Review: Savage Model 110 Long Range Hunter
December 20, 2018
Savage Arms has a long history of offering value-packed guns, and the time-honored Model 110 is at the heart of that tradition. The Model 110 has been produced continuously since 1958 and is currently available in an array of calibers, barrel lengths, stocks, finishes…well, you name the features you want and a version of the Savage Model 110 probably has them.
One of the more notable developments in the rifle world was the Savage Accu-Trigger, which allows the user to adjust the pull weight with complete safety. It was introduced in 2003 and became standard on nearly all Savage centerfire rifles a year later. In 2009 the Accu-Stock solved the problem of the erratic accuracy inherent with the flimsy plastic stocks used on many models. The AccuStock has an aluminum-bedding block that produces consistent and solid bedding around the action. The AccuStock is available on many Savage centerfire rifles.
One of the newest versions of the Model 110 is called the Long Range Hunter (to save space I’ll refer to it as “LRH”). While primarily designed for hunters who may encounter a long shot at an elk or a mule deer across a western canyon and for “beanfield” hunters going after a prize whitetail, the rifle will no doubt also find use by long-distance target shooters, too. The rifle is capable if you are.
Shooting Times received a brand-new LRH rifle chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum for testing. It certainly lived up to its billing. I shot the heck out of it, and it’s a real shooter. I’ll get to those results, but first, let me tell you all of the goodies Savage has crammed into this new rifle. Savage says the LRH can essentially be “built for you,” and that pretty well sums it up.
The LRH has a new innovation Savage calls the “AccuFit Stock,” a further evolution of the AccuStock concept. The LRH stock has a full-length metal rail that secures the action in three dimensions along its entire length. Also, there is a healthy gap between the barrel channel and the stock. This is not “sloppy fit”; it’s a clever design feature. The stock is pretty stiff. I couldn’t press the fore-end tip against the barrel, so the stock does not flex and touch the barrel when fired. This is especially important for good accuracy in a powerful cartridge like the .300 Win. Mag.
In addition, the AccuFit Stock comes with a set of five comb inserts that allow the shooter to custom fit the drop and height of the scope above the bore, as the drop at the comb can be adjusted from 0.30 inch to 1.10 inches. A set of four length-of-pull (LOP) spacers is also supplied with the AccuFit stock so LOP can be easily adjusted by switching the spacers that fit between the recoil pad and the stock proper. Oh, the recoil pad on the LRH is actually a real recoil pad. Gone is the rock-hard “pad” of the past. The AccuFit’s pad is a nice, thick, soft rubbery material that effectively soaks up kick. Hats off to Savage for this feature!
The AccuFit Stock proper is made of a tough, gray synthetic material that has soft overmold gripping surfaces on the fore-end and pistol grip where “checkering” would usually be. The overall shape of the stock is new, too, and is functionally ergonomic. Also, sling-swivel studs are installed.
All barrels are 26 inches in length, regardless of chambering, but the rifling twists vary, depending on the round. My .300 Win. Mag. test gun has a 1:10-inch twist. The barrels are button-rifled, and Savage says they deliver consistent accuracy. My shooting tests confirmed this. There are no sights, but the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts.
The LRH has a neat adjustable muzzle brake. The muzzle diameter of the barrel just behind the muzzle brake is 0.730 inch. The muzzle brake itself is a tiny bit larger than the barrel proper, and the “bore” of the brake is 0.355 inch. The brake is screwed to the barrel with 5/8-34 threads, and it has two parts. An outer sleeve goes over an inner part. Both parts have eight rows of three, 0.014-inch holes for powder gases to exit. A great feature of this brake is that it’s easily adjustable. No tools, just grab it and with a twist of about one-eighth of a turn, the outer sleeve covers the holes, and presto, the muzzle brake is “off,” but it can be turned back “on” in a second. It “clicks” and locks in both positions. The barrel looks the same either way, and balance is not affected. I shot the rifle with the brake “on” and “off,” and I didn’t see any difference in accuracy or velocity. With it “off,” the muzzle blast was somewhat reduced (but, of course, the recoil was somewhat increased).
Of course, the LRH has Savage’s delightful AccuTrigger, which is user adjustable from 2.5 to 6 pounds. The trigger on my rifle broke as crisp as can be at 3 pounds, 4.3 ounces. The action and barrel have a uniform matte, non-glare black finish, and the bolt body is bright and jeweled.
Bolt removal is a bit tricky until you get onto it. First, make sure the rifle is empty and the safety is “off.” Then simultaneously squeeze the trigger and push back the bolt release in front of the trigger guard. Then withdraw the bolt. To replace the bolt, repeat the trigger and bolt release exercises.
The LRH is offered for 10 different cartridges. The choices are 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Remington, .308 Winchester, .300 WSM, .338 Federal, 6.5x284 Norma, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Win. Mag., .280 Ackley Improved, and .338 Lapua Magnum.
All except the .338 Lapua have a fixed box magazine with a hinged floorplate and the adjustable muzzle brake. The .338 Lapua version has a five-round detachable box magazine and a fixed muzzle brake. The weight of the LRH varies, depending on caliber. My .300 Win. Mag. gun checked in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce without a scope.
The scope I used was a new Engage from Bushnell, and it too is innovative. I used the 4-16X 44mm model, but there are several iterations. This scope was a gem. (See the sidebar on page 32 for more details.)
In preparation for range testing, I checked the LRH barrel with my Hawkeye borescope. There were obvious reamer marks in the grooves and lands, but subsequent test-firing revealed the barrel picked up very little jacket fouling. And the marks didn’t have any negative effect on the rifle’s accuracy.
The Savage folks must have gone to the Roy Weatherby school of chambering, as the free-bore in the LRH was pretty generous. This gives the bullet a running start toward the rifling and permits somewhat higher pressures for a bit more velocity. Rifle dogma says that a long bullet jump is detrimental to accuracy, but the LRH folks must have missed that email. My rifle shot just fine with most loads, including factory loads that came with their bullets seated way off the rifling. While testing, I cooled the barrel in front of the air-conditioner in my shooting building between groups, cleaned the bore after every 15 rounds, and fired one fouling shot after each cleaning before shooting groups.
I fired nine factory loads in the LRH, ranging from Federal’s 150-grain Fusion to Barnes’s 220-grain OTM-BT Match ammo. I fired three, five-round groups for each loading from my indoor benchrest at 100 yards. The overall average of factory fodder was 0.88 inch, with top honors going to Hornady’s Custom Lite 150-grain SST load at 0.57 inch. This ammo is amazing! The recoil is 46.5 percent less than the company’s American Whitetail 180-grain load, and you can really tell the difference when shooting.
One of my favorite bullets for big game is Federal’s Trophy Bonded Tip. The factory load with this bullet clocked 2,997 fps and averaged a delightful 0.83 inch. Another winner was Winchester’s economical Super-X ammo with the 180-grain Power-Point bullet that averaged 0.67 inch at 2,919 fps.
Alas, it’s getting harder and harder to beat today’s excellent factory ammo with handloads, and that trend was evident with the LRH. I selected several of my loads that have shot well in other .300 Win. Mag. rifles and gave them a whirl. I used cartridge overall lengths (COL) somewhat longer than the factory loads, expecting better accuracy, but my hand-loads shot about the same as the factory loads. The magazine length of the LRH is 3.5 inches, so there’s no problem seating bullets out somewhat. Winchester cases and CCI 250 and Federal 215 primers were used for all loads.
The nine handloads averaged 0.86 inch, only a hair better than the factory loads. The best results were with the Nosler 180-grain Ballistic Tip with 73.0 grains of IMR 7828 at 2,831 fps. That load averaged 0.55 inch. I also tested three of my favorite big-game bullets. The Speer Grand Slam is a classic design and has clobbered a lot of game for me in various cartridges, but neither the 165- nor the 180-grain version shot well in the LRH.
By contrast, the Federal 165-grain Trophy Bonded Tip over 71.5 grains of Power Pro 4000MR at 3,084 fps shot into 0.81 inch. Muzzle energy was 3,486 ft-lbs. The other winner was Hornady’s 178-grain ELD-X and 78.0 grains of H1000. Velocity was 2,896 fps, energy was 3,316 ft-lbs, and group average was 0.69 inch. Close behind was Nosler’s AccuBond Long Range. A charge of 73.0 grains of Power Pro 4000MR produced 3,087 fps and a group average of 0.75 inch.
Shooting about 100 rounds of various loads through the LRH proved its overall accuracy. While the handloader can easily concoct perfectly fine game loads, a hunter can shoot factory loads for a lifetime without a care in the world. The uniformly good accuracy of both factory and handloads indicates that the LRH is put together well, and the AccuFit Stock bedding is doing its job.
The LRH is no lightweight—with scope it tipped the scale at 9 pounds, 13 ounces. For the “stand” or “beanfield” deer hunter, it is just about perfect. The heft did a good job of moderating recoil. This is of some moment, as the free recoil of these .300 Win. Mag. loads was about 25 ft-lbs.
Overall, the performance of the new Savage Model 110 Long Range Hunter was impressive. It has a business-like appearance, was very accurate, and proved to be 100 percent reliable. At an MSRP of $1,099, it’s affordable, and it’s readily available. Couple it with a top-notch scope and game will quake in its presence.