August 10, 2022

Red and white bullseye target with tightly-grouped bullet holes and handloaded .308 Win ammunition

As I grow older and look for less clutter in life, I seek out go-anywhere do-anything rifles. Having a rack of specialized rifles is a dream, sure, but for many of us mastering a single rifle is all we can do. Among the most useful and versatile rifles I have tested is the Savage Model 10 Precision Rifle.

The rifle isn’t a super heavy benchrest rifle, but it earns the title Precision Rifle through the use of modern manufacturing techniques that mate the stock to the action. An excellent barrel helps. This rifle is suited to tactical use, as most shots encountered by law enforcement are well within 100 yards. The rifle is also useful for taking game well past 200 yards. I feel that it is reasonably a 300-yard rifle in trained hands when taking game of 200 pounds or a little more.

Savage Model 10 Precision Carbine rifle, right, profile
Savage offers several first-class bolt-action rifles and the Model 10 Precision Carbine is no exception.

Model 10 Features

Why isn’t this rifle a Savage 110? The famous Savage 110 action is called the Model 10 in short-action versions. There are many advantages in this rifle. Savage is a leader in pillar bedding of factory rifles. The AccuTrigger is nearing 20 years of service and remains one of the great rifle inventions of the previous century.

The factory stock is similar in design to bedding blocks used by custom gunsmiths. The barreled action is tightly imbedded as you tighten the receiver and stock screws. The free-floating barrel is nicely done, and the stock pretty much eliminates fore and aft or lateral movement.

The stock features an aluminum spine and V-shaped cradles for bedding. The polymer composite stock would be an expensive option if purchased from a custom stock maker. My particular Model 10 sports a digital camo finish. This is a striking set up for tactical or hunting use.

The barrel of this bolt action .308 Winchester isn’t a bull barrel, but it isn’t a sporter barrel either. The mid weight barrel is a great choice for range use when you may fire dozens of cartridges in a single outing. The 20-inch barrel makes for a good compromise in fast handling and accuracy.

While 16-inch barrel carbines are useful for fast handling, the 20-inch barrel makes the rifle useful at longer range. This makes for a rifle suitable for area defense, varmints at longer range, wild boar, and deer-sized game. The heavier barrel balances as well as a longer barreled rifle. It is steady in offhand fire, due to the balance and a well-designed stock.

Savage Model 10 rifle with the bolt in the open position
The bolt throw of the Savage Model 10 Precision Carbine is short and smooth.

The receiver is the typical vault-strong Savage 110 (in this case a short action). The tactical-style bolt knob is easily manipulated. Bolt lift is easy enough, and the bolt provides plenty of leverage during the feed cycle. Like most .308 rifles, the 20-inch barrel features a 1:10 inch twist. The barrel diameter is .763 inch.

The Savage Model 10 Precision Rifle is no lightweight at eight pounds unloaded without a scope. The Savage .308 Winchester-chambered rifle features a detachable four-round magazine. The magazine is easily changed and easily loaded.

Many of us like to single feed cartridges when checking handloads and accuracy. If you do so, completely remove the magazine and load single cartridges. If you attempt to single load into the chamber with an empty magazine in place the cartridge may mis-feed. The magazine feeds smoothly.

Nikon ProStaff riflescope
A Nikon ProStaff scope is a great addition to the Savage rifle.

The Savage AccuTrigger is something of a wonder. There is a blade-type safety in the face of the trigger. This lever must be fully depressed to press the trigger. The trigger was light and crisp on the test rifle.

The AccuTrigger was set at 2.5 pounds trigger compression from the factory. While the trigger is adjustable, I saw no need. This trigger is among the cleanest triggers I have tested on a factory rifle. Creep is minimal, the break is sharp with little backlash.

The action is smooth and feed reliability good. With a bolt-action rifle, the package may be lightweight, never fail to function, and demand little maintenance. I have no complaints with the rifle, save for a trifling one. The stock is overall comfortable. The forend is a little thin for proper resting on a benchrest. However, for offhand shooting, it is fine. Benchrest shooting, as we shall see, proved the rifle is very accurate.

All steel magazine for a Savage rifle
Savage rifles use a rugged all-steel magazine.

Good Glass

This rifle deserves a quality optic. I have enjoyed excellent results with the Nikon ProStaff. The 4.5x14x40mm scope offers an upgrade over the usual 3x9x30mm deer hunting optic. Nikon is well respected for its glass quality, and this scope is no exception. Lens quality makes for good clarity to the maximum range tested, 300 yards. The BDC reticle is well suited to a wide range of shooting. The scope is shockproof, fogproof, and waterproof. Coated lens, nitrogen sealed and all Nikon quality.

A BDC or bullet drop compensating reticle is among my favorite reticle designs. There are hashmarks under the center post that allow hold over. If the scope is zeroed for a certain distance — usually 100 yards — the hashmarks allow sighting for a distant target.

Simply use the BDC rings to properly sight the scope. While there is a certain correlation with the hashmarks and equations that may be calculated, actual firing on the range at different ranges is needed to confirm the zero and proper hold over. Be certain to actually fire the rifle at different ranges; don’t simply rely on the predicted point of aim and impact relationship.

Range Results

I used three loadings in testing the rifle and scope combination for accuracy. Sighting the rifle, in I used the box method and had the rifle on paper at 50 yards and sighted in at 100 yards with a few rounds. Hornady’s 150-grain Whitetail loading is affordable and plenty accurate for hunting use.

After sighting the rifle in for this loading, I fired two 3-shot groups. The average group (measured from inside to inside of the most widely spaced bullet holes) was 1.0 inch — a respectable standard. I also used the 155-grain A Max loading. This load sent three shots into a very nice .75-inch group.

threaded end of a rifle barrel
The rifle barrel features a threaded barrel.

Hornady’s 178-grain ELD X Precision Hunter was the single most accurate loading tested. This load put three shots into .68 inch with the first group and .75 inch with the other. For hunting deer-sized game, I will probably use the Whitetail load or perhaps the 150-grain SST.

The rifle invites a handloader to chase accuracy. I have not yet bested the factory Hornady ammunition accuracy standard with my own loads, but I can certainly give it a try. I find the Savage Model 10 Precision Carbine to be among the most attractive and useful rifles in my modest battery.

The Savage Model 10 Precision Carbine is a go-anywhere, do-anything rifle that will serve well for most any hunting application of medium to large game and sports a barrel that lands somewhere between a sporter and bull. What is your take on the Model 10? Share your answers in the comment section.

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