle to Love

By Randy Wakeman

Photo by Randy Wakeman.

Over the years, I'd had tremendous enjoyment and success hunting and shooting Savage Arms rifles. Whether a Savage 110 / 10 in .270 or 7mm-08, their 220 20 gauge slug guns, or the 10ML-II muzzleloader, Savage Arms has delivered superbly well with their bolt action rifles. Along the way, it is hard not to appreciate the many Savage Arms innovations and refinements, including the AccuTrigger of 2003, the AccuStock rail, and the Savage AccuFit system.

That brings us to the straight-pull Savage “Impulse Big Game” which I have in 6.5 Creedmoor. Some of the factory published specs follow.

SKU Number 57647

MSRP $1,449.00

Barrel Color Hazel Green

Barrel Finish Cerakote

Barrel Length (in)/(cm) 22 / 55.880

Barrel Material Carbon Steel

Caliber 6.5 CREEDMOOR

Magazine Capacity 4

Length of Pull (in)/(cm)

12.75 - 13.75 / 32.385 Magazine

Detachable Box Magazine Overall Length (in)/(cm) 43.5 / 110.490

Rate of Twist (in) 1 in 8

Receiver Color Hazel Green

Receiver Finish Cerakote

Receiver Material Aluminum

Stock Material Synthetic

Weight (lb)/(kg) 8.8 / 3.99

Unloaded and unscoped, my example weighs in at a porky 9 lbs., 6 oz. It isn't what I could call well-balanced at all, for it is extremely front heavy. Though certainly affordable compared to a Blaser R8, it is still hefty in price compared to conventional bolt actions, at $1449 MSRP. All this for what, exactly? Certainly, the tooling and extra machining of the steel ball enhanced bolt makes the price justifiable, but it still far too heavy to enjoy walking and climbing with. That means hunting with, as far as I'm concerned.

You can get into a Savage 110 with an AccuStock for about half the price, while several Savage bolt guns are far less costly. The Wal*Mart Savage 110 Hunter XP with installed scope is $628 MSRP. A Savage Axis XP with included and installed scope is $459 MSRP.

Certainly, there is a market for faster-cycling bolt action rifles where semi-autos and pumps are prohibited, but that is not the case at all in the United States. Speaking only for myself, if it was volume coyote or hog duty, I'd quickly grab my Mini-14 or my AR, losing weight, enjoying quicker follow-up shots, and less recoil due to gas operation. After several successful moose, pronghorn, and caribou hunts with a .270 Browning BAR Mark II Safari I felt that the BAR was a bit too heavy, and have stuck with bolt actions for the most part ever since. Yet, that BAR is well over a pound lighter than this Impulse. The BAR MK III (alloy receiver) in .270 is a full two pounds lighter than the Impulse yet shoots like a pillow. 

Part of the newly manufactured hyperbole of a straight-pull rifle is talk of driven hog shoots. Popular in Germany and throughout Europe, this often entails being escorted to your peg, and waiting for the dogs and beaters to drive the sub-200 pound pigs, perhaps with some fox and raccoon, past you. Most of the shooting is inside fifty yards. Pump and semi-auto rifles are often either frowned upon or prohibited. 

In the United States, by contrast, we have over 24 million Armalite rifles owned by the public. An AR-15 in .350 Legend would be ideal for this type of shooting, but in much of Europe that option is not an option. Feral hogs are often at pest levels in the U.S., considered an invasive species particularly by farmers who don't want their crops destroyed. The U.S. estimates between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion dollars of damage to agriculture and property every year.  I've taken many running hogs over the years, most often with the lowest rate of fire long gun imaginable: a muzzleloader. Today, if I had the need for fast follow-up shots in a moving target scenario a BAR in .243 Winchester or an Armalite platform rifle in .350 Legend would be the top options.

Back in 1997, Browning introduced the BPR (above), a BAR that you had to pump. It didn't do well and was discontinued in 2001. The Remington 7600 pump, moderately successful until RemArms began circling the drain in 2020, offers faster follow-up shots than a straight-pull bolt, with both hands always on the rifle. The trend, however, is to allow semi-auto rifle deer hunting in states like Iowa that until this year, prohibited them. The vast majority of states allow hunting with semi-automatic firearms and that is what makes the straight-pull bolt an approach that is doomed. 

The tenets of fundamental, rapid repeat accuracy have not changed in the last 120 years. Having a good stock weld with both hands on your long gun from shot to shot promotes accuracy, as does lower recoil levels that allow you to recover from recoil and acquire your second target instantly. The Savage straight-pull bolt fails quite dramatically on both counts, compared to a gas-operated semi-auto that needs no removal of your hand from the stock, cycles far faster, and significantly reduces recoil compared to a fixed breech long gun.

The noisy straight-pull bolt of the Savage Impulse is anything but silky smooth, taking an aggressive if not violent action to cycle it. Perhaps I'm just easily confused, there is always that, but I personally have no idea why anyone would want this particular rifle. Somebody must think this is a truly grand idea, but I'm sorry to say that the somebody is clearly not me. I'm quite happy to endorse Savage Arms the company, but I'm also quite happy to suggest to my readers that they avoid their impulse and this Impulse in favor of better, more refined, well-proven, more satisfying, and more pleasant platforms.

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Copyright 2022 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.