I am a firm believer that it should be within the reach of every person to own a ludicrously fast car, a stupidly powerful handgun and a magnum rifle that could take a T-rex off its feet at 1,000 yards.
In case you were wondering, I’m not referring to when you are 50 and having a midlife crisis. Out of the gate, with a reasonably grown-up job these goals should be an option. We all draw our power floor somewhere, be it a small Glock or a .454 Casull. I stopped at a .44 Magnum for handguns, but for my rifles I’m bolder. A rifle chambered in .338 Lapua has been on my wish list for a long time, and Savage had made that wish attainable for people with normal salaries.
The .338 Lapua, like most European imports, has always been expensive. The average price for a rifle is around $6,000, with lower end ones around $4,000. That is well out of the acceptable limits of most working stiffs, me included. Couple that, with ammunition on average at $7 a round, and you have a very expensive hobby. Developed as a cartridge developed for military snipers during the 1980s, the .338 Lapua based upon the .416 Rigby parent case has always had a hefty price tag. Similar to a Rolex and a Porsche, it’s long been considered in civilian circles as a display of wealth to own, and you had to open your fruity European ammo box with a smug look and one pinkie in the air. The .338 Lapua was not for you, peasants. In the fine tradition of Detroit Muscle Cars decimating more expensive Supercars, Savage kicked that model in the teeth — with a steel toe.
Savage Brings the Heat
The Savage 110 BA Stealth retails for $1,622 and has a street price closer to $1,200. Less expensive or cheap rarely translates to quality, but Savage is one of the most underrated of all the rifle manufactures. This rifle delivers and at a fraction of most magazine fed .338 Lapua competitors. The Savage AccuTrigger delivers all you need right out of the box. I’ve heard tactical Timmys’ poo-poo the AccuTrigger. The trigger on GunsAmerica’s test rifle broke at a clean 2½ pounds out of the box, and I didn’t bother adjusting it.
- Type: Bolt-action, detachable magazine
- Cartridge: .338 Lapua ( 300 Win Mag also available.)
- Barrel Length: 24 in.
- Overall Length: 49 in.
- Weight: 11 pounds
- Stock: Aluminum chassis
- Finish: Matte black
- Twist: 1:9.3 in.
- Capacity: 5+1 rds.
- Safety: Selector switch
- MSRP: $1,629
Most consumers don’t even realize the trigger is adjustable, it is so good at the factory setting. The crisp trigger aside, what matters the most in a rifle is the accuracy. Ergonomics are nice as are smooth bolts, and don’t forget aesthetics. (Yes, it looks like James Bond would shoot it.) In the end, accuracy is king. There are a lot of factors that results in a rifle being accurate. In that department, the Savage BA 110 Stealth crushed it out of the park.
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My zero group was a ½ inch at 100 meters, which is pretty good. Undoubtedly, ½ MOA is a nice starting place, and it is something very difficult to hold at range. I moved straight back to 1,100 meters, because this is a .338 Lapua after all — not a BB gun. I didn’t bother to ask what the truing range should be (1.2 Mach, which is a long ways for this caliber), I picked 1,100 because it was as far as I could reach without some serious hoop jumping. I trued my muzzle velocity on a steel target, then shot a paper group for GP. My Savage 110 printed a 4½-inch group on paper, in a 20 mph wind. Out of the box, it produced sub half MOA in high winds. I have been shooting long-range and testing rifles for a while, and that is the best group I have ever printed on paper at that range. Uncle Sugar spent a lot of taxpayer money making sure I could shoot. Before my internet commandos get all excited, it was a three-shot group. Remember, .338 is expensive, and when I went to check the target, I didn’t expect a group that tight. Wind, luck and all things considered: That is a damn tight shot group.
What did I feed it to produce that performance? Glad you asked: Federal Gold Medal Match 250 grain. Gold Medal has been performing like a champ, and this .338 Lapua takes the cake. Federal puts a lot of quality control standards in the Gold Medal that are reflected in the price, but it absolutely delivers. Every bit of standard deviation and neck tension starts to really matter past 1,000 meters. For performance like this, it’s worth the price.
For glass, I mounted a Bushnell DMR II 3.5x21X with the G3 reticle. Bushnell continues to be one of the best for the money, and this DMR proved no differently. The DMR II offers a locking windage knob, and a RevLimiter elevation stop. Also new for this model, included is a removable ThrowHammer lever for rapid magnification adjustments. Clarity was still good at 1,100 meters on a relatively hot day, and the scope tracked correctly. Parallax adjustments were easy and functioned correctly. The G3 reticle is a pretty good compromise for those that don’t like a full Horus reticle. I prefer the H59, by a long shot. But it’s not for everyeon. The G3 is proved decent for using holdovers, but in my opinion, the H59 is better in the wind. The G3 offers half mil markings for windage on the primary crosshair, and full mils of windage on the sub tensions. Even with the elevation dialed on, a half a mil is a lot of space when you are trying to finesse a shot in gusting winds. The DMR II is available with either reticle. Bushnell has always delivered tough optics, and package for the price is fantastic. I know shooters that have $20,000 Accuracy International switch barrel packages that mount a Bushnell DMR or HDMR.
Also worth noting is the bipod you use. Currently, I’m in month four of Accu-Tac SR-5 bipod durability test, and they continue to impress me. For the first time, I swapped the rubber feet out for steel spikes, and the result was fantastic. The spikes make it very easy to load your bipod the same every time, which played a part in today’s adventure. The only issue, I had was that it snapped one of the M-LOK rails in half during the .338 test, but the rifle and bipod are fine. This was also the first time I tried out the spike feet for the Accu Tac, and they worked well in the field. It made loading the bipod easy. I am going to go ahead and fully recommend these for your shooting kit. Just make sure you take them off before you put your rifle back in the bag.
Overall, the trigger and value of a .338 at the is price point is unreal. Savage has outdone themselves. However, there’s always room for improvement, increasing weight in the forend would increase cost and machine time but would improve the balance slightly. The buttstock bit my hand every time I shot. However, Savage considered shooters may want to swap it out. The modularity of the rifle makes swapping out the buttstock with ease. If you’re going to purchase and outfit it with Picatinny rails and a bipod, as I did for testing: A word to the wise, buy the aluminum version. In my first at bat to zero the rifle, I snapped one of the polymer ones in half.
The magazine fed flawlessly every time. After about one hundred rounds the bolt broke in and smoothed out. Most importantly, this rifle is accurate. It’ll put lead on target every time. I’d call this the best buy in .338 Lapua that I have seen. The only reason I’m returning this rifle to Savage is that I am slated to review the Model 112 target version next month.
To learn more about the Savage 110 BA Stealth, click http://www.savagearms.com/firearms/model/110BAStealth.
To learn more about the Bushnell DMR II 3.5x21X, click http://bushnell.com/tactical/riflescopes/elite-tactical/dmr-ii-3-5-21x-50mm.
To learn more about Federal Gold Medal Match, click http://www.federalpremium.com/ammunition/rifle/family/gold-medal/gold-medal-sierra-matchking/gm338lm.
To purchase a Savage 110 BA Stealth on GunsAmerica, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=Savage%20110%20BA%20Stealth.