Field test: Savage Impulse Driven Hunter straight-pull – A universal hunting rifle for driven hunting, raised hide and stalking

Savage Impulse Driven Hunter – Our first test impression, accuracy, caliber selection, availability and price

Here, the new Savage Impulse Driven Hunter can be seen during the type of hunting for which it is particularly suited, and not just by name: driven hunting.

The first thing you notice about the new Savage Impulse Driven Hunter is its light weight. If you are familiar with Savage's hunting Impulse Hog Hunter, Predator or Big Game models, you will find the overall weight of the Driven Hunter to be very light. The new Driven Hunter weighs only 3.15 kilos. This makes it significantly lighter than, say, the Hog Hunter, which weighs around 700 grams more. It is also pleasantly balanced. New features on the Driven Hunter include the barrel and magazine receiver. The barrel is now slimmer and only 15.7 mm thick at the muzzle. Together with a length of only 46 cm (18"), this contributes significantly to the weight reduction. The magazine body, follower and base are made of robust polymer, while the magazine housing itself is still made of steel. And the new model shoots damn well! At the first encounter with the new Savage Driven Hunter rifle at the shooting range, all 12 rifles presented to the hunting journalists, without exception, shot such tight groups at 100 meters that the first "date" with the Driven Hunter was to be considered thoroughly positive in the truest sense of the word.

Our first conclusion about the rifle is therefore simple and concrete: the Driven Hunter is a step forward. As the model name suggests, Savage has designed the rifle primarily for driven hunting, but in our opinion this rifle will also do a great job in stalking and from the raised hide. The outstanding feature of the Driven Hunter is the action, which is very fast and, above all, intuitive. Here, the added bonus is that you can also use the Driven Hunter as a left-handed firearm. The bolt handle on the straight-pull repeater with Hexlock system can be swapped without tools

Of course, the new Impulse Driven Hunter also comes with Savage's proven AccuTrigger. The additional center trigger blade must first be moved with the finger into the actual trigger blade before the latter can actually be operated. 

Another plus is the trigger. With the externally adjustable AccuTrigger, the Driven Hunter has a trigger that:

  • breaks crisp and clean;
  • enables controlled pressure build-up and intuitive shooting;
  • is adjustable in pull weight (approx. 800-1,800 g);
  • thanks to an additional safety element, the gun is drop-proof even when the safety is off.

The successful concept of the AccuTrigger was developed by Savage, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and has already been copied many times after the patent protection expired, but as the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. 

Other standard equipment includes the AccuFit stock, which can be adjusted in comb height and length of pull, with five different combs and four LOP inserts. Also standard is the AccuStock aluminum bedding molded into the plastic stock, which encloses the action almost three-dimensionally and is intended to ensure that the barrel can float freely, for example even when using heavy night vision technology in conjunction with a bipod. The one-piece Picatinny optics rail is machined from the receiver material and features a 20-MOA pre-tilt to allow the adjustment range of target optics at further distances. The barrel has the widely used 1/2x28 muzzle thread as standard.

What about available calibers and price? The Driven Hunter will be available in .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield (46 cm barrel), 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Winchester Magnum (50 cm barrel). The price (MSRP) is 1,749 euros – but, as usual, price may be different in your country depending on VAT and import duties.

The Leupold VX5-HD 1-5x24 driven hunting scope was mounted on our test rifle: here comes our practical check

Let's make it short: this riflescope from Leupold is a real professional glass for driven hunting. With a magnification range of true 1x to 5x, it is a perfect companion for movement hunting. With it, the hunter can either hunt with both eyes open as with a red dot sight or quickly and easily turn up the magnification for long shots or to identify game. More magnification is rarely needed in driven hunting practice, because long shots tend to be the rarity on the movement hunt. Many hunters even avoid shots at longer ranges because the risk of missing increases with an increase in distance and movement of the game. As a rule, movement hunts do not involve shooting further than 70 meters, often well below that. And the VX5-HD 1-5x24 from Leupold is more than amply equipped for this use. The large field of view also makes it ideal for use with night vision or thermal clip-ons. The scope with its HD lenses copes very well with a wide range of weather and light conditions. The lenses are dirt-repellent and scratch-resistant. As always, we would like to point out that "scratch-resistant" only means a certain level of scratch resistance. One thing is certain: Leupold has built an extremely rugged optic, which is typical for the brand. For technology enthusiasts, here are a few technical specs on the Leupold VX5-HD 1-25x24: 

  • Reticle in 2nd focus plane
  • Fine FireDot 4 illuminated reticle with 8 brightness levels and battery saving function (auto shut-off).
  • Elevation adjustment range: 170 MOA
  • Field of view at 100 m: 40.3 m (at lowest magnification) to 13.4 m (at maximum magnification)
  • Weight only 388 g, length only 274 mm, 30-mm main tube
  • Price is very competitive ar around 1,000 euro

The ammunition – 125-gr Hornady International ECX in .308 Win.

The cartridges from the Hornady International line, with the bullet called ECX, can be identified by their flat, red polymer tip, which is said to provide quick and uniform mushrooming.

Our test in the field used the lead-free hunting cartridge with 125-gr (8.1 g) ECX bullet from the Hornady International ammo line in .308 Winchester caliber. With a v0 of almost 950 m/s from a 61-cm barrel and a measured 925 m/s from the 46-cm barrel of the Driven Hunter, the new tombac bullet from Hornady combines the advantages of powerful shock effect thanks to the high residual weight of around 95% with impressive penetration.

We were able to test the new bullet in action during a hunt. Jens Bork, whom we accompanied, was able to take down a piece of roe deer with the new bullet. However, the  light bullet also showed a very good shock effect on stronger game such as boars. The bullet was designed to minimize air resistance. This provides the new ECX with less velocity loss and thus more range than the predecessor bullet ETX. The optimized bullet design provides a high degree of accuracy from virtually all rifles. During development, the U.S. manufacturer Hornady paid special attention to European needs. 

Our test conclusion on the Impulse Driven Hunter from Savage Arms 

As with all of Savage's Impulse models, the new Driven Hunter can have the bolt handle angle changed or even the bolt handle swapped to the other side for left-handed shooters without tools.

The new Savage Driven Hunter fills a gap in Savage's Impulse family. It's as simple as that. The significantly lighter rifle is suitable for a wide range of hunting situations, although it was built as a specialist for driven hunts. With the proven AccuTrigger, you'll have hunting success with the Driven Hunter on driven hunts, from the raised hide and when stalking – that much is certain. And we even believe that you can also hunt in the mountains with the Driven Hunter, depending on the caliber – although it was not actually built for this purpose. 

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