Savage 220 Youth 20 Gauge Bolt Action Rifled Shotgun
Oleg Volk 08.16.16
Born of regulatory restrictions on rifles in certain states, 12ga rifled shotguns firing sabot and full-caliber slugs offer respectable performance out to about 200 yards. Even more specialized, 20ga rifled shotguns fill the same niche for smaller shooters. Youth variants serve even more defined market segment, mainly women and teens of both sexes.
A free-floated rifled barrel with a 1:24-inch rate of twist and AccuTrigger show intent to provide accuracy, as is the default optical sighting arrangement. The receiver comes drilled and tapped for scope bases. The 220 has a matte black steel barrel and receiver mounted in a light but rugged synthetic stock. Sling swivel studs and a thick rubber recoil pad are standard.
The detachable plastic magazine holds two shells. Clicking it in requires pressing the box against the back of the magazine well. It’s a somewhat slow process, so I found myself using ejection port loading for expediency during test firing. 3-position ambidextrous tang safety is easily reached from either side. It also locks the bolt in position.
So-called rifled slugs cannot be used in rifled shotguns with any degree of accuracy as they do not engrave on rifling properly. Two types of munitions are available. The first is sabot loads, usually .50 caliber expanding copper or lead projectiles of 250-275 grains. They leave the muzzle at 1800-1900fps. Using Federal P209TC load (275gr, 1900fps), we get residual velocity over 1200fps at 200 yards, along with only 4″ drop or rise around 150 yard zero. The advantage of such slugs is the generally impressive accuracy and energy retention.
The second type is Brenneke, both the brand and the generic type, loaded also by Rio. Full caliber and generally designed to penetrate deeply with minimal expansion, these are preferred for areas with more brush as they deflect less on foliage. Weighing between 3/4 and a full ounce and unusually heavy for 20ga, they are start out in the 1500-1600fps range but slow down quicker, limiting their use on deer to about 100 yards. Both types of ammunition can group as well as 2MOA from rifled barrels, but sabots require cold bore for consistency.
In my testing, Winchester and Hornady grouped closer to 4MOA, while the inexpensive Brenneke K.O. shot 2MOA. Given its insensitivity to barrel heat (it only takes about three shots to raise the temperature enough to make a difference with the thin tube) I would prefer the heavier K.O. slugs for ranges up to 100 yards. Sabots, while producing inferior groups, produced equally good first shot hits on point of aim. For most hunting it’s the first shot that counts, and the much flatter trajectory would make them superior at longer ranges.
Although firing loads that are brisk for 20ga, 220Y shotgun has only a moderate recoil. It wouldn’t preclude sufficient practice for accurate shooting in the field. The scope, a 1-4x Vortex, was picked for adequate detail at full zoom or rapid, both eyes open, tracking at 1x up close. For hunting dense brush at closer ranges, a low mount red dot might be preferable. I’ve had good results with Aimpoint H1/T1 and Holosun red dots on shotguns up to and including 12ga. While the shotgun isn’t light overall, it’s short, handy and balanced very well for the junior shooter. The short stock works well for most the rest of the population, once enough winter clothing has been added.