by Evan Brune - Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Savage Arms entered the AR market with a bang, announcing four new models to kick off the company's first entry into the world of modern sporting rifles.
Until 2017, Savage's line of centerfire guns was limited to bolt-action platforms. Over the past few years, the company has been introducing a number of semi-automatic rifles to its rimfire lines, such as the popular A17 and A22. However, a notable exception in the company's lineup was the absence of AR-style rifles.
Four new models will launch in 2017: two AR-15s and two AR-10s.
The Savage MSR 15 Recon is the first of two AR-15s in the company lineup, featuring a Blackhawk AR Blaze trigger, free-float M-LOK handguard, a .223 Wylde target chamber and a Savage barrel that features a 1:8 twist, 5R rifling and a Melonite QPQ finish for extra durability. The rifle also features a mid-length gas system for softer shooting, improved heat dissipation and increased reliability.
In addition to the M-LOK rail, the gun also features a Blackhawk KNOXX AR Pistol Grip and a Blackhawk AXIOM Carbine Stock. The rifle also ships with Blackhawk flip-up iron sights, but a flattop rail allows users to add optics. Total weight of the MSR 15 Recon is 7 pounds, and the suggested retail price is $999.
The second AR-15 in the company's lineup is the MSR 15 Patrol, the company's upgraded take on popular M4 clones on the market today. Like the Recon, the Patrol features a .223 Wylde target chamber, a mid-length gas system and Savage barrel with 5R rifling and a Melonite QPQ finish. Blackhawk furniture covers the whole rifle, including the polymer handguard.
A Blackhawk flip-up rear sight works in conjunction with a custom A-frame gas block front sight. The trigger is mil-spec. A flattop rail allows the addition of any optic the user chooses. The total weight on the Patrol is 6.5 pounds, and the suggested retail price is $852.
The company's MSR 10 Long Range is a unique take on the AR-10 platform, and it will be available in both .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor. The Long Range features a compact frame with a non-reciprocating side-charging handle for easy loading. The rifle features a Blackhawk AR Blaze two-stage trigger, as well as a Magpul PRS buttstock. The fluted heavy barrel, made by Savage, features 5R rifling and a Melonite QPQ finish. The rifle also features a free-float M-LOK rail.
The rifle is available in .308 Win. with a barrel length of 20 inches and a total weight of 9.5 pounds. The company's 6.5 Creedmoor model comes with a 22-inch barrel and a total weight of 9.75 pounds. The suggested retail price on the MSR 10 Long Range is $2,284.
Finally, the company offers another AR-10 platform designated the MSR 10 Hunter. This rifle features many of the same upgrades as the Long Range, such as the compact custom-forged upper and lower, the free-float M-LOK handguard, Blackhawk furniture and the Blackhawk AR Blaze trigger.
However, the company envisioned the Hunter as a compact sporting platform that still featured the extended capabilities of .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor. This rifle does not feature the side-charging handle found on the Long Range, and barrel lengths are shorter.
The .308 Win. model of the MSR 10 Hunter features a barrel length of 16.125 inches, bringing the overall weight down to 7.8 pounds. The 6.5 Creedmoor model features an 18-inch barrel, which brings the gun to an overall weight of 8 pounds. The suggested retail price on the MSR 10 Hunter is $1,481.
I had the opportunity to field-test the new MSR 15 Recon on a coyote hunt in northwestern Nevada this past fall. Across four days of hunting in the Black Rock Desert, the rifle experienced high winds, blistering cold and was coated in the fine film of dust that blew off the dried lakebeds that made up the hunting grounds. Despite not being cleaned and firing multiple magazines throughout the event, the rifle experienced no malfunctions and reliably fed every round of Federal Premium's American Eagle Varmint & Predator ammunition. At the end of the hunt, the gun bagged several coyotes, proving that it was more than capable of doing its job.
Several elements of the rifle stood out. For one, the extended M-LOK handguard made it easy to get a solid forward grip on the gun, and it made for a great mounting platform on shooting sticks out in the desert. Hiking to and from stands, the rifle carried well and felt balanced and light. The overall weight of the gun is in line with many other options on the market, but Savage did an excellent job of distributing the weight in a way that makes it feel much lighter.
The Blackhawk buttstock features a textured pad on the end, along with recoil-absorbing cushions that make shooting smooth and enjoyable. This, in addition with the mid-length gas sytem, created a rifle that anyone would find easy to shoot. I also found the trigger to be much more enjoyable than traditional mil-spec triggers. It isn't on the level of a custom job, but for an upgraded rifle with an MSRP under $1,000, it definitely fits.
Other upgrades included the .223 Wylde chamber and the Savage barrel with 5R rifling. I found the Wylde chamber to be an enticing upgrade not often seen on entry-level ARs today. The Wylde chamber allows users to shoot both 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem, just like a 5.56 NATO chamber does. However, a 5.56 NATO chamber does not shoot .223 Rem. match ammunition as accurately as a Wylde chamber, so this is a definite upgrade that gives users more flexibility with their rifle.
Shooting Illustrated will be taking a closer look at the Savage MSR line in the next several months. The benefit of added features like Savage's 5R rifling remain to be seen, but we will provide accuracy and reliability testing for both the AR-15 and AR-10 platforms in an upcoming article.
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