Affordable All Purpose Rifle for the 21st Century: Savage’s 110 Scout

The Savage 110 Scout was designed to be fast and light. Built on one of the most popular actions ever produced, the Scout uses a forward mounted Picatinny rail to help you see and hit faster. This rifle is set up to be your next backcountry survival, zombie apocalypse, and brush hunting platform.

Loaded with performance features, the Scout has an AccuFit modular synthetic stock, forward-mounted rail, and adjustable iron sights to make it a very adaptable platform with the fit and function of a custom rifle straight out of the box.

Function is not ignored, a 16 ½-inch button-rifled compact carbon steel barrel with an aggressive muzzle brake and AICS-style 10 round detachable box magazine make it fast and accurate.

The Story of Savage’s 110 Scout

The Savage Model 110 is a time-proven bolt-action rifle developed by Savage Arms to give the hunters an affordable quality rifle. The model number is derived from its initial retail price of $109.95. 

Designed in 1958 by Nicholas L. Brewer, the Model 110 has been in continuous production since that time, making it the oldest continuously manufactured bolt-action rifle in America. 

What is a Scout Rifle?

In his book The Art of the Rifle, gun legend Jeff Cooper wrote about a concept gun he called the Scout Rifle. The scout was to be a 39″ rifle with a 19″ barrel weighing seven pounds (including sling and optics).

Cooper’s Scout Rifle required a Quick Loop Sling and built-in bipod. This sling and swivel set up from GrovTec completed the rifle.

The big idea of the Scout rifle is that by placing the scope forward on the barrel of a lightweight rifle you improve situational awareness for faster target acquisition and quick follow-up shots.

Cooper’s scout rifle was conceived as a field rifle capable of 2 MOA accuracy or better. The size, weight, and functional sling were designated to make the scout easy to carry with practical accuracy.

This weight drove the rifle to be a bolt action. It was to feed from stripper clips or a detachable box magazine. An appreciation for shorter barreled rifles may be Cooper’s most enduring legacy. While short barrels are common today, when conceived in the 1960s this was an unconventional configuration.

This general-purpose rifle was expected to have enough energy to hunt large and small game and defend against animal or feral human attacks while remaining light enough to carry while working in the wilderness for extended periods.

Cooper preferred a heavier round, but I asked Savage for the 110 Scout chambered in .223. Today’s bullet technology makes the .223 highly versatile. It is light, easy to shoot, and has proven effective on small and medium game.

Cooper favored a low-power forward mounted optic with ghost ring backup sights. A scope mounted forward of the action allowed the use of stripper clips and quick single-round loading. It also promotes shooting with both eyes open to improve situational awareness.

Jeff Cooper might have said that the Savage Arms 110 Scout is not a true scout rifle. It is a little too heavy and he would have hated my optic choices. This rifle is a modern incarnation of the scout spirit, a simple and affordable general-purpose rifle.

Red dot reflex sights, which weren’t widely available when Cooper came up with these criteria, are arguably faster than a scout scope and have better low light performance.

Sig Sauer Romeo 3 Miniature Reflex Sight with 3 MOA Red Dot Reticle.

I found the Romeo3 reflex sight is the ideal sighting solution for the scout. The red-notch coating ensures a brilliant red-dot perfect snap shooting. The 3 MOA Red Dot sight has elevation/windage adjustments of 100 MOA.

To extend battery life, Romeo3 is activated through motion-sensing technology, to immediately power up when it senses movement and powers down when it does.

Another option if magnification is needed, a modern conventionally mounted low-power scope has most of the same advantages of the Scout setup with fewer downsides. Since today’s variable powered scopes are far better than those available in the past, we shouldn’t limit a general-purpose rifle to fixed power scopes, either.

I think if Cooper could have seen a modern 1-6x scope with an illuminated reticle in 1980, he would have appreciated the advantages it offers over what we now call the scout scope.

Optika6 1-6×24 Red Dot FFP

To bring out the full capabilities of the Scout, I decided to try a Meopta 1-6×24 Optika6 scope with a Warne mount. The Optika6 is optimized for fast-paced medium-range competition and hunting. This is a great set up for the .223 cartridge providing quick hits from zero to 300 yards and beyond.

The 1X provides a no magnification setting perfect for the red dot and fast reflexive shooting. 6x allows you to see detail on more distant targets to identify threats or prey.

Meopta has been producing high-end European optics in the Czech Republic for over 85 years. The Optika 6 is priced for entry-level shooters seeking better performance than the Amazon optics of questionable origin. They have many options allowing you to get the features you want.

I went with a first focal plane, illuminated red dot, MOA adjustment, K Dot German-style reticle. A red dot lets me shoot fast up close and magnification lets me evaluate at longer range. Let’s unpack this a little bit.

The RD Illuminated Reticle System features a highly defined red dot at the center of the reticle. The illumination control has six reticle intensity settings that accommodate conditions from extreme low-light to bright daylight conditions. Intermediate off positions between every setting allows the user to find their preferred illumination setting quickly. 

The scope adjustment knobs are calibrated in minute of angle. The Optika 6 has click adjustments in .5 MOA. The windage/elevation turrets provide a tactile “click” when you adjust them. There is a push-pull lock which prevents unintentional movement and a quick easy zero lock system which allows a precise return to zero.

Magnification is adjusted by rotating the sleeve or with the optional quick-zoom lever, included with the scope. Parallax focus adjustment is on the left side, adjacent to and along the same axis as the illumination knob. Parallax adjusts from 10 yards to infinity.

The proprietary ion-assisted anti-reflective and scratch-resistant lens coatings on the Optika6 are the best in the industry. These coatings eliminate glare and reflections while delivering incredibly bright images. The coatings also protect the lens from abrasion on external surfaces.

Iron Sights

The Scout Rifle is a rugged rifle designed for field use. There’s an aggressive muzzle brake on a threaded barrel which will also accept flash hiders and suppressors.

I’m a big fan of iron sights. You never know when mud or harsh conditions will affect optics. I like options. When you pull off the scope on the Scout you still have an adjustable ghost-ring sight. There is a solid front blade with protective ears.

Rugged front sight and an aggressive muzzle brake.

The rear peep sight is adjustable for elevation and windage. I found the range elevation adjustment inadequate and could not zero the iron sights at 50/200 yards because I ran out of adjustment. Accuracy was good, offhand I could hold a 3″ group at 50 yards with ease.

Even at maximum adjustment, I had to hold low to get good hits. Savage engineers said this was unusual and asked that I send the rifle back for adjustment. They currently have the gun and I await its return.

The rear peep sight is adjustable for elevation and windage. It sticks up enough that it should be treated with care.

About the 110 Scout

The Model 110 was designed to be economical from the start. Many of its small parts are made from investment castings and steel stampings. The action and barrel are made from forged steel bar stock.

A small but important feature, the bolt head of the Model 110 floats. A flat spring behind the bolt head gives the assembly a small amount of free movement lateral to the bore axis. This motion allows the locking lugs full contact with the receiver so headspace is held to a minimum every time the bolt is locked.

The barrel is threaded into the receiver and fixed via a large locknut located just ahead of the receiver, with a recoil lug sandwiched between the two. This system lets you change barrels or adjust headspace easily.

The bolt, designed for ease of manufacturing, consists of a tube with a rotating forward baffle and a bolt head with locking lugs. A removable handle is attached via a threaded bolt to a rotating rear baffle at the rear of the assembly.

The bolt head is a replaceable part. This means that if you want to re-barrel the rifle for a different cartridge, the bolt head can be changed to a new case head diameter. This allows for simple interchangeability with a wide range of cartridges.

Each bolt head type includes a different means of cartridge ejection. The push-feed bolt heads utilize a plunger-type ejector mounted in the bolt face. The controlled-round-feed bolt heads have a relief cut for a receiver-mounted, spring-loaded folding ejector to pass through as the bolt is retracted.

The three-position safety is mounted on the receiver tang, behind the bolt. The forward position is fire, the middle position locks the trigger while allowing the bolt to be opened and the rifle unloaded, and the rear position locks both the trigger and the bolt. A bolt-release lever is located on the right side of the action behind the ejection port. Pressing this lever down while pulling the unlocked bolt to the rear allows the bolt to be removed from the rifle for cleaning.

The Scout’s safety is a slider atop the receiver that is easily operated with the thumb of either hand from a shooting position.

I am a fan of magazines for bolt action rifles. It is much easier to load and unload than an internal box. A polymer base plate adapts the 110 Action to feed from AICS detachable magazines.

The rifle ships with a 10-round magazine, but there is a five-round version for hunting. Ten rounds is a common capacity for Scout Rifles. For self-defense, the larger capacity magazine is useful without sticking out too far. Single rounds can be loaded through the ejection port if the magazine is removed.

The magazine release is a well-designed paddle located between the magazine and the trigger guard. It can be easily manipulated with either hand while grasping the magazine.

The AccuTrigger is adjustable by the turning of a single screw, with a pull weight from one-and-a-half to six pounds.

A 6.63-inch Picatinny rail provides 16-slots for mounting a scope or red-dot sight. It is attached to the receiver by two screws and to the barrel by one screw.

Available Calibers:

308 WIN

223 REM

338 FEDERAL

450 BUSHMASTER

AccuFit

AccuFit system provides an array of spacers and risers to quickly adjust comb height and length-of-pull. This provides a custom fit at retail prices. The 110’s five interchangeable risers allow comb height to be tweaked to suit the user’s needs.

The Savage AccuFit system uses five interchangeable comb risers and four length-of-pull inserts to create a custom fit for any shooter for fast and consistent target acquisition and enhanced accuracy.

Scout Rifles require the comb height to be just right to get a proper cheek weld for fast and accurate off-hand shooting. I tried the different inserts until I found what felt best.

The grip has a no slip lush rubber feeling grip which provides positive control.

There are spacers to adjust length of pull, but the 110’s length of pull fit me out of the box. Shooting a rifle with the wrong length-of-pull is a miserable experience.

The ample recoil pad combined with the substantial muzzle brake means felt recoil compares favorably with rimfire rifles.

The insert panels on the fore end and the grip provide a solid and very comfortable grip.

AccuStock

AccuStock engages the action in three dimensions, along its entire length and features an integral, rigid-rail system embedded in the stock and fore-end. This rigid aluminum rail system is embedded in the stock throughout the fore-end for high accuracy potential.

AccuTrigger

The adjustable AccuTrigger provides the flexibility to set the trigger pull to your specific individual preference. Easily adjustable by the shooter, it offers a light, clean pull with no creep, and prevents the firearm from discharging if jarred or dropped.

Savage Arms 110 Scout Quick Specifications & Features:

Bolt Action Rifle

Magpul AICS-style 10 Round Detachable Box Magazine

16.5″ Carbon Steel Barrel with 1:9 Twist

Overall Length 37.5″ to 38.5″ Depending on AccuFit System adjustment

Weight without Optics: 7.72 lbs

Muzzle Brake

Adjustable Iron Sights

Forward Mounted Picatinny Rail

Adjustable AccuTrigger

AccuStock with Soft Grip Surfaces and Recoil Pad

AccuFit System LOP Inserts and Changeable Comb Risers

Sling Swivel Studs

How did it Shoot?

One of the best features of the 110 Scout is the trigger pull. The adjustable AccuTrigger gives the feel and accuracy of an expensive two-stage trigger. This goes a long way towards fast and accurate shooting.

The stiff AccuFit synthetic stock allows the barrel to free float. This maintains barrel harmonics and keeps sling and bipod pressure from shifting zero. That’s a huge boon for accuracy of the firearm usually reserved for high dollar systems. The effort pays off.

The padded grip areas, comb and recoil pad put everything in the correct position and give a nice feel to the gun. The custom-fit provided a tactile connection to the rifle I have not often experienced.

The big silhouette target has my best five round group at 200 yards using SIG .223 ammunition. The Paper plate is the best five rounds from 50 yards.

Shooting off of a bipod, I was easily able to hold 2 MOA out to 200 yards. I am sure the accuracy potential of this scope and gun is much higher, but those were my results.

A handy scout rifle shoots off hand fast and accurately. Shooting with irons, red dot sights, and the Meopta 1X6 scope, I shot steel targets and paper, from 25 to 200 yards, using a variety of shooting positions.

50 rounds at 50 yards as fast as I could shoot, standing unsupported.

I shot over 500 rounds (mostly pre-pandemic) of assorted loads. With a 16-inch barrel, .223 should maintain lethal velocities for hunting beyond 300 yards. My best groups were from SIG, but Norma shot similar sized groups. PMC performed well also.

Made in the USA, Norma Tactical performed well.

The Scout is a joy to shoot with lightweight and low recoil. The box magazine was fast and the was action smooth.

MSRP: $819

I like the Savage 110 Scout. The imbedded rubber gripping surfaces and AccuFit features made for a perfect fit. The trigger is good and the cost is affordable. It’s a good shooting handy rifle with nice look.

I think it would make an excellent choice for rugged use in an austere environment for the shooter on a budget. Simple optics can add capability as needed.

For more information visit Savage Arms website.

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About the author: Mark Miller is a former Customs Agent and a Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and a number of other live fire locations. A student of firearms and shooting, he is an FFL and a SOT. The guiding philosophy of his life is that terrain and situation dictate tactics and the enemy always gets a vote on any plan.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Wade Gillis September 18, 2020, 11:07 am

    I again would challenge you to review and test other FFP scopes available in 6 x 24 x 50, 4 x 14 x 44, 1 x 8 x 24 with 34 mm tube, 1 x 4 x 24 and 1 x 6 x 24 in SFP!!! It’s becoming extremely transparent that y’all only review companies that advertise with you, which makes your reviews skeptical at best!!!

    • Mark Miller September 18, 2020, 1:03 pm

      I can assure you that the editors at GunsAmerica do not require good reviews for advertisers. I select items to review based on their availability, if I like something and I can get one, I write about it. If I don’t like it, I don’t write about it. I want to share products with you that I like and that can perform.

  • Mike in a Truck September 14, 2020, 12:46 pm

    I like this rifle although it’s not needed. I’ll pick one up to play with this winter. To address brother Douglas’s question- Col Cooper did mention a semi auto is an option but it didnt make wieight.I know a guy that made a scout mini 14. Col Cooper had a very narrow criteria for a Scout Rifle.Anyone is free to call something whatever they want but since he invented the concept he gets to define it.Why a bolt action? Well if your a handloader you dont have to chase your brass all over. Also you can use ammo that may not function in a autoloader- like reduced loads.Interesting that Cooper had Scout rifles not only in 7.62 but also 350 Remington Magnum which he took to Africa. He proved his concept was sound.

  • Mike Tope September 14, 2020, 11:34 am

    What is the maximum length of pull ? I’m 6′ 5″ and have that problem a lot. That’s 1 reason I have an AR10

    • Mark Miller September 14, 2020, 7:18 pm

      The stock spacers increase length of pull from 13 to 14 inches in ¼-inch increments, and the five comb risers offer 5/8 of an inch in comb height variation in 1/8-inch increments.

  • Steve Fort September 14, 2020, 9:03 am

    nice

  • Douglas Riding September 14, 2020, 8:06 am

    Ok… Right up front – I’m not 1/10th as smart about rifles as most of you ‘gun nerds’… But I have killed a few people with an AR, so there is that…

    One thing that has always bothered me about the ‘Scout Rifle’ concept, it that they’re always bolt action…

    I see in this article, that it was the weight that forced the bolt-action decision, but is that still the case ?

    I also see that the optic ( added weight, no ? ) is mounted forward for ‘situational awareness’ ( I would agree there ) and ‘quick follow-up’…

    Well, there’s nothing better than a semi, or even a binary trigger, for a ‘quick follow up’…

    Like the college kids like to say… ” Convince me I’m wrong ! “

    • KMacK September 14, 2020, 1:48 pm

      Yeah, semi’s are nice…but they can be ammunition sensitive and can jam all too easily, making them into not-very-useful clubs. This goes double for Stoner’s stuff…I carried an M-16 in ‘Nam and it damn near got me killed a few times by ripping the head off a fired case and then spitting said head into the rifle’s works, meaning I had to field strip and clear my weapon under hostile fire.
      Bolt actions don’t do this. They may not be as fast as a semi- but they aren’t as prone to jamming at inopportune times, either.
      As for a follow-up shot, I’ve never had a problem making one. Needing to follow up is generally rare, though.
      The only semi I have is an old M-1 (Winchester built). It’s ancient but still shoots better than I can. And it never jams – ever.
      Can’t say that about any AR- though…
      Enjoy your ’10. I’ll stick to bolt action, though (and maybe wind up buying one of these 110’s). I do note that the Savage 110 is like an old aircooled Volkswagen: you’ll spend more on after-market stuff than you will on the thing itself, dammit. Still, it looks awfully nice…

  • Darrell L Wilson September 14, 2020, 5:17 am

    Great article…

    The iron sight’s lack of adjustment range issue is a known problem on the 110 Scout.
    Many purchasers ( including yours truly) have attempted to address the issue with Savage only to be told to return the rifle for adjustment.
    This could have been remedied long ago but the manufacturer has chosen to skirt the issue rather than fix it.
    The iron sight is a vital part of the scout rifle concept and this issue could easily be fixed during production…eliminating the need to return the rifle for something as simple as a slightly higher front blade or a few more clicks on the rear peep.
    It’s a fact that most buyers elect to mount optics…but I agree with you!
    I like options..and.. the irons are only a decoration if they can’t be zeroed!

    Respectfully
    Darrell L Wilson
    ETC(SS)USN Ret

    • Mark Miller September 14, 2020, 1:45 pm

      I was able to get on target with a little hold under. Savage tells me they have addressed the issue with new rifles. When I get my hands on one, I will have a better idea what it looks like.

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