Rifle|Varmint Rifles & Cartridges Spring 2020
The Savage Model 12 Benchrest rifle was equipped with a Bushnell 6-24x 40mm scope and extended lens hood. It has a laminated stock, 29-inch barrel and a target trigger as standard equipment. Note the long forearm with vents for barrel cooling.
Recently, when visiting with Savage Arms on another project, walking through the factory and passing row upon row of completed rifles, one rack got my attention. Granted, there were only a few rifles, but with the different stocks and long barrels, they certainly turned my head. Upon questioning the shipper, they turned out to be the Savage Model 12 Benchrest, and of all things, chambered in the 6mm Norma BR. Needless to say, a call for a rifle went into the factory when I got home, and the research began on both the rifle and cartridge.
Looking at the catalog, the Model 12 Benchrest is listed under precision and target rifles. When it comes to specialty rifles, Savage is there to supply the need. On the pages of the catalog you will find rifles with names to fit their applications, like the Model 12 Palma, 12 F/TR, F Class, Benchrest, Long Range Precision and the Model 112 Magnum Target. With chamberings from the .223 Remington up to the .338 Lapua and stocks to fit many requests, there is really something for everyone.
From any angle, the Model 12 Benchrest rifle is impressive. The rifle has a tang safety. To remove the bolt, press down on the lever on the right side of the receiver just ahead of the bolt handle.
Since my interest piqued with the 6mm Norma BR, the Model 12 Benchrest rifle was my choice. Complete with a long, 29-inch stainless barrel having a diameter of .890 inch and the recommended 1:8 twist, this indeed was made for long-distance, precision shooting. Now add to the fact that the receiver has twin ports (left load, right eject), a Savage tuned Target AccuTrigger (adjusted to under 2 pounds out of the box), an oversize bolt knob and a full laminated stock with a full, 3-inch ventilated flat forearm, this rifle is made for serious shooting. The stock has classic lines, no cheekpiece and a pistol grip with palm swells tailored to prone shooting; a rifle set up to get the most out of a cartridge. For the faint of heart, this might not be the gun you want to carry into the field, as it checks in at almost 13 pounds with no scope or ammunition. Add the scope, rings and bases – not the ammunition, as this is a single shot – and it is near 15 pounds. The scope of choice was a Bushnell 6-24x 40mm that I had in stock, complete with a lens hood that should take the bite out of annoying side lighting in the field.
The 6mm Norma BR case uses small rifle primers, and for all his testing Stan used CCI 450s. The case holds around 38 grains of water.
With the test rifle all set, the 6mm Norma BR cartridge is next. First, let’s consider the 6mm Bench Rest Remington and the 6mm Norma BR.
Note the dual “ejection” ports and how they relate to the single-shot action.
Essentially, both cartridges are the same. In short, and what I have researched, is that while the Remington made rifles are machined with a shorter throat to accept bullets up to 70 grains, the Norma version was designed for rifles with longer throats to accept bullets over 100 grains for longer-range shooting. Additionally, the leade angle was changed from 3 degrees to 1.5 degrees for better overall performance. Based on the .308 Winchester case, this cartridge has been shortened and necked down to accept 6mm bullets and small rifle primers. If for some reason you can’t purchase or locate Lapua brass, Remington 6mm Bench Rest brass will do fine and will not affect the final results.
At left is a once-fired Lapua case, in the middle is a neck sized case followed by a completed case.
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Varmint Rifles & Cartridges Spring 2020