Savage Arms has reinvented itself over the last decade.  From a traditional bolt-gun company to a do-it-all modern rifle manufacturer, the transformation has been impressive.  While not a brand-new gun, I was able to get my hands on one of Savage’s newer rifles, the MSR-10 Hunter chambered in .308 Win.  Also available in 6.5 Creedmoor and .338 Federal.

Savage MSR-10 .308 | First rounds downrange

While most would assume the MSR is for Modern Sporting Rifle, it’s been tweaked to the Modern Savage Rifle.  The “Hunter” in the name denotes that this rifle is distinct from the “Long Range” variant in three areas: upgrades, weight and cost.  That’s not to say the Hunter is lacking in factory upgrades over mil-spec parts though.  Straight out of the box I get a great first impression, as the MSR-10 is lighter than I expected, with tight parts tolerances all around. Let’s cover all the specs before getting to the range report:

  • 308 Win. (1:10-inch 5R) and 6.5 Creedmoor (1:8-inch 5R)
  • Compact AR-10 design
  • 16 1/8-inch fluted barrel with Melonite QPQ finish; 18-inch barrel for 6.5 Creedmoor
  • 7.8 pounds, 308 Win.; 8.0 pounds, 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Custom forged upper/lower for unique look and compact size
  • Free-float M-LOK® handguard
  • BLACKHAWK! KNOXX® AR Pistol Grip and AXIOM Carbine Stock
  • BLACKHAWK! trigger with Nickel Boron treatment

Hitting the range, I brought a couple hundred round of .308, spread across four different weights from 150 gr to 180 gr.  I had slapped on a Lucid Optics 4.5-18x scope and was ready to go.  After getting a quick zero, I shot groups with each ammo at 100 yards.  I was sitting on the bumper of an SUV with the rifle resting on a backpack on top of a large rock.  Stable?  Yes.  Optimal?  No.  Below are the best and worst groups.

Savage MSR-10 .308 | First rounds downrange
worst, Federal 180 gr soft point, 1.1″ @ 100 yards.
Savage MSR-10 .308 | First rounds downrange
Best, Federal 150 gr fusion. .725″ @ 100 yards

The other two types of ammo (Federal 150 gr copper and Federal 175 gr Big Game) both came in just under 1″ best groups, with .85″ and .9″ respectively.  Certainly not bad given that I wasn’t shooting with a rear bag or any kind of rear support.  Given a decent rest, I’d expect half inch groups are possible and repeatable.  The trigger is a little heavy, but has predictable creep before a crisp snap.

Savage MSR-10 .308 | First rounds downrange

The muzzle break on the MSR-10 brought recoil down a bit, this really isn’t a hard kicking rifle when compared to a bolt-action .308.  The concussive effect was significant, a good reminder why I love shooting suppressed so much.  Speaking on that subject, this is the first rifle with an adjustable gas system I’ve seen that doesn’t mention it at all in the advertising.  I didn’t mess with it this trip, but I’ll affix a suppressor next time out and have more reason to do so.

While I have more range time planned immediately after SHOT show, for the time being I’m perfectly content to say this:  the Savage MSR-10 Hunter is an excellent rifle.  It has accuracy potential far exceeding what the vast majority of hunters will ever be able to tap.  This rifle is lighter than most in the AR-10 category as well.  With an MSRP of $1481 (street price ~$1150), this is a good deal on a rifle that needs little, if any, in the way of upgrades.  Check it out!

-Rex Nanorum