Speed Demon: Savage B.Mag Review

Speed Demon: Savage B.Mag Review

Savage B.Mag review rifle

The Savage B.Mag chambered in the screaming .17 WSM is a handy little rifle that's perfect for serious varmint slaying or plinking at the range.

There we sat, a group of gun writers perched on a rolling South Dakota hill on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, blasting away at prairie dogs with a host of new Savage rifles. The summer sun baked down on us and the barrels ran hot, but none of it was enough to deter us from slinging round after round at the hundreds of dogs scattered before us. We drank from giant, frozen jugs of ice melted in the sunlight, quenching our thirst but not our appetite for more shooting.

It was on that trip that I inherited a fondness for Savage’s new B.Mag, a bolt-action rifle chambered in .17 Winchester Super Magnum (WSM). At first glance it’s just another black, synthetic-stocked rifle, but upon closer inspection, there are plenty of features to fall in love with. Over the course of a few days spent in South Dakota, I had ample time behind the rifle, most of which was marked by the kind of hearty laughter and cackling that every experienced prairie dog shooter knows all too well.

Savage B.Mag review bolt action openSpeed Kills

The .17 WSM, which was released in conjunction with Savage at the 2013 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, launches a 20-grain projectile at roughly 3,000 fps, an impressive feat for such a pint-sized cartridge. During the trip we shot Federal Premium’s American Eagle loads with 20-grain tipped bullets. The load performed admirably and is a good choice for a full day of blasting away, with a box of 50 rounds running about $16 at your local sporting goods store. The rifle and ammunition, not to mention the 2.5-pound AccuTrigger, made for an incredibly accurate combination.

Savage B.Mag review AccuTriggerInterestingly enough, the .17 WSM was developed from a .27-caliber nail gun blank, which was then necked down for a .17-caliber bullet. Maximum internal pressure is around 33,000 psi and roughly 7,000 psi more than the .17 HMR. The 3,000 fps velocity is about 630 fps faster than the HMR, giving you about 7.5 inches of movement in a 10 mph crosswind at 200 yards versus the HMR’s 16.5 inches. Less wind drift and bullet drop mean better accuracy at considerable range. The .17 WSM doesn’t create the kind of carnage and high-flying gymnastic moves on prairie dogs that are so common with cartridges like the .22-250 or .204 Ruger, but it’s got plenty of pop out to at least 150 yards and is still more accurate at longer ranges than the .17 HMR or .22 Magnum, both close range killers in their own right.

It also lacks the wallop of another of my favorites, the .17 Hornet, but is affordable to shoot and produces virtually no recoil. While Winchester boasts of “devastating performance” at “ranges well past 200 yards,” I found the cartridge consistently accurate and lethal out to 150 yards, especially given South Dakota’s notoriously obnoxious winds. If you’re coyote or bobcat hunting, the .17 WSM is effective out to moderate ranges and helps limit pelt damage, something everyone who’s spent evenings sowing fur can appreciate.

Savage B.Mag review in .17 WSM17 Series

The B.Mag rifle fits neatly into Savage’s 17 Series and weighs about 4.5 pounds without a scope, making it an ideal walk-around or maneuverable truck gun. With scope you’re still at less than 7 pounds, which is ideal for field carry but more susceptible to movement with the wind. To help alleviate that issue, I employed sandbags in the front and rear of the rifle atop a sturdy steel tripod-style shooting bench.

One of the most interesting features on the B.Mag is the bolt, which is a completely new design for this rifle. Savage’s engineers tailored the bolt specifically for the .17 WSM; it features dual, opposed, rear-locking lugs and it cocks on closing. The rationale is that this gives the shooter better cocking leverage against a stout firing pin spring, which is also required for reliable ignition on the rimfire. Practically, this means it’s easy to short stroke the bolt, and many times you think you’ve closed it but haven’t. The solution, which requires a bit of practice and reformed muscle memory, is to firmly push all the way forward and then close the bolt. A bit unusual and not altogether smooth, but it’s a workable design once you figure out the mechanics of it.

Savage B.Mag review BoltThe other staple of the rifle is of course the AccuTrigger, a revolutionary design that incorporates an adjustable, finely tuned trigger into an affordable package. Out of the box, the trigger on my rifle was under 3 pounds and crisp as always.

The 22-inch barrel is button rifled and features a light contour, sporter-type barrel. A heavier barrel contour makes sense for hardcore varmint applications, an option Savage now offers in several other B.Mag packages, including blued heavy barrel, stainless heavy barrel, sporter and target models. Prices range from $379 for the standard rifle to $578 for the target model.

Savage B.Mag review forendField Comparisons

One of the biggest benefits of our South Dakota adventure was that we got to shoot multiple different calibers and rifles in the same conditions, everything from .17 HMR to .22-250. So how do the mighty .17s stack up? Personally, I’d rank them in this order: .17 Hornet, .17 WSM, .17 HMR. It’s not really a fair comparison, two being rimfires and the Hornet a centerfire, but it’s always fun to stir the pot.

The .17 Hornet is, in my opinion, one of the finest of the varmint cartridges around, sending a 20-grain V-Max bullet downrange at a whopping 3,650 fps. I shot the Savage rifle in .17 Hornet one afternoon until, ammo supplies starting to run low, they had to pry that rifle out of my hands. Not only is the round insanely accurate, it remains steady in the wind and relatively flat shooting out to 300 yards. Impact on prairie dogs is more similar to what you’d see from the .204 and .22-250 and again, there’s very little recoil. On the downside, Hornet ammo is about double the price of WSM, depending on which load you select.

Next, I’d rank the .17 WSM. It carries more velocity and is accurate to greater distances than the HMR, and prices on ammunition are fairly similar (depending on load). Both are effective rounds for varmint and coyote, so long as you don’t go trying to pull off a 300-yard shot in 30 mph winds. Especially inside 100 yards, the HMR is extremely effective. The main thing, as always, is knowing your own capability as a shooter, combined with your load, optic, rest and rifle pairing.

Savage B.Mag review left sideParting Shots

For a budget-friendly rifle that’s built to last, incredibly accurate and enjoyable to shoot, Savage’s B.Mag does the trick. The .17 WSM is a highly accurate, lethal round out to 200 yards, great for varmint and coyote applications and assuredly pelt-friendly. The rifle is light (4.5 pounds) and thus great for carry afield or for shooters of smaller stature. While the bolt design takes some getting used to, it makes for a reliable platform. For well under $400 on the street, the B.Mag in .17 WSM is one of the best varmint rifles available today.

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the Spring 2017 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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  1. I think the author did an exceptional job describing the benefits of Savage’s B. Mag while leaving the cheaper aspects off to the side. If a retailer is selling a B. Mag for $300.00 and a Ruger chambered in .17 WSM starts at say $750.00- there is a lot LOT of room between rifles. I agree, that 17 Hornet is a SWEET round, but @ $0.88 cents a round a WSM makes much more sense. More energy, flatter, longer trajectory & 1/2 windage correction- BONUS!
    My next ‘build’ is in fact a B. Mag with a Boyd’s TH stock (high gloss nutmeg to add a touch of class), replace a few cheap plastic parts with aluminum: trigger guard, piccatinny rail swap for Weaver’s & really good glass (OK, $200.00 gets really good glass these days). Bed the action, find the round that groups best and have a great time!
    Great varmint round, fun for the kids to learn good shooting habits, not too much recoil for my 115 Lb. force of nature (wife) and pretty enough to put in the gun safe with ” The Collection” of antique and hunting rifles. The ‘lil round that could- actually breaks up on impact, turning it from a good accurate round into a 1 shot wonder. Also making it a better ‘home defense’ rifle than a .22lr. Lots of good things to say about it, and, yes- it IS worth a few pennies/round over an HMR- and that’s an awesome round!
    Savage did a good job addressing that 33,000 psi with the cock on close, even though it’s hard to get used too. The action can be as accurate as a Ruger, but, requires an investment of a stock, bedding, time and epoxy. I still think I can get a fabulous, dependable tack driver for under $700 that I can say I built and looks the business and weighs under 8 1/2 Lbs.
    That’s a hard argument to beat. Good on ya, Savage!

  2. There is no question that the wsm is the king of the rim fires. I think Savage messed up with the first years batch of guns that had issues. Left a sour taste. But the guns from 2015 on have been accurate. dime sized groups at 100 yards. Have to remember the Bmag is not an expensive gun. If you want better quality of stock Get the Ruger or the Volquartsen .17 WSM Semi-Auto.

    I found the cocking effort to be quite easy. I think some people are so use to a standard bolt their brains are unable to adapt to a new type of bolt. I think many want $1200 features at a $300.00 price. Sorry folks not going to happen.

    The new heavy barrels and 1/8 twist rate cleaned up any accuracy issues.

  3. Talk about buyer’s remorse. I was so excited to buy a Savage B-Mag from a major retailer last month. What I got was a piece of junk. The rifle screams cheap and poorly designed. The bolt is nearly impossible to open or close even with two hands. Ejecting a spent round requires smacking the bolt handle with the heel of my hand. It is impossible to work the bolt without it striking the scope too. An even more serious issue is the flawed thumb safety. It slides forward from “Safe” to “Fire” position with the slightest bump of the stock. I am returning it to Savage along with advice to scrap the B-Mag design and start all over. I will never own another Savage.

  4. I have one of these rifles. Not only is accuracy only marginal, but the gun is a piece of junk. The bolt is anything but quick operating, with a peculiar lug system, that will allow you to bolt the T-Handle bolt over, before the lugs lock up. Thank goodness it will not fire in this position. The bolt is cocking as the handle is pushed down, and it is very much harder than any rifle of any caliber I have ever used. It uses a rotary magazine, which is a pain to load. What is bad is, it is integral to the stock, itself. It is all plastic and snaps to the stock, instead of the action. On top of that, the bolt on my rifle must be open, or it will not lock in. It has a buggy whip barrel, that appears less than 1/2″ at the muzzle. I tried to trade it off at a local gun dealer, and he would not even talk about it, saying no one likes that rifle and he cannot sell it. Savage remains in the same rut that they have been in, for years, with rimfire problems. I will also note that these gun rag writers seldom give you a true reflection of the firearm they are writing about.


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