You may have noticed that a new
rifle rarely appears here. Put another way, when one does there will be a very good
reason. In this case there are a few. First, I have known the maker, Ed Brown, for a long
time. We go way back to the fun days of IPSC pistol competition. At that time (and since)
he produced no-nonsense excellence. Instead of frills and eye-wash, Ed made great guns
that shot well and went bang every time you pulled the trigger. To the inexperienced, auto
pistols that are totally reliable are extremely rare. When I learned he was going to start
with a clean sheet of paper and create no-nonsense, working bolt-action rifles, I was
The Savannah begins with a new
action, the Model 702. They are made in-house by Brown on CNC machinery from
preheat-treated steel. This is an interesting technique also used by Dakota. The essence
is that instead of machining soft steel then heat treating the parts, as is practiced by
the majority of firearms makers, the steel is hardened in solid bars before the work
begins. With the normal process a certain amount of warpage happens during heat treatment.
This limits the tolerances of the finished product. When a maker tackles the tough task of
cutting the hardened steel, the finished action is finished and tolerances can be held as
tightly as is desirable for the given parts. Thus, the bolt, lugs, barrel threads, etc.
all fit to an exceptional degree. The action is smooth, precise and accurate.
The basic action body is
cylindrical, like the Remington Model 700. The bolt handle is like a Model 70 Winchester
with a three-position safety, again much like the great Winchester. With this you can lock
the bolt down, open the bolt with safety engaged or when fully forward make loud noises
when the trigger is pulled. The extractor is described as M-16 type - very
positive, very strong. The bolt face will handle up to the .460 Weatherby/.416 Rigby case
head. The all-steel floorplate assembly is hinged and locked with a Mauser-style latch in
the guard bow. Does it sound like Ed Brown studied all the great rifles in the world and
combined the best details?
Barrels are match quality, hand
lapped. Yes, they want them to be accurate. The Ed Brown rifles are stocked with McMillan
fiberglass, again one of those things that has a very basic reputation for working.
Finally the actions are drilled
and tapped for the big 8-40 screws that will hold any scope or recoil you want to be
involved with. Last, but not least, they come fitted with Talley bases and rings, simply
the best scope mounts in the world.
Before we shoot this rifle, I think
it is useful to quote, in part, from the Ed Brown catalog. ACCURACY: Normally we dont
guarantee accuracy like some of our competitors do. Many bullets and cartridges simply are
not capable of 1/2 1/2 minute of accuracy, no matter what the gunmaker does. We will
guarantee that our rifles are as good as any maker in the world, and are a darn sight
better than most. Bottom line: our rifles will always offer the accuracy the ammunition is
capable of. Now isnt that refreshing! No P.T. Barnum spiels about load
development, unrealistic claims or pie in the sky hopes. He says pretty point blank that
his rifles will shoot.
The test sample was a standard 7mm
Remington Magnum Savannah. It was fitted with a Kahles 3-9x scope in Talley mounts. The
trigger pull was 3 1/4 pounds. In the way of break-in and preparation, I pushed a patch,
wet with Shooters Choice, down the bore and followed it with a dry one. Then I shot
the rifle. With a variety of red, green, blue and yellow ammunition, accuracy ranged from
3/4 to 1 1/4 inches at 100 yards. There was no sign of groups shifting from day to day.
The rifle came zeroed and stayed that way (with the obvious shifts related to ammunition
change). After the factory loads, I wanted to do my usual extensive load development to
find a hunting handload. Therefore I sized some cases that had been fired in this chamber
just enough to allow them to rechamber easily, with a little feel as the bolt
closed. Then I dumped in a maximum dose of IMR-7828. (It could have been H-4831 or RL-22,
but the 7828 can was handiest.) Then I seated 160-grain Nosler Partitions so they were
.020 inch off the lands. Depending on how hard I tried at the moment, the groups were 1/2
or 3/4 inch. Pairs would wear out a 2-inch circle at 200 yards. This is a hunting rifle!
Besides the Savannah, which I would describe
as a medium-weight sporting rifle, there are five other versions. There is a shorter
action Ozark for .308-length cartridges, a single-shot varmint and
two tactical rifles. The final is the Bushveld, a dangerous game
rifle. Here they use the outstanding Dakota action with long Mauser claw extractor with
controlled feed. Prices range from $2,500 to $3,400, including the rings, bases and
mounting your scope on the rifle. In addition to complete rifles, the actions are
available also. For more information write to Ed Brown Products, Inc., 43825 Muldrow
Trail, Perry MO 63462; or visit the company web site at www.edbrown.com.