The Savage 110 action is the granddaddy of all modern Savage bolt action rifles.
Essentially, every bolt gun Savage makes today is based on the 110 design with a few twists added or subtracted to form different models.
The 110 dates back to 1958, when a fellow named Nicholas Brewer was charged with designing a bolt action rifle that could compete with the Remington and Winchester bolt guns on the market that were slowly killing off the lever action Model 99, which had always been Savage’s bread and butter.
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What Brewer came up with wasn’t a huge departure from other bolt guns on the market. The 110 has two forward mounted locking lugs, a small extractor and a bolt guide. All things considered the 110 didn’t look too different from the push-feed guns that had come before it. What made the 110 a leap forward wasn’t how it was designed, but how it was made.
A Savage 110 receiver is made out of a single piece of seamless steel tubing and can be machined with the bare minimum number of operations. The bolt is another wonder of simplicity. The bolt handle, bolt body and bolt head are all separate pieces that either screw together or are held on with pins. This means that a bolt body can be made to fit cartridges running the gamut from the 22 Hornet up to 375 H&H merely by switching out bolt heads.
With this same commitment to scalability in mind, the barrel of the 110 is held in place by a nut that slips over the barrel and attaches to the receiver. All that is required to switch out barrels is a wrench and a set of head space gauges.
What Brewer had created with the 110 was a rifle that worked as well and usually shot a bit better than the other guns on the market, but its price tag was the real lure. With its simple design and focus on utility ahead of aesthetics, the 110 could be produced in a wide array of calibers while selling for nearly half the price of its competitors.
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These days, almost every bolt gun Savage makes is a direct descendant of the 110, and for good reason. This action is sturdy, strong and is usually pretty smooth.
Over the years a few new wrinkles have been added to pretty the gun up in places or improve its accuracy through better triggers. While the 110 has grown into a rifle every bit as fancy (in some cases) as its competitors, its appeal still lies in its low cost.
A curious shopper can still pick up a Savage bolt gun for roughly half the price of other rifles in a new or hard-to-find caliber. This wonderfully simple action is still going strong and will continue to please American shooters for decades to come.
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