March 08, 2022
By Steve Gash
Savage has a long history of offering value-packed guns, and the time-honored Model 110 bolt action is a prime component of that legacy. The Model 110 was designed in 1956 by Nicholas L. Brewer and has been produced continuously since 1958. The first chamberings were .270 Winchester and .30-06, and in 1959, a short-action version was introduced in .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester. The Model 110 is currently available in an exhilarating array of calibers, barrel lengths, stocks, and finishes. Make a list of the features you want in a rifle, and there’s probably a version of the Savage Model 110 that has them.
Continuous innovation has kept the Model 110 fresh over the years. A new version is the Backcountry Extreme Series, which itself is further subdivided into six sub-units. These are the Bear Hunter, High Country, Ridge Warrior, Ultralite, Ultralite Camo, and Timberline. They represent the apex of the Model 110’s development, with a host of premium features specific to the individual sub-models. A visit to the Savage online catalog is necessary to fully absorb all of the available features.
The New Timberline
Shooting Times recently received a brand-new Timberline rifle chambered for the ever-popular 6.5 Creedmoor. I gave the Timberline a real workout on the range, and it proved to be a very solid performer. I’ll discuss the range results shortly, but first, let’s take a detailed look at this feature-packed rifle.
The Timberline features a factory-blueprinted action, straight fluting on the medium-profile barrel, a 5/8-24 threaded muzzle with a target crown, an Omni-port muzzle brake, housed in a sturdy synthetic stock finished in Realtree Excape camo. The metal wears an OD green Cerakote finish, and the whole rifle really looks ready for business.
The stock has two premium features. First, the AccuStock has a full-length metal rail that secures the action in three dimensions along its entire length. There is a healthy gap between the barrel channel and the stock, but this is not “sloppy fit.” It’s a clever built-in design feature. The stock is so stiff that I couldn’t press the fore-end tip against the barrel, meaning that the stock does not flex enough to touch the barrel from recoil when fired, as it can with many flimsy synthetic stocks. This is especially important for good accuracy.
Second, the proprietary AccuFit feature allows shooters to get a personalized fit via the five risers for adjusting the comb height and the four length-of-pull inserts for altering the LOP. And (drum roll, please) the recoil pad is nice and squishy and really soaks up recoil.
The AccuFit stock is made of a tough, synthetic material that has soft overmolded gripping surfaces on the fore-end and pistol grip where checkering would usually be found, and QD sling-swivel studs are installed. The shape of the stock is functionally ergonomic, and the comb’s soft insert protects the shooter’s face from recoil.
In 2003 the Savage AccuTrigger was introduced, and it became standard on almost every Savage rifle a year later. The AccuTrigger allows the user to adjust the pull weight with complete safety. The Timberline has the AccuTrigger and get this: The trigger on my rifle broke at a delightful 1 pound, 11.6 ounces! Remember, this is an out-of-the box factory rifle. You can bet I left the trigger alone.
Timberline barrels are button-rifled, and barrel lengths are either 22 or 24 inches. My 6.5 Creedmoor Timberline’s barrel is 22 inches long, and the twist rate is 1:8. The barrels have six flutes that run from 6.5 inches in front of the receiver out to the muzzle, which makes a fat 0.765 inch. As I mentioned earlier, it has a target muzzle crown. Oh, southpaws, listen up. The Timberline (and many other Model 110s) is available in a left-hand version, in all calibers.
The Timberline’s non-adjustable muzzle brake is the same diameter as the barrel’s muzzle. A 5/8-24 thread protector is not supplied. If you’d like to install one, here’s a handy hint. The muzzle brake is installed before the Cerakote finish is applied, so if you want to remove the brake, carefully score the seam between it and the barrel proper with a knife or a razor blade. Then get out your T-60 Torx bit, clamp the barrel in the soft jaws of your vise, and have at it. The brake on my test rifle came right off without any damage whatsoever to the Cerakote finish on the barrel or the brake. (Because I shoot from inside a building, I covered the threads with a protector from YHM.)
The tang-mounted safety is a three-position affair. Forward is “Off,” all the way to the rear is “Safe.” The middle position is still “On Safe,” but the bolt is not locked, so it can be worked with the safety “On” and a live round can be ejected—it’s an important safety feature.
The bolt body is black and has the new Savage logo on it. The extractor is the familiar sliding-plate-type located in the right locking lug. The plunger ejector on the left side of the boltface flips cases out with authority.
To remove the bolt to clean the rifle, first make sure the gun is unloaded and that the safety is “Off.” Then simultaneously pull the trigger and push back the bolt release button in front of the trigger guard. Then withdraw the bolt. Be careful cleaning the boltface, as it’s not impossible to knock the extractor out of its slot. To replace the bolt, repeat the trigger and bolt release movements described here.
The detachable box magazine is 3.1 inches long and pops out in a jiffy when the release button in front of the magazine is pressed. The magazine holds two, three, or four rounds, depending on the chambering.
There are no open sights on the Timberline, but it is drilled and tapped for scope mounting. Here the clever Savage engineers give us several options. Standard two-piece bases are available. The ones I used were from Savage and were Weaver Grand Slam steel bases; the front and rear bases are the same. While these work just dandy, they are about 4.5 inches apart, center to center, and for a long scope, like the Bushnell Engage 4-16X I used, this is just fine. But a shorter or more compact scope might not fit. Not to worry. One-piece Picatinny rails are also available from Savage. One has zero elevation, and the other offers 20 MOA for long-range shooting. These have multiple cross-slots that provide plenty of mounting flexibility for just about any size optic. It is worth noting that all of these mounting systems use sturdy 8-40 Torx screws for rock-solid scope mounting. For reference, the Savage part numbers are 114229 for the bases and 114228 for the screws. The Picatinny rail numbers are 112651 for the zero rail and 111492 for the 20-MOA version.
The Timberline is offered chambered for 11 popular cartridges, from the .243 Winchester to the .300 Winchester Magnum. So it would seem that there’s a new Timberline to suit almost everyone. I’d say that it seems to be intended for hunters who need sufficient power and range to anchor big game like mule deer and elk and also for the “bean field” hunter. It will no doubt also find use by some long-distance target shooters. Scoped, my Timberline weighed exactly 10 pounds, and this produced an average recoil of only 9.1 ft-lbs from my handloads. This outfit might be a trifle much to tote up a steep mountain, but it would be right at home in a Texas Hill Country deer blind.
Okay, so the new Timberline is all gussied up with features in a myriad of configurations, but the big question is, how does it shoot? As serious students of the spiral tube already know, it is really difficult to find a 6.5 Creedmoor that isn’t a tackdriver, and the Timberline was no exception.
Before tripping the trigger on a live round, I took a peek at the bore with my Hawkeye borescope, and the lands and grooves looked smooth and uniform. For testing, I mounted the aforementioned Bushnell Engage 4-16X 44mm scope in 30mm tactical-style rings. This scope has sorta become my go-to test scope for rifle reviews, as it has proven its worth many times over. The optics are bright and clear, and the click adjustments are precise.
I fired 11 factory loads and eight of my favorite handloads in the Timberline over several range sessions, and I must confess that some days it was pretty cold and windy. All rounds were fired without the muzzle brake, and a Caldwell Lead Sled DFT was the rest. The results are listed in the accompanying chart. I fired three, five-shot groups at 100 yards for the accuracy averages. Velocities are for five rounds measured with an Oehler Model 35P chronograph.
To say the Timberline shot well is a real understatement. The largest group average was 1.08 inches, and overall, the Timberline averaged 0.84 inch for all loads. The factory loads averaged 0.82 inch, and the handloads were slightly larger at 0.87 inch.
All of the factory loads shot well, but for deer-sized game, three stood out. The Federal 120-grain Trophy Copper averaged 0.68 inch and 2,836 fps. Even better were the Hornady Superformance 129-grain SST at 0.59 inch and 2,903 fps and the SIG SAUER 130-grain Elite Hunter load at 0.58 inch and 2,758 fps.
There are literally hundreds of published handloads for the 6.5 Creedmoor, so rather than try dozens of combinations, I put together a few of my favorite loads, including VihtaVuori’s new N555 powder, which was developed expressly for the 6.5 Creedmoor, and Winchester’s relatively new StaBALL 6.5.
The top-performing handload was the Berger 140-grain Hybrid Target HP over 40.0 grains of VV N555. Velocity was 2,434, and groups averaged 0.57 inch. For long-range paper punching, this would be hard to beat. For deer-sized game, the Hornady 143-grain ELD-X over 42.0 grains of StaBALL 6.5 at a velocity of 2,636 fps and with a delightful group average of 0.89 inch would be a good choice.
A glance at the chart merely confirms what we already know: (A) Savage Model 110s are inherently accurate, and (B) the 6.5 Creedmoor brings out the best in just about any good rifle barrel, with just about any load.
Overall, the new Savage Model 110 Timberline performed superbly. There were no malfunctions of any kind over the course of testing. It is very attractive, extremely accurate, and stands on a 63-year legacy of success. Shooters will have to weigh the weight of the Timberline against their intended use of it, i.e., how far you’re going to carry it. And then there’s the price. Of course, it seems high to me (disclosure: all rifle prices today seem high to me), but it’s in line with today’s other quality rifles. And as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. With the Timberline, you get a lot.
Model 110 Timberline Specifications
- Manufacturer: Savage Arms, savagearms.com
- Type: Bolt-action repeater
- Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
- Magazine Capacity: 4 rounds
- Barrel: 22 in.
- Overall Length: 42.38 in. (as tested)
- Weight, Empty: 8.1 lbs.
- Stock: Synthetic AccuStock with AccuFit (adjustable for length of pull and comb height)
- Length of Pull: Adjustable 13.5 in. (as tested)
- Finish: OD green Cerakote barrel and receiver, Realtree Excape camo stock
- Sights: None; scope-mount bases installed
- Trigger: 1.73-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Three-position
- MSRP: $1,165