Since I’ve started long range competition, I’ve been exploring ways that our readers may enter the sport at a reasonable cost, of course you can select your hunting rifle in your safe, but if you become serious, the modifications will start. Enter the Savage Precision Target Rifle Line. We reached out to Savage and requested the 12 Palma due to it’s unique stock configuration and caliber choice. Most of the Precision Target Actions (PTA) have a screw spacing of 4.41″, however the 12 Palma has a screw spacing of 3.44″, the reason for which I am not sure.
All PTA’s accept large shank barrels from your favorite Savage pre-fit barrel supplier. What I really liked about this configuration was the adjustable stock and 3-way adjustable butt-plate. See below for some stats on the rifle.
One thing you’ll notice right away is the odd twist rate of 1:13″. This twist rate is indicative of the intended bullet that was intended to be used, 155-156gr bullets. As soon as I received the rifle, I quickly picked up a rail for it and mounted the 7-42X55mm Gold Ring Leupold Competition Scope & Shade we are testing (Outstanding Scope) and ordered some 155.5gr Fullbore bullets from Berger. I recognize that this was not the set up that the rifle was designed for, but the purpose of testing was to determine accuracy potential of the rifle. You can tell that this was really meant for iron sights as you can see the front sight cut near the muzzle of the rifle so that you can clamp-on front sight tubes. In the pictures below, you’ll also see the 3-way adjustable butt-plate which is fantastic for customizing the fit of the rifle to a specific shooter. It can be adjusted for length of pull, cant, and height. I made some minor adjustments to the cant and height, and left it there. I could have spent more time on tuning the stock, but didn’t.
Once the bullets came in, I took inventory of the powders that I had on hand and selected IMR 4166 which is supposed to be temperature insensitive much like Hodgdon Varget and got to putting some test loads together.
Following a break in process, the rifle immediately demonstrated it’s accuracy potential. Being limited for time, I settled on a load of 45 gr of IMR-4166 with a COAL of 2.800″ which was limited by the Palma Chamber, which has a very short throat. See the group shot below. Not bad at all for an afternoons work.
In all fairness, if this was my rifle I would have spent more time tuning to reduce Standard Deviation and Extreme Spread of velocities, but given the limited distance (600 yards), vertical dispersion would not be as bad as longer distances. Wind would be more of a challenge.
The day of the Mid-Range Prone match, I was excited to take the rifle out and see what it could do. I knew that with good loads, it would likely out shoot me, which is a good thing. The prone match included 3 strings of fire at 300, 500, and 600 yards, with 15 rounds for record with unlimited sighters at each distance. The wind picked up during the day peaking with 10 mph switching winds during my 500 yard string after settling into a more predictable rhythm for my 600 yard string. Overall I was pleased with the day, but was a bit frustrated during the 500 yard string being behind on some wind calls that cost me more points than I wanted. I was only one of two F T/R shooters there, the other being a good friend and great shooter Barbara Lamb, she only dropped 3 out of a possible 450 points for the day, which is fantastic.
My scores were 143-0X (300), 131-0X (500), and 144-2X (600), with an aggregate of 418-2X. The rifle shot great for the little time I put into load development. I am sure that I could have done more tuning, but in the end I needed more time on the rifle to improve.
One thing I can say, is that if the other rifles in the Savage 12 PTA series shoot similarly, you can’t deny the value, considering the cost of most custom F-Class rigs being between $3000 and $5000, or more even. Great bang for your buck. If you’re interested in a quick and relatively inexpensive upgrade that can be further modified easily in the future, check out Savage’s M12 Precision Target Action line. If you want to start from the ground up and build one, you can purchase an action from Northland Shooters Supply. I’ve done plenty of business with Jim; they’re awesome!
Shoot Straight and Shoot Often!
See you at the range!
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