• Savage Arms Impulse Predator 6.5 Creedmoor

    Back in December of 2020 I was invited to participate in a zoom call with the Sales and Marketing team at Savage Arms and a bunch of other writer-types for the media launch of an all new product which we today know as the Impulse line of straight-pull bolt-action rifles. To say I was extremely excited about this new product at the time would be an understatement, and immediately after said zoom call I emailed my contact and put in a request for a Predator model chambered in .22-250 Remington which was to be one of the factory offerings.

    Fast forward almost three years and still no Impulse Predator in .22-250 Remington from Savage. In that time I had been told repeatedly that production had been delayed for that caliber, when in reality I believe what happened is that the folks at Savage came to realize too late that the .308 AICS pattern magazine simply won't feed the .22-250 cartridge reliably due to its' case having significantly more body taper. I had [wrongly] presumed that Savage was aware of this and had partnered with someone like Accurate-Mag to provide a functional 22-250 Remington magazine in the AICS pattern to facilitate offering this chambering in this model.

    All that said, to this very day Savage Arms still lists the Impulse Predator as being offered in .22-250 Remington on their website (sku#57657 with an MSRP of $1,519.00) as of the time of this writing (Nov. 2023).

    The whole purpose behind my specifically requesting the .22-250 Rem. option was because I fully intended to purchase the rifle at the conclusion of the review so that I could do a number of follow-up articles with it to detail the nuances of the new Impulse series of rifles, and I wanted it chambered in something I could actually get some use out of here in the mid-west where hunting with a bottlenecked centerfire rifle cartridge is restricted to groundhogs and coyotes. As such a 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Winchester really wouldn't do me much good other than being extreme overkill for what I could use it for in these parts. But alas, even after rejecting Savage's offer to send me a 6.5 Creedmoor numerous times during those years of waiting, Savage ultimately decided to just send me one anyway - so here we are.

    Since the Impulse has now been available on dealer shelves for over two years, I hav decided that rather than delving deep into the design details of the rifle and it's features, I'm going to focus my efforts here on my impressions, opinions and overall thoughts about the Impulse Predator. Those wanting the nitty-gritty design details can easily find them on Savage's website or on one of the many existing written articles or videos previously done on the Impulse series of rifles by other publications and/or YouTubers.

    Action & Bolt:

    The new action design for the Impulse intrigued me from the start. Constructed of aluminum, the main portion of the action basically acts as the central hub for all the other sub-assemblies (bolt assembly, trigger assembly & barrel assembly). One of the most notable features of the action is how easy it will be to change barrels on the Impulse. The bolt heads are crazy simple to swap without having to disassemble the entire bolt assembly (ala Axis and 110 series), which is a huge design improvement from where I sit. To swap the barrel itself, one will simply need to loosen three clamping bolts on the bottom on the action and remove a fourth bolt that also acts as a cross pin interlocking the barrel assembly to the action via a corresponding slot in the barrel extension. From there it's just a matter of sliding the new barrel assembly into place, aligning the slot for the cross pin and reinstalling/tightening the four bolts (the barrel assembly being made up of the barrel, barrel nut, recoil lug and barrel extension accordingly).

    Another thing to note about the new Impulse action is that like the Savage Axis (and the Tikka's) it is a "one size fits all" action. On the plus side this means one action can be utilized for most any round your heart may desire with the appropriate barrel, bolt head and magazine. On the down side, this means that the Impulse action ends up being on the heavy side. Also note that just like with the Axis, you will need a dedicated long or short action stock, bottom metal and magazine if changing cartridges.

    Two other key features I was happy to see on the Impulse action were the Springfield style inertia ejector and the Winchester Model 70 style bolt release button on the side of the action. No more phalange gymnastics of depressing the sear flag or pushing back the bolt release button on the trigger guard while simultaneously pulling the trigger rearward to remove the bolt from the action.

    The bolt borrows heavily from the German made Heym SR30 straight pull rifle for it's lock-up design, but otherwise it's all Savage including an easily swapped out bolt head. Savage also deserves kudo's for making the Impluse rifles ambidextrous by incorporating a bolt handle that can be swapped to either side as well as clocked to different angles to offer several different positions depending on personal preference.

    Last but definitely not least, the Impulse rifles all feature integrated picatinney rails so there's no need to purchase a rail separately and there's no possibility that it will come loose at the most inopportune time.

    Barrel Assembly:

    As noted above, the aluminum action of the Impulse mandates a steel barrel extension similar to that found on an AR-type rifle. This extension threads onto the barrel, and is headspaced the same as you would a typical 110 or Axis with a barrel nut but you are setting the depth of the barrel threads into the extension rather than the action itself. This assembly is then clamped into the action with four bolts on the bottom side of the action, one of which also acts as an indexing pin with a corresponding notch semi-circular groove in the bottom of the barrel extension. If you already have other barrels setup and headspaced with their own barrel extension, recoil lug and barrel nut, once could easily swap out barrels in just a few minutes.

    Stock & Magazine:

    The Impulse Predator that I received featured a metal AICS pattern magazine manufactured by Accurate-Mag and matching AICS bottom metal specific to the Impulse. The bottom metal has a noticeably tighter tolerance in the magazine port than the comparable bottom metal for the 110 series rifles, and also fully incorporates the trigger guard as well rather than having it as a separate unit like on most of the 110-series models. Due to this tighter tolerance the bottom metal for the Impulse will not accept the Magpul AICS pattern magazines. I will say that the metal magazine is a nice upgrade over the plastic Magpul units and is something I wish Savage would bring to the 110-series models equipped with an AICS magazines.

    The stock is also unique to the Impulse and features Savage's popular AccuFit system with adjustable comb and length-of-pull. It's a standard sporter pattern just like you would find on the 110's so really nothing new to report on the stock. For the Impulse Predator model depicted here the stock comes decorated in Mossy Oak's Terra Gila camo pattern.

    Accuracy & Function:

    The accuracy I got from this rifle was a little disappointing, especially compared to what I'm used to seeing from other rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. I partially attribute this to the fact that about half the ammunition I used during testing was varmint loads with much lighter bullets weighing 90 and 95 grains. I can't recall ever seeing a 6.5 CM review where they shot these lighter factory loads, so I figured why not see how they do. Unfortunately these varmint loads from Hornady and Nosler consistently shot 1.5 to 2" groups at 100 yards with this particular rifle. The more typical factory loads topped with 128 to 143 grain bullets shot better, but still averaged right around that one inch at 100 yards.

    In terms of function, the Impulse fed, extracted and ejected perfectly throughout the course of my testing. The AccuTrigger didn't feel quite as smooth as those on the 110's, but it was crisp and consistent at just a touch over 3-pounds which to me is more important. Ejection of the spent case is dependent on how forcefully you pull the bolt rearward; pull it back slow and it will just barely flick the case out or slam the bolt back and it will eject with authority and fling your brass several feet.

    My only real complaint in terms of function - and it's a big one - has to do with how stiff the rotation of the bolt handle is to retract the detent balls and allow the bolt to move rearward. It is almost impossible to rotate the bolt handle rearward without having the buttstock shouldered or firmly pressed into your thigh or hip to brace it and allow the necessary leverage. I actually suspect this may be the very reason I've seen soo little discussion about or interest in the Impulse rifles on the various forums and social media groups over the past two years. When someone walks into the gun shop and the clerk hands them an Impulse they naturally hold it at port arms position and want to cycle the bolt - but due to the stiffness of the bolt handle rotation they can't and they immediately start thinking "WTF?" and instantly start developing a negative view of the rifle. This is the exact reaction I got from well over a dozen different random shooters I encountered at the range who came up to me to check out the Impulse.

    Final Thoughts:

    So at the end of the day, is the Impulse Predator a rifle I would want to add to my battery of arms? Unfortunately for me the answer is no - and I honestly struggled with myself to accept that conclusion. As I noted at the start of this article I was really excited about the Impulse when it was first announced. The rifle has a lot of good things going for it, but for me and what I look for in a rifle and/or how I typically use a rifle I just don't think I could be happy with the current Impulse. The aforementioned stiff bolt handle rotation is at the heart of my skepticism, but the overall weight of the rifle is as well as it's noticeably heavier than my similarly spec'd custom Axis rifle that's my go-to walking groundhog/coyote rifle these days. If I wanted to carry around excess weight I'd be hunting with my dedicated long-range varmint rifle with a 26" heavy barrel and a hefty fiberglass stock.

    I will say though that the straight pull bolt of the Impulse is noticeably faster to cycle if kept shouldered, and since there's no rotation in the movement (and no hard spot in the bolt lift like on a 110 or Axis) it's much easier to stay on target while cycling the bolt. That's a big plus, but when it comes to speed I think Savage's marketing team really overplayed the "it's faster" card - especially for the bulk of their customer base who live in the United States where semi-automatic rifles are legal to own and hunt with. Yes it's a benefit, but not as substantial as they tried to make it out to be.

    In terms of pricing I think the Impulse series are priced right about where they should be. This Predator version has an MSRP of $1,519 or an average street price of between $1,100 and $1,200, which is comparable to several of the top tier 110-Series models like the 110 High Country or 110 Ultralight. For that one gets an all new design with a lot of new and unique features. For comparison, the Impulse's most popular competitor in the straight-pull bolt-action rifle field would be the Blazer R8 Professional which carries and entry fee of well over $4,000, but that rifle is also in a totally different class than the Savage in my opinion.

    So is a straight-pull Impulse rifle the right choice for you? Only you can answer that question for yourself. I think they have their place, and I'm hoping they're a success for Savage in Europe which was the primary target market for this model, but based on what I've seen these past two years in terms of chit-chat, scuttlebutt and videos online regarding the Impulse rifles it just doesn't seem like there's been very much interest in them. Hopefully I'm wrong in that assessment, but based on what I've seen I suspect the Impulse series of rifles may end up being a short lived blip on the radar much like the MSR series of rifles were.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Dave Hoback's Avatar
      Dave Hoback -
      Iíve never been a fan of straight pull action rifles. If I want a single shot straight pull, Iíll adjust the gas off on my AR15, LOL!

      Really l, thereís a reason there have only been a few straight pulls that that saw military use with really the only one of merit being the Schmidt-Reuban, ultimately leading to one true success, the Swiss K31. (Although some would argue the Steyr Mannlicher a great success.) However, these rifles (4 straight pulls) were all made around the same time in the 1890ís, still the infancy of firearms. And since those, no straight pulls have been in any serious role.

      I just donít see the point. I think of a Bolt Action for higher precision/accuracy work. The tighter tolerances, slower rate of fire & such. What is the allure of faster bolt gun? If I want fast, Iíll look to my ARís. Look at the similarities as was pointed out: Aluminum Upper ReceiverÖ, use of & Headspaced via Steel Barrel Extension, and having an integral Picatinny rail. Boy! I wonder how they got all those ideas. LOL! Iím also extremely curious what series & processed form of Aluminum the Receivers are made from. 6061, or 7075? And are they machined Forgings or Billets? Anyway, not a huge deal. Just the Metallurgist in me curious.

      Iím sure they will serve many people very well. And theyíll be great hunting rigs no doubt. I just donít see them taking anything from the 110 for those like me with a long standing loyalty & admiration for the 110. But it will have its own hand of followers as well. Guys like member ďshoots100Ē here who has made the betterment of the Impulse his duty. And his accomplishments are impressive. https://www.savageshooters.com/showt...e-barrel-parts

      But for myself, Iíll be sticking with the 110 for the foreseeable future & likely beyond.
    1. shoots100's Avatar
      shoots100 -
      Freedom of choice is just one of the reasons why America is such a great country.
      Savage offers that choice to consumers.
      Turn or straight bolt, your choice.
      It's why I will stick with + support Savage and will always be a proud member of the Brotherhood of the Barrel nut till my last breath.
      Savage has showed the world that straight pulls can hold their own by offering the Impulse line up in a variety of models, including the high dollar KLYM lightweight carbon fiber model that's just been released.
      Of course Savage made a 110 KLYM turn bolt rifle too.
      Choice brother, you gotta love it.