Savage Evolution Review – Value Priced Magnum Performance

 

The Savage 110 Evolution in 300 Win Mag

It is difficult to say the Savage 110 Evolution is a vast improvement over the 110 Stealth, if only because the Stealth was so good to start with. I reviewed the Stealth chambered in 338 Lapua Magnum last summer, and dollar for dollar, it is one of the best guns I have ever picked up. It delivered extremely strong accuracy, in 338, with a detachable magazine for under $1700. There were some shortcomings with the original Stealth, but it seems Savage did something extremely strange for a large corporation. They listened to consumer complaints and fixed them in the next model.

The only two things I could find wrong with the Stealth were highly subjective anyway. The buttstock was a little cheesy, with unreliable thumb screws to set the comb height. I lost one in an afternoon of shooting, and it was pretty far from hard use. The second was that the chassis was so short in the front, that it made the gun balance weirdly. The old chassis only wrapped the bottom half of the barrel, the top rail was actually mounted as an extension of the receiver rail. It was an effort to cut weight I am guessing, but it didn’t deliver in practice.

Fully adjustable Magpul stock.

The new Evolution addresses both of these problems. The buttstock is now a Magpul Gen 3 PRS. It might be unimaginative, but it works, and that is what we care about at the end of the day. The new Drake Chassis extends further down the barrel and wraps it fully for clip-on night vision or a prism. The added mass creates a better-balanced gun if a few ounces heavier. I am actually guessing on the weight change, as Savage hasn’t published exactly what the 300 Win Mag weighs. If the weight is the same, it is certainly better distributed now.

The new chassis is “Rugged Bronze” Cerakote, with the grip, stock, barrel, and action remaining black.

The only other real change is the color scheme and in this case a welcome one. Nothing against black guns, but they are boring ( I have several close friends that are black guns, so I can say that). The result is a visually appealing Black & Tan, sure to catch some eyes.

So what is left over? All the Savage goodness we expect. The magazine is a single stack, so 5 rounds for 300 Win Mag. It fits the chassis well, feeds reliably, and has a well thought out magazine release.

The trigger came set at just a little over two lbs.

The trigger is the legendary Accu-trigger and is user adjustable. My trigger came out of the box set at 2 lbs, 13 ounces, which is what I used it at. If we assume the weight is similar in caliber to the Stealth at 11.2 pounds, it offers a good weight to use ratio.

The rifle is on the heavy side for hunting the mountains, but appropriate for sniper roles or long-range sports. The weight, combined with a good muzzle break, also does a good job of taming the 300 WM’s recoil. I found this gun very comfortable to shoot.

Bushnell XRS II, with an H-59 reticle

For testing, I mounted up the new Bushnell XRS II, with an H-59 reticle. The new glass has proven to be very clear and tracks like a Swiss watch. At a 30x high power, it was plenty of magnification to shake out the Evolution.

Oversized bolt handle makes working the action smooth and easy.

Ammo wise, I was lucky enough to test the new Hornady 195 grain ELD Match. Hornady has been crushing it with the ammo game lately, and I got an early batch.

Hornady 195 gr ELD Match had no problem making long-range hits out of the Savage Evolution.

Performance wise, the Evolution didn’t do as well as the previous Stealth model did. I was only able to score a ¾ inch, 100 meter, 5 round group as a best. It was repeatable but not as good as some of the other Savage models I have tested. I also can’t blame the new ammo, as the Hornady did the best of 3 brands I had on hand. Still, ¾ inches is nothing to sneeze at for a $2000 rifle. Believe me, 20 years ago we couldn’t imagine a problem like that. Pushing the Evolution out to 950 yards on a B/C zone target was an easy day. No real surprise there, but it was all the range I could get on test day.

The muzzle brake made this rifle extremely easy to shoot.

The Evolution is a great addition to the lineup, and sure to find it’s following. In a smaller caliber, this would be an excellent choice for PRS.  In the big boy calibers like 300 Win Mag and 338 Lapua, it is plenty for any serious work. Savage has batted one out of the park here, and I can recommend this one highly.

Visit Savage for more information on the Evolution by clicking here.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your next Savage Rifle.***

Five round A.I. style magazine fed flawlessly

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Charlie BROWN May 23, 2018, 1:49 pm

    I’ve never owned a Savage that didn’t shoot great right out of the box. Probably why I would never spend the money on a 5K bolt gun.

  • Luke May 21, 2018, 11:22 am

    Lovely gun! But, affordable at $1699?

  • missourisam May 21, 2018, 9:50 am

    The only Savage I’ve ever owned that was a disappointment was when they first went cheap on the Model 99. The one I had was a feed malfunction looking for a time to happen. Every Model 10 has been fine, and especially since the accu-trigger. Back when money was tight I saved my pennies and bought a custom rifle for what I could have bought a reliable family car for. The trigger was a disaster even after 3 builder adjustments, and the accuracy was mediocre at best. It sure was “purty” though and an acquaintance bought it even after I told him the problems. He didn’t keep it long, but made money on the looks alone. Pretty is not always accurate, and a lot of times ugly is beautiful when you shoot it. I would not call this rifle even close to pretty, but beauty is truly only skin deep.

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