Rifles > Bolt-Action

Savage Model 12 Varmint Rifle

The Savage Model 12 Varmint rifle is well worth a look.


Savage Arms has long enjoyed a reputation for making quality affordable rifles, but often was viewed as being a few rungs below the big-name rifle manufacturing firms of Winchester, Remington and Ruger. Things began to change for Savage, however, in 1995.

Having led the company out of bankruptcy, Savage President and CEO Ron Coburn focused the company on making a new, improved Savage bolt gun. Word quickly spread that this plain vanilla rifle was accurate—tack-driving accurate. With its reputation for accurate barrel building, Savage tackled the other half of the long-range accuracy shooting equation—the trigger. Savage set its sights on manufacturing target-quality triggers and, in 2002, introduced the AccuTrigger.

For safety, the AccuTrigger incorporates what Savage bills as an integrated AccuRelease: a slim blade through the trigger bow that, when depressed, unblocks the sear and allows the trigger to function. On varmint rifles, the AccuTrigger is adjustable down to an incredibly light 1.5 pounds, with no discernable creep and a crisp break. The new Savage Model 12 Varminter Low Profile Single Shot rifle incorporates this feature and many more.

The Varminter submitted for evaluation was a stainless-steel short-action, laminated-stock varmint rifle chambered in .204 Ruger.

The first order of business was to adjust the trigger, which is accomplished by turning the adjustment screw. The trigger has a limited range of adjustment from 1.5 to 6 pounds, and it can’t be over-adjusted at either end of its range.

The wood laminate stock features dual pillar bedding and the barrel channel is sufficiently relieved to free-float the barrel. Designed for benchrest shooting, the low-profile rifle’s pistol grip swoops down to a near-90 degree angle from the sighting plane with palm swells on either side, but is totally devoid of checkering or any type of grip enhancement. The fore-end is straight and of generous size and features a front sling swivel stud.

Savage has made some great improvements on the finish of its bolt-action rifles in recent years. The Varminter is not as butter-smooth as several other mass-produced rifles on the market, but it is a vast improvement over the old Savage 110 of a few years ago.

The Model 12 Varminter’s action is CNC-machined from a billet of 400 series stainless steel and features a push-feed style bolt with a sliding-plate extractor and a spring-loaded plunger-type ejector.

The legendary affordability and accuracy of Savage rifles is the result of several things, one of which is the large barrel nut that attaches the barrel to the receiver. One of the most significant advantages to this unique approach is streamlined production time and lower costs. Additionally, Savage’s approach to barrel manufacturing is quite conducive to accuracy. After drilling and contouring, Savage puts each barrel through a precision reaming process that ensures each bore is uniform and of exacting dimensions. The rifling is formed by the button-rifling process, wherein a steel button with the reverse profile of the rifling’s lands and grooves on its surface is drawn through the bore. The end result is a smoothly surfaced and uniformly rifled bore. The Varminter is fitted with a 26-inch fluted stainless steel heavy barrel with a 1:12-inch right-hand twist.

We tested the rifle in the new .204 Ruger chambering on the range and experienced no malfunctions of any kind. It displayed excellent accuracy, possibly aided by the adjustable trigger that broke cleanly when set at 1 pound, 8 ounces with no discernable creep.

Overall, we were impressed with the .204 Ruger Model 12 Varminter. For anyone in the market for a no-nonsense, accurate varmint rifle that requires no additional work right out of the box, the Savage Model 12 Varminter Low Profile Single Shot is well worth a look.

Manufacturer: Savage Arms; (413) 568-7001; www.savagearms.com
Caliber: .204 Ruger (tested),.223 Rem., .22-250 Rem.
Action Type: bolt-action, repeating single-shot rifle
Receiver: 400 series stainless steel
Barrel: 26" fluted stainless steel heavy barrel
Rifling: six-groove, 1:12" RH twist
Magazine: single-shot
Sights: none
Trigger Pull: adjustable from 1 lb., 8 ozs. to 6 lbs.
Stock: target-style wood laminate with ambidextrous palm swells, dual pillar bedding: length of pull, 141⁄4"; drop at heel, 11⁄4", drop at comb, 1"
Overall Length: 461⁄4"
Weight: 10 lbs.
Accessories: trigger adjustment tool, manual
Suggested Retail Price: $752

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13 Responses to Savage Model 12 Varmint Rifle

marcus wrote:
October 07, 2014

I have a model 12 flv leftie in 223, factory ammo of several different brands all shot well but working up hand loads really make this rifle shine, 55 grn nosler varmegeddon hp's over a load of varget powder and cci primers is the best combo i have yet to come up with. 1/4 inch groups all day long, i have gotten similar results with tipped bullets as well, however they are to long to fit into the mag when setting 30 thou off of lands so i am stuck using hp's. Looking for dbm conversion so i can change out the stock is proving to be a challenge, the stock is definatly the only weak point on my rifle, barrel touchs on the right side and depending on where i place the rifle on my bench rest can and will change poi.

Heath wrote:
July 07, 2014

David how many rounds do you thing were shot through the barrel?

David wrote:
August 04, 2013

I have an older model 12 without the acu trigger and woud like to sell to get a 223 savage that is lighter ad easier for me to Handel. I do not target shoot any more. I am wondering the value of this gun. I am not finding anything on it. It is a model 12 fluted stainless. Thanks

Joseph Beck wrote:
July 06, 2013

Took a model 12.223 prairie dog hunting in South Dakota. Just as good if not better then a $5000 custom made rifle in our group. Savage makes a very fine gun.

Marc wrote:
May 03, 2013

My model 12 22-250 is the most accurate rifle i have ever owned, love it.

Gregory Hunt wrote:
February 04, 2013

I have 2 Savage 12 Series rifles which I use for pararie dog shooting both are incredibly accurate With the 22-250 I load 36 gr of Varget and have achieved 3/8 inch groups at 300 yards.the other is in 204 and I load 28 grs of Varget and set the oal at 2.370 inches. It will shoot 1/2 minute of. Angle all day long.Greg

Mark Pelham wrote:
December 13, 2012

I am a long time Remington 700 shooter...great firearms. I bought my first Savage 6 years ago and after 4 more Savage rifles including a 6mm BR. I am staying with the Savage...so far they have been outshooting my Remingtons...and I have been shooting for around 50 years now so I know a good rifle when I see one.

geoff wrote:
December 09, 2012

My savage model 12 204 with the accutrigger is the best gun I own very accurate top notch rifle

Jon wrote:
November 21, 2012

If your model is junk maybe you want to sell it to me!

John wrote:
September 18, 2012

My experience has been the opposite of David. I have the same 22-250 with the Accutrigger set to the lightest setting. No problems. Very accurate out of the box. I'm still working on a good load for it. My next gun will be a Savage after this experience.

David wrote:
June 16, 2012

The 'accutrigger' seems like a great idea, until you use it for awhile. Even a light kicking 22-250 in these heavy guns will cause the trigger to 'lock' when pulled after a previous round has been fired. Mine has to be set all the way up in pull weight for this not to happen every shot. Same old savage quality ... Junk!

Savage Fan wrote:
June 12, 2012

The model 12 VLP is also available with a 4-round detachable box magazine for a bit more $. I own one in .308 for 300 yard target shooting and, couple with a Leupold target scope, it is everything I was looking for in a target rifle.

Bunnyshooter1719 wrote:
June 11, 2012

I'm not really into single shots. Unless it's an H&R Shotgun. Those are fun