August 09, 2017
Through the years, Savage has produced numerous bolt-action rifles chambered for standard and magnum rimfire cartridges. The new B Series is the latest. It is available in .17 HMR (B17), .22 Long Rifle (B22) and .22 WMR (B22 Magnum). Each of those is offered in four variations: synthetic stock (F), synthetic stock with a varmint-weight blued steel barrel (FV), the same configuration except with a stainless steel barrel (FVSS) and a threaded version (FV-SR) with a blue varmint-weight barrel.
The B Series rifle is not to be confused with the Savage B-Mag in .17 WSM. The bolt of the B-Mag has a couple of rear-located locking lugs, but since the .17 HMR and .22 WMR deliver considerably less back thrust against the bolt during firing, on the B Series the engagement of the root of the bolt handle with a slot in the receiver is enough to contain them. While not as strong or as rigid as a lug-locking action, this type of system has been used successfully on millions of rimfire rifles for well over 100 years.
The front, non-rotating section of the bolt contains dual-opposed extractors. And while the face of the bolt is deeply counterbored, the bottom section of its wall is machined away to allow the rim of a cartridge to slip beneath the extractor claws during feeding. Other interruptions in the counterbored wall are for passage of the firing pin and the extractors.
You can tell if the gun is cocked by checking to see if the firing pin is protruding through the rear cap of the bolt. The position of the cocking cam protruding through the side of the bolt can serve the same purpose. The bolt handle is angled to prevent interference by a low-mounted scope, and fine-cut knurling on its knob offers comfortable, no-slip grasping.
To install the bolt in the receiver, first make sure the firing pin is positioned topside and slide it in while fully depressing the trigger with the safety disengaged. The receiver consists of a steel tube with a synthetic housing containing the various safety and trigger components bolted to its bottom.
After the shank of the 20.75-inch barrel is threaded and turned into the receiver, it is held firmly in the proper headspace position by the barrel nut for which Savage centerfire rifles are known. Measuring 0.805 inch at the receiver and the muzzle, the non-tapered barrel is fairly heavy for a rimfire-size rifle. The rifling twist rate is 1:9, and a target-style crown should do a good job of protecting the rifling when accidentally banging the muzzle against a rock in the field.
The body of the rotary magazine is made of a synthetic material, and it holds 10 rounds. A lug on its backside rests hard against a spring at the front of the trigger housing. The front of the magazine is held in place by the engagement of a flexible tab with a mount that is bolted to the bottom of the receiver. Pressing on the tab releases the magazine, allowing the spring to push it down far enough for to be grasped by the shooter's fingers.
A fully loaded magazine is quite easy to insert to latch engagement on an open bolt, but it does require quite a bit of pressure when the bolt is closed. It becomes much easier when downloaded to nine rounds.
The magazine is not easy to load. A profane word or two along with shoving each cartridge down and to the side against the spring tension of the rotating follower works best for me. Even then, the fumble factor remains quite high.
One of the great things about Savage's fully adjustable AccuTrigger is that it's not expensive to produce and therefore can be used on an inexpensive rimfire rifle like the B Series. It is also one of the safest designs to come down the pike.
Should the trigger be accidentally pulled without the AccuRelease lever of the finger piece being depressed, the lever physically blocks movement of the sear and holds it there. If at that point the lever and the trigger are pulled, the rifle still won't fire; the lever has to be reset by opening and closing the bolt. Once that's done the rifle can be fired by simultaneously pulling both the trigger and the lever.
Trigger pull weight on the test rifle averaged 33 ounces with a variation of only three ounces. It was quite smooth with no take-up and only a slight trace of overtravel. The two-position tang safety worked as well.
As with most black synthetic stocks, the one on the Savage rifle won't win a beauty contest, but it is quite rigid, and I like the way it feels when shouldered. It has posts for quick-detach sling swivels, and the trigger guard is plenty roomy for a gloved finger.
At about its midpoint, the receiver rests atop an integral pillar in the stock, which is hollowed for passage of the rear action bolt. The front action bolt turns into a receptacle that also secures the front magazine mount to the receiver. This makes for extremely rigid attachment of the barreled action to the stock. The barrel free-floats, and interchangeable barrel channel inserts allow the same stock to be used with both standard and heavy barrel contours.
I fired close to 300 rounds during testing and didn't encounter a single issue with function. Cartridge feeding from magazine to chamber was flawless, and operating the bolt smartly piled spent cases about five feet away and slightly behind me. The .17 HMR does not generate a lot of heat, and that along with an average ambient range temperature of 54 degrees eliminated the need for any barrel cool-downs.
I cleaned the bore at about the 150-round mark and then again at the very end of the test session. My Lyman Borecam won't squeeze into a .17 caliber bore, but the absence of dissolved copper fouling on cotton patches wet with Barnes CR10 indicated extremely smooth button rifling. The .17 HMR does not foul as badly as faster cartridges, but it will leave a lot of copper behind in a rough bore.
That night I had a dream. Before me were thousands of flickertails just begging to be shot. Resting atop a couple of sandbags was the Savage B17 FV. And behind me, a long conveyor ran all the way to the CCI ammo factory.