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Bolt Action Rifles

Savage Model 25 Walking Varminter Review

by Brad Fitzpatrick   |  February 5th, 2013 19


Years ago, a “varmint gun” meant anything with which you could kill a varmint. A 12-gauge pump would work if you could get close enough. And while in my youth a few specialists had .223s, .22-250s and the barrel-melting .220 Swift, my varmint gun of choice back then was a battered Ruger 10/22, a gun I carried through briar patches, creek bottoms and crop fields in search of game. Groundhogs were a mainstay if you could slip within range, and taking a good red fox with your .22 was as esteemed an accomplishment among Midwestern grade school hunters as shooting a trophy markhor is among the mountain hunting crowd.


The rifle feeds from a single-column four-round magazine, which at first proved a bit balky to seat—a glitch that went away as the rifle was broken in.

Sometimes I think about that five-pound 10/22 as I’m dragging my 12-pound coyote gun through cornfields and blackberry thickets. Today’s varmint gun is a rifle dedicated to the task of taking out quarry at long, long ranges. Heavy, fluted barrels are the norm, and the walnut stock has given way to dipped synthetics and Kevlar models. Scopes are big, and their reticles are crowded with mil dots. Bipods are commonplace, and the average varmint gun weighs more than many of the animals they are built to hunt. My favorite .22-250 weighs a couple pounds more than my .416 Remington Magnum.

These heavy rifles makes long-range shooting easier, but they don’t lend themselves well to the hunter who likes to move, and there are times (usually in the midst of a long, cold sit) when I long for the days of my youth.

For those of us who still enjoy mobile pursuit, Savage has developed a gun built for the mobile hunter. The Savage Model 25 Walking Varminter incorporates the Model 25 action with a modern stock and the superb AccuTrigger. It is a rifle that challenges many conventional attitudes about varmint gun design, from its long bolt and narrow pistol grip to the slightly paunchy detachable magazine and the gradually narrowing finger groove that runs the length of the fore-end.

In short, the Savage looks like very little else on the market. Traditionalists may look at the Walking Varminter with disdain, shaking their heads at the avant-garde styling and perhaps saying something about Savage’s radical styling. Just another plastic gun.

If you scoff at synthetic stocks, plastic magazine boxes and unconventional designs then this may not be the rifle for you. Then again, neither are the Ruger American, the Sako A7, the Browning X-Bolt, Savage Axis and the Tikka T3, all fantastically accurate rifles with edgy, modern styling.

It’s hard to pick up the Walking Varminter without appreciating the way it points and handles. The textured pistol grip is narrow, but the hand naturally comes to position. The finger groove on the fore-end makes it easy to grip and steady the rifle, and the 22-inch, heavy sporter barrel gives this rifle a natural, between-the-hands balance.

Bolt function was smooth and steady, and the AccuTrigger is fantastic, breaking cleanly at just under three pounds. The two-position safety is located on the right side of the bolt, and although it functioned flawlessly, it requires a long shove to move it into the Fire position.


Savage rifles are famous for their accuracy, and the Model 25 was no different. This 100-yard group measured 0.4 inch with Nosler Varmageddon.

The receiver is drilled and tapped, though the screw holes are placed pretty far apart; the body tube on the Bushnell Elite 4200 3-9X scope I mounted on the rifle was long enough to fit on the Weaver rings but only just barely. The barrel has a dull, non-glare finish, and the crown is recessed to prevent damage to the rifling.

The detachable, four-round box magazine is lightweight and easy to load, but it was sometimes difficult to get the magazine secured in the rifle. On two occasions I pressed the magazine into place, shoved the bolt forward, and the magazine promptly fell onto the bench. Interestingly, there was never a problem getting the magazine to lock into place with the bolt shut. After about two boxes of ammo were fired through the rifle, the problem seemed to go away.

There’s a lot to like about the Varmint Hunter, but the absolute best reason to buy this rifle is the way it shoots. The gun is very accurate, producing a sub-m.o.a. group right out of the box with 40-grain Hornady V-Max ammunition, and all three types of ammo tested went under an inch. The best group was a .40-inch cluster courtesy of Nosler’s 55-grain Varmageddon ammunition, but even the worst (relative term) average group was under an inch. Those results are hard to argue with.

The Walking Varminter is a likable gun. It’s easy to carry, fun to shoot and extremely accurate. And for the hunter who grew up hunting on foot, the Model 25 begs you to lace up your boots, dump a handful of cartridges into your pockets and head out to the woods in search of game.


The rifle’s action is unlike most, with an extended cutaway tube and partially enclosed ejection port, but it features Savage’s excellent AccuTrigger.

  • Gerry50

    Did I miss the caliber you tested?

    • jimbos

      No you did not miss it…he never mentioned it, but I believe that is the rifle they developed for the NEW 17 Super Mag…it's a 17 built on the 327 mag case…hits 3000 fps…but I could be wrong

  • shootbrownelk

    Accurate or not, great trigger or not…that Savage action is one butt-ugly SOB! They should scale down their 110 action and chamber it for the new winchester 17 super mag. rimfire, then they'd have something. As they say, "Life is too short to hunt with an UGLY rifle".

  • avenger

    Who cares about ugly, accuracy is what its about what good is a beautiful rifle that is not accurate

  • backwoodsboy

    For those of us to whom "long range" is anything over 150 yards, I'll take ugly anytime.

  • Jim Harrison

    thats a 17 hornet, 22 hornet case necked down to a 17 cal bullet, centerfire.

  • Hunter5567

    The 17 Super magnum is based on the .27 cal blank cartridge.

  • Jim Harrison

    thats a 17 hornet, 22 hornet case necked down to a 17 cal bullet, centerfire. That is what caliber that gun is

  • slntwlf

    The author noted that he was shooting 40 and 55 gr bullets. My guess is that the rifle was chambered in 223 Rem or some other small .22 caliber cartridge.

    As another poster said, this thing is ugly and yes I care about ugly. But then again I think most new rifles produced lately are and I will not own one. I'd rather squirrel away some cash and have a beautiful and accurate rifle built than I would buy ten of these ugly budget rifles. Just my two cents though.

  • Mike Reed

    The Walking Varminter comes in several smaller centerfire calibers, including .17 Hornet, .22 Hornet, .223 Rem., etc. A completely different rifle, the new B. Mag, has been designed from the ground up for the new .17 Win Super Mag rimfire caliber. Neither the rifle nor the caliber are available to the public just yet.

  • Jody

    Depending on the actual shelf price of both rifle and ammo, I suppose I could live with one in the new .17 Win Super Mag once they hit the shelves as a cheap way to pop possums & zap 'yotes from the back porch without burning up .223 for awhile. I can live with ugly tools for doing ugly jobs like pest control. But yeah, I won't be showing it off at the range. Maybe I'll wait until some used ones pop up – they should go really cheap, with a Pride of Ownership factor equating to what Hyundai Accent drivers feel. A smart buy if you need one and are on a budget, but you don't want the girls seeing you with it on a Saturday night, you know?

    • Jonny23

      hehe, I like the Hyundai Accent comment. However some of us don’t give a Sh*t about appearances. Some people like smoke and mirrors and others like reality. Low price and a tack driver wins over fancy looks and useless.

  • sdbstr

    sIntwlf is correct on the caliber, if you click on the picture of the target you'll "22" on the box end, the rest being hidden by the cartridge. Too bad we get pictures of the magazine, a target and the author shooting, but not a good one of the rifle, I guess it really is too ugly

  • NCreloader

    Given that the ammunition used is 40 to 55 grains, it definitely is not any of the .17 calibers. In the target picture, the ammunition shown is not 'fat' enough to be a .22-250, too short to be a .220 Swift and too big to be a .204 Ruger. Most likely, you're looking at a standard .223, unless they've resurrected the great .222 Remington. I don't think the varmints are going to think any less of you if you have an ugly gun. Dead is dead!

  • NCreloader

    Given that the ammunition used is 40 to 55 grains, it definitely is not any of the .17 calibers. In the target picture, the ammunition shown is not 'fat' enough to be a .22-250, too short to be a .220 Swift and too big to be a .204 Ruger. Most likely, you're looking at a standard .223, unless they've resurrected the great .222 Remington. I don't think the varmints are going to think any less of you if you have an ugly gun. Dead is dead!

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  • Robin Gleason

    I guess some people have all the taste because, I think the rifle is quite handsome like me. I have one in .17 hornet (lamenated stock) and one each in .22 hornet and .222 Rem. in the synthetic “walking” configuration. All three are tack drivers.

  • lkeenan

    Is there a beter magazine box for the model 25?

  • Lance

    Got one in .222, cheap shooter for about $500 (Ha). Still working up loads for it. Put a Simmons 6.5 to 20 scope on it. Needed 1″ extra high extension mounts to clear the 50 mm obj. lens. Can see the paper punches at 100 yds. when cranked up to 20x. Gona need to grow some more cheek on my face or build up a cheek rest. Yep got magazine issues. The one mentioned in the article and it is flimsy plastic. Not sure it will hold up over time. Bought a spare just in case. Hope in the future some one makes a better magazine. Hey, Savage are you listening! And yes I did tell them about it in an e-mail. Oh, yea by the way it looks like some serious groups are possible, less than 1″ at 100 yds. , but I’m still working on it. Gota make some more holes in the paper and tweak the powder charges and components. Some folks at the range liked the looks/feel of the gun. The trigger is sweet. It’s not a beauty but other than the magazine issue I like it so far.

  • edysattva

    lets be honest, that polymer mag sucks… it makes each chambering feel completely different over the 4 rounds it holds… even after 100 rounds i feel no difference in the chambering… it’s far too inconstant to be acceptable… but the rifle is marvelously accurate and easy to carry… they got everything else right, just wish they’d admit to the mag mistake and give a metal one or redesign the well to take ar15 mags… now that would be glorious in a rifle such as this….

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