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Savage 10TR

Update 7/23/2013: I have asked Savage about these rifles during my yearly training session as a Savage dealer. Unfortunately, these rifles have been discontinued. If you can find one on Gunbroker or at any of the local dealers, it might be a good idea to snap one while you still can.

Update 10/5/2013: Amazingly, we were able to snatch several of them, which appears to be the last of the line. Click here to buy one.

Savage 10fp is my favorite rifle. There are many examples of wonderfully accurate rifles. Sako, AI, Les Baer, HS Precision, Barret make fantastic sniper weapons. To my knowledge, however, only Savage 10fp line consistently shoots under 1MOA for less - and in many cases, significantly less - than $1000. Out of the box, no modifications.

We have great deals on many rifles in Savage 10fp series!

Needless to say, 10fps are successful, and over the years Savage has produced a large variety of models based on this model. (Take a look at 10fp line-up here.) There is one rifle, however, that you won't see in Savage catalogue, or at their booth at the SHOT Show. Retail stores don't carry it, and you will find precious little pictures on the Internet. This is Savage 10TR.

When I first saw it at my distributor's web site, there were no pictures, and precious little description. I couldn't make out whether the barrel was heavy or light profile. So the first time I encountered them, I was super curious, but passed. It was easy, too, because they were sold out after just a few hours. The second time, however, I could not abstain, and soon 2 of them were waiting for me at the local UPS office.

This particular variation had 20" barrel, so I was doubly apprehensive. Not only I knew nothing about the model, it would be my fist bolt action rifle with such a short barrel. Will it be accurate?

What came out of the box I liked. The barrel was short, but it was a bull barrel, and it was threaded. The stock was Accustock, with its embedded aluminum bedding block and a box magazine. The bolt handle... well it was a little big. You will see what I mean in a second :-).

Here is the rifle on the firing lane, fitted with Bushnell 6-18x50 scope and Burris Signature Zee rings.

On my first Savage I used Badger Ordinance 20MOA ramp and rings. That was $300, almost half the price of the rifle itself. Then I switched to use Ken Farrel ramp and Burris Signature Zee rings, which gave me 0-40 MOA vertical adjustment range for roughly $120, and kept scope's exterior safe from ring marks. Burris Signature Zee rings have plastic inserts of varying thicknesses, which allows almost any level of adjustment within 20MOA - windage or vertical. Plus it eliminates the need to lap the rings, and there is no damage to scope exterior finish from the rings. This time I went extra cheap and used $5 aluminum scope bases. The thing is, with Signature Zee rings, it simply doesn't matter. As it turned out though, adjustment was unnecessary - the windage was exactly on target, and elevation was OK, so I just kept 0-offset plastic inserts.

A few pictures up close

Oversized bolt. This really is too big. To carry the rifle in my cheap but compact plastic case I have to remove the bolt from the gun.

Barrel markings:

Barrel threading:

Magazine. Note that it uses the newer bolt release also found on 10 FCP-K:

Same Savage 10 receiver:

Nice looks, but does it go boom?

As I said, because of the short barrel I was rather apprehensive about the accuracy. I had 5 boxes of Sierra 175gr Matchkings that came in the same shipment as the rifle. I measured the cartridge OAL using Hornady's OAL gauge. One reason that Savages are so accurate is because they have chambers that match SAAMI specs perfectly: the measured cartridge OAL came to exactly 2.800", so I seated the bullet .005" off lands at 2.795". I loaded 50 rounds total, using Varget charges from 36.0 to 40.5 grains, with 0.5 grain steps every 5 rounds.

I also dug out a few previous loads I made for my other Savages (since chamber dimensions are the same) using full-sized brass. There was a few with Hornady 168gr bullets and 41.7 gr Varget, and 167gr Lapua Scenar bullets loaded with 38gr Varget. I also noticed a box of rounds loaded for Remington TT using full sized brass. I sold that rifle, and the OAL of the rounds made specifically for Remington chamber was enormous (2.870", that gun had a whopping 0.150" of freebore), so I thought I would just push them back to 2.800". As you will see below, this one didn't work out too well - the rounds were crimped and this most likely stripped part of the jacket.

Here are the targets that resulted from shooting these rounds at 100 yards. All are 5-shot groups.

Computing statistics for the first 10 groups is pointless, as loads varied, but only one group was over 1.0", and even within this group 4 shots grouped tightly with 1 flier.

On the second target, the first column is from Remington TT loads with the bullet pushed down. These are truly awful. The second column, with Hornady 168gr bullets and 41.7gr Varget yielded an average group of just under 0.9" (no groups above 1.0"). The third with Lapua Scenar over 38gr Varget, just under 0.8" average, with, again, no one over 1.0".

This being just the first "volley", with just the beginning of load development, I am pretty impressed with the results.

First, it demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that the rifle with a short barrel can still predictably shoot under 1MOA.

Second, while there is no "street" price for 10TR, it's distributor price is below all other rifles in Savage 10fp family, so it is extremely economical - and without compromising the accuracy. A true Savage, if you ask me.