Savage 110BA Initial Impressions and First 100 Rounds

| October 10, 2012 | 12 Comments

The Gun:

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.

Optics:

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:

Accu-Shot Monopod:

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.

Gratuitous Pictures:

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:

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Savage 110BA Initial Impressions and First 100 Rounds, 7.6 out of 10 based on 11 ratings

About the Author:

I'm an engineering improvement specialist in the aerospace industry
Filed in: Rifle Reviews
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12 Comments on "Savage 110BA Initial Impressions and First 100 Rounds"

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  1. Keith says:

    Love your rifle!!! I just ordered my savage 110 BA 338 Lapua and I would like to attempt your monpod method but I don’t trust myself enough to perform the assembly. What would you charge to make the monopod mount for me?

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  2. TheWiryIrishman says:

    Hi Keith,

    Unfortunately I just dont have the free time to make you one. Its pretty easy, though. You will need some kydex, kydex cement (I get most of this type of stuff from knifekits.com), and a section of rail with screws that fit the threads in the stock. You can get these from the accushot site. Cut a dozen or so pieces of kydex in about two inch by four inch sections. Heat them up with a heat gun, lay them over the bottom of your stock, let them cool, then do the same with the nect one on top of it. Put the kydex cement between all of them, and clamp them overnight. Then just use a belt sander or dremel to clean it up and drill your holes. Then youre good to go.

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  3. Tim says:

    Excellent review. I just ordered my 110BA and will have it Wednesday. I really like that Accu-Shot bipod and would like to go with that also. Can you please let me know the model numbers of the bipod and the Blackhawk adapter that you used?

    Thanks!

    Tim

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  4. TheWiryIrishman says:

    Here’s my bi-pod: http://www.accu-shot.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=84
    You may consider getting the model shorter than this without the quick knob. This one pulls it up quite a ways off the ground. The quick knob is nice, though. I’m still torn between the two myself.

    The rail adapter: http://www.shopping.com/blackhawk-blackhawk-swivel-stud-picatinny-rail-adapter/info

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  5. Ben says:

    Excellent report and thank you for the mod improvements. I am still looking for a sling set-up. Have you found a quick disconnect that will fit the stock’s position? Or any other set up that will work?
    Also I would like to thank you for the US Optics review, I have been looking at them for some time.
    Thanks
    Ben

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  6. TheWiryIrishman says:

    I haven’t looked too heavily into slings yet. Although I’d like to, it probably won’t be getting any field use any time soon, it just gets dragged to the firing line in it’s enormous box. When I do get a sling, though, I’ll probably be getting an AI biathalon sling, as I think that is probably the only way to comfortably carry a 20plus pound rifle. Maybe google around about those and see how people are doing QD for them

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  7. Larry Crocker says:

    OMG!!! I’v done research and research, made calls but your article here is just what I was looking for. The information you supplied answered all my unanswered questions. I’m like Ok this guy knows his stuff and the way you outfitted your Savage 110 is the way I’m going to outfit my recently purchased Savage 110. Thank you for your knowledge and making it so much easier to make up our minds what we want to do with our Savage 110 BA. Thanks once again!!!!!!!!

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  8. Bob Kelley says:

    I shot HP and LR well into my late 60’s, (I held a Masters classification in both HP and LR so do understand the basics of marksmanship).
    However @ 74 I still like reach out and touch someone. I bought a 110 in 338 Lapua with a Vortex scope, from a person that could not get over jerking the trigger…Super accurate gun, however it was a bit pricy to shoot. Saw a 110C 300 Win Mag on Gun Broker with a Choate sniper stock and Leopold M4 scope. I had at least 500 pieces of 300 Win Mag cases. I have shot that caliber since they came out in 1963. Way cheaper to practice shooting solutions than the Lapua) I found my 110C like the Berger 215 Hybrid bullet best.
    Some of my friends that have some rather high dollar 338 Lapua guns are pretty quite when they find my budget gun will match then shot after shot. You can get a replacement barrel (if you burn yours out) for just a few hundred dollars…sure beats spending $750 for a Kreiger, and $250 to chamber it).
    Waiting for the snow to get off the mountains so I can get back up to my secret LR spot that is only 30 minutes from my home here in Western Washington. (We hung steel out to 1800 yards). Know your gun and practice will beat out $$$ and watching videos about how to shoot every time.
    Next project Better Glass (SWFA 5-20×50 http://swfa.com/SWFA-SS-HD-5-20×50-Tactical-30mm-Riflescope-P51642.aspxis) and then build a suppressor that will fit both guns.

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  9. Greg P says:

    For the prs2 buttstock I found the following place to purchase a rail.
    http://www.armsunlimited.com/Sage-Picatinny-Monopod-Rail-Mount-for-Magpul-PRS2-p/pmri-mr.htm

    On another note for a quick detach sling mount on this stock, there is no “hole” on the front buttstock mount to put the quick detach in/through. If you separate the two pieces of the buttstock you will notice the rear portion it has a detent to allow the quick detach to rest in. I cant find a different front buttstock with a hole already in place, so is the intent to drill a hole through the front buttstock piece to allow the sling mount to pass through?

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  10. TheWiryIrishman says:

    Thank you so much for posting that link, Greg! I searched and searched when I bought the rifle for a professionally made product to mount my bipod when I bought the rifle and had zero luck. I’m ordering one right after I finish this post.

    Just to make sure, you’re talking about mounting a QD stud to the PRS2? If so, I’m not sure I can help you, as I was happy with the rear sling loop on the side of the stock and never really looked in to a QD option. That loop is bolted on, and there’s plenty of places that make threaded QD studs, could you just remove the loop and put a stud through one of existing holes? I don’t have access to my rifle at the moment, so I can’t play with it myself to figure it out.

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  11. Greg P says:

    Yes I am referring to the silver oval looking plate with two screws that go through the stock and are the bolts that actually secure the two pieces of the buttstock using
    http://store.magpul.com/product/MAG340/181
    as a reference.
    I wanted to put a quick release sling mount at that oval thing (so there would be no stud when removed)
    using something like:
    http://www.midwayusa.com/product/283553/gg-and-g-enhanced-heavy-duty-push-button-quick-detach-sling-swivel-1-1-4-steel-matte?cm_vc=wishList
    The silver plates one is solid and one has a hole which appears to accept a quick detach, however the front buttstock bracket (that would go over the buffer spring tube if this was an AR15) does not have holes in it. Before I take a drill to this nice rifle I wanted to try to check that there wasn’t something I was missing(like a different part already with the hole)

    I did find QD mounts but they do not appear to match the profile of the PRS2 QD plates (using the magpul link above as a reference and the link immediately below)
    http://www.midwayusa.com/product/597532/noveske-push-button-quick-detach-sling-mount-for-nsr-handguards-ar-15-aluminum-black?cm_vc=wishList

    I don’t intend on hauling this beast with a sling often, but want the option quickly. The built in sling mount will work fine but I was looking for a quick connect option. I don’t want this sling laying on it when I do the majority of my shooting, and knowing myself I will get grumpy if I have to unloop the sling from the rear buttstock every time.

    This does not seem to be a common question or my Google-Fu is weak currently so any assistance is appreciated.

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  12. Jason says:

    I’m having the same dilemma with the QD sling location on the PRS2. I have been enjoying my 110BA for 2 years and now that i want to take advantage of the QD mount in the PRS2…NO HOLE!!! What did you find out?

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