Mark van den Boogaart
In the spirit of full disclosure, this is the first Savage rifle I have reviewed. In fact, I’ve only ever shot any kind of Savage rifle on a handful of occasions during the past 35 years.
No reason for my lack of experience, it just worked out that way. So, when Australian Shooter asked if I’d like to review the new Savage Model 110 High Country rifle, I said sure, send it over.
What I didn’t know at the time was the rifle would arrive as a complete package. Literally a huge carboard box. Inside was the rifle, scope, rings and mount plus ammo all presented in a single gun, hard case. While it made testing the rifle all that much easier, I felt obligated to include it all in the review process, so stick with me as we cover off on a lot of gear.
The rifle: Savage 110 High Country
Calibre: 6.5 Creedmoor (as supplied)
Action: Push-feed bolt-action
Magazine: Detachable box (four-shot capacity)
Barrel: 559mm stainless spiral fluted
Finish: Brown Midnight Bronze
Rate of twist: One in 10
Stock: TrueTimber Strata synthetic
Trigger: Adjustable AccuTrigger
Overall length: 1076mm
The thing about bolt-action rifles is that, as a species they are pretty much the same. It’s the individual variations and generational improvements that make all the difference.
For instance, the High Country is the latest evolution of the Savage push-feed 110 design, which in one form or another has been around for about for 60 years.
Along the way Savage has built a reputation for accurate rifles, in part attributed to their own interpretation of a rifle bolt and action, and the highly regarded AccuTrigger system. If this is also your first time looking over a Savage rifle, you will realise that accuracy, or Accu, is a common theme.
As received, the 110 High Country wore several stickers, one of which carried the tag line: Better comes standard. I liked that idea; it appealed to my way of thinking that standards should increase over time. Out of the box the Savage looks different ‑ topped with the capable Bushell elite 4500, the High Country displayed a high level of finish.
To complement the TrueTimber Strata finished synthetic stock, the spiral-fluted, stainless-steel barrel, bolt, receiver, triggerguard and magazine plate are all finished in Midnight Brown Cerakote. Diving in, there are a number of key features to the Savage 110 High Country worth examining in more detail.
The Accufit system
This is a user-based approach that gives you the ability to set your preferred comb height through five different-sized cheekpiece risers, and length of pull through, again supplied, four different-sized spacers.
In essence, Accufit allows you to customise the rifle to you, or anyone else who may be using it. It also enables you to modify the rifle to conditions. If you intend to hunt in winter with a heavy jacket, you can adjust to compensate for the extra bulk. Conversely, if you are hunting in the NT, again you can set up the rifle to suit.
The Savage bolt
As a first-time user, the 110-bolt assembly was a quandary. It’s complicated. In fact, I believe there are 22 separate parts that make up the bolt. The reasoning, so far as I have been able to investigate, is it’s all about accuracy. Does it really improve accuracy? I don’t know, as I haven’t a fair comparison. However, if like me you are new to the particulars of the Savage bolt assembly, give it some of your focus.
The 110 High Country includes a tang-mounted, three-position safety and a bolt-release button just forward of the triggerguard. Again, a little different than I was used to, but neither a challenge nor hindrance to safe, effective operation.
Detachable box mag
This takes advantage of a flush-mount, detachable box magazine. It’s a four-shot mag, metal construction and easy to load and equally simple to insert and eject via the release mechanism incorporated into the magazine plate.
The Savage AccuTrigger
A big part of the Savage approach is the AccuTrigger system. In itself, it is an interpretation of a two-stage trigger system. Instead of a single trigger that you firstly squeeze to an engaged position, before you take up the final, tiny amount of slack to shoot, the Savage trigger has a separate blade that travels within the single trigger mechanism. When the blade and trigger are brought together, you are ready to fire. The AccuTrigger system, like the Accufit, is a user-friendly mechanism and can be adjusted to suit.
As with other components of the Savage 110 High Country, the AccuTrigger approach is very different and takes some getting used to. However, from the bench it felt great, and you can imagine it would be useful on a set shot while hunting.
The Scope: Bushnell Elite 4500 4-16×50
Extended eye relief
Exclusive EXO barrier protection
¼ MOA windage and elevation adjustments
Simple, clean reticle
Supplied with the 110 High Country was a Bushnell Elite 4500 in 4-16x50mm magnification. The scope is part of the Bushnell 4X range, which includes a 1-4×24, a 2.5-10×40 and the 4-16.
For a big power scope, it’s compact and something that reflects the current interpretation of a hunting scope, which is one capable of stretching into the world of long-range hunting.
Like the 110, it is packed with a whole bunch of features including a 30mm tube, fully multi-coated lenses, a really clean, simple reticle, crisp and very positive ¼ MOA windage and elevation adjustments, plenty of eye relief and side parallax adjustment.
Both the capped elevation and windage dials and focus ring are easy to use and it seemed like a good match for the 110. Holding it all in place was a Leopold Picatinny rail and matching mounts.
Feature wise, the standout for me was the simple uncluttered reticle. I really like something that helps me focus on the target. Add to this the parallax adjuster and what you have is a scope with some longer-range hunting capabilities. Most surprising about the Bushnell was the price. I didn’t realise the this was very much an entry level scope. It is a great value for money scope option.
Rings and mounts: Leupold PRW2 rings/Leupold Picatinny rail
30mm medium height (matte)
Leupold cross slot design
Standard to magnum calibre rated
Rings and mounts
Leupold doesn’t really need any introduction; it’s a mainstay of the shooting and hunting world. I’ve owned countless Leupold scopes, usually held in place by Leupold rings. Even my old Scout rifle had Leupold versions of Ruger rings. Leupold make world-class optics, supported by a wonderful guarantee. I even once had to use it after damaging a scope and, yep, it was fixed free of charge.
As supplied, the Bushnell scope was secured by a pair of Leupold PRW2 30mm mid height rings in a matte finish. These rings were then attached to a complementary Leupold Picatinny rail. The PRW2 are steel construction rings and another example of Leupold’s manufacturing quality. For me, scope mounts have one job, to hold the scope in place, and keep it there – and that’s exactly what they did.
Case: Plano Airglide single rifle gun case
Single rifle, shotgun capability
Lockable case design
Internal high-density foam and straps to secure firearm
Plenty of room for a scoped rifle
Bail style latches
Over-sized easy-carry handle
Lockable and airline approved
Size: 130.8cm x 28.5cm x 19.6cm
I have a lot of Plano stuff ‑ 99 per cent is fishing tackle related. It’s good gear and does the job. The rifle arrived in the Plano Airglide, which uses a slightly different approach to most rifle cases.
Whereas you usually lay your rifle in the case, with the Airglide it is cradled in the upright position by high density foam and secured via two separate Velcro straps. Plano refers to this approach as a floating method of storage. As it is designed for scoped rifles, there is a bubble, or bulge, in the case creating a good air gap between the scope and the outer shell.
With three separate latching points and a couple of extra padlock points, you can secure it and according to the information page it is approved for airline travel.
With a big, easy grip handle on top, it’s a nice design for transporting your rifle or shotgun.
At the range
It was time to take the 110 to the range. Supplied with the rifle were two different 6.5 Creedmoor loads by Federal Ammunition: one, a Varmint & Predator load incorporating a Hornady V-Max projectile in 95grain, the other a match-grade, 130-grain Berger projectile.
With so many variables to consider, when reviewing rifles, scopes and ammo, I’ve developed a pretty simple approach. I follow the instructions.
If the ammo says set the scope 1.6” high at 100 yards for a zero at 200 yards, I do it. Now, I naturally tend to shoot low, but by following the recommendations, I’ve found I flatten out the variables and gain a good idea of performance.
After a bit of plinking, it was time to go serious. I decided to use the 130-grain ammo as my base line and adjusted the scope as per the instructions on the box for a 200-yard zero. The measurements below are outer edge to outer edge. For true performance, you should subtract the projectile diameter from the outer edge to outer edge measurement. The reasoning behind my approach is so there isn’t any potential confusion between the numbers quoted and the accompanying images.
The 130-grain match ammo produced a nice three-shot group of 22.48mm with an average height of 22.44mm. The 95-grain projectile produced a similar grouping at 23.22mm but at a whopping average height of 60.87mm. Yes, I know they should have been higher, but I was surprised by how much.
With a few more shots I decided to head out to 200 yards. Again, the results were impressive. For the 130-grain ammo my best group was 20.48mm, with little drop in elevation. The 95-grain projectiles produced a group of 35.13mm. I blame myself for that group, as I did drop one and it should have been much tighter. As you can see, it was also still way up on the elevation.
“Hey, Mark, it looks like you shot a lot better at 200 yards, than 100 yards. How does that happen?” Easy ‑ I was starting to settle into the rifle. It would be great if I had a year’s worth of use and ammo to really test the platform, but it just doesn’t work that way, so I have to speed up the process a little. Consequently, I believe that with a few more boxes of ammo, combined with some more time behind the trigger and scope, the results would have been really impressive.
Savage rifles have long enjoyed a well-earned reputation for producing accurate rifles and the High Country is no exception. It’s a classy rifle, at a really affordable price point, and more importantly it’s a straight and accurate shooter.
When chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, not only do you get a straight shooter, but you also get a comfortable shooting rifle. With the Bushnell Elite 4500 4-16x50mm sitting on top, ably secured in place with Leupold mounts, the Savage 110 Back Country is really a great example of a semi-customisable rifle that is ready to go straight out of the box.
Savage 110 High Country 6.5 Creedmoor: $2550
Bushnell Elite 4500 4-16X50 Multi x 30MM: $620
Leupold PRW2 30MM Rings Medium Matte: $180
Plano Airglide Single Rifle Gun Case 50”: $140