Deer Hunt in a “Shotgun Only” County? Savage 220 Gives Rifle-like Performance

The Savage 220 slug gun solves the "shotgun only" quandary common on the East Coast ... handily!

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posted on November 16, 2022
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As a deer hunter who lived in a shotgun-only county most of my life, I got used to having to wait for deer to get inside 100 yards for a reasonably effective kill shot. Once Savage came out with its Model 220 in 2010, deer hunting in my neck of the woods changed considerably. I was initially slow to bite the bullet (er, slug) and buy one. After watching a law enforcement friend of mine knock down two deer with his Savage 220 at over 150 yards, I was sold. 

I received my Savage from the gunshop and the recommended Remington 3” 260-grain AccuTip slugs finally came in a month or so later. When I opened the box, I was very pleased with the appearance. The Mossy Oak Breakup Country camo blends right in with my treestand backdrop or my overgrown leased fields. The black carbon steel barrel made the gun look classy, but was “working class” at the same time. When I worked the oversized bolt, it was a bit stiff at first, but the more I worked it and oiled it, the smoother the action became. I love the placement of the safety right behind the bolt. It is easily seen at a glance to determine what position it is in. The trigger is adjustable, but out of the box mine was crisp and had no drag or sluggishness.

Savage refreshed this slug gun in 2019 with its branded Accufit stock, which allows for adjustments to length of pull and comb height. I found the stock fit me just right as it came out of the box, but it is nice to have those adjustments available. The gun has a 22" barrel with a right hand twist delivering the Remington AccuTips or other slugs consistently right on target right on time, every time. At 43" and 7.34 lbs., the 220 is a deer hunter’s gun that shoots like a rifle. It has a button-rifled barrel, and the detachable magazine will hold two shells after putting one in the chamber. I love the oversized bolt. As a hunter I will never have a problem grabbing and working it even with gloved hands.

Every great gun is only made better with quality optics. I went with a German Precision Optics SPECTRA 6X 1.5-9X44i. The scope has an incredibly clear 44mm objective and makes seeing in low light very easy. (I am actually going to have to keep a close eye on my watch, so I don’t hang out past legal shooting light due to this scope being so good at gathering light!) This scope is the best scope I have ever used. That statement is not made lightly given that I have been shooting and using scopes for 40+ years. I put this one at the top of the stack when it comes to optics on my guns. A feature I really like on this SPECTRA 6x is the iCONTROL microdot illumination that is on the G4i-drop ballistic reticle. For longer shots and lower light, I can get right on target quickly.

The turrets adjust .36 of an inch per click at 100 yards and are solid and move smoothly. The knob for the illumination is also solid and yet easy to turn ... no wrenching or fighting with it. My father, an "old school" Marine, helped me shoot and test this gun. I had to laugh when I turned the illumination on as the sun was fading while we were wrapping up shooting.

His enthusiastic, “Whoa! I like these reticles more than any I have shot in a long time,” said it all. My father rarely makes statements like that. So, I knew this one was a winner for both of us. I just have to be careful I keep it locked up and out of sight or he might end up “borrowing” it for a very long time.

Due to this slug gun's accuracy, I reached out to Savage to ask what slugs are recommended. They immediately told me that the 3” Remington AccuTips in 260 grains, flying at 1900 feet per second are what the gun does best with. Currently, those slugs can be tough to get and in all honesty it took me awhile to get some. The groups repeatedly touch or are one hole at 50 yards. Out at 100 yards my testing put them on average with groups of just under 1.75", although I have seen others shoot them closer to an inch apart.

When speaking to a Savage employee about their accuracy results he shared that 1.5 inches at 100 yards is the average when they test the guns. When I shot some 2¾" AccuTips at 1,850 fps, they impacted just a hair lower than the 3” shells. That 50 fps makes little difference at 100 yards, an inch or so according to my tests. That is nice to know because if you cannot find one of the shells, it appears you could, in a pinch, use the other and be mindful of the slug’s potential drop.  

Overall, if I lived in a shotgun only county and needed a reliable, accurate gun for deer hunting, there is no other choice for me than the Savage 220. The 20-gauge slug shoots flat for a slug gun and is deadly out to nearly 200 yards in the hands of a decent marksman with a good rest. Hundred-yard shots are gravy. When I am hunting, I am doing so to put up meat quickly and humanely. The fact that the .45 caliber slugs coming out of the 20 gauge bore knock deer down solidly at ranges that I want to shoot in fields or across hillsides makes it a no brainer for a spot in my gun safe and in my pickup truck come November and December. The GPO scope is a purchase I am so glad I made. It is perfect for this gun and only enhances its abilities. Give one a try and see for yourself!

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