The AR world has come a long way. It used to be you could have anything you wanted, as long as it was black and chambered in 5.56 NATO. And now? The world is our oyster.
A smaller-than-AR-10-size rifle, the Savage MSR 10 Hunter Overwatch is based on the well-established Stoner system. The AR-10 never really got off the ground when it was first introduced, but since then it has been reinvented and updated. Now, the MSR 10 Hunter Overwatch is an exemplar of modern improvements, featuring the new Mossy Oak Overwatch pattern.
Its forged receiver set is composed of 7075-T6 aluminum and is a custom design to accommodate .308 Win.-size cartridges while being as compact as an AR-15 as possible. In this sample, the chambering is 6.5 Creedmoor, a cartridge that did not exist for half a century after the AR-10 was invented. The upper receiver has a flattop rail, and that rail is continued along the length of the freefloat handguard.
This allows optics and iron sights—as well as extra sighting systems, such as NVDs or thermal optics—room to be mounted. With a full-length rail, it is possible to have a magnifying optic attached to the customary location for daylight deer hunting. And then, a “starlight” or thermal optic can be clamped on in front of the variable-power, magnified optic for use at night. The handguard has M-Lok slots, so you can mount an illumination device, too.
Conveniently, a gap in the top rail near the muzzle is present on the handguard, for access to the adjustable gas system. You can re-tune the system if/when you install a suppressor, to avoid gas blowback and over-driving the system.
The carbon-steel barrel is given a button-rifled bore of 5R configuration, and then treated via the Melonite QPQ process, which produces a hard, corrosion-resistant surface. It ships with a muzzle brake installed on the threaded muzzle, and should you wish to replace that with a different brake, a flash hider or a suppressor it is done easily.
With a gap in the top rail near the muzzle, access to the adjustable gas system is convenient • An AR-15-size Magpul MOE pistol grip comes standard, but can easily be swapped for another option • A pull weight of 3 pounds makes the trigger enticing • A bit too forceful during testing, the muzzle brake can be swapped out • Spanning the length of the receiver and handguard is a rail to mount a variety of optics • The Magpul MOE stock provides for length-of-pull adjustments.
In 6.5 Creedmoor, the Overwatch barrel is 18 inches long. The 5R rifling is given a 1:8-inch twist to fully stabilize even the heaviest bullets it is likely to see.
The receiver extension, the buffer tube, is the normal AR-15 dimension, and the Overwatch Hunter ships with a Magpul MOE stock. This allows for adjustment of the length-of-pull, something that can be very useful on a full-size rifle, especially if you are using it with varied layers of clothing. If you have zeroed in the summertime, shooting in short sleeves, you can easily adjust the stock to be an inch or two shorter when you are dressed for winter weather.
Additionally, the pistol grip is an AR-15-size Magpul MOE. One advantage to making the almost-.308-size rifle accept 5.56-size furniture is that AR-15-sized furniture is ubiquitous. If for some reason you prefer some other stock or pistol grip, you can, like the muzzle brake, easily change them for something else.
This rifle is derived from its predecessor. The Overwatch refers to the final finish given the receivers and the handguard. That is the Mossy Oak Overwatch, the official camo pattern of the NRA. For welcome contrast, the buffer tube, stock, barrel and pistol grip are left black.
Controls are standard AR, with the magazine release and ejection port on the right side, and the bolt release and safety/selector on the left. A two-stage design makes up the trigger system, with an apparent take-up of 1 pound, and then a clean release of 2 pounds, for 3 pounds total.
The MSR-10 feeds from box magazines of the M110 or DPMS pattern, and Magpul, among others, have made truckloads of them, so feeding the MSR 10 is no problem. There are 10-, 20- and 25-round variants available from Magpul, as well as a host of other manufacturers, including five-round models.
For accuracy and chronograph testing, I mounted a Sightmark Citadel 3-18x50 mm LR1 optic.
The muzzle brake proved too effective in testing. Offhand, it drove the scope down off of the target. From the bench, it required re-positioning the rifle after each shot. However, muzzle brakes are easily replaced or experimented on.
As a hunting rifle, the Hunter Overwatch would make a superb blind and tree-stand rifle, where you can keep an eye on a large field. For those who don’t hunt, it is an excellent larger-receiver AR that helps support the continued existence of your right to own the platform. That alone is a great reason to give it a try.