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Savage Impulse, 6.8 Western, Barnes X-Bullet: Top 3 New Products of 2021

Here are three new shooting products – Savage Impulse Rifle, 6.8 Western, Barnes .30-caliber 208-grain Long-Range X-Bullet – that are the result of innovation and top-shelf engineering.

Savage Impulse, 6.8 Western, Barnes X-Bullet: Top 3 New Products of 2021

Shooting Times contributor Joseph von Benedikt has chosen the Savage Impulse rifle, 6.8 Western cartridge and the Barnes .30-caliber 208-grain Long-Range X-Bullet as his top three new shooting-related products for 2021. (Joseph von Benedikt photo)  

Savage Impulse Rifle

Savage Impulse Rifle
Featuring a straight-pull action and engineering optimized for adaptability, Savage’s Impulse is one of the most versatile and capable bolt actions available. (Joseph von Benedikt photo)

Without doubt, the Impulse is the most innovative, useful rifle Savage Arms has designed since the legendary 1899 lever action. It’s a straight-pull bolt action, so it’s extremely fast to operate. It’s engineered with precision-enhancing features, so it shoots very accurately. And it’s arguably the most versatile production-grade rifle currently made in the U.S., by virtue of the fact that it can be easily switched from right-hand operation to left-hand operation. Yep, it’s true, and it can be done in only a minute or two.

Adding to that versatility, the Impulse features Savage’s proven AccuTrigger, so shooters get a clean, crisp trigger, and the adaptable AccuFit stock, which comes with multiple length-of-pull spacers and cheekpiece risers, so end users can set up their rifle to fit them perfectly.

Each Impulse rifle comes with a factory-mounted rail-type scope base, and it has 20 MOA of elevation built in, so shooters wanting to stretch their rifle out will have plenty of adjustment available in their scope.

Several variations were launched early in 2021, including the Big Game rifle (pictured here), a Hog Hunter version, and a Predator version. Each has features optimized for its designated use but is worthy of a vast spread of other hunting and shooting needs, too. Cartridges range from the .22-250 up to the .300 Win. Mag. The suggested retail price runs $1,379 up to $1,449, but real-world price on your dealer’s shelf will be considerably less.

Click here for Guns & Ammo's full review of the Savage Impulse rifle

Barnes 208-Grain .30-Caliber Long Range X-Bullet

Barnes 208-Grain .30-Caliber Long Range X-Bullet
A long, sleek profile; aggressive boattail; large fine-entry composite tip; and space-age computer aerodynamic modeling gives this extremely accurate bullet the best ballistic coefficient of any monometal hunting projectile. (Joseph von Benedikt photo)

This is the most aerodynamic long-range monometal hunting bullet ever made.

All-copper or copper-alloy bullets generally have a significantly lower ballistic coefficient (BC) than lead-core, copper-jacketed bullets. Why? Because copper has less mass than lead. In a projectile of any given shape, more mass means more momentum, and momentum is an important asset to ballistic coefficient.

So, historically, hunters wishing to use non-toxic monometal bullets had to accept mediocre aerodynamics.

This bullet changes that. It doesn’t match the best long-range lead-core match projectiles, but it closes the gap significantly. Thanks to ultra-modern design elements created using space-age computer modeling coupled with Doppler Radar testing, this 208-grain .30-caliber Long Range X-Bullet (LRX) has a G1 BC of 0.633. That’s darned good even in the world of lead-core long-range hunting bullets.

An aggressive boattail; a subtle but space-age profile on the grooves around the shank; a super-long fine-entry nose; and a long, sharp composite tip all contribute to the projectile’s excellent aerodynamics.

In a rifle chambered for .300 PRC or one of the other ultra-capable .30-caliber magnums, the 208-grain projectile can be pushed to 2,950 fps. And it’s accurate. I have a 6-pound ultra-light .300 PRC rifle with a Proof Research barrel that regularly produces groups right around 0.5 MOA.

It’s worth noting that for best performance, your rifle should have a rifling twist rate of 1 turn every 8.5 inches or faster, which will adequately stabilize the long, stretched-out 208-grain LRX from sea level to the highest mountaintops. However, most hunters with a 1:9 twist in their rifle will get good accuracy from about 5,000 feet elevation up, thanks to the minimal destabilizing effect of the thinner air.


6.8 Western Cartridge

6.8 Western Cartridge
The new 6.8 Western capably and efficiently shoots extreme-BC .270 bullets—unprecedented in the .270 world. At left is Nosler’s 165-grain AccuBond Long Range; center is Sierra’s 175-grain Tipped GameKing. (Joseph von Benedikt photo)

When this cartridge was introduced, the first reaction from many shooters was that it’s the answer to an unasked question.

Then we learned that not only is “6.8” the grand old All-American .270 caliber, but this cartridge bypassed history’s .270-related design mistakes—those that relegated the .270 to be left behind in the dust of modern long-range cartridges.

With a fast rifling twist rate of 1 turn every 7.5 inches, the 6.8 Western capably stabilizes long, heavy-for-caliber, high-BC bullets like the Nosler 165-grain AccuBond Long Range and Sierra 175-grain Tipped GameKing. This single attribute makes it more relevant today than any other .270-caliber cartridge.

Additionally, designers optimized the 6.8 Western’s short-magnum-type case for maximum efficiency, resulting in plenty of muzzle velocity paired with excellent barrel life and relatively low recoil.

Important, too, is the long “head height” engineered into the 6.8 Western’s design, which allows long, fine-entry bullets to be seated properly, not deep in the case where they’ll take up too much internal propellant capacity.

Conceptualized and built for hunters in the West, where long-distance capability is a must, the 6.8 Western is ideal for deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, black bear, and caribou. With careful bullet choice, it’s appropriate for moose. And, of course, it’s deadly on whitetails.

What does the 6.8 Western compare to? Believe it or not, with similar-weight bullets the 6.8 Western runs neck and neck with the classic 7mm Rem. Mag., yet it recoils less, has better barrel life, and fits into light short-action rifles.

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