In the decades past, it was generally true that only custom rifles with piles of costly aftermarket add-on’s could produce the sub-MOA accuracy that is expected of a professional-grade tactical rifle. While that was usually the case, things have changed drastically in recent years with the introduction of new precision rifles priced low enough for mere mortals to afford. Enter the Savage Model 10 Precision Carbine (.308 Win. tested, also avail. in .223). In the following review, we will examine the numerous standard features that make this rifle an incredible value. We will also take it to the range for some performance testing, and give you a rundown on the custom loads that really make this little beast howl.
Standard Features: Savage Model 10 Precision Carbine .308 Win
- 20” Free-Floating Heavy Barrel – Threaded 5/8 x 24
- Thread Protector
- Over-Sized Bolt Handle
- Dual Front Swivel Studs for Sling and Bi-Pod
- 4-Round Detachable Box Magazine
- User-Adjustable “Accutrigger” Fire Control Group
- ACU-Pattern “Accustock” Synthetic Stock
My first impression of this rifle was very good. It is obviously well manufactured, with no substantial machine marks on the forgings or seepage on the castings. The bolt, receiver and barrel are all very robust, and the barrel crown is well-recessed and precisely cut. Overall, the production quality is above average.
I know some folks don’t really care for the factory stock (Accustock), but I took to it quite well. It is lightweight, compact, sturdy, weather-proof, it free-floats the barrel, has ample padding on the butt, it has dual studs up front and it matches my ACU’s. The only issue I had with the stock was that the cheek rest was a bit too modest. I remedied this by adding the Allen shell-holder/storage pouch/cheek pad to beef it up a bit.
The action was a bit stiff initially. It took significant effort to lift the bolt handle up and out of the closed/locked position. However, after cycling the bolt a couple of hundred times, it is getting easier to operate. Just note that this is not one of those buttery-smooth actions right out of the box. If that is what you need, have your gunsmith do an action job from the get-go. However, it is a solid, reliable action that lock’s up firm for great downrange accuracy.
This rifle is capable of exceptional results with custom loads. The 1:10 twist rate means it will work well with heavier bullets. Once I found the right load, I was consistently able to land sub-3/4” 100m groups. The thing I liked best was the predictability of the round placement. Whether it is after firing several mag’s in a row, or a cold bore shot after several weeks in the gun safe, the rounds still landed within ½” or so of each other.
It took well over a dozen rounds fired in rapid sequence to begin seeing a significant change in point of impact. This is mainly due to the short and stout barrel dimensions resulting in minimal harmonic distortion. However, it must also be credited toward a solid scope and mount configuration. This rifle is equipped with a Nikon “Buckmasters” 4.5-14 X 40 Mil-Dot scope over a Weaver 20 MOA base and Weaver Tactical Rings (Med). While this is not a true “tactical” rifle scope, it has held up very well to the recoil, and it weighs a lot less than some other options.
Having done some research ahead of time, I settled on building my M10-PC load around the Hornady A-Max 178 grain bullet over Varget powder. I measured my custom OAL using a Hornady Lock-n-Load OAL Gauge. I found that the ideal length for this particular rifle/bullet combo was about 2.837”. Using Winchester brass and Federal Match primers, I started loading with 42.5g of Varget, and worked my way up to 44.5g in 1/2g increments.
The lighter loads were pretty spread out, but once I hit the 44g batch, something magical began to happen. The rounds began to literally stack on top of one another at 100 meters. Once I got to the 44.5g batch, I was placing them all into a single little ragged hole.
I finally settled on the following load for this rifle: DISCLAIMER – LOAD AT YOUR OWN RISK
- 178g Hornady A-Max .308 Bullet
- 44.5 Grains Varget Rifle Powder
- Winchester Brand .308 Brass (Fire-Formed and Neck-Sized)
- Federal Large Rifle Gold Medal Match Primer #210M
- COL/OAL 2.837” (For this specimen only; gauge your rifle for best results)
- Crimp – Lee FCD
The load above produces an average muzzle velocity of 2540 FPS in 65 F @ Sea Level. This means that I am still supersonic at 1000 meters, and still packing the energy of a 10mm Auto at point blank range. Just keep in mind that this relatively heavy and slow cartridge will result in about 37 MOA or nearly 11 MRAD in vertical drop at 1000m. For this reason, I would recommend a 20 MOA canted scope base for longer range work.
I have not yet had the chance to fire this rifle at 1000m… the longest range I have tested at was 500m. The performance at 500m was highly predictable and repeatable. Overall, this is a great little rifle, and I would highly recommend it for bench rest/match shooting, armed duty, or even certain hunting applications.
Have fun and play safe!