September 23, 2010
When an old-line barrel maker combines forces with a popular rifle maker, the result can only be good for shooters, especially when unusual cartridge selections and many features that are typically custom-only are offered. Such is the case with the new relationship between Savage Arms and E.R. Shaw.
I've used Shaw barrels before.The company produces special drop-in profile barrels that fit the factory stock channels of most popular rifles. I've done many of these retrofits over the years, and when I heard E.R. Shaw was branching out into its own proprietary line of rifles, I placed an order for one in .22-250 Remington Ackley Improved.
"The new Mark VII rifle will be available in over 90 different standard chamberings, including just about anything you desire from the petite .17 calibers up to the large African big game cartridges," says Shaw president Carl Behling.
Shaw entered into an agreement with Savage Arms, which is supplying the actions for the new rifles. Many wildcat cartridges that have not been offered before in production rifles can be ordered as standard fare.
Prices start at $625 for a Savage stainless steel action, a Shaw barrel and a Boyd's laminated stock. Keep in mind that this is not a stripped-down version. Considering E.R. Shaw's enviable reputation for accurate barrels, that's an excellent price.
One of the main highlights of the Shaw rifle is that any cartridge on the list is available in either a right- or left-hand action. The receiver is typical Savage, but the similarities end there. Shaw dispensed with Savage's barrel lock nut/head-spacing system, instead threading barrels into the receiver the old-fashioned way. The recoil lug is a .25-inch thick machine-steel washer-type.
The Shaw bolt is polished bright and incorporates the same design principles as its Savage counterpart. Twin locking lugs provide a secure lockup. On the bolt face are a sturdy extractor and a traditional plunger ejector. A baffle at the rear of the bolt deflects harmful gases in the unlikely event of a cartridge failure, and there are two escape holes in the front receiver bridge.
The bolt knob is checkered. A two-position safety is located on the tang and moves with positive detents from safe (rear) to fire (forward).
A number of Savage products have recently been streamlined to eliminate the awkward bolt-removal lever on the side of the receiver. The Shaw rifle maintains this lever, which, when depressed, allows removal of the bolt while holding the trigger back.
|Accuracy Results ||
E.R. SHAW MARK VIII
| Bullet Weight (gr.)||Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Standard Deviation || Avg. Group (in.)|
| ||.22-250 Remington|
|Remington Core-Lokt|| 55|| 3,560||n/a|| 1.50|
|Hornady Spire Point|| 60|| 3,457||n/a|| 1.50|
| ||.22-250 Ackley Improved*|
|Nosler Ballistic Tip|| 40|| 3,781||8 || 0.50|
|Hornady V-Max|| 55|| 3,822||17|| 1.00|
Shaw threads barrels into the action rather than using a lock nut as does Savage.
Shaw has included the excellent AccuTrigger on its rifles. On my sample rifle, I was able to reduce the trigger's pull weight to three pounds, but on a varmint rifle it wouldn't hurt it to go a bit lighter. Savage makes a target trigger version that's adjustable to lighter pull weights, and it could potentially be an option in the future on special varmint-type rifles.
There is no floorplate, and the magazine holds three rounds of .22-250 Ackley Improved ammo. Hunting woodchucks this summer, I single-fed the rifle with no feeding problems whatsoever. With our rising coyote population here in the Northeast, 'chucks stay close to their dens and follow-up shots are next to impossible anyway, especially if you miss at longer distances.
I specified a 24-inch barrel with Shaw's spiral flutes, which not only adds a touch of class to the rifle, it helps keep the barrel cool if the shooting gets hot. The contour is medium weight and tapers to .720 inch at the muzzle. The barrel is completely free-floated in the black and gray laminated wood stock.
I mounted a Leupold VX-III 4.5-14x40 scope complete with sunshade extension, and I was ready for the summer varmint season.
The .22-250 Remington Ackley Improved cartridge also allows you to chamber the standard round, and while accuracy with standard .22-250 ammo is not as good as with correct handloads, it will do in a pinc
During the course of the summer I tested more than a dozen different hand-loads with bullets that ranged in weight from 40 to 55 grains. Light, 40-grain projectiles found that magical half-minute of angle mark. For the most part, heavier bullets went into neat one-inch clusters.
Check out the new Shaw rifle. With better-than-average accuracy, a wide range of configurations and a large selection of cartridges to choose from, it provides an excellent option on a very competitive market.