Savage Stance Handgun Review: Worth Waiting 100 Years?
Coming over a century after the company ceased production of its last semi-auto handgun, Savage certainly wasn’t in a rush to beat Father Time with the 2022 release of its new pistol – the Stance.
I’ve actually had the pleasure of shooting both Savage’s very old and very new handguns recently, and I can say they share very little in common. But the real question is how the brand-new Stance pistol fits into the modern handgun market. Let’s take a look.
Savage created one of the most interesting handguns I’ve ever seen – the Savage Automatic (Model 1917) – and I still kick myself for not buying it when I had the chance. Even at over a century old, that 10-shot double-stack pistol was innovative and compact. So, it’s somewhat notable that Savage went with a seven-shot single-stack design for its new handgun a century later.
That old 1917 design was remarkably innovative and unique even by today’s standards, while the newer Stance should be much more familiar to most shooters. The design puts it in a fairly traditional space as a single-stack concealed carry gun similar in size to the Springfield XD-S and the Glock 43.
I first got my hands on the new Savage Stance at SHOT Show 2022 in Vegas, and one thing immediately struck me about that gun in a sea of new firearms – the grip texture. The grip texture is commendable, aggressive, and extends over the top of the trigger guard and into where you would keep your trigger finger extended before shooting.
I am not a fan of overly aggressive grip textures, but this one was surprisingly nice. My hands are normally a bit callused, and I have had some grip textures snag – even rip – my hands during long range sessions. The Stance becomes more grippy the stronger you grip it, but it also releases easily as you relieve pressure.
It’s roughly the size of a Glock 43, but it’s just a smidge taller and about 4 ounces heavier while hosting an extra round of 9mm. The cuts at the end of the slide also stuck out to me. Sure, they cut weight and look “cool,” but I immediately appreciated the fact that they made my grip at the front of the slide incredibly positive without creating an overly aggressive serration.
Basically, the cuts allow my hand to sink into the slide for control when racking the gun but without creating friction points while carrying the pistol. Cool looks can generally hit the highway for me, but that actually adds some level of function and weight reduction to the slide as lightening cuts even if it doesn’t really act as a gas port.
The gun is a tilting-barrel design with what I would consider to be a fairly easy-to-rack slide. It is a single-stack gun, and it offers either a standard 7+1 or 8+1 capacity depending on what magazine you choose to carry.
I won’t wax poetic about the trigger, but it does have some positive features that are easy to miss at first. The trigger reset is nearly half an inch with a noticeable but not aggressively positive reset pressure. That didn’t ever lead me into short stroking the trigger when actually shooting, but it wasn’t a great feature for follow-up shots.
However, the trigger is broad, curved, and offers a smooth but rounded face. It is a very generous amount of space for your shooting finger and makes for a gun that requires deliberate but predictable force to shoot. There is a small bit of slop to get to the wall, where the break is rather stiff.
With all that said, the wide trigger does allow you to get a healthy amount of skin from the pad of your finger on the trigger itself. So, breaking shots is not hard but rather a very deliberate action on the part of the shooter. I say all that to justify calling it a very practical, but not overly precise or nice-feeling, self-defense trigger that blends into other features to make this a practical self-defense pistol.
For instance, the front sight is a bold and oversized orange front dot that springs into view for me. It’s quick to acquire when presenting the Stance on a target. That’s partly thanks to the U-notch rear and the fact that the front dot is nearly twice the size of the two rear white dots.
Occasionally, I’ve noticed that front and rear sights of the same size and color compete with each other, but that’s just not the case with the Stance. Plus, if desired, there are night-sight-ready options as well.
The rear sight is also snag-resistant with a forward-sweeping angle at the rear coupled with a flat, forward-angle design at the front for one-handed reloads. The tactical appeal of single-hand reloads is really less appealing to me than the obvious slim and snag-free design for concealed carry. Even the ambidextrous slide-catch lever is recessed into the frame. Sure, it’s somewhat small and harder to manipulate, but it trims the overall width to below an inch.
While the design is slimming, I would note that the ambidextrous slide release is very hard to use, and the same goes for the ambi magazine release. They are not tactical but rather concealed carry practical. So, I would advocate for a healthy training regimen that involves clam-shell slide racks and reloads.
I also learned to love the adjustable backstraps, which significantly changed the grip angle for better shooting. The recoil spring, on the other hand, is not retained and requires a fair amount of attention to ensure it doesn’t fly across the room during routine cleaning. I also noticed it takes some attention to detail when assembling it because that spring guide rod has a right – and very wrong – way for reassembly.
Digging a bit deeper, here are some specific specs:
Accuracy is always a bit relative, and the Stance gave me a good but never great or terrible performance. I stretched this gun out to 650 rounds for testing with a few loosies mixed in from a bag of over-carried self-defense rounds.
Suffice it to say I had zero malfunctions. It ran everything, and it had a mechanical feel to reloading that I appreciated. I have no complaints regarding its reliability.
My only real complaint was the trigger, which was fine for defensive distances, and that’s really all it was meant for I suspect. It takes deliberate effort to pull the trigger, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I did struggle to pull the kind of groups I am used to with most carry guns. That said, none of my 650+ shots were anywhere near missing a man-sized torso target from 5 to 25 yards. It just does what it needs to do.
At first, the sights seemed to print high for me, but then I realized it was more likely my trigger pull elevating the barrel just before the break. Sure, that’s a "me" problem somewhat, but I was pleased to find that the replaceable backstrap significantly changed the grip angle. That brought my shots back down to center mass. I normally find very little benefit to the extra backstraps. So, kudos to Savage, because it actually positively impacted the value of the gun for me.
Pros & Cons
I have two raves and two rants about this gun, just to keep things even. As for the raves, the grip texture is not just very positive but also comfortable. It’s one of the best I have held in the last decade as a stock grip. I also will note that the stance has gone bang 100 percent of the time with everything from very old Sig Elite carry ammo to Blazer, Federal, Fiocchi, and Remington Range.
No gun gets to walk away without criticism, and the Stance hits two land mines for me – well, three, kind of. My biggest complaints are a bit petty. The trigger is stiff, and the capacity is low. Both are practical and functional for a self-defense handgun. But the old Savage Automatic was just plain cool. It was a striker-fired gun that used a rather ingenious bolt/striker/cocker system that was just ahead of its time. The Stance is a practical but not revolutionary carry design.
Here are my other general pros and cons.
Very positive grip texture
Slim, snag-free design
Front and rear slide serrations
Easy to use and see sights
Recoil spring isn’t retained
Mag release is a bit hard to reach
Conclusion: Where It Fits In
To me, the purpose of the Stance is obvious, and it largely excels at that. This gun is meant for concealed carry and relatively close self-defense scenarios. It’s large enough to be comfortable to shoot and easy to control but also slim and small enough to be easily concealed. Sure, it only offers a single-stack magazine with a relatively small capacity at 7+1 or 8+1, but statistics do hint at that being more than enough for most self-defense needs.
I can’t say it’s revolutionary in my mind. But, hey, it’s also a budget-friendly option and, so far, offers the most positive grip texture I’ve experienced in that family of handguns. Plus, the factory sights are nice and metal.