by Blake Hiatt
“May you live in interesting times.” – Chinese curse. “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” – Col. Townsend Whelan. Well, out of the box, the Savage Model 93 FV certainly looks interesting in that good, Whelenian way. It has the bull barrel, Savage’s AccuTrigger and a target crown. Top the rifle off with a BSA “Sweet 22″ scope, add a detachable box magazine for quick reloads and this rifle appears to be a winning combination. But looks can be deceiving, which is why we do these reviews . . .
Initial impressions: Excellent build quality, though the AccuTrigger does look a little funky. The magazine guide for that box mag seems a little iffy, but it does make it just about impossible to get the wrong angle when inserting a new magazine. The mag lock is very positive and empties pretty much drop into my hand when the release is pushed, even on a brand new, just-out-of-the-box rifle. And while the 93 doesn’t have Savage’s AccuStock, the synthetic seems plenty solid.
So after mounting the scope, cleaning and bore and quick-sighting the rifle, I headed to the local indoor range to see if I was on paper at 25 yards.
And it was pretty much a massive failure, though probably due to operator error. Your not so humble correspondent couldn’t get the rifle to feed from the magazine. I finally gave up and ran the rifle single shot just to try to get zero’d. Five rounds later, I confirmed I was on paper at 25 yards. But I still wasn’t consistent enough shooting off-hand to determine how much more adjustment the scope needed.
After I got home and examined the action under better light, I decided the problem was due to my not cycling the bolt with authority. Kind of surprising, since the bolts on my Marlin 22 and Howa .308 cycle much more smoothly. For the time being, I chalked the feed problems up to a new rifle, the action being a little stiff and the owner having a weak wrist (more on that magazine later).
Shooting the rifle indoors only whetted my appetite to get it outside and stretch its legs a little. So the next chance I got, it was off to the outdoor range with my wife in tow. I set up sandbags, filled the mags and slapped one home.
This time I ran the first five rounds through the rifle without a hitch, filled the magazine again, pushed it home and…disaster. Cartridges everywhere. To say I was puzzled is an understatement. So I reloaded the magazine, pushed it home again and this time only a couple of cartridges flew out. The whole mess was getting to be a lot less than cool.
I tried inserting the magazine with the bolt closed, and that worked for a while until I ran into feed problems. They seemed to go away when I inserted the magazine with the bolt open again. Given that I was risking a jack-in-the-box style cartridge geyser every time I inserted one, I kept my thumb over the top of the mag well. But that only brought back the feed problems.
My wife and I did manage to get in some shooting, though, and magazine issues aside, the 93 FV shoots very well. I was able to get the rifle sighted in after only a few rounds down range. That’s when I turned it over to my wife who thoroughly enjoyed shooting it. She really appreciated its size and weight, along with being able to shoot without risking a bruised shoulder.
After shooting 50 rounds or so, we called it a day as it was getting warm and I was tired of fighting magazine problems.
That’s when I started researching magazine problems with the 93 FV. Turns out Patrick Carrube ran into similar problems with a 93 chambered in .17 HMR. He fixed those by bending the mags’ feed lips a little. I tried the same thing and, voila! Problem fixed.
Side note: someone needs to tell Savage to make their magazines so they can be disassembled. My CZ 512 had a magazine issue that I was able to correct by taking it apart and removing the extra follower it came with. If CZ can design a plastic mag that comes apart, surely Savage can do the same with their metal magazine. [/rant]
So I solved the auto-ejecto problems providing I use the right ammo. Hornady 30 gr V-Max works great. Federal Premium 22 Win Mag with 30 grain Speer TNT tips, on the other hand, refused to feed. Period.
Magazine issues aside, how does the rifle shoot? My wife and I did all of our shooting at 100 yards and the rifle shoots much better than our capabilities. The rifle shoots like a dream, as my targets show. All targets were shot from a bench using sandbags @ 100 yards. The target grid is 1″ squares.
This probably won’t shock you, but the 93 FV’s groups tend to open up when the gun gets warm, even with that heavy bull barrel. I put 150 rounds through the rifle this time out. After the first 125 rounds or so, I put the Savage aside and let it cool for a bit and the groups seemed to tighten up a bit.
In short, the 93 FV is tons o’ fun. Being a bolt action .22, you can shoot it until you run out of daylight and not be any worse for wear — or much lighter in the wallet. And it pretty much shoots where you aim it, which is a good quality in any rifle. If you don’t mind dealing with those pesky mag issues, you’ll really have yourself something.
Sights: None, pre-installed scope bases
Barrel Length: 21” w/ 1:16” twist (Heavy Contour)
Overall Length: 39.5”
Weight: 6 lbs
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Style * * *
The synthetic stock isn’t a work of art, but it doesn’t look bad, either. Like just about any gun, it would look better with nicer furniture, but that would sacrifice durability.
Ergonomics * * *
I’m 6’3″ 175lbs (providing I’m carrying some ammo) and the 93′s stock is short for me. It fits my wife just fine, though. As you’d expect, this is a great rifle for the recoil shy.
Reliability * * *
I’ve run upwards to 200 rounds through the rifle. It’s a bolt gun, so you wouldn’t expect problems, and there were no misfires. But the magazine problems were enough to drive me batty.
Customizable * *
Other than shimming a stock with a cheek comb, what’s to customize? The action, barrel and trigger are excellent right out of the box.
Overall Rating * * * *
This value-priced rifle is a gun you can hand down to your kids or grandkids. The rifle is fun to shoot and built to last — once you get those mag issues solved.