Hands on review of Savage A22R rifle

Alright, so I thought I’d write something… Preliminary review, before range time. I have not shot it yet or completely stripped it, everything else documented below.

You can open image in new tab to see a larger version of the photo (in post it’s reduced).

First, I think we need to establish a baseline. I have one or two 22’s as some of you may know, so I have a few to pick from to establish a baseline. I have nice blued steel and wood rifles and we could compare Savage A22R against those, however this is not a fair comparison. And a lot like comparing a roadster to a 4WD. Both are great and shit, depending on the situation.

In case of Savage A22R, this is a utilitarian, no thrills gun, so baseline should be similar. The best one in my opinion will be against Ruger American 22LR. In my case the ‘Compact’ model, little more compact (get it? Ha-ha), but very similar in every other regard. I think using Ruger is a very fair baseline to compare Savage against. They are certainly in the same price bracket (in Australia), similar materials and it’s (Ruger) a common enough rifle for people to know. Of course one is a bolt action and the other is not.

So, what do we have here:

Mr Dog doing his final QA, just after Lady Juststarting made a call on aesthetics.

Something to keep in mind, even though I really, love my Ruger American Compact and it’s my first preference over a much more expensive 22’s - it is a utilitarian budget rifle. Synthetic stock, cheap materials, machining is okay, but could be a lot better in high friction areas.

Now let’s see how Savage A22R stacks up against it.

No sights, comes with weaver mounts. I think it’s a lot better than sights.

Metal finish/bluing:
Ruger wins.
Both are good, I have no issues with quality and machining I think Savage may be ahead.

Savage is blued, but it has this ‘duracoat’ type look to it, they feel similar, but the look is a bit different. Probably looks same-same to most people, but I can spot the difference. Ruger is what I would expect a budget blued steel to look like. Good, quality, but lacks depth (I like that on a practical/carry gun, I don’t cry when there’s a scratch). Savage - has this cheapish look to it, I can’t put my finger on it. Both feel the same, however, Savage is just that little bit behind.

Something to keep in mind, it is a personal preference. You could like it in reverse. For me, it is what it is.

Lite. Nothing else to add. In fact, the scope is what makes it feel a bit more sturdy.

It’s good thing in a sporter and what I was after, so expectation met.

Crisp, but! Holly fuck monkeys Savage is on the heavy side for a 22 for sure. Definitely usable, the rifle doesn’t shift, but comparing it against other 22s I have, it’s a lot heavier. In the Savage ‘sporter’ model that’s quite lite, heavy trigger is accentuated.

Trigger feel (i.e. How it feels on your fingertip):
Trigger boot… Eh, again, 100% personal preference. It has this ridge sort of feel that you’d find on some Browning and Tikka triggers. I have both, now I have 3, I am not fan of all of them, but again, this is 100% personal preference and I like how my Mosin trigger feels, so there you go. In dirty conditions and sweaty/dirty hands, this feel would probably be preferred. As it stands, I shoot a lot more than I hunt, so for my use case, meh.

Wife says Ruger looks better. I agree. Dog concurs.

Both stocks are polymer… Ruger is up there in quality land. You just have to pick one up and you will know what I mean, without any baseline. Just a good, solid, modern stock. Durable, very well made, etc. Everything you’d expect in a quality rifle designed for ongoing outdoor use. No marks, no gaps, no hollow sound when knocking on it. Enter the Savage A22R (which is weird, because I had Savage rifles before and they were closer to Ruger than A22R)! Somewhat opposite. There’s no ‘low quality’ things like machine marks and whatever, but it has this cheap plastic feel, hollow sounding. I don’t want to say flimsy, it’s certainly not, but it has a low quality, thin, toy kind of feel to it.

Note on action shroud:
Action shroud (think bolt shroud, but on action, since we don’t have a bolt-action here)
Plastic. I would have preferred that it was metal, but I can see why it has to be plastic. But I would prefer metal! There’s no equivalent on Ruger, but say an upmarket Tikka… Tikka had a plastic shroud too, with the exception of the latest precision model, so it’s less of a quality thing (again, I can see logic behind plastic), it more of an observation and preference.

Reason for plastic on Savage, (1) the way it snaps on; and (2) the way it comes off when scope is mounted. I would much rather not damage my scope than have it metal, but, also I’d prefer metal LOL.

What I actually don’t like is the takedown pin, mounted on the rear end of the guide rod for bolt rebound spring (internals). It’s plastic and I think it should be metal or have a metal insert. I feel about it being plastic, the same way Tikka fans feel about bolt shroud being plastic. It’s okay, I guess, like, totes, whatever, like, see if I care, it makes no functional or aesthetic difference, but seriously, what the fuck?!

Release lever:
It is tight.

I have not removed the trigger group yet, to have a closer look, but I am fairly certain that it will not wear in.

There’s a certain feel that gun parts have when you know it’s a matter of time for metal to polish itself. And then there’s another feel when you can feel spring tension. The later is the feel it has. I have a suspicion that it could be a stiff tension spring, rather than a ‘normal’ coil spring (which would be a lot easier to lighten). It could be a very small thick coil spring… I am going to reserve final option on this until I take it apart in detail and see what’s inside the trigger group.

Positive: dry firing it, yes, you can shoot it, yank it with a different finger and keep going. No issues. Tight, but I got used to it pretty quick. So, yes to both: tight and very usable.

Regardless, I want take the trigger group out to take a closer look. I know 110% how latch mechanism works (@sungazer, right on the money, mate), just from the sound. However, I am interested how the tension is adjusted. Will report on findings when I get to it.

Obviously one is a bolt action, the other is an adaptation of a semi-auto action. I read people complain about it being loud. I disagree. It sounds exactly like it’s supposed to sound. It’s not a bolt action and if you want to do it quietly, you can always guide the bolt into battery by hand to reduce noise. There is a spring that drives it into battery and that’s how this action works… No issues here. We are just not used to this types of actions :wink: Different is not bad, it’s just different.

Magazines are very similar for both rifles and both are excellent in my opinion. Of course, my opinion is based on Ruger, but looking at the Savage design, I dare say it feels a lot more solid. So for now I am going to give it benefit of the doubt and say that they are either the same or Savage could even be a little more solid. However, same, same, really. Both are pretty good.

Magazine release:
Magazine release mechanism seems the same, however Ruger has magazine release mounted on the stock, while Savage has it mounted on the magazine itself. It’s a hinged release on top of a tension spring. Nothing special and I don’t see it wearing out or braking unless there’s a serious impact, in which case it’s just one of those things that could happen to anything and anyone.

So, what’s the go?

If you are looking for your first rifle or/and a first 22LR - Savage A22R is not for you. It could be for you, I don’t know, I don’t care, I like all sort of weird shit, but really, I would recommend a good, quality bolt action to get a feel for what good quality feels like.

Don’t confuse reliability and accuracy with quality. I did (very quickly) strip the gun and it seems simple enough to be very reliable. The bolt locks in a multitude of positions (certain that it also relates to lever release action, specific to Australia), which means it will cycle most ammo just fine.

Accuracy - Savage makes good guns, I have owned Savage in the past, it shot very well, so (preliminary opinion) no issues there.

It just doesn’t have that feel you get from a good quality solid 22LR. Purely the feel and the look factor is lacking here. Reliability and accuracy I suspect is up there with everything else, but for a first gun, I recon you want everything in one package.

Disregard above - I most certainly suggest getting a Savage A22R. I am sitting firmly in this camp, because I already have a, well, never mind, I have an addiction, that’s what I have. It’s quirky, it’s unique to Australia, it’s something different and pretty neat. I absolutely love it and have no regrets buying one. I don’t see an issue hunting with one and I see a huge fun factor in plinking with one.

Cool, cheap and cheerful 22LR for Australian market. Me likey :slight_smile:

Please see my extended notes on the topic.


A mates sons bought them a week or two ago, going by the video on his phone they are going to be a money burner for many until the novelty wears off, then they should settle down to be a nice rifle. Be good for “sniping” warrens with a rest or bipod, to enable bolt release without moving trigger hand. Personally won’t get one, don’t hunt much anymore and have other fish to fry for the price. Just cross the fingers no idiot puts a vid on facebook to terrify the anti rabble. Enjoy.


@juststarting, Good write up.
I think that from the photos I would have to agree that the Ruger has the better stock, I like the high comb for the cheek piece. I might have to check one out in the store.

Can I assume it has some sort of cut off on the lever release. Meaning it won’t reset the trigger until the lever release is back in position. So you couldn’t for example put an elastic band around the lever release, keeping it depressed and effectively turning it into a semi.

That’s correct, @Supaduke. Part of the tension comes from a thin plate that’s moved along the trigger group, backwards towards the internal hammer. The plate pushes back on the hammer until the lever is released. This is just from me looking down the action into the trigger group. But that’s what it looked like. I’ll shoot it and then I’ll see internals in detail when i clean it…

I couldn’t help myself and had to look inside… So first and foremost, to add to my review…

Stripping the rifle. Pretty easy, but tedious.

Arrows indicate where the action screws are:

You notice anything interesting? That’s right, while one action screw is just near the magazine and well positioned. the other is under the ocular lens. Yep! So you have two options here:

Option 1
An L shape hex key - this is the tedious part, because nobody is going to remove the scope to strip the rifle!


Option 2
If you are like me and keep every hex key you have ever received as part of a flat pack… then you may be in luck, I lucked in and had one that was perfect and spun around a perfect 360 without snagging on anything.


Next, pop the pin out to remove the trigger group - just push it out with your finger and mostly that’s about it. Rifle is stripped. I gave mine a quick clean while in that state.

Trigger group looks cheap and rudimentary. Then again, I can reassemble a BL-22 and Steyr M95 bolt without causing (significant amounts of) bleeding, but if you mess around with this stuff it’s a very simple mechanism that a 12yo could understand. I didn’t see any tension screws for trigger adjustment, but I suspect changing a spring and polishing some friction areas will lighten it up to most target shooters’ expectations.

Alright, I think that’s about it. Now I need to make some evening range time. I think tomorrow… Or technically today.

So they sell a rifle with out open sights so you have to put a scope on it and then put one of the screws in a hard to get place because the scope is blocking it and don’t give you the tools to help???

I know it is not a top end rifle but you would have thought that they could have put a little more thought into it.
It doesn’t look like there is much room between the back of the scope and the stock so it must have been fun getting the screw out.

It’s pretty bad engineering, undoubtedly. Getting the screw out, with that S shape wrench, it was ok, but using a normal hex key it would have been very tedious and annoying.

I guess that with a lot of shooters they won’t bother taking the action off of the stock to clean so for most it won’t be a real issue.

Its only a .22 so its not like it needs to be cleaned often, quick release scope mounts could be an option?

Nah, you were correct the first go. Bore snake… My BL-22 got a proper strip clean for the first, on 2 years… And it’s not like it needed it, I just wanted to take something apart lol. Bore snake and oil works fine on 22s.

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@Wombat - user experience, please…

Thanks for letting me have a go with yours JS.
It was so much better than my initial impression from handling one in a shop.
The lever release was not an issue, after your cleaning and running in. Still stiff but nowhere like the one I had previously tried dry firing.
As others have said the magazine is a bit tricky to load. But it seems to be something you can get used to.
Accurate rapid fire, at a speed that both irked the Range Officers and grouped around playing card size at 50 mtrs was easily accomplished after only a magazine or two familiarization.
I didn’t try shooting with any precision, but I have no doubt it is capable of much better grouping.
I can certainly see that I will be buying one in the future.

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did he show you his new two handed grip. One for bolt release one for trigger? I really liked it shooting at 80m we could still hit a playing card. with a stronger scope and shooting for accuracy I think you could halve that.

@sungazer - yep lol and a lot faster than me.

Actually thinking about it I think it could benefit from an extended lever that sweeps back below the trigger guard. The greater throw and leverage would reduce effort further and it could possibly speed things up.
You could use the rude finger on your dominant hand to work the release leaving your trigger finger free.
If the geometry didn’t work - a straight extension with a pivot joint and a ring could be put in the same place.

Well, the lever is retained by a screw, it can be replaced… So definitely doable.

If you are interested in trying something I could bend some ally strap.

Nah, I am happy with it as is.

Hi, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts on this subject. I’ve just bought the A22RSS. Sited it in this afternoon and I think it’s great.
What ammo seems to shoot the tightest groups? I was just using cci standard and it grouped ok.
Has anyone tried modifying the release lever?
Does it eventually wear in and become easier to pull?
I was wondering what would happen when the bolt catches eventually wear?
Thanks :grin: