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Savage Model 25 Varminter

July 11, 2012
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

The objective at Savage a lighter, easy to carry varmint rifle. Take a close look at Savage's Model 25 lightweight varmint rifle and it's like a wish list of features you would want in this type of rifle while meeting their objective.

For starters, the base rifle weighs in at 8.25 lbs., which is at least 2 pounds lighter than most varmint rifles. This may not sound like much, but a couple less pounds are noticeable when carrying a rifle. The lighter weight also makes this an ideal rifle for a youth involved in varmint hunting that has grown beyond a rimfire and is ready for a centerfire.

The Model 25 does incorporate Savage's Accu-Trigger, but not the same one used in a majority of their centerfire rifles. The Accu-Trigger for the Model 25 has a trigger pull of 2.5 to 3.25 pounds while most of the other centerfire rifles have a trigger pull of 2.5 to 6 pounds. When you consider the differences between big game hunting and groundhog hunting, the different trigger makes sense.

Article Photos

Savage Model 25 Varminter

Savage rifles have a great reputation for 'out of the box' accuracy. A large factor in determining any rifle's accuracy is the barrel, and the 24" barrel on the Model 25 has the features known to improve accuracy. The free floating barrel has a recessed target crown muzzle and the rifling in the barrel is done through a process called button rifling.

One of the greatest weight savings for the Model 25 in comparison to other varmint rifles is the barrel. While a typical varmint rifle barrel is heavy, the Model 25 is a medium contoured barrel (1" diameter where it screws into the action and tapered to a .7" diameter at the muzzle). Heavy barrels are generally stiffer and vibrate less when fired; hence, better consistency and accuracy. By using the medium contoured barrel, the Model 25 gains some of the benefits of a heavy barrel without the weight. To get additional stiffness, the barrel is sleeved into the action. The Model 25 barrel threads into the receiver a full two inches. The barrel is fluted about 13" on six sides. By fluting the barrel, the weight of a large-diameter barrel if further reduced.

The Model 25 incorporates pillar bedding of the action in 2 locations, in front of the breach and behind the breach. A third support pillar is added at the rear of the action. Bedding improves accuracy in part by relieving stress on the action.

The rate of twist for the Model 25 in .223 Remington is 1 in 9. This fast twist rate gives heavier, longer bullets more stability. During this evaluation, bullet weights from 36 grain to 62 grain were used and no key holing was evident.

Missing on the Model 25 is the barrel nut that secures the barrel to the receiver. Instead, once the barrel is threaded into the receiver and head spacing is set, the barrel is secured and locked in place with not one, but two pins. This method maintains the rigidity and saves weight (two pins weigh much less that one barrel nut).

Another major difference in the Model 25 is the bolt that is substantially smaller than the bolt used in nearly all other Savage centerfire rifles (another weight savings). The bolt for the Model 25 is caliber specific, has three (3) locking lugs that release with a 60 lift of the bolt handle. The bolt/action may appear to be the same as the Model 40 Varminter in .22 Hornet, but it's not. The Model 40 bolt is not designed to handle the increased pressures of the .223 and .204.

Savage offers the Model 25 with a choice of three different stocks. For evaluation, I chose the standard brown laminate stock with a beavertail fore end which is very nice. If you prefer a newer style, the Model 25 is offered in a brown laminate thumbhole style with beavertail fore end. A third stock option is the Classic Sportster satin finished walnut stock with black fore end. The laminate stocks feature a third swivel stud, two for a sling and the third for mounting a bipod.

Total cartridge capacity is five rounds, one in the chamber and four in the detachable box clip that weighs less than one ounce. The trigger guard and bottom plate is one piece. The clip release tab is part of the lower plate assembly in front of the clip and recessed in a pocket. The release is easy to use with either hand and works very smoothly. Installing the clip is a little different than most; it starts by sliding in just like any other clip but when it reaches the receiver, the front of the clip is pushed in another 3/8" to engage the clip lock. When you hear the 'click', you know it's locked in.

Since the Model 25 is a varmint rifle, open sights are not included. However, the rifle does have weaver style bases already attached.

Even though the recoil for a .223 Remington or .204 Ruger is relatively mild, the Model 25 is equipped with a contoured, rubber butt plate. This is another nice touch that Savage incorporated into the overall construction.

Having dissected and discussed the rifle features, the obvious question is "How does it shoot?" Answer: a lot depends on the ammunition and what you are expecting. Wolf and military (FMJ) is suitable for fun shooting, but don't expect much in accuracy or consistency. Remington, Winchester and Black Hills (blue box moly) shot much better and consistently produced groups in the 1"-2" range. If you strive for even better accuracy, the Savage Model 25 will deliver. Savage included a target with the rifle as part of the factory testing. They used Federal Gold Medal with 69 gr. Sierra Match King BTHP and produced a .8" group. I was able to get similar sub-MOA results with Hornady 40 gr. V-Max and Black Hills 36 gr. Varmint Grenade (red box). After a couple hundred rounds, a good cleaning and repositioning the scope, I started at 75 yards to zero the scope and shot these two 3-shot groups (3/8" and 5/16") with the Black Hills Varmint Grenade before getting rained out. With the right choice in factory ammunition, this rifle has the ability to shoot very well. For hand loaders, working up a load with your favorite bullet and powder could further improve the accuracy and consistency.

For our area, groundhog hunting in the summer is popular; there are plenty of fields, a lot of groundhogs and many farmers will give you permission to hunt for them. A typical shot for groundhogs is in the 100-200 yard range; occasionally the opportunity for a 200-250 yard shot presents itself. The Savage Model 25 is quite capable of making shots at these ranges. With a good scope and good ammunition, this rifle should be able to accurately and consistently reach out 250+ yards in the hands of a skilled shooter.

It's hard to find fault with Savage's Model 25. Even the way the clip fits at an angle looks nicer than a box hanging down. The only improvement that Savage could make is the positioning of the Weaver style bases. Depending on the scope that is mounted, the eye relief may be a concern. Scopes with a longer eye relief or longer tubes would be more suitable. Having a good, natural hold on the rifle that comfortably puts the scope at the proper eye relief distance makes it easier for the shooter to maximize the potential of this rifle.

Now the big question, the price? The MSRP for the Savage Model 25 is style specific. The brown laminate thumbhole model with a vented beavertail fore end is the most expensive of the three at $635; the Classic Sportster features satin lacquered American walnut with contrasting fore end tip and wraparound checkering lists for $616; the brown laminate with a typical style stock like the one tested is the least expensive at $588.

Savage has definitely developed a good, accurate rifle in the Model 25. It looks very nice, it has many of the same features of more expensive varmint rifles and weighs a couple pounds less, it has the "out of the box" accuracy that is synonymous with Savage rifles, and it's priced right. As mentioned before, this would make an excellent varmint rifle for a youth. For an adult on a tight budget or someone not sure about making the investment in a more expensive heavy barrel varmint rifle, the Model 25 is a great choice.

First Published August 2008



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