Savage B.Mag Review
How would you like a significant bump in rimfire performance for FREEEEE? Great pitch, right? The new Savage B.Mag and the 17 Winchester Super Magnum were released as brother and sister on that journey, and there have been a few stumbles along the way. The Savage B.Mag is a significantly new rifle developed by Savage. They bucked trend and came out with a brand new “cock on close” bolt, new rear lug lockup, new rotary mag, smooth new stock bottom, and more. If this rifle didn’t have the signature Savage Accutrigger, you might not even think it’s a Savage: it’s that different from their other rifles. With such a significant departure from norm, did they hit the mark? **Update 2018: My B.Mag HB was a lot better. Maybe Savage fixed the accuracy issues**
Savage B.Mag Video Review
Savage B.Mag Bolt and Action
Let’s start with the action, since it’s fairly unique on its own. First, it’s cock-on-close, just like 303 SMLE’s found all over Canada. That means it’s a bit harder to close the bolt because you’re cocking the striker at the same time, but it’s a bit easier to open the bolt. Compare opening the bolt of any modern bolt action rifle and it’s easy to see the difference. The Savage B.Mag also features rear locking lugs. Rear locking lugs are generally weaker than forward locking lugs more commonly found on centerfire rifles, but on a rimfire like this, they’ll take the pressure just fine.
Enough theory, how is the cock-on-close, rear lug B.Mag in action? Not great. The bolt snaps open, which will lightly hit your fingers against the scope. It’s also possible to lock the bolt down well rear of “true” lockup, which happened to me and several people who used the B.Mag, and which results in little nicks from the bolt hitting the stock. The bolt is firm when closing due to the cock on close action. Compared to the relatively slick as snot centerfire Axis, it isn’t a great experience. On the plus side, the side bolt release is a great improvement over the normal trigger-plus-side-lever dance of removing a bolt from a Savage 110.
Savage B.Mag Trigger/Safety
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this Accutrigger looks a bit different than the other versions I’ve seen. The one on this rifle had just a slight bit of creep, but was very light and otherwise crisp. Not perfect, but excellent for a rifle of this price. The safety was also solid: a straight-forward 2 position affair that clicked solidly in place. No complaints here.
The B.Mag magazine uses a combo of metal and plastic, which should give reliability in the spots that needs it and inexpensiveness in the spots that don’t. The result is just OK. I think the rim cutouts could use a little widening on the left side to make it easier to push the rounds around the mag (watch the video around 6:11, I explain it better.) I really like how the mag slips into the magwell and clicks positively in place. It can be quite hard to snap into place with the bolt forward, but is otherwise very easy and positive.
Savage B.Mag Disassembly
It’s not bad, but there is a hidden latch to remove the trigger guard and expose the action screws. Easier to just show in a video:
Savage B.Mag Stock
Here’s where I think Savage tried to fix what wasn’t broken. The B.Mag has a smooth bottom, with no action screws showing. It also has a slim profile. Yet, it feels like a cheap piece of crap. Maybe the stippling of the plastic could have been changed, maybe the style of plastic, but it just isn’t very confidence inspiring. It is very light, but I think most people would appreciate using an aftermarket stock for the Savage B.Mag.
Most disconcerting: I, and many other new B.Mag owners on the internet have found that the factory stock bows like a rainbow internally and contacts the barrel near the midway mark. I’d guess that this is the main culprit in many of the accuracy complaints about the B.Mag, but there are a lot of theories out there right now.
Yep, I’m ending this review this quick. Overall, the rifle in its current state has one critical failing that I can’t abide by.
Savage B.Mag Accuracy Problems
This rifle gets 2-3″ groups at 100 yards. My 70 year old Mosin can do that. I need more from a varmint rifle. Maybe this has to do with stock contact with the barrel, maybe rifling/barrel problems, who really knows?? All I know is that internet forum users I respect have had to go through a lot of returns and work in bedding/accurizing to get these rifles to 1-1.5 MOA. Savage is renowned for their accuracy and quality, which separates them from Remington these days, so I expect more. I shouldn’t have to buy a new stock, pillar and bed it just to get a 17 rimfire to shoot 1.5″ at 100 yards. For the low price, I could live with the hinky bolt, plastic stock, and last round FTE’s. I can’t work with 2-3 MOA from a new round that should give you another 50 yards of usable varmint range, because that range is useless with that kind of accuracy.
Now, what am I doing about it? I attempted to remove material from the stock to get a free float, and stiffen the forend to ensure loading up on the stock wouldn’t cause barrel contact. That didn’t give the results I wanted. I’ve recently mounted the rifle in a beautiful Boyd’s gun stock. That didn’t work. I guess I could pillar and bed the stock to the action, but that’s far beyond what anyone should have to do to get closer to MOA out of a newly produced varmint rifle.
Think I’m being too critical? For about $60 more, I picked up a Savage 93R17 BTVS that shot under 1 MOA at 100 yards and had a lovely bolt right from the factory. There were many other more inexpensive versions of the Savage 93R17 that would make the B.Mag look poorly put together in comparison.