I just recently got my first true Long range machine, the Savage 110 HS Precision & I know there are allot of people interested in this new inexpensive 338 LM Chambering so I figured I'd do a somewhat detailed write up on my experience too try & benefit some of you that may be contemplating getting one for yourself & since there isn't many user experiences on the net at this point, here goes......
As soon as i got my rifle home from my local shop I anxiously pulled it out of the box to check her out. Probably my heaviest & most impressive rifle to date i must say. The stock is thick, especially in the grip area as it fills up your hand nicely which at first is rather odd when you're used to a normal skinny grip of a hunting rifle or an ergonomic AR but it does position your fingertip perfectly on the savage accu-trigger & it just makes you feel like your holding a truly powerful rifle especially when you glance at such a large diameter barrel & the monster muzzlebreak. It has a generous somewhat hard rubber recoil pad at the back. My eyes were immediately drawn to the barrel channel area as the barrel was offset to one side of the stock. It had a tiny gap ( 1/16in ) where the barrel leaves the tip of the forend & large gap on the opposite side, maybe 3/16 inch & I was like you've got to be kidding me, this is ridiculous & unacceptable how did I not notice this at the gun shop? Then I thought to myself, " thats what I get for buying a cheap rifle chambered in the LM to begin with. Then I casually pushed on the barrel & it slid right over to center. NO WAY, the action screws weren't even finger tight, whats up with that? Well at least It would be an easy fix.
I took the action out of the stock & was impressed by the solid chunk of aluminum that runs pretty much the whole length of it. I set the action back in place making sure it was centered perfectly & proceeded to tighten the screws down with my calibrated elbow & It ended up having ample, even clearance on both sides which was roughly an 1/8 in. I was able to slid a dollar bill straight down to the barrel night, cool, problem solved!
The magazine is made by accurate mag & is stamped 3.850 & is rather stoutly made. I grabbed my caliper & figured that at most I would get a 3.750 round stuffed inside it. The rifle has a nice long magazine release that is very simple to use & it locks in place rather easy but is a bit loose when installed. All in all a good fit though. I don't have a trigger scale but the factory setting felt good to me so I decided not to mess with it.
Next I fumbled around getting the bolt out as it's a bit different than my other savage 110 since it has a large lever on the right hand side of the action that you have to push down with your thumb while pulling the trigger to release the bolt. The bolt head is quite a bit larger than normal as well. It defiantly has some meat to it. I peered down the bore while a friend held a light at the opposite end & I was utterly disgusted at the amount of chunky nasty black stuff inside. I mean come on, They must have put 50 rounds thru this thing as it took me a good 2 hours to get the powder & copper residue out. Now if they can fire it that many times wouldn't they include a test target? Wouldn't they at least run a patch down the bore, I mean what if it sat in some gunshop for 6 months or better with all the crud inside? Just doesnt make sense but again it's no 4000 dollar custom either!
So with a nice clean action & barrel I proceeded to mount a nightforce 5.5 x 22 x 50 with the new high speed, mil, zero stop turrets, ( love that thing by the way ) in nightforce low mount rings. I pulled out my cheasy laser bore sighter that I've never had any luck with at the range but for as much as this ammo & components cost i wanted to save every shot I could. I stuffed it down the bore of my other 110, pointed it at the wall at the opposite side of my living room & noted that it was roughly 1.5 mil low & about .5 mil right. So I got it all set up in the 338 bore & adjusted the nightforce to the same spot. OK, rifle's all set now I need some ammo.......
I took my shiny new lapua cases, quickly debured the flash holes & ran them thru a RCBS gold match die with a .365 bushing installed. I chamfered the case mouths then seated standard federal 215 primers. I had a couple jugs of Reloader 25 so I browsed thru some books & internet forums to try to find a good starting charge to go under some Midway 250 grain BTHP blemished bullets that were rather cheap in comparison to anything else I looked at, little did I know at this point that I should have bought the entire stock that Midway had! From what i could find starting was 86 & max was 93 grains. I flipped a coin & decided to go with 91 grains. I didn't care much about development at this point as all i wanted to do was get my brass formed to my chamber & then I'll crack into the 250 pack of Berger 300's. So I seated the first bullet to the max length that would fit in the magazine. I chambered the round & noticed that it hit the rifling rather quick. When it came out it was 3.548 so I adjusted the die to an even 3.40, made sure it fit without touching the rifling & then cranked out 100 rounds & all the while preying that they wouldn't be too hot or too slow since pulling bullets is no fun, but I kept telling myself that it didn't matter, as breaking in the barrel & forming the brass was my only concern. I also contemplated the fact that this was a rather short throat in comparison to what the magazine allowed & wondered what kind of reduced case capacity I would end up with when I switched to the 300 Bergers but at the same time I would be able to seat them right up against the lands which can produce fine accuracy.
The next day I anxiously headed to one of my favorite BLM playgrounds to see what this thing was going to be like as I haven't fired anything bigger than a 300 win mag or my 450 marlin lever action & normally shoot 308's & 6.5's so I must be honest I was somewhat reluctant to pull the trigger the first time since this case simply dwarfs a 308 round! I set up one 12 inch target to start out with & a sheet with 4, 4 inch targets at 100 yards. I put up a 12 inch at 325 & 1 at 587.
I set up my caldwell bench with a rock BR front rest & a heavy leather rear bag. I set this monster almost 15 pound rifle on top. I spent forever tweaking & tuning the bench, rest & bag until I clearly realized that I was just stalling to avoid the agony of a soon to come bruised shoulder. I stuffed 5 rounds into the magazine & then contemplated what I should do for break in cleaning or just not worry about it since savage obviously put a fair amount of rounds down the bore already, did they clean between firings, yeah right I thought, like the guy pulling the trigger really cared about that & then I realized once again that i was just postponing the inevitable, OK I thought, just squeeze the trigger & who cares how hard it hits you, how bad could it be anyway especially if I can handle 3.5 inch 12 gauge turkey loads or my light weight 450 marlin, don't be a whimp I said so I let out a deep breath & squeezed the trigger softly & CRACK BOOM! The feeling of power in my hands was truly awe inspiring to say the least & the roar must have been heard echoing down the canyons for miles to come! I was pleasantly surprised to see the first bullet impact in almost the exact spot that I lined up the cross hairs to that little red laser beam on the wall. Now I wanted to pull the trigger again so I quickly cranked the scope like 1 mil up & 1 mil left, don't remember for sure as I was too excited at this point. Chambered another round & squeezed the trigger once again, Man this thing is awesome I thought! The second bullet landed just a bit low & right of center so I then cranked off two more rounds & was immediately ecstatic with a smile so wide you could see it from outer space! On 22 power I could easily tell that the 2nd, 3rd & 4th rounds were all touching. I had one more round in the magazine that I really wanted to shoot but I was too afraid of messing up such an amazing first group so I decided to relish in my brief limited success & give the barrel a quick cleaning.
With that done I decided I better set up my cronograph to see just how fast the 250 blemished bullets were traveling. The first 4 cases looked great with no pressure signs at all in which my powder charge was a good 2 grains under the book max anyway. I then came up & left just 2 or 3 clicks, loaded the magazine & settled in on the top left of the 4 inch targets & fired 3. 1 more click up & 1 left Then Put 3 into the top right. The last group was a bit spread out so I figured I better take a break & check out all the numbers on the crony. I had an average of 2830 with an SD 65 ES 28. Not very good but also not very bad considering I slapped these loads together & was getting decent groups! I shot the lower left target 5 times & said "Now thats what I'm talking about, good ol savage accuracy"! I then put 5 more in the lower right & realized that i was syken myself up which I tend to do while shooting at paper but still an excellent group in my standards. You can see from my pics just what I'm talking about without giving out a bunch of fancy sounding measurements that don't mean much to the average shooter.
I relished in my success, Savages abilities & quickly forgave them for the loose action screws & dirty barrel while I gave the tube another good scrubbing. I was pretty well zerod at this point so It was time to try the 325. I grabbed my iphone & opened up Knights Armaments awesome bullet flight app, punched in 2830 fps, 27.70 pressure, 52 F, 45% humidity, with a preloaded G1 of .581 ( which I borrowed from sierra since I didn't know who's bullets these really were ) with a sight height of 1.8.
I zeroed my turretts, set the zero stop ( way cool mechanism I must say ) & decided to crank her up all the way to see what I've got to play with which was 13.4 mils available. According to bullet flight that would only get me 1350 yards so I was like WTF?????? My goal for awhile now has been to get me a rifle capable of the al mighty 1 mile shot & with this set up it obviously aint gonna happen so I took a good look at the factory included rail & quickly noticed that it was as flat as a pancake. I didn't even think about it during my earlier inspection cause surely anybody that would chamber a rifle in such an awesome caliber would put a canted rail on it wouldn't they? GRRRRRRR, Savage did it to me again I thought, what the heck were they thinking, why would they waste their time and effort on what was turning out to be such a truly sweet long range capable 1249 dollar machine then install a flat rail? I mean come on, whether it be a flat or 20 MOA cant rail they all cost the same amount of money don't they? Or was it an extra 50 cents in machining to cut the bottom of the rail, I just don't get it..........Anyway, some quick math & I figured that a 20 moa rail would give me an extra 5.5 mils for a total of 18.9. back to the iphone I go & nope, no way, thats only going to gain me another 300 yards. Maybe the 300 grain bullet would do it or another 150fps added to the 250's? But I was here to shoot & tried not to fret over it at this early point in my quest to reach an 18 in target at the magic mile mark.
I settled back in to the bench & adjusted up 1.1 mils & somewhat quickly fired 2 rounds & I could tell that I was a bit flustered over the whole rail thing & was now thinking that maybe I should have gotten the 3 to 15 power scope as that would have given me another 2.5 mils or so over the 22 power model so i tried to put it out of my mind & relax. I hastly shot 3 more rounds the best I could in my current mind state. I could make out a decent group low & right of center but I knew I was pulling my shots & it wasn't the shooting I was doing earlier or what the rifle is capable of but It looked like it was still within the 1 moa standard that most everybody seems to have. I took a quick break to regain my composure & settled in on my 587 yard target that was stapled to a small chunk of plywood. The wind was a bit light at 4 to 6 mph from my 4 to 5 o'clock. I came up to 3.2 mil & came right just 1 click & fired 2 with confidence this time. I could just barley make out a hole a little bit high & a ways to the left so I gave it 2 clicks right & fired again, this time the target went sailing high into the air while flipping madly. Now thats the power I was talking about! But unfortunately I ruined a good start at a near 600 yard group but said to myself, who cares I'm just here to have some fun anyway! So I blew off the last of my first 50 rounds on various pieces of steel hidden in the scrub land & didn't worry about accuracy. It was truly awesome to later see the large holes in the steel that my smaller calibers merely splatter on to say the least! I can say that my numbers, the bullet flight app & the nightforce were working very well a ranges out to 800 & the rifle is surely capable of less than 1 moa groups at these distances. Steel is much more fun & relaxing for me to shoot. Now I just need some 1/2 in AR 500 that can handle this beast! I was also amazed at the speed & ease at which the bullets made it to these various distances! The 338 LM most defiantly flies with authority even at my somewhat slow speed of 2830!
I can also say that spotting my own shots beyond 300 yards was possible. The weight of the rifle with the effective muzzlebreak makes staying in the scope doable as long as I was calm & confidant with my shots. Overall It is a great long range rifle especially when you compare the price to others available. I hope I didn't bore the S*^T of you all with my rambling writings!
Also, can any of you experienced guys tell me if it's possible to hold dead on at 1 mile? From what I'm seeing online 20 moa rails are pretty much all that's available for the 110 action & I've never used a 30 but I fear that the back of the scope would be way high, especially shooting prone which I like the best. Will I have to hold over to get to that distance?
Cheers & Great shooting to all!