The Savage 220F is a bolt-action hunting shotgun chambered in 20 gauge. Savage designed the 220F to fire primarily slugs instead of shot, so it functions more like a rifle instead of a shotgun. Slugs are often criticized for being slow and inaccurate because they are more or less chunks of lead typically designed to pass through a smooth bore, but the 220F tackles that issue head-on. It has a rifled barrel, so the slugs have a controlled spin as they pass through it. Bolt-actions are typically given to precision rifles—aim for a quality instead of quantity. Otherwise the 220F ’s features include a synthetic stock and carbon steel barrel putting it around 7.5 pounds. It uses Savage’s patented AccuTrigger, which is basically a trigger on a trigger. The AccuTrigger prevents accidental discharges by using an internal lever that must be lifted before the firing pin can punch forward. Also, shooters don’t have to switch the safety off after sighting in. Savage recommends the 220F for hunting small and large game.
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The attitude pervades hunting lodges of all manner. Nobody in their right mind would choose to hunt anything with a slug gun. Slug guns have always been shotguns trying to ape the performance of rifles in order to follow rules made by well-intended regulators who don’t seem to know much about hunting or ballistics. Yet this is what many American hunters are stuck with in states or counties that require that deer, bear or pigs be hunted only with shotguns with all rifles off-limits. Slug guns are inaccurate, awkward, recoil-laden affairs that are tolerated rather than loved.
At least this was the case until Savage recently trotted out the 220F. The 220F is essentially their Model 110 rifle chambered for 20 gauge sabot slugs with absolutely no compromises whatsoever. The 220F has the same Accutrigger, Accustock, and just plain accurate shooting that the 110 rifles offer. It is no exaggeration to say that this tool has in a single stroke completely redefined the whole category of slug guns.
The 220F offers accuracy within a few hundred yards that is the equal of most of Savage’s rifles. I’ll put it this way: you could reliably hit a squirrel at 100 yards with this gun and be pretty certain that you were hitting it in the correct end. Frankly, this slug gun shoots more accurately than many off-the-shelf rifles.
Savage’s bolt action shotgun looks cosmetically like any bolt action rifle. The game warden will have to look very closely. Recoil is very civil, too. Savage made a wise move in offering this gun only in 20 gauge while skipping 12 gauge altogether. When you compare the size and weight of a 20 gauge slug to just about any centerfire rifle bullet that would be used to hunt deer, bear or pigs, the 20 gauge slug is a pretty big piece of lead. For a dedicated slug gun that will not be doing double-duty as a smoothbore for other types of hunting there is really no advantage to taking the punishing recoil of full-power 12 gauge slugs when the 20s perform as well as they do. If you point the 20 gauge 220F at a vital spot on a deer, that animal is going down and adding another 75 grains of lead and a nose-bleed’s worth of recoil will not kill it any deader.
The real miracle of the 220F is that it has reinvented the slug gun at such an amazingly accessible price point. In all seriousness, this genre-redefining gun has probably earned a place in the history of American sporting arms. No, it doesn’t have fancy hand-cut checkering or scroll work, but I have little doubt that some of its descendants will. The 220F is now, hands-down, the best slug gun in current production that money can buy.