Savage 110BA, .300 Winchester Magnum
My usual MO is to do initial impression/first 1000 rounds reports, but since putting 1000 rounds through this rifle would both cost as much as the gun itself and be approaching the end of the barrel’s life, I’m posting this one a little early.
I had been lusting for a long-range precision gun for quite some time. I wanted something that was flat shooting and could reach past 1000 yards and for quite some time I waffled about .260 Remington vs. .300 Win Mag, or buying and building up a friend’s neglected .300 Win Mag 700, then I saw one of these at the local gun shop. It had everything I was looking for – borderline excessive weight, a good brake, aluminum chassis system, pistol grip, detachable mag, adjustable stock, a top rail, and easy mounting for bipod/monopod, all at very reasonable price relative to other rifles in its class and a fair bit less expensive than my hypothetical 700 build. The shop owner was kind enough to let me shoot his display model, and it quickly put to rest my last remaining doubt – that .300 Win Mag would be too much recoil for an inexperienced rifle shooter to learn on. Between the weight and the brake, recoil was startlingly light, not too dissimilar to my braked semi-auto .308. I bit the bullet and picked one up. In January. I once again fell into the morass of infinite waiting that comes with ordering full custom (the scope) so I wasn’t able to get it all put together and in shooting condition until recently, around 8 months later. But that’s a story for another time.
Modifications and Accessories:
Rifle Basix SAV-1 Trigger
Accushot Atlas Bipod
Accushot BT12-QK Monopod
Nightforce Angle Degree Indicator
US Optics SN-3 3.2-17x
US Optics rings
Takedown and Rifle Basix Trigger installation:
The 110BA comes with the “Law Enforcement” Accu-Trigger, which can adjust down to 1.5 pounds. The weight is nice, but after you get a little bit of time on this or any Accu-Trigger, you find that there’s some creep and the break is a bit squishy. Also I find the trigger safety lever bothersome. After being quite impressed with the quality of the Rifle Basix offering for my Savage rimfire, I opted to go with one of their centerfire units. Installation is a breeze:
First you pop the action/barrel off the stock:
A quick few of the chassis bedding geometry:
Pop off a c-clip and pull off the Accu-Trigger:
Then toss in the new trigger. You adjust spring weight, sear engagement, and safety engagement with three small allen screws. Getting the trigger installed and functional only takes about five minutes, but dialing in the trigger weight you want is an iterative process that takes a bit longer. The SAV-1 can hypothetically be tuned down to 14 ounces, but at weight much below two pounds you will slam fire if you don’t baby the bolt closed. I have mine set at 2 exactly. There is no creep, and break is glass-rod crisp.
US Optics SN-3 3.2-17x, 58mm objective, green illuminated Mil-Scale MPR reticle, EREK elevation 1/10 mil elevation, US #3 windage knob 1/10 mil, internal bubble level eyepiece, 4″ sunshade.
As I mentioned previously, this was the huge time-limiting factor for shooting my gun. I live in the midwest, so shooting 1000yd+ here means private land, usually farm land. That means most likely you won’ t be able to use it until no ones working on it, which means evening, low-light shooting. I wanted to gather as much light as I could. Apparently just about nobody orders the 3.2-17 with the giant objective option, so it took them a while to get the tube machined. It ran well past the quoted 6-8 week lead time, so I contacted them to see what was going on. They said they felt bad about the delay, and without any request on my part, even before I had a chance to say the extended wait was bothersome, they offered to give me a set of free rings. I wasn’t able to fit all the scope options I wanted into my budget, so I asked if they could add one or two of the options I wanted instead of the rings, sending them a prioritized list of what I wanted, thinking they would pick out a few easy ones about the same value as the rings. They added all the options on my list AND still included the rings, about $600 retail worth of stuff, free of charge, completely voluntarily. This, combined with their responsiveness, extreme helpfulness with questions, and seemingly infinite patience makes them a phenomenal company to deal with. Despite waiting about 8 months for everything to come in, I am not in the least bit dissatisfied with my experience, I would highly recommend dealing with them. Their customer service is top notch. And, as I will explain, so is their product.
The first thing you notice pulling the scope out of the box is OH DEAR GOD THIS THING IS HUGE. Once the shock from that fades away, you notice how rugged everything is. Construction is rock-solid, and every control moves with astounding fluidity. Clicks on elevation and windage are very positive, striking a perfect balance between being noticeable, countable, and sticking where you want and being fast and smooth for fast, large-scale adjustment. All this is nice, but you don’t really appreciate the quality of this scope until you look through it. The clarity is breathtaking. I don’t know how to properly describe it, and the following pictures don’t do it justice, but as an illustration, I was able to clearly see a friend’s .22 caliber bullet holes at 100 yards without being anywhere near maximum magnification. Also the integrated eyepiece bubble level is an awesome innovation, it allows you to ensure your gun is level from shot to shot without taking your eye away from the sight picture. Here are some pics:
Reticle at 17x, 100 yard target. You can see a little bit of the neato integrated bubble level i n the bottom:
Now the reticle, also at 100 yards, this time at 3.2x:
The hashes on the reticle are pretty hard to see, especially when trying to take pictures through the scope, so here’s a zoomed-in crop of the above picture. It also gives a good illustration of the optical clarity, as even this small, everything is clearly visible. Also, those small orange dots are the size of a quarter:
Here’s an awful, out-of-focus pic with the illumination on. Unfortunately, this was the best I was able to get:
Windage and Elevation knobs:
Parralax adjust is accomplished by rotating the front bell:
For those of you unfamiliar, the EREK elevation knob allows you to adjust the erector tube independently of the knob clicks via an allen wrench. You get your 100 yard zero adjusting through this method, allowing maximum possible upward elevation adjustment. I have about half a mil of downward adjustment and more than twenty upward, giving me enough adjustment for a dead-on hold out to around 1500 yards according to my ballistics software.
Accushot Atlas Bipod:
I had heard lots and lots of good things about this bipod, and since I’m not a fan of Harris in general, and don’t like the way GG&G legs adjust, I decided to go for this and see how it worked despite not being able to play with one in person first. I don’t regret it for a minute. This thing is absurdly beefy. Once the legs are where you want them, they don’t go anywhere. There is also a knob to adjust pan and tilt tension, allowing you to dial it in however you want. The neatest part about it, however, is that the legs can lock at 45 degrees in either direction as well a straight down, making it very useful for shooting off of irregular rests like rocks and logs. A few pictures:
The bipod itself. Since the 110BA doesn’t have a bottom rail, I attached a Blackhawk sling swivel to picatinny adapter to the front QD mount:
You deploy the legs by pressing down on the little silver button and pulling them out. There is no spring assist. Once the legs are locked, they don’t move:
Leg length is adjusted by pulling down on the knurled collets at the top of each leg and pulling down or pushing up. Again, no spring assist, and no chance of movement once locked in. Pan/Tilt tension is adjusted by the big knob on the bottom:
I have a sling-swivel mounted version of one of these on my .22 bolt gun, and found that it is a far superior option to a rear sandbag. I wanted one of their quick-deploy models for this rifle, as my only complaint about the one on my .22 is that unscrewing the lock nut, flipping out the bipod, the rescrewing it down is a bit bothersome. The button-deploy units are rail-mount only, which presents a bit of a challenge for this gun. The Magpul PRS-2 stock on the 110BA doesn’t have an integrated bottom rail like the more common AR-15 models. It does have mounting screws to attach a rail, but the bottom of the stock is angled, which would not let the bipod be perpendicular to the ground. To address this problem, I stacked and glued a few sheets of kydex, shaped them to fit the stock with a belt sander, then cut a channel in it with a router. I put a small section of rail I had laying around somewhere in the channel and drilled the assembly for the stock mounting holes. Here is the final result:
It’s not the prettiest solution, but its solid and it works very well. If you haven’t shot with a monopod before, I would highly recommend it. Once you do you’ll wonder how you ever did without.
Ammunition and Accuracy:
While doing initial research for the rifle, I stumbled across the new Mk248mod1 .300 Win Mag ammo the military has started fielding to fill the gap between .308 and .338 Lapua. Its a 220grain SMK running in the vicinity of 3900 FPS. I was intrigued to say the least, but when I found that HSM makes a clone (or a near clone, as the military stuff vastly exceeds SAAMI spec pressure) that also happens to be one of the cheapest .300 match loads on the market, I knew what I wanted to run in my rifle. I bought just a little bit at first to see how it shot. This is what I ended up with:
As you can see, I’m a fairly novice rifle shooter, and even with all my cheater gear (bipod, monopod) I’m not yet terribly consistent. Because of this, I can’t really say the rifle or the ammo is good for X MOA accuracy, but I can make a few informed guesses. They certainly can do MOA, and I did post a few groups in the .3 MOA range. I’m inclined to blame the larger groups on my lack of skill rather than the rifle or ammo, but there’s no way to be sure. Regardless, the combo shoots much better than I do, so it will definitely meet my needs for the time being. We’ll see what results are like once I get more practice in.
Regarding the ammo – running a 220 grain slug as fast a possible results in a lot more recoil than whatever ammo I had shot through the demo gun many months ago. Recoil is substantial, but with the weight of the gun (20 pounds even with all the crap bolted to it) and the brake, it isn’t uncomfortable. I noticed no signs of flinching even after extended range sessions. Some of my best groups were shot after I had put 40+ rounds through the gun.
Final thought, general impressions:
I couldn’t be happier. This rifle was exactly what I was looking for, and with the HSM ammo, has the accuracy and power to reach well beyond 1000 yards while still fitting into my budget. Its an absolute joy to shoot, and I can’t wait to try it at a distance more suited to its intended purpose. I would highly recommend the 110BA for anyone looking to get into long range on a budget. (especially in .338, they really own the market price-wise for that chambering) My accuracy results are inconsistent because of my lack of skill, but every review I’ve seen of both the .300 and .338 models are posting between .3 and .5 MOA groups. The US Optics scope is phenomenal and doesn’t disappoint in the least in any way. The Accu-Shot monopod and bipod make for a rock-solid and minutely adjustable shooting platform that can make even a novice like myself look good.
The view from shooting position, with NightForce ADI and my inside-the-scopecap notes:
Brake ports are slightly reverse-angled:
The bottom half of the brake is blocked in to prevent the blast from kicking up dust when you shoot: