September 08, 2023
Lifting the Savage Model 110 Classic from its box took me back a few years. That first Savage bolt gun I bought back in the 1960s had a walnut stock with cut checkering. The asking price of the hardware store owner who had it was only $100 ($989 in today’s dollars). It had a 22-inch barrel in .270 Win., and as best as I can recall, the long-range wonder weighed only a few ounces more than my Marlin lever-action woods rifle.
Like my Savage of yesteryear, the new Classic has a walnut stock. Its 22-lines-per-inch checkering is machine cut rather than hand cut, and while there is less coverage, it is nicely executed, with no border runovers and only a few flat-top diamonds waiting to be pointed up.
With a grip circumference of 5.25 inches and 4.75 inches around the center of the fore-end, the stock is sized for fairly large hands. The 22-inch carbon steel barrel floats freely, and clearance between it and its channel in the stock should be enough to discourage the fore-end from warping against the barrel. The muzzle has 9/16x28 threads with a protector included. Magnum chamberings have 24-inch barrels.
The stock is lightly figured, and proper grain flow through the grip gives it optimum strength in that area. My trusty pinless moisture meter showed a moisture content of 4.2 percent, indicating the blank was thoroughly dried prior to shaping and inletting. A smooth application of deep-penetrating synthetic sealer and finish applied to the exterior of the stock and all surfaces of its inletting should prevent moisture content from greatly fluctuating during normal use. Posts for quick-detach sling swivels are installed front and rear.
The comb of the stock along with a narrow section of the butt are separated and then each is joined to the body of the stock by three sliding steel bars. Each bar has a number of positioning notches. When in their closed position, the two sections compress strong internal springs.
Two large flush-fit buttons on the side of the stock are used to adjust comb height and length of pull. Pressing the front button releases the comb for an increase in height of 17⁄8 inches in quarter-inch increments. Releasing the button locks the comb in place at the chosen height.
Pressing the rear button allows length of pull to range from 12.75 inches to 14.25 inches, also in quarter-inch increments, and releasing the button locks it in place at the desired length. To return comb height and pull length to their non-extended positions, simply hold down the buttons while pushing until they lock into place.
I prefer a pull length in the neighborhood of 13.75 inches, and since the only mount I had on hand for the rifle positioned the scope too high, comb height and length of pull adjustments were greatly appreciated. A shorter stock is better when you’re wearing extremely thick clothing during cold-weather hunts, so the adjustable pull length would be good to have for that as well.
A caution is in order here. Raising the comb exposes its sharp rear edge, so never allow your cheek or any other part of your face to be positioned that far back when the rifle is being fired.
The stock is attached to the action with two bolts, one in the receiver ring just behind the bracket-style recoil lug, the other in the bottom of the receiver between the trigger assembly and the magazine box cutout. The rear bolt also holds the front of the trigger guard in place while the rear of the trigger guard is attached with a wood screw into the stock.
The sear release tab at the front of the trigger guard has to be depressed in order to access the rear stock bolt, and the magazine latch has to be held back in order to reach the front bolt.
A pair of steel sleeves pressed vertically into the stock contain the action bolts, allowing them to be tightened without damaging the wood. A small through-bolt bearing on the front side of the rear sleeve is there to discourage recoil from splitting the narrow web of wood between the cutouts for the trigger assembly and the magazine box.
A second through-bolt resting against the front sleeve reinforces a wider section of wood between the front of the magazine box cutout and the recoil lug mortise in the stock. Ends of both through-bolts are hidden from view by black, flush-fit inserts. I expected to see the recoil lug resting in a puddle of synthetic bedding, but the designers of the stock obviously decided it was not needed due to the through-bolt reinforcement.
The Model 110 action was developed for Savage by Nicholas Brewer back in the 1950s, and while it has received several minor improvements, for the most part the basic design remains the same. Unfortunately, Brewer died of cancer in late 1956, and he never saw his creation go into production. Its introductory price of $110 was a bit more than for the Remington Model 721 and a bit less than for the Winchester Model 70.
The Model 110 was actually known by the Savage engineering staff as the Model 98, and the plan was to call it that. When it suddenly dawned on the sales group that a German guy by the name of Mauser had already used that number, it was changed to Model 110. A detachable magazine became available in 1966, and the AccuTrigger was introduced in 2002.
The 110 Classic in .243 Win. I shot for this report is on the short action, which from tang to front of recoil bracket measures just shy of nine inches. A lock time of 2.5 milliseconds is about the same as for the Remington 700 short action at 2.6 milliseconds.
The two actions weigh about the same. The long version of the 110 action increases weight by about two ounces, and length is increased by about half an inch. Lock time of the long action is 2.7 milliseconds, and only the quickest of human brains can detect the difference.
One of the more unusual design details is a non-rotating baffle just in front of the bolt handle that blocks off the rear of the receiver when the bolt is closed. A cap at the rear of the bolt used to be solid, but it now has an opening for indicating firing pin position. With the firing pin cocked, its rear end fills the opening, and a dab of red fingernail polish makes it even more noticeable to the eye.
A large steel pin secures the dual-opposed locking lugs to the body of the bolt. The bolt has a spring-loaded, plunger-style ejector, and a small sliding extractor housed by one of the locking lugs is much like the one introduced by Winchester on the “new” Model 70 in 1964. (If the extractor in the bolt of your vintage Model 110 greatly resembles the one on Remington’s 721/722/700 series of rifles, it was built prior to 1966.)
The floorplate and follower of the blued steel detachable magazine box are polymer. The magazine holds four standard cartridges or three magnums and is easily top-loaded.
An interior length of 3.010 inches is 0.3 inch longer than SAAMI maximum for .243 Win. factory ammo. The additional length allows seating out bullets in handloads for chasing the rifling should eventual chamber throat erosion make doing so necessary for best accuracy.
A tug on a latch at the front of the magazine drops it into the hand, and it is easily replaced with a loaded magazine without taking one’s eyes from the target. Enclosing the latch a bit more would protect it better from bumps in the field.
I know people who have purchased used Savage 110 rifles and hunted with them for years without realizing the safety slide on the tang of the receiver is of three-position design. It is easy to operate, even when wearing gloves. Pulling the slide to the rear for engagement blocks bolt rotation. Pushing it to the middle position allows the bolt to be cycled for loading and unloading the chamber with the safety still engaged. With the slide in its forward position, the rifle is ready to be fired.
Among a number of details that have made the Model 110 action successful since its introduction in 1958 is the ease of switching barrels. I long ago lost count of the number of barrels of various calibers a shooting pal has for his custom chassis rifle on the Model 110 action.
The big barrel retention nut was actually inherited from the earlier Savage Model 340 rifle and is thought to have originated on a machine gun designed by John Browning many years prior. One of the first things I noticed about the new Classic rifle is it has the original-style grooved barrel lock nut. Removing it is the same as for the newer smooth-sided nut, although different spanner wrenches are required.
While on the subject of old-school details, the sear release thumb piece—also sometimes called the cocking indicator or bolt release—used to be at the right-hand side of the receiver bridge and in front of the bolt handle. Placing the safety in its Fire position and holding down the tab with a thumb while holding back the trigger allows the bolt to be removed from the receiver.
The safety still has to be in the Fire position and the trigger still has to be held back, but the release has been moved to the front of the trigger guard, where it has to be pulled to the rear for bolt removal. In addition to being awkward to manipulate, this does not work as well as the old design, and several tries are usually required before the bolt can the removed. Pushing the bolt back into the receiver can also be a bit tricky.
When accuracy-testing the Classic from a benchrest, all cartridges were loaded in the magazine and fed from there. Feeding was quite smooth, and that along with fairly easy bolt lift often enabled me to send three bullets toward the 100-yard target before the flags indicated a change in wind velocity and/or direction.
I don’t recall ever shooting a Model 110 that was less than satisfactory in the accuracy department, and the Classic did not disappoint. Due to the weight of the Classic and mild .243 Win. recoil, it was great fun to shoot. Shooting it also reminded me of how much I love a nice wooden stock.
Savage Model 110 Classic Specifications
- Type: Two-lug centerfire
- Caliber: .243 Win. (tested), 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win., 7mm-08, 7mm Rem. Mag., .308, .30-06, .300 Win. Mag.
- Capacity: 4+1, detachable magazine
- Barrel: 22.25 in., 1:9.25 twist; threaded 9/16x28
- Overall Length: 41.25 in.
- Weight: 8.25 lb.
- Stock: Walnut; adjustable for comb height and length of pull
- Trigger: AccuTrigger, 3.5 lb. pull (measured, as received)
- Safety: 3-position tang
- Sights: None; drilled and tapped
- Price: $1,099
- Manufacturer: Savage Arms, savagearms.com