The Straight-Pull Truth

Savage is putting its own twist on the classic American-made bolt action.

The Straight-Pull Truth

There have been many quality bolt-action rifles made in the United States over the past 100 years. It’s a proven mechanism. 

The user grasps the bolt and pulls it up to begin the process, then pulls it back, ejecting the spent casing and allowing another round to move into place. The forward push of the bolt chambers that next round, and the bolt handle is pulled down to lock the mechanism and prepare it for firing. It’s simple, efficient and has proven effective in hundreds of rifle models over the years.

Now, Savage Arms, maker of quality rifles and shotguns and well known for their famous AccuTrigger, has chosen to mix things up somewhat. The folks at Savage already have some fine bolt guns, but in 2021 chose to introduce a straight-pull bolt-action model to their line-up. The Impulse is the only straight-pull bolt-action rifle currently made in the United States.

The Impulse is built around a straight-pull bolt action that most Americans are unfamiliar with, although a number of different straight-pull bolt rifles are made in Europe. Savage says the rifle “combines the confidence and accuracy of a traditional bolt with the speed of a semi-automatic. The pure movement allows for faster follow-up shots with quicker target reacquisition for instinctive, repeatable accuracy.”

After taking one on a very brief deer hunt, I certainly can’t argue with that assessment.

Meet the Impulse

Thanks to the fact that Savage launched with four different models of the Impulse, this is a multi-purpose group of rifles that includes models from predator hunting rigs all the way up to a precision target gun. In between are hunting rifles that are attractive, accurate and extremely feature packed. Let’s take a look at the four models.

The Hog Hunter features Savage’s AccuStock with AccuFit adjustment in OD Green, a matte black aluminum receiver and carbon steel barrel. Of course, it has the company’s famous adjustable AccuTrigger to allow wild hog hunters to set their trigger pull exactly the way they like it. It has a round knob bolt handle, flush-fit detachable box magazine and a 1-piece 20-MOA rail machined in the receiver for easy mounting of an optic or thermal unit. 

The medium-contour barrel is 18 inches long with 1-in-10 twist, and it’s threaded for a muzzle device. Overall length is 39.5 inches, and the gun weighs 8.3 pounds empty. It’s available in six hog-whacking calibers including .243 Win., 6.5mm Creedmoor, .308 Win., .300 WSM, .30-06 and .300 Win. Mag. MSRP is $1,379. 

The Big Game model is a super attractive hunting rifle that most hunters would be proud to carry to the field or woods. It, of course, features the same straight-pull bolt action but is designed for hunting deer, elk and other large game animals. 

Part of the attractiveness of the model can be attributed to both the aluminum receiver and steel barrel being Cerakoted in what the company calls Hazel Green. Matched with an AccuStock finished in Kuiu Verde 2.0, this rifle will have everyone at hunting camp wanting to take a closer look. Like the Hog Hunter, this model also features the AccuTrigger, a round knob bolt handle, flush-fit detachable magazine and a one-piece 20-MOA rail machined into the receiver. 

Unlike the Hog Hunter, the Big Game model features a 22-inch barrel and overall length of 43.5 inches. Overall weight is 8.8 pounds empty. It’s available in the same range of calibers as the hog hunter and carries an MSRP of $1,449. 

The Predator model is made for just what it sounds like it’s made for — predator hunting. It’s AccuStock is covered in Mossy Oak Terra Gila camo, and the aluminum receiver and steel barrel are matte black. Barrel length is 20 inches, overall length is 41.5 inches and empty weight is 8.7 pounds. It also features a one-piece 20-MOA rail machined into the receiver. 

Unlike the Hog Hunter and Big Game models, the Predator features a 10-round detachable box magazine, putting plenty of ammo on board for when follow-up shots are needed. It is available chambered in .22-250 Rem, .243 Win., 6.5mm Creedmoor and .308 Win. MSRP is $1,379. 

The Elite Precision looks like it doesn’t fit in the family, but it’s a Savage through and through. A precision long-range rifle, the Elite Precision is built on an MDT 1-piece aluminum ACC chassis with fully adjustable length-of-pull and comb height, and features an ARCA rail forend with M-Lok slots. The Precision button rifled, stainless steel, modified Palma contour barrel is 26 inches long and threaded 5/8-24. Overall length is 48.75 inches. 

The rifle’s chassis sports an attractive gray finish, with a black action and stainless barrel. It has a matte black aluminum receiver with integrated 20-MOA rail. The magazine holds 10 rounds, and the gun features an ambidextrous magazine release to cater to lefties as well as right-handers. The Elite Precision’s AccuTrigger is adjustable from 1.5 to 4 pounds. It’s available in six popular long-range chamberings including .308 Win., .300 PRC, .300 Win. Mag., .338 Lapua, 6.5mm Creedmoor and 6mm Creedmoor. MSRP is $1,999, a very reasonable price for a precision long-range rifle.

Firsthand Impressions

I was fortunate enough to have some limited time with the Impulse both on the range and in the field.

The good folks at Savage had agreed to send me an Impulse Big Game for an ammo test story I was working on for another publication. Unfortunately, the combination of the current great demand for firearms and aggravating supply chain problems resulted in the rifle not arriving by the end of our firearms deer season in Oklahoma.

Writing it off as a lost opportunity and having completed the ammo test with another rifle, I was pleasantly surprised when the gun showed up at my FFL a day before the end of our state’s holiday antlerless season — a special two-week season designed to encourage doe harvest so the state can meet its antlerless management goals. I usually try to take advantage of the late season to put one more deer in the freezer so we don’t run out of venison before the next fall. 

Upon picking up the gun, the first thing I noticed was its heft. To me, it just seemed heavier than I expected. However, upon giving it a good look I began to see how that weight was attributable to the sturdy construction of the various components. The gun looked great, felt great going to my shoulder and definitely made a good first impression. 

The bolt throw was what really impressed me, though. If you’ve never operated a straight-pull bolt, it’s significantly different from a conventional bolt. It feels somewhat awkward at first, but then I felt how smoothly and quickly the Impulse’s bolt moves back and forward to get its job done, then locks neatly into place for firing, I couldn’t help but be impressed. 

The other thing I loved about the gun was the AccuTrigger. This has been a fantastic trigger ever since Savage introduced it, and the one on this Impulse Big Game certainly didn’t disappoint. Although it’s adjustable, I found the factory setting felt perfect and chose not to change a thing.

I quickly mounted a scope — a Bushnell Banner 2 that had resided on another rifle. This is an affordable scope that offers many of the same features as true high-end optics at a far more reasonable price, and I wouldn’t hesitate to mount one on any rifle for nearly any purpose. 

Scope in place, I loaded the truck the last morning of the season and started the three-hour drive to my hunting spot. I was there and unpacked by noon, quickly hung a target and began sighting in. It took me a while to get the rifle on paper, but when I did, I was thoroughly impressed. The first three shots I fired using True Velocity .308 ammo (that’s another story) were nearly touching. That would do fine for my purposes. 

After grabbing a quick lunch, I headed for my stand — an elevated box blind overlooking a wheat field of about 5 acres. A persistent drought in the area had me concerned whether any deer would come to feed that evening, as the wheat was short, brown and nearly gone. But my fears were soon alleviated when I saw two large does coming down the hill toward the field from about a quarter mile away. When they reached about 120 yards, the larger one turned sideways, offering me a shot. An easy squeeze of the AccuTrigger, and my season was over.

Write a check

The big question is whether I’m going to send the gun back or bite the bullet and send Savage a check for it? I’ll answer that after further range testing with a variety of .308 loads. But at this point, I’m thinking it’ll more likely be a check on its way to Westfield, Massachusetts, rather than the Impulse Big Game. 

In the end, the four models of the Savage Impulse offer hunters and shooters just about anything they might be looking for in a quality package at a fair price. Putting a few in your store is likely to result in some additional sales you wouldn’t have otherwise made.


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