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All the evaluators involved in the 2022 Field & Stream Rifle Test agreed that Nosler’s Model 21 rifle was the best rifle we tested. However, we were all equally enamored with the new M18 Savanna from Mauser. After handling and shooting it, we all expected it to cost twice its suggested price.
Of course, the Mauser name is synonymous with the legendary Mauser 98 bolt-action that’s revered by rifle loonies worldwide. The M18, with its push-feed action, is not a Model 98. But that should not deter you—the virtues of control-round feeding are exaggerated. What the M18 is, is nearly identical to the Sauer Model S-100.
J.P. Sauer & Sohn, like Mauser, are owned by the Blaser Group and the two companies are clearly sharing technologies. However, the Sauer S-100 costs $250 more than the M18 Savanna, and I think the Savanna with its two-tone stock, is a better-looking rifle.
Features and Specifications
- Length: 42 or 44 inches, depending on chambering
- Weight: 6.9 pounds
- Barrel: 22 or 24 inches, cold hammer forged, German steel, threaded at 9/16×24, with cap
- Action: Three-lug, push-feed, bolt-action
- Trigger: Adjustable, direct action
- Finish: Blued steel
- Stock: Weatherproof synthetic with rubber inlays
- Capacity: Detachable magazine (4-5 round capacity)
- Available Chamberings: 223 Remington, 243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor (tested), 6.5 PRC, 270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, 308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, 300 Winchester Magnum
The M18 shares the Sauer’s three-position safety, three-lug bolt with a 60-degree lift, compatibility with Remington 700 scope bases, adjustable single-stage trigger, and the detachable magazines are interchangeable. What set’s the M18 Savanna apart from the S-100 is the stock. Though both have a polymer stock, the Savanna’s stock is cast in an appealing chocolate brown color and it is fitted with soft-to-the-touch rubber inlays at the wrist and on the forearm where your hands go when shooting. Also, the removable butt pad is a bit unique. If you depress the black Mauser logo buttons on each side of the stock, the butt pad slips out exposing a hollow cavity where there’s enough room to store a flexible bore cleaning rope. I think you could also poke an extra—emergency—cartridge into the foam fill within the buttstock.
The muzzle on all M18 Savanna rifles is threaded at a 9/16×24 pitch to permit the installation of a brake or suppressor, and the standard barrel length is 22 inches. Magnum chamberings have a 24.4-inch barrel. Just forward of the magazine well there’s a recessed magazine release button, and the 2.5-ounce polymer magazine was easy to load, insert, and eject. Throughout our testing, it delivered flawless operation. Additional magazines are available directly from Mauser for $59.
In addition to the factory 10-year warranty, the M18 Savanna comes with a sub-MOA guarantee. Guarantees like these are hard to codify because of so many variables. Regardless of your opinion on them, you must accept that this guarantee does not extend to any ammunition you might shoot in the rifle. We tested five loads from the bench out of the Savanna by firing multiple five-shot groups. Two of those loads met the sub-MOA guarantee, three did not. For me, this is good enough; the best five-shot group fired with the M18 measured less than 7/10ths of an inch.
The M18’s 60-degree bolt throw made the action, which was as slick as snot, comfortable and quick to cycle. The rifle felt natural in hand and on the shoulder, and while its score on the practical hunting drill did not place it in the top three, sometimes there’s this thing that happens while shooting called human error. Every member of the test group meshed well with the rifle and was happy when it was their turn to shoot the Savanna. My only negative observation was that it seemed to push on the shoulder a bit hard for a 308 Winchester. This could be a proclivity of the stock design or just how I meshed with the rifle. Other testers did not feel the same.
In the Mauser press release for the M18 Savanna, dated June 22, 2022, the suggested MSRP is listed at $849.99, and at time of this writing, this was confirmed by a Mauser representative. However, at the same time, the Savanna can be found at around $699.99 from a variety of retailers. Either way, considering the features and performance of this rifle, it is a hell of a deal. As one experienced shooter on our test panel put it, “There’s a lot to be said for an affordable rifle that you can have the utmost confidence in.” And that is exactly the kind of rifle the M18 Savanna is.
The M18 Savanna is chambered for most popular American hunting cartridges, from the diminutive .223 Remington and the kill-almost-anything .300 Winchester Magnum. In my opinion, the major downside to the design is that Mauser uses the same action size regardless of the length of the cartridge. That of course is one of the reasons Mauser can keep the price low. Given its features, how well feels in hand, handles in the field, and shoots, I can overlook that. It is a very attractive, graceful rifle, and at its price point, the M18 Savanna is hard not to fall in love with—and buy—even if you don’t need it.