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Affordable Accuracy: Savage 10 BA Stealth Rifle—Full Review

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The Savage 10 BA Stealth, shown here chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and sporting the 24-inch barrel, offers beginning precision rifle shooters a great gun at a great price.

The Savage 10 BA Stealth, shown here chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and sporting a 24-inch barrel, offers beginning precision rifle shooters a great gun at a great price.

For more information, visit http://www.savagearms.com/firearms/model/BAStealth.

To purchase on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Savage%20Stealth.

Savage is well-known for producing rifles that outperform their price points. In fact, they often can outshoot rifles that cost twice as much or more. I recently had a chance to try out the 10 BA Stealth, which is designed to be lightweight, simple, and above all accurate. It’s available in either .308 Win or 6.5 Creedmoor. Starting with a factory blueprinted action, Savage adds a precision barrel, in this case a 24-inch 1:8 twist, fluted barrel with 5/8 x 24” threading at the muzzle. This barreled action is factory designed for the best possible accuracy unlike others that simply drop a run-of-the-mill setup in a nice stock.  It comes with a single-piece flat rail (no elevation) for scope attachment, and an oversized bolt knob.

The rifle feeds from an AICS-pattern 10-round detachable magazine.

The rifle feeds from an included 10-round detachable magazine.

SPECS

  • Chambering: 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Barrel: 24 inches
  • OA Length: 38.5 inch
  • Weight:9.2 pounds
  • Stock: FAB Defense
  • Sights: Scope rail provided
  • Action: Bolt-action
  • Finish: Black anodized
  • Capacity: 10
  • MSRP: $1,207

Savage has worked in conjunction with Drake Associates and uses their monolithic aluminum design chassis. Machined from a solid billet it utilizes AICS-patterned magazines and an AR pistol grip and buffer tube/stock.  It houses an adjustable Savage AccuTrigger. Minimalist in design, the stock extends forward slightly and uses M-LOK rails to accommodate accessories, and a single sling stud is provided from the factory.  A Fab Defense stock using a cheek riser goes over the six position tube, but it will accept any AR tube allowing the use of precision stock systems if needed.  At 9.2 pounds, it is as light as precision rifles go and well balanced.  Retail is $1,207.00 for both the .308 (with a 20-inch barrel) and 6.5 Creedmoor (with a 24-inch barrel) models.

To my mind, it is a great starter rifle for the precision rifle enthusiast due to its retail price point of $1,207 and its ability to easily accept AR-pattern accessories. This one has a lot of potential to get a lot of new (as well as experienced) shooters out into the field of long-range shooting.

The author equipped the rifle with a Burris scope and GEMTECH suppressor for testing.

The author equipped the rifle with a Burris scope and GEMTECH suppressor for testing.

Testing

During my testing, scope duties were handled by Burris Optics new XTR II 3-15x50mm FFP (First Focal Plane)  scope using a 34mm tube and SCR lighted Mil Lined reticle. Mounted in a set of Vortex Precision Matched Rings, it  zeroed with ease. Clarity on the glass is excellent and the reticle is comparable to any simple Mil-lined reticle on the market.  The vertical line has 20 mils graduated in half mil increments below the horizontal line.  There are five mils above with the last two graduated in .10 mils. Extending on either side are 10 mils graduated in .2 of a mile for the first five where another .10 mils section sits for ranging calculation. The center section is lighted for three mils on either side and six mils below the center line. Dialed up to 15 power, there were 11 mils available for holds with the entire horizontal line visible. Knobs are tactile with audible clicks at .10 mils per click and 10 mils per revolution. The XTR uses a zero stop that is easily adjusted. Loosen the screws, slip the knobs to zero and press firmly and re-tighten. Parallax adjustment sits on the right along with lighted reticle activation. There are 11 settings with “battery saver” steps in between each setting and a hard “off” setting at both ends. Scope covers that flip flat against the scope when open are included.

The Burris used during testing was an XTR II 3-15x50mm first focal plane model that really impressed the author.

The Burris used during testing was an XTR II 3-15x50mm first focal plane model that really impressed the author.

If at all possible, any precision rifle used for tactical work should be suppressed. The advantages are huge, and the drawbacks short of cost are all but non-existent. In keeping with that philosophy, I attached Gemtech’s Dagger direct threat suppressor for all the testing.  Rated to .300 WM and built from titanium, it only weighs in at 15.3 ounces. It can be used on smaller calibers on barrels as short as 7.5 inches for 300 BLK, and 10.3 inches in 5.56mm and 6.8 SPC. It’s even rated for a 12-inch .308 barrel and an 18-inch 300 WM, making it extremely versatile.

The GEMTECH Dagger used by the author fit easily on the rifle's threaded muzzle, and is rated up to .300 WM.

The GEMTECH Dagger used by the author fit easily on the rifle’s threaded muzzle, and is rated up to .300 WM.

Range Time

Savage starts with a blueprinted action to insure accuracy, and it worked. Starting just after dawn it was cool and smoky due to some fires in the area, but wind was minimal and the bugs had yet to come out. My first group in testing measured just over half an inch, and it just got better from there. My best group was fired using Hornady’s 143 Grain ELD-X Precision Hunger at a tad over .35 inches. While I have produced better groups in my life, I have not with a factory rifle costing just $1,200.00. My next best group was produced using Doubletap’s rather juicy 127-grain LRX at .45 inches.  Nothing exceeded .70 inches during the test, all were very consistent. Moving out to 500 yards on steel, six rounds of Hornady/ELD match were loaded up with elevation dialed in using data from my Kestrel Applied Ballistics Meter. Not a single miss was had, with all hitting close to center.

The author best group of .35 inches was achieved with Hornady ammo, and all ammo tested came in sub-MOA.

The author’s best group of .35 inches was achieved with Hornady ammo, and all ammo tested came in sub-MOA.

Being my first real test of the Burris XTR II, I was very impressed.  Retail pricing on this model is only $1,259.00, a price range that is becoming incredibly competitive.  Scopes that cost 3K are great and offer features a few shooters need, but this Burris and similar scopes perform well for the vast majority of conditions. The glass is as clear as any in this price range; as clear as some with twice the price tag.

Measurements were consistent when working from 100-800 yards using input from the Kestrel.  First round hits were the norm until the wind kicked up, but elevation stayed consistent. Knobs are easy to grab with firm and audible clicks. Setting the zero stop is easy and was used in between each change of distance. When the day was done it held its zero to within .25 inches. Given a 20-degree temperature change and a couple hundred rounds using a suppressor, that is about as good as it gets. Still more long-term testing to do, but if this run is any indication this is an excellent scope in general, let alone for its price.

Gemtech prides itself on sound reduction and their Dagger delivers. Most of the time there was just a puff of white smoke. Most suppressors designed primarily for sound reduction will result in increased bolt lift on rapid fire strings, and this was no exception. It takes time to allow the trapped gas to dissipate so run the bolt hard and fast, and by round four or five you will need to work a bit harder to lift the bolt.  Most of the time a count of one or two seconds between shots eliminates this. As a practical matter it’s not a concern for most precision shooters, but if you compete with a suppressor you need to be aware of it.

The FAB Defense stock came standard on the rifle, although the AR buffer tube extension design allows you to swap it out easily.

The FAB Defense stock came standard on the rifle, although the AR buffer tube extension design allows you to swap it.

The hand guard portion of the stock features M-LOK attachment points and is short and compact.

The hand guard portion of the stock features M-LOK attachment points and is short and compact.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-1-10-13-pmHand guards of reduced or minimal length like this one seem to be gaining in popularity. Most shooters have no need to hang lasers, lights, rangefinders, or anything other than a bi-pod off their rifles. If you need all of those things, and or clip on NV (Night Vision), this stock may be problematic.  There is plenty of room for a light, maybe one other device, but it will cramp your style a bit. If not, it saves quite a bit of weight you will never use. Working barricades and around the bench there was a tad less space for bags and the like, but not unworkable at all. If you spend much of your time in prone or resting on a bag it is fine.

The FAB Defense cheek rest on the stock never came loose and provided a pretty solid purchase. It never collapsed under recoil nor interfered with positions. Recoil was minimal with the 6.5 Creedmoor, so that was not an issue. If you want something different it’s pretty easy, just swap them out. If you prefer a precision rifle stock of some type you just change the buffer tube.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a reasonably priced precision rifle capable of accuracy exceeding most shooters, the Savage 10 BA Stealth is an excellent choice. You get a rifle with a blueprinted action, a great barrel and impressive performance at a retail price of around $1,200. Chambering it in 6.5 Creedmoor provides a solid platform for longer-range target shooting and precision rifle competitions. The stock is rock solid, it works with AICS magazines, it balances well, and accuracy is excellent. It allows you to change stocks and pistol grips as needed to meet personal needs. If it has a limitation, it’s the hand guard length, but that’s all about personal need and preference. Far too many people buy what they think is “operational” with features (and weight) they just don’t need. If you are planning on hanging another 10 pounds of stuff on the end of your rifle you may want to look at something different.

The AR-pattern grip performed well, and can be easily swapped out with any other AR-pattern grip.

The AR-pattern grip performed well, and can be easily swapped out with any other AR-pattern grip.

The tang mounted safety was simple and easy to operate for the author.

The tang-mounted safety was simple and easy to operate for the author.

Savage rifles have always been accurate, but they are also amongst the most user friendly on the market. Barrel changes can be made with simple tools due to the barrel nut system; no need to take them to a custom shop. This rifle would accept any barrel change using a .308-based cartridge pretty simply, so it’s easy to change caliber or even length for different purposes.

The rifle comes standard with the terrific AccuTrigger system.

The rifle comes standard with the terrific AccuTrigger system.

Savage has done a great job with this rifle meeting what may be the largest demographic for precision rifle shooters, the entry level. It will shoot at a much higher level for sure, but it allows new shooters to experience the joy that comes from ringing steel at 1,000 yards consistently, or putting five rounds into a hole you can cover with a dime. If you are new to precision rifle shooting and want a start, the combination of the Stealth and the Burris HTR II worked great. For those Savage fans, you now have an out-of-the-box blue printed action in a proven long range caliber (6.5 Creedmoor) that is soft shooting and easy to maneuver. Either way it is a great choice and should be added to anyone’s list of precision rifle choices.

For more information, visit http://www.savagearms.com/firearms/model/BAStealth.

To purchase on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Savage%20Stealth.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • William Ricci November 16, 2016, 3:29 pm

    I have a savage model 12 LRP in 6.5 creedmor, excellent rifle trigger is unbelievable can be set down to six ounces

  • Al Caplan November 14, 2016, 11:40 am

    I guess that we left handers are not considered worthy of a long range, bolt action rifle.

    • Sal November 15, 2016, 10:36 pm

      All my guns were made for right-handed shooters. I shoot with my left hand because that is all I have now. get used to it . It’s a right-handed world.

  • Ken Urschel November 14, 2016, 6:17 am

    I’m new too Savage, but the 300wm 110ba-le is incredible. The muzzle brake on this gun is extremely effective/efficient. I am a 264wm fan ( it’s not a Savage), but an awesome gun. My oldest son was the first too shoot using HSM 210 Berger bullets, which is incredibly accurate. At 200 yards it was rocking 1/2 in. AR550 plate. All I can say is that Savage did an extremely well job with it. If Savage would make a 264wm in this setup I would most definitely buy.

  • Mike Rubin November 14, 2016, 6:15 am

    David Bahde is an exceptional scribe and I read all his articles. Well done, once again, in showcasing this achievement from Savage. It is a tremendous rifle that, crosses over from black gun to blueprinted bolt action.

    • RsR November 14, 2016, 1:27 pm

      I could go for a for a left handed 6.5 Creedmoor. The 110BA 300WM in LH is a great gun. I would like to add a Stealth to the collection.

  • DRAINO November 11, 2016, 4:41 pm

    This looks like a really cool shooter. I have a pair of model 12’s, one in 204 Ruger and one in 22-250. LOVE them both! The 22-250 has killed more deer than I can shake a stick at. Anyways….cool gun! Good article!

  • Will Drider November 11, 2016, 3:43 pm

    Great article/review. It was (80’s -90’s) common knowledge but rarely addressed that if you took ten Savage bolt rifles and shot them against ten entry level bolt guns from the other big three manufactures: Savage average accuracy would far exceed the others. Its been awhile since I worked a Savage but it looks like they still deliver: whether on a budget or not.

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