Editor’s Note: Aritcle written by Jeff Johnston. Feral pigs are a non-native, crop-rooting nuisance that competes with native game animals for resources, and so state game and fish departments nationwide have declared open season on them. In South Texas where they are most numerous the best way to hunt them is either by helicopter or just as Texans do with whitetail deer, in box blinds overlooking corn feeders. Trouble is, pigs have better memories than your high-bred Labrador, and if you shoot at them over a feeder you’ll be lucky to see any survivors for several days thereafter. So, if your goal is to exterminate as many pigs as possible, your best bet is to shoot as many as you can very quickly. That’s a task best suited to an autoloading rifle. I also prefer something more powerful than a .223 Remington, and that’s why I chose Savage’s new MSR 10 Long Range for a recent Texas hog hunt.
Savage was certainly tardy to the MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) market, but that delay has given the 123-year-old company some advantages. First, its executives could determine if the black rifle market was more than a trend—which, as of 2017 with over 10-million MSRs in the hands of civilians, it’s safe to say that it is. Secondly, the delay gave its engineers ample time to study traditional AR-15/7.62 AR designs so it could improve upon it where feasible. Lastly, it allowed for Savage’s sister brands under the Vista Outdoor umbrella to develop high-end parts and accessories for anything it rolled out.
Currently, Savage offers four MSRs (“Modern Savage Rifles” under its own nomenclature protocols) that, like its vaunted bolt actions, are worthy of the Indian-head logo that has come to symbolize accuracy and value. All four models are designed to offer boutique-manufacturer-type features but at a mass-manufactured price. What follows are my observations of the MSR 10 Long Range after spending time afield with it.
- Chambering: .308 Win./6.5 Creedmoor
- Barrel: 20/22 inches
- OA Length: 41.5/43.5 inches
- Weight: 9.75/10 pounds
- Stock: Magpul PRS Gen 3
- Sights: None
- Action: Direct gas impingement semi-auto w/ rifle-length-plus gas system
- Finish: Melonite QPQ matte black
- Capacity: 10-round P-Mag
- MSRP: $2,284
The MSR 10 Long Range is a roughly 10-pound, direct-gas-impingement rifle chambered either in .308 Winchester or 6.5 Creedmoor. The Creedmoor is an interesting offering for a 7.62mm AR rifle because this short-action round in a 140-grain bullet offers nearly double the energy of a 55-grain 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem at the muzzle and only around 350 ft.-lbs. less than a 150-grain bullet from a .308 Win. However, thanks to the 6.5’s superior ballistic coefficient, it beats the pants off a .308 in terms of drop, wind drift and energy after 500 yards. And it does so with significantly less recoil to the shooter. Still, it’s tough to beat a .308 Win. for normal hunting ranges, and so this venerable round is what I chose for pigs that almost certainly would be taken inside 200 yards.
The MSR 10 Long Range is, by design, no lightweight. It features a heavy, 20-inch, 4140 steel barrel mated to a robust 7075-T6 forged aluminum receiver. Its free-floated barrel features 5R rifling that’s touted to resist fouling thanks to grooves that are flared slightly outward and therefore do not wedge lead and copper in them like traditional 90-degree-cut grooves. It is topped off with an effective muzzle brake. Its forward assist button is handy for hunters who wish to keep noise to a minimum by lowering the bolt home gently then using the button to make sure the round is pushed fully into battery. The entire firearm is finished in a Melonite QPQ (quench, polish, quench) process that fortifies its metal against corrosion while lending it a matte-black sheen.
Additionally, the Long Range’s machined aluminum “M-Lok” handguard is attached directly to the rifle’s receiver via four bolts rather than via its barrel assembly. This lends two advantages: First, it allows the barrel to be truly free-floated and, secondly, it ensures that any optic placed forward of the receiver on the rifle’s Picatinny rail will remain accurate.
Inside the fore-end is a gas system that Savage touts as “rifle-length-plus” so it can be customized for various loads. It can be tuned via an A-frame-style gas block that can be accessed by a slot cut into the handguard. I had no problems with feeding, cycling or ejecting during the course of testing and hunting with the Long Range, even with a suppressor attached to its threaded barrel. Both MSR 10 models utilize Magpul-pattern magazines and come with one 10-round Magpul P-Mag.
The receiver of the Long Range has one feature that is very unique: In addition to its standard bolt charging handle found on its rear, it also features a non-reciprocating charging handle on its left side. It was engineered because designers felt that, given the rifle’s intended purpose, shooters would almost certainly install a full-sized riflescope on the gun’s rail. And as any shooter knows who has tried it, the ocular lens of most riflescopes extends rearward beyond the charging handle thereby making it difficult to operate. The side charging handle remedies this problem and gives Savage’s Long Range a marked advantage over standard 7.62mm ARs. I also find it easier to operate due to the added leverage it provides. Negatively, it also increases the Long Range’s cost, and that is likely one reason Savage opted not to feature it on all its other MSRs.
I was admiring this feature when a lone wild hog entered my line of vision and began sucking up corn like a Hoover vacuum. It was 105 yards away and broadside, so I eased into position and thumbed the rifle’s AR-style safety to fire. Methodically I began the trigger press until the rifle lurched and an empty brass case rattled to a standstill on the carpeted floor of the blind. When I found the pig in the scope again, it lay on its side kicking futilely in the dirt before quickly succumbing to a bullet that cleanly passed through both shoulders. Rather than exiting the blind to recover it just then, however, I waited for more. In doing so I was given time to reflect on the shot.
First, the shot was accurate; The bullet struck exactly where I had aimed. Through testing I’d later learn that the rifle printed sub-moa groups with every type of Federal ammo I tried. I also recalled that the trigger was lighter than many rifles in this .308 “battle rifle” category. For this, Savage tapped its sister company Blackhawk to provide a two-stage trigger that’s coated in a nickel/boron material to lend slickness. While company reps tout the trigger as being match-like at 2.5 pounds, I found it a couple pounds over that mark, but still decent for a hunting trigger.
I also noted the rifle’s full-length buttstock placed my eye in the perfect position with the scope. Savage spared no expenses by opting for Magpul’s excellent PRS Gen 3 buttstock that uses quick-locking levers to adjust its LOP and comb height dimensions. It enhances accuracy by promoting a perfect, rigid junction between gun and shooter. It’s costly, but vital for long-range performance. Accuracy is also enhanced thanks to Savage’s longstanding expertise in building rifles for the mass market.
“As opposed to just building to tolerances, we hand-assemble everything and check critical dimensions such as headspace at the factory,” texted Savage Communications Manager JJ Reich as I sat waiting in the blind and writing this story.
Our communications were cut short, however, by another boar that made the fatal mistake of beelining to the feeder just before dark. Another muffled crack from the black rifle put him down like a 175-pound slab of bacon.
While this particular Texas hunt did not require sustained semi-auto fire for the elimination of hogs en mass, Savage’s MSR 10 Long Range would have been up to the task had it been.
For more information, visit https://www.savagearms.com/firearms/model/msr10longrange.
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