A .22-caliber rimfire rifle is the one gun everyone who has more than one gun must have. Indeed, .22s have never been more popular—just try finding some reasonably priced ammunition in this caliber. Ironically, it is the normal and wide-scale availability of cheap ammunition that plays a large part in making firearms chambered in .22 LR so popular.
The .22 rifle in particular is the ultimate tool for the beginner, for training, for small-game hunting, for target practice and plinking and, most importantly, for fun. As a result, there are a lot of choices in this category from many reputable manufacturers, but one company that continues to impress me without fail is Savage Arms, both for its high-quality products and economical pricing.
The Savage Model 64 TR-SR is no exception. It represents the company’s top-of-the-line .22 autoloader with all the bells and whistles—and it only has an MSRP of $360. For this you get a blowback-operated, semi-automatic .22 rifle with a suppressor-ready, threaded and fluted bull barrel, and a 10-round box magazine. It also comes with a fixed Picatinny rail for optics and a black synthetic Boyds TactiCool black stock.
Savage Arms has a well-earned reputation as an American firearms company, a reputation that was started well over 100 years ago. Although its logo bears the image of a Native American chief in full headdress, the company’s name is not meant to be offensive, but rather the actual name of the company founder, Arthur Savage, who started his business in New York in 1894. Savage was a native of British-ruled Jamaica and an adventurer. When he first came to the United States, Savage invented the hammerless lever-action rifle, the Model 99, with a unique rotary magazine.
The logo itself was donated to the company in 1919 by Chief Lame Deer, who did business with Savage and bought several of the company’s lever-action rifles for his tribe, at least according to company lore. No word on if this was the same man as John Fire Lame Deer, a Lakota Sioux holy man alive at the same time. But who knows? Maybe Lame Deer is the Sioux version of John Smith.
Savage grew his company via mergers and acquisitions, gaining the company that made Lewis machine guns during WWI, and, in 1920, he purchased Stevens Arms and a few others, making Savage the world’s largest private firearms company for a time. Despite subsequent corporate tribulations, Savage Arms never ceased to produce high-quality rifles, and by the turn of this century, the company gained widespread attention for new firearms innovations, including its AccuTrigger and AccuStock.
Today, the company is headquartered in in Westfield, Massachusetts, and has a division in Lakefield, Ontario, where its rimfire rifles are made. The Savage 64 TR-SR continues the company’s traditions for innovation. Furthermore, it comes out of the box with no need for any extras, save for a good scope and, if desired, a bipod.
The 16.5-inch, carbon-steel bull barrel has a 0.8-inch diameter and a matte blued/black finish. In addition, at the front end of the barrel there is a knurled thread protector that covers the 1/2×28 threads. The barrel also has six longitudinal flutes about 9 inches long that help to make the barrel a bit lighter and also provide more surface area for faster cooling. The flutes also add rigidity to the barrel, which helps improve accuracy.
There are no sights on this rifle, as it is intended to be used with a scope. To that end, there is a scope mount factory installed on the receiver that provides 6 inches of Picatinny rail. I personally would have preferred a longer length of rail, but the manual conveniently lists six different companies that manufacture optics mounts for this rifle. Regardless, I was able to get proper eye relief with my scope during an entertaining range session.
The receiver itself seems a bit long but is also surprisingly thin. I measured it at 0.85 inches wide, barely larger that the bull barrel. This helps keep the rifle’s weight at a minimum, and the combination also gives the little Savage a very sleek, almost aerodynamic look and feel. On the right side of the receiver, the cocking handle has been enlarged and fitted with a knurled end for ease of operation. To lock the action open, the cocking handle must be retracted to a specific point along the receiver and then pushed into a notch to catch. The action does not lock open after the last shot is fired. The action itself is a basic blowback design, and there aren’t a lot of extra bells and whistles here.
Safety, Magazine, Trigger
Also on the right side of the receiver, located above the trigger, is a sliding safety with a large knurled knob for secure engagement. Pushing it to the rear engages the trigger-block safety, and pushing it forward disengages it for the rifle to fire. There is a bright red dot that can be seen when the rifle is in the “fire” condition.
The steel box magazine protrudes about 1.5 inches from the bottom of the stock when it is inserted, and it holds 10 rounds in a straight, single-stack line. It is also easy to load and has a plastic, bright red follower that makes it easier to see through the ejection port if you have an empty magazine. Furthermore, the magazine release button is located just forward of the magazine well and must be pushed upward to release the magazine. I found it to be fairly stiff but effective once I got used to it. Magazine insertion also took a bit of getting used to since the magazine-release tension must be overcome. I found it easiest to accomplish by pushing forward on the magazine as I inserted it.
Savage Arms developed the AccuTrigger for many of its bolt-action rifles, but this rimfire sports a more traditional two-stage, silver-colored target trigger. It has a fairly long take-up but a very clean break that measured a consistent 5 pounds. For a precision target rifle, I would prefer a slightly lighter trigger, but this one was very comfortable and produced good results downrange. The trigger is also surrounded by a large polymer triggerguard.
The Boyds TactiCool stock is another very welcome (and attractive) upgrade for the Savage Model 64 TR-SR, and it really distinguished the entire gun. The stock is made from laminated wood that is completely covered in a matte black coating with fine pebble texturing that denotes very high quality. At the front it features a beavertail forend, an expanded palm swell and dual sling swivels (one for mounting a bipod). Furthermore, the butt end has a thick and comfortable rubber buttpad that really locks the rifle into shooter’s shoulder.
At the bottom of the buttstock there is an additional sling swivel and a butt hook to provide a firm hold for the support hand when shooting from a sandbag rest or bipod. The Monte Carlo stock has a large and flat comb that is arrow straight and can accommodate a solid cheekweld for all types of scopes. The large and distinct pistol grip is ambidextrous with a palm swell on both sides for improved comfort.
All together, this is a very nice-looking rifle, and I was eager to get it on the range to see if it shot as well as it looked. I chronographed three different loads with no suppressor, but for the accuracy results I mounted an AAC Element 2 suppressor. The matching diameter and finish on the suppressor also made it blend almost seamlessly into the barrel and made the rifle look even cooler. To evaluate the Savage 64 TR-SR’s accuracy, I mounted a Trijicon TR20-2 AccuPoint 3-9x40mm scope with a mil-dot, illuminated-amber-dot crosshair reticle, firing at 50 yards from a stable benchrest.
What I found is that even high-velocity factory ammunition tends not to break the sound barrier when fired through a 16-inch barrel. The most accurate ammunition I fired was a subsonic load from Gemtech, which achieved an impressive 0.55-inch group and was the most consistent of the brands I tested. There were no failures to feed or extract over 300 rounds during the range session, but I did have one bad cartridge.
This little rifle handles very easily and felt compact in my hands. At 6.6 pounds, it’s lightweight and comfortable, the stock makes benchrest shooting a pleasure and, of course, there is virtually no recoil. With the suppressor installed, the rifle was whisper quiet. In fact, I would compare it favorably to the sound made by an air rifle. In addition, as stated, the fit and finish on the rifle was excellent.
While the Savage Model 64 TR-SR is certainly light enough for most kids to handle, the length of pull is more adult-sized. Indeed, this is a perfect tactical rimfire carbine with all of the extra features one could want—features that many shooters pay a pretty penny to add to their standard rimfire rifles. Savage Arms has delivered one accurate rifle with a custom feel at a very low price.
Savage Arms Model 64 TR-SR Specs
|Caliber: .22 LR|
|Barrel: 16.5 inches|
|OA Length: 36.5 inches|
|Weight: 6.6 pounds (empty)|
|Stock: Boyds TactiCool|
|Finish: Matte black|
Savage Arms Model 64 TR-SR Performance
|Federal 40 Game-Shok High Velocity||1,113||0.65|
|Gemtech 42 Silencer Subsonic||1,163||0.55|
|Remington 40 Target||1,024||1.35|
*Bullet weight measured in grains and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 50 yards.
For more information, visit savagearms.com.
This article was originally published in “The Complete Book of Guns” 2017. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.