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Old May 26, 2021, 11:54 AM   #1
stagpanther
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Savage 110 hunter XP combo review

I normally wouldn't buy a combo package because over the years I've learned that's just an agreement between the gun manufacturer and the scope manufacturer to get rid of their worst scopes. Last one I bought was about ten years ago, a 111 hunter in 300 win mag, I think I gave away the scope that came with it.



I bought this just for the receiver which I intend on using for an upcoming build and the whole package cost $500, so I thought I would end up just tossing everything in the spare parts pile like I usually do. However, I just took delivery on it and encountered quite a few surprises. Anyone who has read my posts about savage rifles knows I use them a lot, mostly for the recievers--but I also don't hesitate to "savage" them for the many unpleasantries I've found on them (I think the last rifle I bought I was so upset I said I would never buy another).

First things first, it's a 22" sporter 280 AI barrel in a 5r 9 twist. The scope which is simply branded as a Bushnell is actually their new engage model--which so far looks vastly superior to the typical rattletrap junk banner scopes I've seen on combo packages. It's still a simple 3 x 9, but the ocular piece is now much tighter and smoother with no lock ring necessary to hold it steady and the reticle looks like an etched one with fine hashmarks for both elevation and windage. I don't know what the actual MOA range is--probably not much (actually I just checked--a full 60 MOA for both windage and elevation)--but it looks like they give you plenty to work with for holdovers which I'm guessing that's what most hunters would opt for. The turret detents are nice solid clicks which I'm sure you can easily feel even through gloves. I can't believe I'm saying this--but I'm actually pretty excited about trying it out.

The rifle comes out of the box presumably ready to go hunting. The accutrigger on mine is set at 3.5 pounds and I'll probably adjust that--but first I want to take it out and fire it exactly as it was delivered just out of burning curiosity. The scope rings allow virtually no adjustment of the scope fore and aft to adjust eye relief and I thought that was a major flaw--but instead I quickly figured out you can adjust the LOP of the accustock to get the eye relief very close to ideal, at least for me.

Since getting a Hawkeye borescope I've learned it's best not to look at savage bores if I want to sleep well at night. This one though got the better of my curiosity--and was one of the biggest surprises of all. First big difference to what I'm accustomed to--the bore is actually test fired and not just filled with some kind of preservative goo. this of course necessitates a thorough cleaning--it had carbon and copper fouling about equivalent to what I get in a 10 shot session, but well worth the effort. Once I got done with th cleaning I was amazed and the finishing of the bore--this looks like a totally new process compared to the older ones I have. The finish is very smooth and only the slightest hint of tool chatter--the equivalent of some of the higher quality button-rifled barrels I've seen and bought. The rifling itself appears to have angled walls rather than a 90 degree cut relative to the lands. While cleaning I couldn't help but notice the complete lack of any felt unevenness in the bore, I have my hopes up that they've figured out a new way to deal with stress relief. Just when I thought I had a perfect barrel, I did encounter a very small patch of pitting and cutting right before the muzzle, but it looks to me it will likely have little effect and will possible polish out after some bullets go by.

The last surprise was a "not so good one"--although this is sold under the banner of being a 110--it has the confounded bottom bolt release which I formerly associated with being on 111's, I hate those things and they make it expensive to upgrade to better stocks. On the balance though, an improved gun from what I can tell so far.
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Last edited by stagpanther; May 27, 2021 at 10:11 AM.
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Old May 26, 2021, 05:55 PM   #2
stagpanther
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1st test fire

I loaded up a random cartridge pick of 140 accubonds--a likely hunting bullet--driven by IMR 4831. I went out and shot off the hood of my pickup--I got greedy and decided to put the target out at 238 yds--my thinking was if the scope was pre-zeroed even at only 100 yds I should be easily able to hit the target box which is almost 3 ft square. Bad plan--the initial shots were impacting somewhere in the great beyond and I really had no idea where, though off by a wide margin in both windage and elevation. As a result, I wasted 5 of the 10 cartridges just getting onto paper.

The last 5 shots I adjusted for the distance and turned the turrets but they grouped way off from where I calculated they needed to be. I can't say for sure it was the scope's fault, though I thought my math was correct. I couldn't see where the bullets were impacting even at 9x magnification; clarity isn't the best for precision work but still very good for hunting purposes. The only real factor that limits the usefulness of the scope IMO is the length--there is really only one position you can put in in--there is no room for moving back and forth to adjust eye relief. I thought I could compensate but shortening the LOP--but that turned out to be too short. At the very least I think I would replace the rings--maybe the scope too if the aim is more for precision work.

Good news is--the rifle is nice and solid on the bags and not prone to "tupper-flex" like all the other savage plastic stock predecessors. Total weight all up ready to go is 8 pounds--in this day and age of ultralight rifles that may seem heavy--in my opinion considering the power of the cartridge I think it's a bit on the light side, at least compared to my build which weighs a solid 12 pounds. Due to the light sporter barrel and no muzzle brake, you need to work a bit harder to control muzzle flip--I could see easily getting a scope tatoo if you don't have a good grip.

I'm very impressed by the very first group considering I did no load development, I suspect the excellent bore/rifling job has something to do with that. The 280 AI has become my default choice for " if you could only have one rifle cartridge--what would it be?" and this relatively inexpensive gun is a lot of bang for the buck.



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If you’re ever hiking in the woods and you get lost, just look up and find the brightest star in the sky and you’ll know which way space is.
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!
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Old May 27, 2021, 10:12 AM   #3
stagpanther
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edit/correction--the barrel actually is a 9 twist with 5r grooves.

I also took a look at the stock with the action off. There are improved steel or aluminum pillars fitted for the main action screws the rear one in particular looks new for better support. Another interesting thing is there is no longer a lug slot in the stock--it appears that you simply back the lug against the block that holds the receiver. First time I've seen that in a modern rifle stock. The only potential weak point I see so far is the plastic trigger guard assembly--I might replace that with a steel one at some point.

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__________________
If you’re ever hiking in the woods and you get lost, just look up and find the brightest star in the sky and you’ll know which way space is.
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!

Last edited by stagpanther; May 27, 2021 at 10:49 AM.
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