Rife review: Savage’s straight-pull Impulse promises fast follow-up shots


Over the past decade or two, Savage has established a reputation for manufacturing accurate bolt-action rifles at a competitive price. The gun maker’s most recent addition to its ever-expanding line is the Impulse, which has the distinction of being the only American-made straight-pull centrefire on the market. While the straight-pull concept is not new, the design of the Impulse certainly is. The engineers at Savage must have burned a bit of midnight oil while developing this rifle, as it boasts 13 patented innovations.

Essential to the success of the Impulse is the bolt, which features a unique locking mechanism referred to as HexLock. The design utilizes six ball bearings that secure the bolt into a machined recess in the barrel extension; a plunger is seated forward in the interior of the bolt body to force the ball bearings outward, locking the bolt in position when closed. This design allows for very quick straight-pull extractions of fired brass, making for faster follow-up shots. Shooters can even adjust the position and angle of the ambidextrous bolt handle to suit their orientation.


Of course, the Impulse also includes Savage’s Accufit stock, which includes five interchangeable comb heights and four length of pull inserts. Once you’ve established the right height for an optimum scope-reticle sight picture, you no longer need to make further adjustments or stock alterations. Talk about customization made simple and inexpensive.

A Leupold VX-6HD scope completed the package

Adjustable from 1.5 to four pounds, the Accutrigger is another included Savage feature, this time aimed at safety. Fully adjustable and totally creep-free, it allows the shooter to set a very light trigger pull without jeopardizing safety. Other notable features include a Proof Research carbon-fibre-wrapped stainless steel barrel that’s threaded 5/8-24, a muzzle brake, an aluminum receiver with an integral one-piece 20 MOA rail, and Accustock technology with three-dimensional aluminum bedding. The rifle also sports sling swivel studs and a two-position tang safety.



I best begin with a caution. This is a very different action, so it’s advisable to take the time, as I did, to read the instruction manual before attempting to assemble and shoot this rifle. My test model was the Impulse Mountain Hunter in 6.5 Creedmoor. Once I had the lowdown on the operational intricacies, I utilized the included spacers and third highest comb for a perfect customized fit and eye-to-reticle scope alignment.

Meanwhile, the rifle’s integrated rail and a set of Zeiss Precision Ultralight medium-high rings made mounting the Leupold scope (see below) a simple task. In total, the combination weighed in at nine pounds even, with a trigger pull weight of three pounds three ounces.

Quite simply, this rifle’s action was designed for speed and there’s no doubt it achieves that. Also catching my attention was the generous amount of scope clearance this straight-pull offers. As a comparison, I measured the bolt handle/scope clearance on a standard Savage 110 action at a mere quarter-inch, but this is a non-issue with the Impulse. Intuitively, I also questioned how the Impulse would cycle rounds and clear spent brass—no problem there, either, as it ejected shells a good three to five feet.

At times, I found the bolt would de-cock after removal, with the ball bearings extended. To re-cock, you simply grab the bolt body with one hand and pull back on the bolt handle with the other until it locks in the rearward position, with the ball bearings retracted. The bolt must be in that position to insert it back into the action.

Despite this rifle boasting a Proof Research carbon-fibre barrel, the accuracy still surprised me. To be more precise, the 11 hunting factory ammo groups averaged 0.698, while the two match ammo groups averaged just a tad tighter at 0.540. The star of the show was Winchester Deer Season, with a 0.358-inch group. When overlapped, all 13 groups—encompassing 39 shots in all—did not exceed 1.5 inches. Those are simply outstanding results. For hunting deer-sized game with the Impulse, I would opt for Winchester Deer Season 125-grain, and for larger game, Hornady Precision Hunter 143-gain ELD-X would top my list with its 0.582 accuracy.

For the complete range test results, go to www.outdoorcanada.ca/impulsetest.   


  • Calibre: 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Total length: 44.75″
  • Weight: 7.16 lb
  • Barrel length: 22″
  • Twist rate: 1 in 8″
  • Length of pull: 12.75″ to 13.75″
  • Drop at comb: Adjustable with 5 included combs
  • Magazine capacity: 4



This premium hunting scope features a high-definition optical system that improves clarity for high contrast and true colour images, while the Twilight-Max Light Management System enhances low-light performance by improving transmission throughout the entire visible spectrum. Additionally, the Guard-Ion hydrophobic optical coatings help prevent finger stains, as well as repel water drops, dust and dirt. The lens edges are also blackened to further improve contrast and reduce stray light, while the DiamondCoat 2 adds an extra layer to protect the optics from scratches.

This scope’s 30mm main tube is crafted from ultra-durable, lightweight 6061 T6 aluminum. It is water- and fog-proofed with second-generation argon-krypton gas, all but eliminating the effects of thermal shock. As well, the scope’s ability to withstand the most intense recoil and abuse is assured by its twin bias spring erector system, which provides 30 per cent more holding force.

My test model included an Illuminated FireDot Duplex reticle, with eight levels of intensity. It includes Motion Sensor Technology that automatically switches to standby mode after five minutes of inactivity, then reactivates as soon as the rifle is moved. This feature eliminates the need for extra movement when a shot is at hand, while increasing the battery life.

Other features include Leupold’s Custom Dial System, which offers a free custom elevation dial matched to your rifle’s ballistics. Once it’s installed, all that’s required is range determination, adjustment of the dial for that range, and a dead-on hold for the shot of a lifetime.

My test model also offered a 6:1 zoom ratio, ZeroLock 2 elevation and ZeroLock windage dials that lock in place so they can’t accidentally rotate off zero. As well, it came with a reversible throw lever for quick magnification adjustments, aluminum flip-back lens covers, and a transferable lifetime warranty (with two years on the electronics).


  • Magnification: 3-18x
  • Length: 13.5″
  • Weight: 22.9 oz
  • Tube size: 30mm
  • Objective lens: 50mm
  • Elevation/windage adjustment: 75 MOA
  • Field of view (@100 yards): low 38.3′, high 6.4′
  • Eye relief: low 3.7″, high 3.8″
  • Reticle: Illuminated FireDot Duplex