September 26, 2012

Savage 16FSS .270 WSM

According to Winchester, the main values of its Short Magnum (WSM) cartridges are that when compared to conventional, long-action calibers, the 270 WSM, 7mm WSM and 300 WSM exceed the ballistics of the 270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag. and 300 Win. Mag. respectively. Also, WSM rifles achieve these improved ballistics in short-action configurations which purportedly are lighter and faster handling than their long-action counterparts.

Gun Tests Magazine tested several of the fat-but-fast WSM and WSSM cartridges over the years, usually comparing them to their closest standard-action competitor. As you might expect, sometimes they liked the WSM/WSSM guns better than standard chamberings, and sometimes they didn’t.

This time around they tested Savage Arms 16FSS No. 17425, $569. Here's what they had to say:

The Savage Arms arrived with an adjustable trigger. We elected to test with the trigger resistance on the rifle set as delivered. To collect accuracy data , we visited the 100-yard range at American Shooting Centers located in George Bush Park on the western edge of Houston (www.amshootcenters.com). Our bench setup consisted of a Caldwell Tack Driver bag to support the forend and a Protektor rabbit ears bag beneath the buttstock. Our targets were Birchwood Casey’s orange-colored 3-inch circle Target Spots with a 0.7-inch diamond in the center mounted on white paper. We combined our sighting-in process with a break-in regimen firing 130-grain soft-point Federal Power-Shok ammunition. We used a Nikon Titanium 5.5-16.5X 44mm scope at full power to produce five shot groups with the 130-grain rounds plus two other rounds topped with 150-grain bullets. They were the new Federal Fusion rounds and Winchester’s Power Point ammunition. Each rifle was tested over a two-day period from the 100 yard bench. Light conditions remained partly cloudy throughout.

According to our Dwyer wind meter, ($16.96 from www.sinclairintl.com), wind speeds varied from 5 to 11 mph for much of our tests.

Once data was collected at 100 yards, our seventh session was spent firing from alternate shooting positions to evaluate the flexibility of the rifle.


The 16FSS delivered at least one MOA group with all three of our test rounds, but its action was slowed by the hottest loads.

In this portion of our test, we shot with a Zeiss Diavari 1.5-6X42mm T,DM/V scope (www.zeiss.com/sports). We chose the number 8 reticle because it offered fine cross hairs at the center surrounded by heavier lines that would speed target acquisition. Here’s what we found:

Savage Arms 16FSS 270 WSM No. 17425, $569

The Savage Arms 16FSS was fit with the manufacturer’s AccuTrigger that added a lever to the face of the trigger. One passerby at the range remarked that it looked like a Glock. Indeed, the center portion of the trigger did provide an extra level of safety. This lightly sprung lever, trademarked the AccuRelease, must be completely depressed to unblock the sear and allow the rifle to fire. This trigger system was designed to be adjustable by the owner to offer resistance ranging from 1.5 to 6.0 pounds. Adjusting the trigger required removing the stock. We found removing the two bolts surrounding the trigger guard and a third beneath the fore end to be a simple task. A special tool was supplied to set resistance. We measured the trigger pull as delivered to be 3 pounds, which felt perfectly comfortable to our trigger fingers. This weight of pull was about half the weight of our other rifles. It didn’t necessarily feel like a two-stage trigger but our impression was that engaging the AccuRelease safety lever served to dial in the shooter mentally in preparation for each shot.

The Savage Arms 16FSS is also referred to as one of ten Weather Warrior rifles on the www.savagearms.com website. The 16FSS is available in as many as nine calibers, with our 270 WSM model about two-thirds the way up the power chart. Capacity in this caliber was 2+1. Free floating and fashioned with button rifling, the barrel’s rate of twist was 1 in 11 inches. The internal magazine was fully enclosed and accessible only from the top. The stock was neutral in terms of added contours and offered checkering at the pistol grip and on the forend. Despite the rubber butt pad being sloppily applied, we thought the stock was well suited to this rifle. None of our shooters complained about alignment, grip or lack of index. The rifle had sling-swivel studs mounted front and rear. There was quite a bit of flex in the forend, especially at the tip, where we were able to fit eight dollar bills. The top of the stainless receiver was drilled and tapped for scope mounts, and the 16FSS came with a set of two-piece mounts already in place.


The three-position safety (black arrow) was placed atop the pistol grip, lending perfect access. The black lever along the side of the receiver (silver arrow) was the cocking indicator, but we thought the way it functioned, along with the middle position of the safety, was too vague. Factory-installed scope mounts and the AccuTrigger were big pluses in our view.

The bolt offered two lugs and was removable by depressing the cocking indicator and the trigger simultaneously. We found this process to be clumsy. The cocking indicator was located on the right hand side of the receiver just behind the ejection port. We felt that the change in position meant to indicate a cocked action was too subtle to be of use. Also, we don’t like to touch the trigger for any reason other than to fire the gun. The three-position safety was located directly behind the bolt and easily accessible to the thumb. The central position held the trigger locked, but the bolt was free to move. But again, we didn’t think the difference between positions was distinct enough to be trusted. We chose to operate the safety in only the full on and full off positions.

At the range we learned that 270 WSM is a hard-kicking cartridge. Each of our test rounds chronographed at velocities in excess of 3100 fps when fired from the Savage Arms rifle. In fact, the average muzzle energy produced by the Winchester Power Point ammunition in our model 16FSS rifle was the highest overall in our tests, (3375 ft-lbs.). With temperatures approaching 80 degrees, we were in shirt sleeves and did not benefit from any level of protection from recoil that heavy clothing would have provided. We resorted to wearing a PAST Mag-Plus recoil shield. We were able to single feed each round without having to press them down into the magazine, but avoided this method for fear of introducing undue wear to the extractor. There were no malfunctions in feeding throughout our tests.


The Savage seemed to fit everyone who shot it despite a sloppy fit of the butt pad.

Accuracy was rewarding. We were able to print an average size group of 1.0 inches firing the Federal Power Shok ammunition and also achieve our tightest group overall firing the Federal Fusion ammunition, measuring about 0.8 inches. The Winchester 150-grain Power Point rounds brought us a single 1.0 inch group, but in total group size averaged out to a respectable 1.3 inches. However, when firing the Winchester rounds we had a great deal of difficulty raising the bolt. We could not detect any obvious case expansion, so we think that the case was locking down against the ejector upon ignition. This is not unheard of when firing heavier magnum loads, but it gave us pause to reconsider choosing a rifle chambered for short magnum rather than standard .270 Winchester ammunition. To minimize this problem in our rapid action test, we decided to stay with the 130-grain Federal ammunition, which fortunately was not only the most accurate round in the 16FSS but also the least expensive of our test rounds.

Firing standing unsupported, we found that most shooters preferred to lower the stock about 3 inches or brace it with the armpit before working the bolt. The bolt handle needed to be hit smartly upward with an open palm before being racked in each direction. But in our view, the list of negatives was short. The Savage Arms 16FSS was not only the least expensive rifle but the only one in our tests that shot at least one MOA group with each variety of test ammunition.

Gun Tests Recommends

Savage Arms 16FSS 270 WSM No. 17425, $569. Best Buy. The 16FSS delivered at least one MOA group with all three of our test rounds. Also, we liked the AccuTrigger, but the action binded slightly after firing the hottest loads.


Comments (8)

I agree with the comment that I don't like using the trigger for anything except firing the weapon, but in all fairness you don't pull the trigger to remove the bolt until the bolt is pulled almost all of the way to the rear which would keep you from accidentallt firing a round.

Posted by: texasqtrhorse | September 27, 2012 10:42 PM    Report this comment

Personaly I have never been into the big Mag rifles. I have always had good luck with my 270 and/or 30-06's, just had to get alittle closer to the targeted game and make sure of my shot to do the job. God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future. Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry. Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | September 27, 2012 9:35 PM    Report this comment

In my previous comment I should have said 7mmWSM instead of 7WSM.

Posted by: Troy | September 27, 2012 12:54 PM    Report this comment

You make a good point, wild romanian. The only time I was ever drawn to a "magnum" rifle cartridge was when I was stationed in Alaska in 1967-68. I purchased a used Winchester M70 in .300 Win Mag, because all of my associates told me I really needed it for large Alaskan game. In reality, the best shots I made, that resulted in some of the nicest kills, were made using my Savage M99 in .308 Win.

To this day, I have shied away from the magnums and short magnums, limiting my rifle calibers to 5.56x45 NATO and 7.62x51 NATO. Having lived in Texas since 1981, I see no need of any other caliber, especially since I don't hunt much anymore, and keep my pieces as contingency items for those times when things may get a bit unfavorable.

Posted by: canovack | September 27, 2012 12:52 PM    Report this comment

I won a fantastic custom Hart rifle in 7WSM at a FNRA raffle. It shot the Federal 160gr Nosler Accupoint ammunition into about 1/2 minute of angle out of the box to 220 yards. The longest range I had available. I took it to NM and made a one shot kill on a great Mule deer from one canyon wall to the other at 340 yards by two laser range finders. Bullet landed exactly as intended. Deer dropped like sack of oats. Later killed an antelope with one shot through the heart at 300 yards. The 160 grain spitzer bullet has always been the long suit in 7mm cartridges. Excellent ballistics, accuracy and killing power exceed all other weights. That said, the short, fat cartridges are difficult to load, awkward to feed and the magazine, designed to hold 5 cartridges of .308 length, only holds three of the short magnums in my Rem 710 action. You cannot close the bolt over the third round. Great cartridge for accuracy but slow and awkward for reloading from the magazine or into the magazine. I would not use in an area with dangerous game even if I were not hunting dangerous game. I am 75, have hunted and shot competitively until arthritis took me out of most competition. So I speak from a life time of experience.

Posted by: Troy | September 27, 2012 12:50 PM    Report this comment

Although I have always admired the Savage 110 action (its one of the very few quality guna left) let us cut through the advertisement baloney about short magnum cartridges.

Because of their non-tapered forms they do not feed as reliably as longer tapered traditional rounds and Winchester even had to design a different feed mechanism to get their cartridges to feed half way reliably.

Also you will not find this ammo in out of the way small gun stores like you would the more traditional rounds when you are on safari.

Posted by: wild romanian | September 27, 2012 11:34 AM    Report this comment

Generally speaking, I have had good experiences with every Savage firearm I have ever owned. Savage takes some ingenious steps to simplify production while at the same time resulting in field-worthy firearms.

Posted by: canovack | September 26, 2012 8:02 PM    Report this comment

We hate spam as much as you do, and we're on a constant lookout for spammy comments. If you see spam on a GunReports post before we do, just enter 'SPAM' as a comment, and we'll be alerted to look at the file asap. Thanks for helping us patrol the AO. --Yr. Obt. Svts @ GunReports.com.

Posted by: ttwoodard | September 26, 2012 6:24 PM    Report this comment

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