November 05, 2020
By Layne Simpson
Leadership in the manufacture of accurate rifles designed for competitive shooting has changed only a couple of times during the past 85 years or so. Beginning during the mid-1930s and reaching into the late 1950s, the Winchester Model 70 National Match with optional light, medium and heavy barrels in .30-06 reigned supreme across America and a few other countries.
If being top shooter in the Wimbledon Cup match at Camp Perry was on your bucket list, the Model 70 Bull Gun with an extremely heavy, 28-inch barrel in .300 H&H Mag. was just the ticket for keeping bullets close together on a 1,000-yard target. If competing with the .22 Long Rifle was your cup of tea, the Winchester Model 52 was offered with both standard and heavy barrels with Redfield International sights as an option.
Then came the Remington Model 722 in 1948, and a heavy-barrel version in .222 Rem. in the hands of its designer, Mike Walker, began winning benchrest matches in 1950. That rifle eventually evolved into the 40X target rifle, and when the Remington 700 was introduced in 1962, a switch to its action was made.
During the following decades, many different 40X variations chambered for a variety of centerfire cartridges and the .22 Long Rifle were sold. It was the first factory rifle built in America to depart the factory with an accuracy guarantee. Winchester soon dropped out of the accuracy race.
I’m not sure when Remington began to relinquish its lead, nor am I sure when Savage picked up the baton, but it was sometime during the 1990s. In 1994, Savage introduced the single-shot Model 112BT Competition Grade Rifle with laminated wood stock and heavy 26-inch barrel in .223, .308 and .300 Win. Mag., and while the 40X was still being cataloged by Remington, options had started to dwindle. It is still available, but wait time can be lengthy.
The 110 Elite Precision is the latest thoroughbred to enter the race, and as off-the-shelf rifles for PRS and other long-distance competitions go, it represents Savage’s finest hour. I was looking forward to shooting it for two reasons. One, Savage rifles are predictably accurate, and as much as I shoot each year, I still enjoy shooting an accurate rifle. Then there is the matter of the 6mm Creedmoor. I had managed to round up loads from several companies and was curious to see how accurate they would be in a factory-built target rifle.
The Elite Precision appears heavy, and looks are not deceiving in this case. It was too much for my digital postal scale, so I weighed the gun’s barreled action and chassis separately and came up with a total weight of right around 13 pounds.
Using Weaver six-screw tactical rings to attach a Trijicon AccuPower 5-50x56mm scope increased rifle heft to 15 pounds, 12.3 ounces. No sissy bag or Lead Sled is needed. Its weight combined with the mild-mannered 6mm Creedmoor cartridge made the big rifle a putty tat to shoot from a benchrest.
The big rig is built around what Savage describes as a blueprinted 110 action. To what extent this was done is impossible to determine without removing the barrel, but precision-machined locking lug faces are easy to see. After coating the lugs with machinist dye, I cycled the bolt aggressively a couple of dozen times on a dummy round, and narrow sections of both lugs were bearing evenly on their seats in the receiver.
Front and rear surfaces of the washer-style recoil lug are precision-ground. I am told by Savage that the face of the receiver ring is squared to improve concentricity and its threads chased.
An oversize bolt handle is easy on the hand during rapid-fire strings, and an extremely slippery titanium nitride finish on the exterior of the bolt and the interior of the stainless steel receiver make cycling almost effortless. Bolt lift is heavier than on a custom rifle carrying a bigger price but considerably lighter than on the typical Savage hunting rifle.
The bolt is withdrawn from the receiver and reinserted by pressing down on its release tab while holding back the trigger. One of my friends hunted with a 110 Savage for years before discovering that its safety is a three-position design.
Full forward is Fire, to the rear is Safe with the bolt locked, and the middle position allows the bolt to be cycled for loading and unloading with the safety engaged. A slight protrusion of the cocking piece at the rear of the bolt sleeve indicates a cocked firing pin.
The fully adjustable AccuTrigger has a pull weight adjustment range of 1.5 to four pounds, and the test rifle departed the factory at 1.75 pounds. As is typical for one of the best and most reliable mass-produced triggers available, the break was match-grade smooth and crisp with no detectable creep or overtravel.
The 26-inch stainless steel barrel is 1.125 inches in diameter at the receiver, and from there it tapers to 0.875-inch at the muzzle where it is threaded for an included dual-chamber brake. The brake is on short-action rifles in 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win., and while .300 Win. Mag. and .338 Lapua barrels are threaded, those rifles do not come with a brake.
Glare on bright sunlit days is virtually eliminated by a matte surface finish on the barrel. Peeks inside with a Lyman Borecam revealed mostly smooth button rifling with only a few minor tool marks running across the tops of the lands.
As is commonly seen on extended-distance competition rifles, a 16-slot rail attached to the receiver has 20 m.o.a. of slant.
Savage went straight to the top by resting the barreled action in an Adjustable Core Competition chassis built by Modular Driven Technologies. Design and precision machining are impressive. Optimal length of pull, comb height and vertical positioning of the buttpad can be different when shooting prone than from other positions, and precise adjustments in the stock make those changes quick and easy to make as seconds tick away during a stage.
All trigger fingers are not the same length and fore/aft adjustment of the MDT vertical grip has that covered as well. When changing shooting positions, competitors want a chassis that allows quick repositioning of a bipod, and a Swiss ARCA rail machined into the bottom of the 17-inch fore-end will make them quite happy.
A 10-round MDT AICS pattern steel magazine comes with the rifle, and a beveled magazine well opening makes loaded magazine insertion smooth and bobble-free. A push on the ambidextrous, paddle-style latch at the front of the trigger guard gravity-drops an empty while the other hand is reaching for a reload.
Prior to accuracy-testing I broke-in the barrel by cleaning with Shooter’s Choice powder solvent and Barnes CR-10 copper solvent after each shot. This was concluded at 20 rounds when my Lyman Borecam indicated light streaks of copper fouling had diminished. Thereafter the barrel was scrubbed with powder solvent after each five-shot group fired, and 25 rounds later, group size had become fairly consistent.
The absence of an adaptor for my Harris bipod for attaching it to the ARCA rail presented no problem because one of several tops I have for a Sinclair International front rest has a width-adjustable sandbag for a snug fit with the 1.75-inch-wide fore-end of the rifle.
The flat bottom of the fore-end combined with a bunny-ear sandbag at the butt discouraged canting.
While range conditions were quite nice, there were light, shifting breezes, so I placed a Graham wind flag 25 yards out from the bench and another flag five yards in front of the targets. After watching the flags for about 10 minutes, I picked a condition that appeared to come around most often and quickly squeezed off five shots each time it returned. If a switch in wind speed or direction caught me unexpectedly and produced a flyer, I either repeated that shot the next time my chosen condition arrived or tossed the entire five shots and fired a replacement group.
The results are shown in the accompanying table. As you can see, it had no problems delivering sub-m.o.a. groups at 100 yards, and in fact the overall average for all loads fired at 100 yards was a mere 0.61 inch.
I took the two most accurate loads at 100 yards and fired them at 300 yards, and both hovered around the half-minute mark. Who knows how accurate the rifle would be with a precision handload developed specifically for it?
Savage Arms 110 Elite Precision Specs
- Type: Two-lug, short-action centerfire
- Caliber: .223 Rem., 6mm Creedmoor (tested), 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win., .300 Win. Mag., .338 Lapua
- Capacity: 10-round AICS detachable magazine supplied
- Barrel: 26 in. hammer-forged stainless steel; 1:7 twist
- Overall Length: 44 in.
- Weight: 13.2 lb.
- Stock: Cerakote-finished MDT aluminum chassis
- Trigger: Adjustable AccuTrigger; 29 oz. pull (measured, as received)
- Sights: None; 20-m.o.a. Picatinny rail
- Safety: 3-position tang
- Price: $1,999
- Manufacturer: Savage Arms, SavageArms.com
Savage Arms 110 Elite Precision Accuracy Results