The Savage Approach to Firearm Performance

Savage channels user input into innovation and progression across its product lines.

The Savage Approach to Firearm Performance

Savage Arms is one of the most recognizable names in the firearms industry. There are few deer camps that aren’t graced with at least one Model 110. But that’s far from the only feather in the company’s cap.

There has been tremendous innovation and progression at Savage since President Chris Bezzina first joined the company as engineering director two decades ago. Notable achievements over that span include leading the engineering team in the development of innovative products such as the AccuTrigger, Axis, Model 220/212, A17 and AccuStock. With the company occupying an even bigger space within the industry since the launch of the Renegauge line of shotguns and both the Stance and 1911 hangun lines, it seemed a good time to talk to Bezzina about the company’s history, its growth, and what retailers can expect from Savage moving forward.

SSR: Savage has a long history in the American firearms industry. How has the market for the traditional hunting rifle changed over the years?

Bezzina: Today’s hunters are demanding more out of their hunting rifles. Not only are they looking for new levels of performance, they also expect specific features. An example would be our Ultra Lite options — years ago we would have come up with a mountain rifle featuring all our parts and products. Now we offer hunters a high-performance rifle with a Proof Research barrel straight from the factory. We also have several offerings featuring MDT Chassis. Our ability to deliver these types of products to consumers has been a high priority for the last several years. 

In addition, we are hearing from more female and youth hunters than ever before. Savage has met the industry challenge and makes many rifles that are designed specifically for the environment in which they will be used — and for the more diverse user. We offer many different models to meet these needs of hunters and shooters, including user-adjustable features like AccuFit, AccuTrigger and our bolt on the Impulse line-up.  

SSR: What’s your philosophy behind new product development and design?

Bezzina: Much like the old saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”, it takes a family of dedicated and passionate people to develop and design a new product. At Savage, we take input from all outlets. We listen to consumers, our business customers, as well as internal users to bring forward new product ideas or product innovations. Once a new product development project is initiated, we get as many people involved/to the table as possible, both internally and externally. It’s important we all contribute toward the development and refinement of the product. Working with industry professionals, including end users, along with outside parts vendors, helps Savage get input and suggestions on how to improve manufacturability as well as how to make the product better. This collaborative approach gets more people involved in the ownership of the new product and each of them can take pride that they contributed to the finished product, which our customers benefit from the most.

SSR: How has the jump into handguns with the Stance and 1911 lines and shotguns with the Renegauge line impacted your brand?

Bezzina: Savage has a long and significant history of manufacturing handguns such as the model 1907, which was the runner up to the Colt 1911 for the major U.S. Army contract well over 100 years ago. Savage also commercialized other handgun models including the Savage Model 1915 and 1917. So to be back in the category just feels right. We put a lot of thought and work into our 1911s, and the market has responded well. 

Savage also has a very rich history in making both semi-auto and pump shotguns including the model 30 & 773 pump actions. (Savage had a contract with U.S. Department of Defense to supply Model 773 short barrel pumps to be used during the Vietnam war).

These roots make us realize that when we enter back into these markets, we must enter them with innovative products, just like we did with these previous iconic models that are still known. 

Entering new segments has further solidified the Savage brand as one that is forward thinking, innovative, and focused on unmatched performance. Every new Savage product must stand up to those brand pillars, and these newest models have done just that.

SSR: What do you want retailers and their customers to think about when they hear the name Savage?

Bezzina: Three things:

  1. Quality: Savage takes great pride in everything that we make. Our employees are well trained to focus on making the best firearms in the industry, regardless of price point. Each firearm is shot and checked for over 30 different function and safety features, including aesthetics, to ensure we exceed our customers’ expectations.
  2. Innovation: Our engineers and employees strive to design and make firearms that offer new, unique and innovative features that give our customers a better, more rewarding and pleasurable experience. Savage Innovations such as AccuTrigger, AccuStock, Axis, Impulse and Renegauge have raised the standards in what customers expect in innovative features from their firearms.
  3. Performance: All Savage products are thoroughly developed and torture tested to ensure that they perform right out of the box. We strive for quintessential performance and accuracy out of every Savage!

SSR: What are your biggest challenges in today’s shooting sports industry?

Bezzina: Participation is an age-old challenge for our industry. In recent years we have enjoyed an influx of new shooters and entrants into our industry, but now it’s up to us to keep them engaged, learning and feeling welcomed. We work with several partners and organizations to keep this at the forefront, and I am proud of Savage’s commitment here. We actually just wrapped up a great R3 Symposium that our team not only attended, but participated in. Here’s the link if anyone is interested. 

SSR: What’s in demand, and where do you see opportunity?

Bezzina: The team has done a great job of entering new categories (or returning to ones we were in long ago), and I think there’s more opportunity there. Our new product pipeline is full and it’s not just line extensions or complimentary products. We’re going to continue to push our team to provide the right choice for all hunters, shooters, competitors, self-defenders and firearms owners. 

SSR: What are your top-performing product lines?

Bezzina: The Savage Model 110 Family is the longest continually produced bolt-action firearm and is still extremely popular and highly sought after. With the continuous product enhancements such as AccuFit and lighter weight models, Savage has really become the highwater mark in bolt-action rifle platforms.

The Savage Impulse with its straight-pull design has also become a top performer. The American market is responding well to its buttery smooth action, which allows for quick follow up shots, and its ability to deliver the accuracy Savage shooters have known for more than a century. 


SSR: What sets Savage apart? What makes you an indispensable partner for the shooting sports retailer?

Bezzina: Savage supports its customers differently, and it’s something we are very proud of here. Several years ago we made our factory much more efficient and focused on versatility and the ability to produce smaller quantities of specific rifles at any time. Today that translates to an ability to actually fill customer orders — not run our factory based on what we want or think we need. So when orders come in for multiple rifles in multiple calibers, our factory can fulfill those in a timely, effective and profitable manner.

Savage prides itself on industry-best quality and performance. We take great pride in providing the highest quality firearm that offers some of the most accurate, innovative and performance-enhancing features. We want to give retailers the confidence to endorse our products through our design, commitment to quality and overall reputation. We also stand behind our products with one of the industry’s best customer service departments. That team is located at the Savage factory to support our retailers as well as end users with the highest levels of customer care.

SSR: What sort of product and marketing support does Savage provide for its retailers? Are there any incentives or programs for new partners?

Bezzina: We offer an industry-leading co-op advertising program for all independent and buy-group dealers. We participate directly with the retail ‘big-box’ customers with their own co-op/business development programs.  These programs allow the sellers to advertise our products in-store, online and outdoors with things like billboards or store signage. Our sales team offers in-store product training for store staff and we also host Savage Days events at dealers and reseller store locations. These events are great opportunities for consumers to meet, ask questions and get first-hand knowledge of all our products.

 We do not offer any incentives for new partners because almost all of the dealers and resellers sell Savage or Stevens products currently. There are very few dealers in the U.S. that do not sell ‘any’ of our products.

SSR: What will 2023 and beyond hold for Savage Arms? What should dealers be excited about?

Bezzina: As I mentioned earlier, the last few years have included major introductions and significant innovation. Retailers should look for that to continue. We’ve got some exciting products, platforms and new partnerships to announce very soon. 


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