Savage Firearms released a new version of its 16/116 model bolt action rifle this year called the Bear Hunter. Since we have favorably reviewed Savage guns in the past we thought we would take a look at this new offering for 2011. A few years ago we reviewed the Savage Weather Warrior with favorable results and the new Bear Hunter appears to be along the same lines as the Weather Warrior series.
Unfortunately in 2011 Savage decided to drop the 16FHSAK and 116FHSAK Weather Warrior  that we reviewed previously. The muzzle brake equipped Weather Warrior was available in a variety of cartridges and the stainless steel with synthetic Accustock is no longer available, but the same models with no muzzle brake and a detachable box magazine are still in the Savage lineup.
The Savage Bear Hunter rifle.
To replace the 16/116FHSAK, Savage introduced the Bear Hunter which is somewhat similar to the model it replaces. The short action model 16 version of the Bear Hunter is available only in 300WSM and 325WSM and the 116 variation is available in only 300 Win Mag and 338 Win Mag. Like the FHSAK version of the Weather Warrior the Bear Hunter comes with a muzzle brake that can be turned on or off.
Considering the Bear Hunter only comes in heavy hitting magnum cartridges, the choice of a muzzle brake is a good one. Generally the only complaint about muzzle brakes while afield is that they are too loud, which is true if shooting with no ear protection. However while sighting in a magnum rifle or while target practicing the muzzle brake can make a shooting session considerably more enjoyable due to the drastic reduction in recoil. Then when going afield without hearing protection, simply turn the muzzle brake off by rotating the outer portion of the brake.
The muzzle brake on and off.
The Bear Hunter deviates from the Weather Warrior in its barrel setup. The Bear Hunter is equipped with a much heavier barrel than the FHSAK version, but to cut down on the overall weight the barrel is deeply fluted. Overall the model 16 version comes in at 7.5 lbs while the long action 116 version weighs just a quarter of a pound more. Either version is only equipped with a 23" barrel which may be on the short side for some folks especially for those that prefer a 24" or greater barrel length in magnum chamberings. However the slightly shorter barrel does make the gun a bit more wieldy while maneuvering through brush.
The Bear Hunter has a heavier barrel that is deeply fluted.
The Bear Hunter retains the Accustock of other Savage models; however it is decked out in camo which is unusual for most big game rifles. The fit and finish of the camo dip is acceptable; however it's not uncommon to see spots, particularly around the pistol grip, where the camo has minor imperfections. In these spots the camo paint has not spread completely into every small nook and cranny on the stock and leaves it white with no camo coating.
The Bear Hunter uses an Accustock and Accutrigger.
The Bear Hunter uses the new style barrel nut, rather than
the old style barrel nut and has a completely camo painted stock.
The camo job isn't without its imperfections, particularly around the pistol grip.
While camouflage is increasingly common on rifles and par-for-course on bows; for some reason it is relatively uncommon to find manufacturers producing a variety of rifles with camo dip jobs and in stainless steel. The combination of the synthetics stock and the stainless steel should give all the weather durability of the original Weather Warrior series. Just be sure to wipe off your gun after getting it wet, since even stainless steel will rust given enough moisture and time.
The Bear Hunter also sports the Personal Antirecoil Device (P.A.D.) recoil pad which is very soft and plush and does help to reduce recoil. However, as we've noted before, this material is very soft and may degrade more quickly than a traditional hard rubber recoil pad.
The recoil pad is soft and does a good job of reducing felt recoil.
In conclusion it's a shame to see the old 16 and 116 FHSAK versions of the Weather Warrior go by the wayside; however at least Savage has replaced the heaviest hitting chambering with the Bear Hunter. Furthermore the Bear Hunter is an improvement with the heavier barrel with only a marginal addition of weight and for those that like camo on their rifle the camoed up Accustock is a welcome addition. To be sure these improvements do come at a higher cost with a street price on the Bear Hunter of around $800 which is considerably above the the original 116FHSAK. If you're looking for a new rifle chambered in a larger magnum and want a muzzle brake from the factory the Bear Hunter is worth considering.
The Bear Hunter models sport a distinctive logo on the floorplate.
For more information about the Savage Bear Hunter rifle please visit Savage Arms .