Although Savage Arms is best known for its value-priced, yet accurate and feature-filled Model 110-based hunting rifles, and more recently, its competition-ready Model 12 variants, since the early 1990s the company has offered tactical-oriented models in its law enforcement (LE) line. These rifles, however, are available for civilian sale. In 2009 the company unveiled its newest and most technologically advanced LE models to date: the 10 BAS-K and 10 BAT/S-K. The rifles represented not only Savage’s first venture into modular firearm construction, but also served as a means to a greater, more powerful, end.
“We needed to test the waters first before leaping,” said Marketing Manager Bill Dermody. “From the beginning we wanted to do a .338 Lapua Mag. But since we had never made a modular system before, we decided to do it in .308 Win. first. That was the right call, and we ended up with a better .338 Lapua Mag. because of it.”
In fact, so positive was feedback regarding the 10 BAS-K and 10 BAT/S-K rifles that, beginning in February/March 2009—shortly after the Model 10s were displayed at the SHOT Show—development of the .300 Win. Mag.- and .338 Lapua Mag.-chambered Model 110 BA got underway. Project Designer Steve Danneker was tasked with developing the rifle. He drew heavily from the smaller-caliber platform that had been developed by coworkers Jack Anderson and Dan Borecki, as well as feedback from Team Savage F-Class long-range shooters (Stan Pate, Darrell Buell, John Weil and Monte Milanuk) and shooter Pete Forras.
“General things about accuracy apply to a variety of products, and many of these were included in the initial design of this gun,” explained Dermody. “Then, when it came down to specifics, Team Savage members were our first test pilots. There were several iterations of prototypes and some pretty significant changes made based upon the feedback from these guys. Believe me; their fingerprints are all over that rifle.” Given the team’s success on the competitive scene—F-T/R—the world over, following its advice would prove a wise decision.
“As part of the Team USA F-T/R, itself part of the USA F-Class Team, Team Savage’s amazing abilities helped the American team win the world F-T/R championship this past summer, so when they gave me feedback, I listened,” added Danneker. “They gave me a laundry list of issues they found in shooting the rifles. Each issue was corrected based on the feedback.
“I first looked at the strengths of the Model 10 BAS-K and 10 BAT/S-K chassis system, and cranked them up a notch,” said Danneker. “Using the framework established with the short-action Model 10 variants, as well as what we learned from the Model 12 precision-target-series—Bench Rest and Palma—rifles, which I helped develop, laid the foundation for the Model 110 BA. But, even before the first rifle was built, everything was ‘grown’ from a SLA (Stereolithography Apparatus) before we ever cut a chip of material for this rifle. It gave me an actual rifle to have in my hand to feel what the real thing would be like before jumping into the cost of machining parts.”
The Model 110 BA’s modular stock design, with the buttstock, grip, bedding area and fore-end being separate pieces, certainly aided the change from short to long-action; however, completing the task was by no means easy. “It was a balancing act between the improved receiver lockup with the long, .338 Lapua Mag. magazine opening and the 110 receiver action screw location with the BA stock chassis system,” explained Danneker. “Essentially, I had to find the perfect balance between what the new chassis system could do with the 110 action for the .338 Lapua Mag.
“It looks like a long version of the Model 12 target action but has an extra-long opening— 3.90 inches —to accommodate the lengthy cartridge,” described Danneker. “Additionally, the lockup area is thicker, and the magazine well is made to fit the Accuracy International (AI) .338 Lapua Mag. detachable, single-stack magazine.” Why a single-stack magazine? “Double-stacks with these cartridges [.338 Lapua Mag. and similar] are a nightmare sometimes, and I wanted the most reliable component in this system,” he said.
“The black, five-round magazine is C.I.P. (Commission Internationale Permanente pour l’Epreuve des Armes à Feu Portatives) length, accepting up to a 3.760-inch overall length round, though most factory ammunition doesn’t exceed 3.600 inches,” reported Danneker. “It’s the longest that will fit into a Model 110 action and still feed, and it is based on AI’s C.I.P. magazine for its chassis system.” Except for modified feed lips and one additional round in capacity, the .300 Win. Mag. magazine mimics that of the .338 Lapua Mag. In addition to those from Accuracy International, Savage Arms will also source magazines from another supplier for the Model 110 BA.
Like the rifle’s Model 12 Palma and Bench Rest counterparts, but not the Model 10 BAS-K and BAT/S-K, the 110 BA received additional attention to detail to further enhance accuracy, though the Model 110 design is well-known for excellent accuracy anyway. According to Danneker, “I used very tight specifications we established for the receiver, barrel, bolt head and body, recoil lug and locknut. In testing the trued part versus the standard version on the Palma rifle project, we found the trued part usually resulted in groups half the size of those from non-trued components.” As such, the 110 BA received said treatment.
As for the Model 110 bolt, the floating bolt head, which has dual-opposing locking lugs and is widely acclaimed as an inherently accurate design, is a cross between the long heavy magnum and the shorter WSM. “It is the thickest and heaviest bolt head we make, assuring that we have the most robust and precise component in this rifle, explained Danneker. “Further, the bolt face and lock-up surfaces are trued to within 0.002 inches of the stem’s perpendicularity.” Instead of a standard rounded bolt knob, the 110 BA features a knurled, lengthened version that, according to Danneker, aids uplift and primary extraction. Extraction is via a sliding-plate extractor, located on the right lug, and ejection is by way of a spring-loaded ejector in the bolt face.
“Since the matte-black, 6061 T6 aluminum stock has the AccuStock built in, I made up a new recoil lug with the larger 1 1/8-inch shank,” said Danneker. “It is essentially a target recoil lug with the AccuStock profile ground flat to within 0.0005 inches, and the other side is parallel within 0.0005 inches.” The fore-end assembly was slightly modified from that of the Model 10 BAS-K and BAT/S-K; however, like the Model 10s the fore-end features three-swivel studs—one on each side and the third on the bottom, for attachment of a bipod. “I wanted to offer the shooter options if they want to attach a sling on either side,” explained Danneker. The 1 1/2-inch-loop sling attachment and quick-detach front sling mount on the Magpul buttstock can easily be moved to the other side, if preferred.
When designing the Model 110 BA’s barrel, performance and maneuverability were foremost considerations. To attain the “required” 3000-fps mark with a 250-grain projectile in the .338 Lapua Mag.-chambered variant, Danneker selected a 26-inch 4140 chrome-moly barrel. Including the muzzle brake, the free-floating barrel measures a lengthy, yet still manageable, 29.5 inches, giving the rifle an overall length of 50.5 inches. The .300 Win. Mag.-chambered 110 BA’s barrel mimics that of the .338 Lapua Mag. version. The rifle’s predecessors, the Model 10 BAS-K and BAT/S-K, had 24-inch barrels (not including the muzzle brake).
To reduce weight, as well as quicken cooling, the barrel has six, 15.5-inch-long flutes. At the receiver the barrel is 1.1250 inches in diameter, whereas at the junction with the muzzle brake it measures 0.900 inches. Depending on cartridge, the barrel is chambered with either C.I.P. (.338 Lapua Mag.) or Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) (.300 Win. Mag.) reamers from JGS Precision Tool of Coos Bay, Ore. Like the receiver and chassis, the barrel has a matte-black finish.