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Range Review: Savage Impulse Mountain Hunter

The lightweight version of Savage's straight-pull rifle is not only innovative, but also accurate right out of the box.

Range Review: Savage Impulse Mountain Hunter

The straight-pull action found on Savage’s Impulse rifles enables supremely fast cycling in the field. (Photo courtesy of Savage Arms)

In 2021, Savage Arms introduced its first straight-pull bolt-action rifle, the Impulse. With the release of the Impulse Mountain Hunter, the company continues to push the envelope of innovation and accuracy. In addition to its unique straight-pull action, the Impulse Mountain Hunter features a Proof Research carbon-fiber-wrapped, stainless steel barrel and a durable polymer AccuStock with AccuFit capability. An aluminum receiver with an integral 20-MOA Picatinny rail allows for a variety of optics. Finally, the Mountain Hunter is equipped with the Savage AccuTrigger. The culmination is a lightweight, rugged, user-adjustable rifle designed for tough hunting conditions.

While the straight-pull action has been a staple in European rifles for more than 100 years, it’s a newcomer to the American gun market. The premise of its design is speed. A traditional bolt action involves four motions: lift, pull, push and lower to close. In contrast, a straight-pull bolt relies on just two motions: back to open and forward to close. In addition to optimizing speed, the straight-pull action eliminates the potential for interference between the bolt handle and the riflescope. The result is a smooth cycling of the action in about half the time it takes to cycle a traditional bolt gun.

To cycle the bolt, the shooter presses a quick-release button found at the back of the bolt with the thumb, pulls the bolt rearward and pushes the bolt forward to chamber a round. The quick-release button also functions as a cocking indicator. Once the trigger has been pressed—say, for the first shot—the quick-release button is no longer needed to initiate cycling.

For decades, factory rifles relied on triggers with a heavy pull weight as a safety feature. To exploit this design flaw, Savage developed the AccuTrigger, which has been incorporated into its rifles for 20 years. The AccuTrigger allows safe use, is crisp and is user-adjustable.

It relies on its AccuRelease—a safety blade that bisects the trigger blade vertically—to block the sear if the trigger is depressed improperly. The trigger cannot be actuated until the AccuRelease is depressed under normal operations; excessive jarring or unstable movements will prevent sear engagement, locking the trigger. Once locked, the bolt mechanism must be activated to unlock and reset the firing pin. Under normal operation, the AccuRelease actuates the sear and allows the trigger to be pulled cleanly and safely.

Another noteworthy Savage innovation contained within the Impulse Mountain Hunter is the AccuStock system, which features a rigid aluminum chassis embedded within the polymer stock. The action assembly is fitted to and secured across three dimensions over its entire length, forming a bond as good or better than glass bedding. As the fastening screws are tightened and torqued, vertical and horizontal pressure firmly secures the action to the stock. A steel block engages the action’s recoil lug to prevent shifting forward or backward. Coupled with the AccuFit system that allows shooters to create a custom fit by modifying length of pull and comb height, the AccuStock system enables superior accuracy.

The Impulse Mountain Hunter I tested was chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor; chambering and barrel twist were stamped on the Proof Research barrel. The combination of gray stock, matte-black carbon-fiber barrel wrap and black action components made for appealing aesthetics. I found the soft surfaces of the textured panels set into the stock’s palm swell, grip and fore-end useful for improving purchase. Overall, the fit and finish of the rifle’s components were stellar.

I cycled the action several times and quickly became familiar with the straight-pull bolt. Dry-firing the trigger as it was set at the factory, I noted it required about 3 pounds of pull. I also noticed the magazine was easy to release and insert with one hand.

The integral 20-MOA Picatinny rail provided mounting solutions for a variety of optics. I chose the Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44 mm riflescope. Using a Wheeler Engineering Professional Reticle Leveling System, I mounted the optic true to the bore. I shouldered the rifle to test the eye relief of the scope, as well as the length of pull and comb height of the stock. They all were comfortable, so I left the AccuFit system set as delivered from the factory.




Although I have fired all types of rifles during testing and in the field, I had never fired a straight-pull rifle. Before testing, I was suspicious of its value and thought it might cause confusion, as the motion during cycling differs from a traditional bolt action. My mind was changed quickly after time in the field with the Impulse Mountain Hunter. On the day of testing, I also tested a traditional bolt-action rifle, going back and forth between the two several times. While the motions are quite different, even my feeble brain learned the dynamics of operating the straight-pull action without forgetting how to cycle a conventional bolt action. After substantial practice and use, I am confident the straight-pull action would be substantially faster under the stresses of shooting in the field.

Similarly, I have never been a proponent of anything other than a crisp, conventional, single-stage trigger. After shooting various Savage rifles, including the Impulse Mountain Hunter, though, I have also come to appreciate the AccuTrigger. Since trigger adjustment is an easy accuracy improvement tool, a trigger that’s user-adjustable for a low pull weight is a huge boon for shooters—but only if it’s safe. “Safety first” should be every hunter’s mantra, and that order is easy to follow with the AccuTrigger. The trigger simply will not engage the sear unless pulled correctly.

Finally, I have found Savage rifles with the AccuStock to be great performers with regards to accuracy. The Impulse Mountain Hunter falls into that category as well. Both the Hornady and Federal Premium loads I tested produced sub-MOA groups. The Hornady ELD Match 140-grain bullet performed excellently, with three-shot groups measuring 0.64 inch, and the Federal load with the 130-grain Barnes TSX bullet wasn’t far behind.

Recommended


Savage’s commitment to accuracy, handling and fit is obvious in the Impulse Mountain Hunter. The rifle is well-suited to meet the requirements of the most meticulous hunter on almost any terrain.

Savage Arms Impulse Mountain Hunter Rifle
Besides a Proof Research barrel, the rifle features a tang safety, integral Picatinny rail and polymer stock that is user-adjustable for length of pull and comb height. (Photos: Darren Choate [insets]; Savage Arms)
Savage Impulse Mountain Hunter
  • Info: savagearms.com
  • Type: straight-pull bolt-action centerfire rifle
  • Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Barrel: 22”; Proof Research carbon-fiber-wrapped stainless steel with muzzle brake
  • Trigger: user-adjustable AccuTrigger; 3-pound pull weight
  • Safety: two-position; tang-mounted slide
  • Magazine: detachable box; 4-round capacity
  • Sights: none; integral Picatinny rail for mounting optics
  • Stock: polymer AccuStock with user-adjustable AccuFit system
  • Finish: matte black
  • Overall Length: 44 3/4 inches
  • Weight: 7.16 poounds
  • Price $2,439

Shooting Results
  • Load: Federal Premium Barnes TSX
  • Bullet Weight: 130 grs.
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,826 fps
  • Average Group: 0.89"

  • Load: Hornady ELD Match
  • Bullet Weight: 140 grs.
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,523 fps
  • Average Group: 0.64"

Muzzle velocity is the average of three consecutive shots fired through a Caldwell G2 chronograph at 10 feet. Accuracy is the average of three consecutive, three-shot groups fired from a sandbag rest at 
100 yards.

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