Savage Impulse Review: Savage Defied Expectations!

by Travis Pike

February 22, 2022

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Straight-pull bolt action rifles have never seen a high degree of popularity in the United States. Yet, Savage defied expectations and released the Savage Impulse, an American-made straight-pull bolt action rifle. Today we got our hands on a Savage Impulse in 308, and we’ll be walking you through this interesting rifle. 

Savage Impulse Specs

  • Action Bolt
  • Barrel Length 20″
  • Magazine Capacity 10 Rounds
  • Overall Length 41.5″
  • Weight 8.7 pounds

Into the Impulse 

What’s the point of a straight-pull bolt action rifle? Well, a straight bolt has only two motions, backward and forward. A standard bolt action has four, up, back, forward, and down. The benefit of a straight pull is speed. You can work the bolt fast and make fast follow-up shots. 

In Europe, that tends to be a bit more valuable. The restrictions on semi-autos make a straight-pull bolt action the best action for full-powered rifle rounds and speed. Rarely do they pop up in the states, and when they do, they are an expensive import. Savage’s Impulse has come as a nice surprise for American shooters.

The Impulse came out swinging in a wide variety of configurations and calibers. Each is designed to hunt a specific type of animal and a specific hunting genre. We have the Predator, the Hog Hunter, and the Big Game. Today we have the Predator, in .308. The Predator comes with a 10 round AICS magazine, a 20-inch barrel, and a Mossy Oak camo finish. 

The Savage Impulse comes with an integrated optics rail that is machined into the receiver. The barrel is a medium contour with a ⅝-24 inch threading that’s perfect for suppressors and muzzle devices. Savage implements their famed Accutrigger and their underappreciated Accubedding to help drive accuracy forward. The Savage Impulse implements a number of modern features that allow it to excel beyond just being a unique straight-pull bolt action rifle. 

Savage Impulse Features

Savage Impulse Features
1 Adjustable Length of Pull
2 Machined 20 MOA Scope Mount 
3 Adjustable cheek weld inserts
4 Threaded Barrel
5 Ambidextrous Magazine Release

Gun Models and Colors 

This particular rifle that we are reviewing today is only one part of the three separate variations of the Savage Impulse. Here are the variations:

Savage Impulse Predator

Savage Impulse Predator
Predator – Mossy Oak Camouflage

Savage Impulse Hog Hunter

Savage Impulse Hog Hunter
Hog Hunter – OD Green

Savage Impulse Big Game

Savage Impulse Big Game
Big Game – KUIU Verde 2.0

Slinging Lead With the Impulse – Our Take

One size fits all should never apply to firearms. Modern handguns, rifles, and shotguns should be fit to the shooter, and you can do just that with the Savage Impulse. The Savage Impulse comes with a set of spacers that allows the shooter to adjust the length of pull from 12.75 to 13.75 inches. You can also add a cheek riser to the stock to increase comfort and make it easier to use your optic. 

On top of that, the Impulse utilizes a grippy rubber material on the stock and forend to secure your hand to the gun. At the rear, the stock has a soft rubber recoil pad that absorbs a little force from the full-powered rifle round. 

Behind the trigger sits a massive magazine release that requires nothing more than a press of the trigger finger to release the mag. I don’t think I need quick mag changes with a bolt gun, but good ergonomics are good ergonomics. 

The downside is this is a hefty rifle. Unloaded, without an optic, the weapon weighs 8.6 pounds. Toss on a decent optic, a sling, and ten rounds of ammo, and it tops the ten-pound mark easily. It’s a blessing and a curse. 

If you had to heft this rifle across the plains or up a hill, it might get old. However, sitting in a tree stand or deer blind isn’t an issue. Also, that extra weight helps reduce recoil and makes the weapon stable for offhand shots. 

Dropping Rounds 

The Savage Impulse begs for a good prone position, with good support to get the most accuracy possible out of the rifle. And boy, oh boy, is it fun to shoot. Get in the prone, amp up the magnification, and send lead downrange. I’m no bolt gun guy with 1,000-yard skills, but the Savage Impulse strokes my accuracy ego. 

Driving round after round into the bullseye of a B-8 pistol target at 100 yards satisfied me to an extreme degree. One hundred yards isn’t much, but it was the perfect range to zero the weapon and optic. I just slowly pushed round after round into lower and more to the right until they punched out that bullseye. With the help of a friend with some property and a 300-yard range, I pushed the rifle a little further. 

A few steel targets met a cruel fate at our hands that day. We dinged the big fellas and mostly dinged the little fellas. The Savage Impulse is accurate well beyond 300 yards, but I’ll likely never take a shot beyond 200 yards as a hunter. The Savage Accutrigger gives you a dingus style safety that must be pressed inwards before you get to an incredibly light trigger. 

The Savage Impulse trigger reduces that human error element associated with shooting. When you need to clean up a bit, this trigger is here for you. The Impulse delivers in the accuracy department without issue. 

Pull and Push the Bolt 

That straight-pull bolt allows us to deliver fast and rapid follow-up shots. All that weight the gun holds keeps the recoil down. Combine low recoil with a fast cycling bolt, and you get a rock-solid gun for those secondary shots. The bolt glides rearward and doesn’t move so far rearward that you must break your sightline with the rifle. 

You don’t even have to move your head to work the bolt, and that allows you to stay on target and make those follow-up shots or even target transitions. I did just that and worked quick follow-up shots at 50 yards on a pair of twin gongs. That fast cycling action ensured I could put two rounds on two targets in just a hair over 2 seconds. I bet I can drive that time down even further with a little dry fire practice. 

The Savage Impulse bolt uses a system of ball bearings to lock into the receiver. When the gun fires, that locking system drops and allows you to cycle the bolt. To manually unlock the bolt, you have to press a button at the rear of the bolt, which manually unlocks the weapon and allows you to cycle the action. Beneath the bolt sits a tang style safety that’s ambidextrous and easy to use. 

Does It Run? 

I didn’t have any issues with the rifle in the reliability department. I did have numerous ammo issues. Four rounds from a single box of Winchester White Box 308 failed to fire. They also failed to fire in two other 308 caliber rifles. No other ammo gave me this much grief, including cheap Tula steel case ammunition. 

Speaking of, I fired Tula, Winchester, Atlanta Ammo, and some older Hornady. Outside of those four rounds of 308 from Winchester, the gun functioned and fired without issue. Every round was extracted, ejected, and fed smoothly and reliably.

The Cost of Doing Business 

The Savage Impulse isn’t a cheap gun by any means. Especially compared to other bolt action rifles. With an MSRP of $1,379, it’s an expensive bolt action rifle. However, it’s fairly affordable from the perspective of straight-pull bolt actions. Brownings and Blasers cost significantly more than the Impulse. 

Report Card

Shootability

I wasn’t a bolt gun guy before I got my hands on the Savage Impulse. I could cycle the action quickly and efficiently, recoil was hardly anything, and the weapon just feels comfy to fire. The smooth straight-pull bolt delivers in the way you want it to.

A
Reliability

It’s a bolt gun! Bolt guns tend to be quite reliable, even though sometimes your ammo isn’t. The gun goes bang, and the Accutrigger works, the action cycles, the controls function, and there isn’t much more you can ask for. 

A
Ergonomics

Savage did a wonderful job of designing the stock and action of the rifle. The big bolt handle, the safety, the magazine release, and the bolt itself glides rearward without issue. Adjusting the length of pull and the comb makes it incredibly ergonomic. 

A
Accuracy

This tack driver delivers lead efficiently and effectively at any effective range you hunt at. Better yet, you can shoot straight and shoot fast, at least for a bolt gun.

A
Value

In a country where semi-automatic rifles are widely available and affordable, the Savage Impulse might not hold the same value as a straight-pull bolt gun. Thus, the high price tag might turn some off. Although, this might be the cheapest production straight pull on the market. 

C
Savage Impulse Final Grade

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

A-

Based on 2 Reviews

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Savage Impulse Predator Gun Deals

Impulse Hog Hunter Gun Deals

308 Ammo

HORNADY - MATCH AMMO 308 WINCHESTER 168GR

Hornady – MATCH 308 168GR

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Brownells $2.10
Hornady Precision Hunter, .308 Winchester, ELD-X, 178 Grain

Hornady Precision Hunter .308 178 Grain

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Sportsman’s Guide $2.09

Savage Impulse Starter Pack

If you’ve decided to pick up a Savage Impulse, or found another firearm suits your needs, there are some bare essentials you’re going to need to pick up in order to maximize its potential and your safety regardless of if it’s your first firearm or not.

Upgrades and Accessories

Hornady Canister Dehumidifier
  • Hornady Silica Gel Dehumidifier Canister
  • Keep Your Gun Safe Moisture Free
  • Compact, Easy to Use
Check Price
BARSKA Biometric Safe
  • Quickly Opens with the Touch of a Finger
  • 3-Point Steel Dead Bolt Locking System
  • DOJ Approved for Firearm Storage
Check Price
Savage 2 Point Sling
  • Premium chafe resistant nylon webbing
  • Fits firearms with screw studs already mounted
  • Swivels can be can be removed
Check Price

Need more info on the Savage Impulse range? Don’t worry. There’s plenty out there. We recommend you get started with the following resources:

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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