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Rifles of Interest: The Savage Model 12 Series Long Range Precision Varmint Dual Port

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September 30, 2009

Rifles of Interest: The Savage Model 12 Series Long Range Precision Varmint Dual Port

By David E. Petzal

A couple of months back, the Savages took me on a prairie dog hunt and the evening before the shooting started I was handed a new version of the Model 12 Series Varmint in .223 to sight in. I did so, and what I saw 100 yards away in the fading light caught my interest—all five shots went in one ragged hole. Could this, I wondered, be the long-sought factory rifle that would break the ½-moa mark?

So when the hunt was over, I asked Savage for a loaner so I could beat on it at length with a variety of ammo and, after a suitable delay they gave me one with 600 rounds through it, also in .223. Now, before I tell you how I did, I should describe the rifle.

The Model 12 SLRPVDP is a lineal descendent of the Model 12, which won our Best of the Best award in 2006. It’s a single-shot with an oversized bolt knob, an H-S Precision Varmint stock with an aluminum bedding block (and three bedding screws), a special Accu-Trigger that can be set from 6 ounces* to 2.5 pounds, a 26-inch, deeply-fluted, extra-heavy 26-inch stainless barrel** and a ball-breaking weight of 12 pounds. “Dual Port” refers to the slots cut on both sides of the action, enabling a right-handed shooter to load from the left and eject the empties from the right. This was developed for benchrest shooters who want to get their five shots downrange as fast as possible, and is also good for prairie dog hunters whose blood is up.

This rifle is exactly what you’d get if you went to a cutting-edge builder of varmint gunss, gave him $5,000, and asked for his best effort, except that the Model 12, etc., costs $1,273.

The one I was loaned has a Picatinny rail on it, and I strongly recommend this. The scope I mounted is one of the new Bushnell Elite 6500s in 4.5X-30X with mil dots. A better varmint scope I have not seen, and neither have you.

And so to shooting***. I first fired five varieties of reasonably low-rent factory ammo through the Model 12 and so forth, and it responded by doing its own version of projectile vomiting. However, with the very first handload, it announced that it was the rifle I had been looking for all these years. I was shooting 50-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips, W 748 powder, Remington brass, and CCI 450 primers, and the groups averaged .293, with the smallest group .251.

So now the question was whether it was a one-load rifle. It is not. Using various combinations of W 748, RelodeR 7, Berger bullets, Winchester brass, CCI BR4 primers, and some match bullets that gunmaker Mickey Coleman gave me and whose maker I have forgotten, I was able to get comparable groups with ease. The overall average for everything is .306-inch, and is just about what I get from my varmint rifles that cost a hell of a lot more than $1,273. If I had used prepped cases, the groups would have been smaller.

The Model 12 etcetera also comes in .22/250, which will probably not shoot quite as well (it being axiomatic that the more powder you burn the bigger the groups), .204 Ruger (your guess is as good as mine; I am not a fan) and 6mm Norma BR (which may actually shoot a little better). In any event, this particular rifle is the most accurate one I have ever shot that you could buy over the counter, and after 40-plus years of writing about these things, that is saying quite a lot.

*You can set it at that weight, but it will malfunction. The trigger will release but the sear won’t. Twelve to 18 ounces will do you fine.
**Savage, which still button-rifles and hand-straightens its barrels, takes some extra pains with these.
***Temperature in the 70s, and no wind at all.

Comments (19)

Top Rated
All Comments
from cody5 wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Mr. Petzal,
As always a very interesting post. My next rifle purchase will be the Savsage Model 12, but I would like the 6BR. I would also like the barrel that has the faster twist so I can shoot the heavier bullets. Thank you for convincing me that this is the rifle that I to have been looking for.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckcreekdick wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

If "only accurate rifles are interesting", this must be one interesting rifle. I think Dave has found affordable, sub-moa rifle bliss. Savage raises the accuracy bar once again!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD_Whitetail_Hntr wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

I've been a Savage fan since my very first deer rifle. I don't even know how I could go away from their newest guns. Mine is a 12 year old Model 110, no accutrigger, pretty much garbage scope, but after I sight it in every year, she punches out .4" 5 shot groups like she was born to do so. That's with factory Federal Premium 100gr .243 by the way. Oh and not on a bench rest either. That's me laying in a field with nothing but my bipod. Did I mention the trigger pull is like 5.5 lbs. Like I said, I don't know if I could go away from the new models. I'm digging that 6mm Norma.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Ron Coburn is a smart fellow. Keep interesting stuff coming out and keep your company in the press. The fact the factory Savages will shoot rings around most of the competitors along with affordability doesn't hurt either. Keep up the good work Savage.

Dave, you need to talk to Mr. Coburn and get him to chamber the left hand Model 14 American Classic in .250 and .300 Savage like they are doing with the right hand guns. Yes... Yes... I know it has a clip.... But I'd love to have lefty .250 Savage with out having to pay custom shop prices.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Good old Savage comes thru again! I will dispense reliving my experience with my Model 110, in .270win,but with Federal Prem loads it will print a MOA group if I do my part...I enjoyed your review Dave; I can sense the uncontrollable excitement you get from "accuracy out the box" type rifles....with a price tag under 2K.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from auburn_hunter wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

The only gripe I have is that, once again, we didn't get a picture of said rifle. At the very least, we should have gotten a short video clip of Mr. Petzal doing his victory dance after achieving such incredible accuracy from a factory piece!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

There's a link to a picture of this thing in this link to a question about Savage rifles -

http://www.fieldandstream.com/answers/guns/rifles/rifle-reviews/are-ther...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cliff68 wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Savage must drive the high priced competition rifle manufacturers nuts. It seems to have everything. How do they do it?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Well’dar Sir David, as far as a cartridge size being axiomatic I quickly jumped to agree with you. But as for more powder the bigger the group? Sounds plausible, but not necessarily so Sir. My 03-A3 30-06 has about everything stacked against it from a larger case and I can really seat 180 grain bullets almost all the way out before touching the lands. With Speer 100 grain ½ jacketed bullets seated almost flush with the jacket, at 100 yards I can cover a dime and it’s only topped with an old Weaver K-6. My 22-250 with countless rounds still pounds dime size groups at 100 yards topped with a 3x9. Last October I loaded some pet 60 grain loads and it scattered them. Sure looks like another barrel job coming soon, it's over due for one!!

I believe how the cartridge facilitates the burn is like a rooms acoustics!

About the 223, Alex my 10 year old Grandson informed me he wants to use the AR15 this season. I just got in 4 boxes of 60 grain Nosler Partitions to load up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

By the way about Savage Firearms, I said back in October 1980 I would never own a Savage. UPS is delivering my new Savage 10MLBSS-II 50 Caliber Muzzleloader! I was going to get Model 10MLBTSS-II with Laminate Thumbhole stock, but my wrest doesn't rotate as good now days.

Savage Firearms?

Not your Granddaddies gun anymore B)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Hey Beekeeper,

How did your PNW trip end up?

WMH

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Savage... ah, what else needs to be said?

Well, a regular serving of the .375H&H in the M116 line won't hurt. The magnum-length magazine came rather late for Savage, and it's not even advertised that much. I'm beginning to suspect Wayne van Zwoll is getting special treatment. Why does he get all those cool Savages?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Good review Dave, sounds like Savage has turned out another great rifle. My Dad shot a Savage for 30 years, and while my next rifle won't be a bench-shooter, it will be a Savage.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Kittinger wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

I'm 100% impressed. My mind was just changed from Remington to Savage for my next rifle. Although it will be a larger caliber, Savage has demonstrated a quality and excellence that deserves a purchase. Count on it. Outstanding Savage!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from focusfront wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Let's see; a 12 pound rifle with its action hard bedded into an aluminum rail molded into a beefy stock with a flat forend, good barrel (straight, good rifling, thick and stiff), perfect headspace, great trigger, shooting uniform, handloaded ammo... why SHOULDN'T this gun shoot well? Savage checked all the boxes and the results speak for themselves. Putting two ejection ports rather than one in the receiver may even help; at least both sides of the receiver are uniform, so it will not tend to twist the barrel to one side when fired. We shouldn't wonder that this gun shoots; we should ask why everyone else's doesn't.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from elmer f. wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

yep, that IS one interesting rifle! but not one that you would want to carry to far. still, it might be worth it since you could certainly hit more varmints than miss. we dont have prarrie dogs up here (except in zoo's, and i don't think they would be very happy about popping off a rifle in the zoo!) so ground hogs or chipmunks are what we get to pop. ground hogs, are pretty easy when you find them, but those stinking litte chippy's, i think they drink 2 pots of coffee when they wake up before they climb out of their hole to face the world!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Focusfront - "We shouldn't wonder that this gun shoots; we should ask why everyone else's doesn't."

No kidding!

If I wasn't Savage, I'd be pooing myself. The other manufacturers have their work cut out for them. That, and Marlin's turnbolt outshoots a good chunk of the other factory offerings. That throws in the price point factor, although much of Savage's guns that print smaller than the rest are cheaper too. The one here aint so cheap, albeit an incredible bargain for what you get.

Get on the ball gunmakers! I'm especially talking to you, oh Great Green One. 770? Who would buy one? Are you freaking kidding me? You can't rest on your massive brand loyalty laurels forever.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from speedywalker wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Congratulations Mr. Petzel on a very fine article on the
savage rifle review. I have heard similar comments on other savage rifles such as the Model 10FP in .308. I was sitting on the fence on this line of savage
products and you closed the deal for me. Quarter inch groups are my goal and I'm thinking this will do the trick for long range prairie dog shooting. I also like the 6mm and feel that the .223 just dosen't have enough smoke to get out there at long range. For accuracy tests
I have always found that shooting in the early morning or
the evening gave me best results with no wind and a ransom rest is also helpful. I would like to see you
repeat your test with the cci-br4's, winchester brass,
using hornady bullets and h322 powder. Those gave me
my best results. I also found that a weaver v-16 was a
tremendously good scope and buy. Thanks again.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

@ shane

You know, I have seen those 710's and 770's in the stores for years. Obviously someone is buying them. But I agree, I don't know why anyone would. Maybe first time buyers who have no clue about finer implements? Too heavy for a boat paddle.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wvboy1022 wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I really do not get the dual ports.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from focusfront wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

The dual port allows you to single load rounds from the side of the rifle your face is on, rather than having to tilt the rifle off the bags a little or shift position. Not having to move a dialed-in rifle around sounds like a good idea to me, although a case head rupture (I've had one, lived, and was grateful) might be worse for you with your face near an open port. Nobody worries about this stuff any more, just us old guys who had it happen to us.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from auburn_hunter wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

The only gripe I have is that, once again, we didn't get a picture of said rifle. At the very least, we should have gotten a short video clip of Mr. Petzal doing his victory dance after achieving such incredible accuracy from a factory piece!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from cody5 wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Mr. Petzal,
As always a very interesting post. My next rifle purchase will be the Savsage Model 12, but I would like the 6BR. I would also like the barrel that has the faster twist so I can shoot the heavier bullets. Thank you for convincing me that this is the rifle that I to have been looking for.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckcreekdick wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

If "only accurate rifles are interesting", this must be one interesting rifle. I think Dave has found affordable, sub-moa rifle bliss. Savage raises the accuracy bar once again!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD_Whitetail_Hntr wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

I've been a Savage fan since my very first deer rifle. I don't even know how I could go away from their newest guns. Mine is a 12 year old Model 110, no accutrigger, pretty much garbage scope, but after I sight it in every year, she punches out .4" 5 shot groups like she was born to do so. That's with factory Federal Premium 100gr .243 by the way. Oh and not on a bench rest either. That's me laying in a field with nothing but my bipod. Did I mention the trigger pull is like 5.5 lbs. Like I said, I don't know if I could go away from the new models. I'm digging that 6mm Norma.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Ron Coburn is a smart fellow. Keep interesting stuff coming out and keep your company in the press. The fact the factory Savages will shoot rings around most of the competitors along with affordability doesn't hurt either. Keep up the good work Savage.

Dave, you need to talk to Mr. Coburn and get him to chamber the left hand Model 14 American Classic in .250 and .300 Savage like they are doing with the right hand guns. Yes... Yes... I know it has a clip.... But I'd love to have lefty .250 Savage with out having to pay custom shop prices.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Good old Savage comes thru again! I will dispense reliving my experience with my Model 110, in .270win,but with Federal Prem loads it will print a MOA group if I do my part...I enjoyed your review Dave; I can sense the uncontrollable excitement you get from "accuracy out the box" type rifles....with a price tag under 2K.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from cliff68 wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Savage must drive the high priced competition rifle manufacturers nuts. It seems to have everything. How do they do it?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Good review Dave, sounds like Savage has turned out another great rifle. My Dad shot a Savage for 30 years, and while my next rifle won't be a bench-shooter, it will be a Savage.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

There's a link to a picture of this thing in this link to a question about Savage rifles -

http://www.fieldandstream.com/answers/guns/rifles/rifle-reviews/are-ther...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

By the way about Savage Firearms, I said back in October 1980 I would never own a Savage. UPS is delivering my new Savage 10MLBSS-II 50 Caliber Muzzleloader! I was going to get Model 10MLBTSS-II with Laminate Thumbhole stock, but my wrest doesn't rotate as good now days.

Savage Firearms?

Not your Granddaddies gun anymore B)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Hey Beekeeper,

How did your PNW trip end up?

WMH

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Savage... ah, what else needs to be said?

Well, a regular serving of the .375H&H in the M116 line won't hurt. The magnum-length magazine came rather late for Savage, and it's not even advertised that much. I'm beginning to suspect Wayne van Zwoll is getting special treatment. Why does he get all those cool Savages?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Kittinger wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

I'm 100% impressed. My mind was just changed from Remington to Savage for my next rifle. Although it will be a larger caliber, Savage has demonstrated a quality and excellence that deserves a purchase. Count on it. Outstanding Savage!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from focusfront wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Let's see; a 12 pound rifle with its action hard bedded into an aluminum rail molded into a beefy stock with a flat forend, good barrel (straight, good rifling, thick and stiff), perfect headspace, great trigger, shooting uniform, handloaded ammo... why SHOULDN'T this gun shoot well? Savage checked all the boxes and the results speak for themselves. Putting two ejection ports rather than one in the receiver may even help; at least both sides of the receiver are uniform, so it will not tend to twist the barrel to one side when fired. We shouldn't wonder that this gun shoots; we should ask why everyone else's doesn't.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from speedywalker wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Congratulations Mr. Petzel on a very fine article on the
savage rifle review. I have heard similar comments on other savage rifles such as the Model 10FP in .308. I was sitting on the fence on this line of savage
products and you closed the deal for me. Quarter inch groups are my goal and I'm thinking this will do the trick for long range prairie dog shooting. I also like the 6mm and feel that the .223 just dosen't have enough smoke to get out there at long range. For accuracy tests
I have always found that shooting in the early morning or
the evening gave me best results with no wind and a ransom rest is also helpful. I would like to see you
repeat your test with the cci-br4's, winchester brass,
using hornady bullets and h322 powder. Those gave me
my best results. I also found that a weaver v-16 was a
tremendously good scope and buy. Thanks again.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

@ shane

You know, I have seen those 710's and 770's in the stores for years. Obviously someone is buying them. But I agree, I don't know why anyone would. Maybe first time buyers who have no clue about finer implements? Too heavy for a boat paddle.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wvboy1022 wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I really do not get the dual ports.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from focusfront wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

The dual port allows you to single load rounds from the side of the rifle your face is on, rather than having to tilt the rifle off the bags a little or shift position. Not having to move a dialed-in rifle around sounds like a good idea to me, although a case head rupture (I've had one, lived, and was grateful) might be worse for you with your face near an open port. Nobody worries about this stuff any more, just us old guys who had it happen to us.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Well’dar Sir David, as far as a cartridge size being axiomatic I quickly jumped to agree with you. But as for more powder the bigger the group? Sounds plausible, but not necessarily so Sir. My 03-A3 30-06 has about everything stacked against it from a larger case and I can really seat 180 grain bullets almost all the way out before touching the lands. With Speer 100 grain ½ jacketed bullets seated almost flush with the jacket, at 100 yards I can cover a dime and it’s only topped with an old Weaver K-6. My 22-250 with countless rounds still pounds dime size groups at 100 yards topped with a 3x9. Last October I loaded some pet 60 grain loads and it scattered them. Sure looks like another barrel job coming soon, it's over due for one!!

I believe how the cartridge facilitates the burn is like a rooms acoustics!

About the 223, Alex my 10 year old Grandson informed me he wants to use the AR15 this season. I just got in 4 boxes of 60 grain Nosler Partitions to load up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from elmer f. wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

yep, that IS one interesting rifle! but not one that you would want to carry to far. still, it might be worth it since you could certainly hit more varmints than miss. we dont have prarrie dogs up here (except in zoo's, and i don't think they would be very happy about popping off a rifle in the zoo!) so ground hogs or chipmunks are what we get to pop. ground hogs, are pretty easy when you find them, but those stinking litte chippy's, i think they drink 2 pots of coffee when they wake up before they climb out of their hole to face the world!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Focusfront - "We shouldn't wonder that this gun shoots; we should ask why everyone else's doesn't."

No kidding!

If I wasn't Savage, I'd be pooing myself. The other manufacturers have their work cut out for them. That, and Marlin's turnbolt outshoots a good chunk of the other factory offerings. That throws in the price point factor, although much of Savage's guns that print smaller than the rest are cheaper too. The one here aint so cheap, albeit an incredible bargain for what you get.

Get on the ball gunmakers! I'm especially talking to you, oh Great Green One. 770? Who would buy one? Are you freaking kidding me? You can't rest on your massive brand loyalty laurels forever.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment