SAVAGE MODEL 10 BA STEALTH PRECISION RIFLE: GUN REVIEW

By: Bryce M. Towsley


Shooters and gun owners are driven by motivations that are always changing, shifting and evolving. For decades, the gun industry was focused in large part on hunting guns. Those rifles and shotguns for game dominated long-gun designs and sales. Today, that’s no longer true. When I first started writing about long-range shooting, hunting rifles dominated the conversation. Today, a huge number of shooters are tossing bullets only at distant targets instead of game. The growth in long-range target shooting has been extraordinary, and the smart gun companies are paying attention.

One of the most popular styles of rifle for long-range shooting today is the precision rifle. These are usually built on a metal chassis rather than with a conventional buttstock. The chassis is usually modular, so the user can adapt and modify the rifle to their personal likes by replacing forends, grips, and buttstocks. And they have that popular “black gun” appearance. They just look cool!

Savage Model 10 BA Stealth Precision Rifle: Gun Review

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The author shot four different types of 6.5 Creedmoor loads through his Savage 10 BA Stealth, from 100 to 500 yards. See detailed range results below.


Not so long ago I would have been describing a very high-end rifle, with entry-level prices starting around $2,500 and going all the way up to the sticker price for a new Nissan Versa.

That’s the great thing about capitalism: the market drives the product and the pricing. It would have been easy enough to build a “cheap” precision rifle using standards and manufacturing techniques applied to budget priced hunting rifles…but nobody would buy them. That’s because shooters who buy Precision Rifles demand a few things.

One of those things is a rifle that will shoot well. It must be accurate, with a good trigger and good ergonomics. Another is the option of easily replacing the barrel. Precision-rifle shooters recognize that these are machines, made to be used frequently, and parts will wear out. Most hunters would never wear out the barrel on a rifle, but a long-range shooter might need a new barrel in as little as one shooting season.

Any company that could build a chassis-based precision rifle that performs well, and sells at an “affordable” price, was sure to do well in this new and emerging market. Ruger did it first with their Ruger Precision Rifle, which is selling faster than they can make it. Next out of the gate are the new Savage Model 10 BA Stealth and Model 110 BA Stealth rifles.

The Model 10 BA Stealth, a short-action rifle, is offered in .308 Winchester 6.5 Creedmoor. It appears that the .308 Winchester is being marketed to Law Enforcement. It has a 20-inch barrel, which is often preferred by LE snipers who need precision, but seldom shoot at extreme distances. The Model 10 in 6.5 Creedmoor chambering has a longer, 24-inch barrel and is ready out of the box for long range shooting. This cartridge is dominating in long range shooting right now and I have no hesitation in predicting that it will be the best selling chambering for this rifle.

The long-action Model 110 Stealth is available in .300 Winchester and .338 Lapua. For those shooters who want to hit targets past 1,000 yards, these cartridges carry the freight better. I have shot out to 1,800 yards with the Lapua and found nothing that matches its ability for ultra-long range shooting, but with its recoil, muzzle blast, and more expensive ammo, it will probably not sell as well as the 6.5 Creedmoor.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is very capable out to 1,000 yards and beyond. It stays super-sonic out past 1,300 yards and will handle 99 percent of the long-range shooting most people will do.

Weight

Compared to many other precision rifles, this Savage feels lighter and more streamlined. It weighs 9.2 pounds, so it’s not a lightweight rifle, but that’s more than a pound lighter than most other rifles in its class.

With the emergence of Precision Rifle Shooting competitions, that light weight is a good thing. You have to walk and hike in these events, and shoot from positions other than from a bipod or resting on a sandbag. A lighter rifle is an advantage here. Just try an off-hand shot with an 18-pound rifle; you will see what I mean.

This lighter weight does increase the felt recoil a little bit over the heavier guns; that means you might not be able to see your hits through the scope, and the accumulative fatigue factor may be a factor earlier during a long day of shooting. An easy countermeasure to that is to install a muzzle brake. (One I have recently tried and like a lot is the Gen II LB from American Precision Arms.) The muzzle on the Stealth is threaded 5/8×24, which is standard for many brakes. The rifle comes with a thread protector cap if you don’t want a brake.

Chassis

The chassis on the Stealth is made by Drake Associates and is their “Hunter/Stalker” model. This slim, monolithic chassis is machined from a single piece of aluminum. It has M-LOK slots on the forend, and a front swivel stud to mount a bi-pod. The forend itself is slim and short, and rests well on a sandbags or machine rest as well as on a bi-pod. Since a lot of the barrel is exposed, it cools faster.

Buttstock and Grip

The buttstock has a rubber buttpad and is adjustable for length of pull and for the height of the cheek rest. It accepts quick-detach sling swivels on either side. Any aftermarket AR-15 style commercial-spec buttstock will fit the gun. The rubber AR-15 style grip is by Hogue.

There is a Picatinny rail screwed to the action to mount an optic. The magazine release is a large lever in front of the trigger guard. The polymer magazine holds ten rounds and feeds from the center. Any AICS aftermarket magazine will fit the gun.

Barrel

The heavy, 24-inch fluted barrel is button-rifled and has an 11-degree crown. Savage “blueprints” the actions when building the guns. The receiver, bolt and other parts are all trued to the same centerline and are fitted as a single package. This is one reason a custom gun is so expensive. A gunsmith will spend a lot of time truing a rifle, but Savage does it with the Stealth.

Savage Model 10 BA Stealth Precision Rifle: Gun Review

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American Eagle 140-grain ammo produced sub-minute of angle accuracy in the Savage 10 BA Stealth.

The Savage style of attaching the barrel with a nut allows very precise control of the headspacing, which is another factor in accuracy. It also allows for very easy replacement of the barrel if you ever manage to shoot it out, or want to upgrade to a high-end aftermarket barrel.

Bolt and Trigger

The bolt has an oversize knob, of course; it wouldn’t be “tactical” without it. The rifle features an adjustable Savage AccuTrigger. The one on my rifle broke at 2 pounds, 2 ounces.

Accuracy

I tested this rifle over several range sessions from 100 to 500 yards with three factory loads and one handload. One of the factory loads was the new affordable American Eagle 140-grain ammo that was just introduced. It has a 140-grain open tip match bullet with a G1 B.C. of .58. The advertised velocity is 2,700 feet per second from a test barrel. From my Savage Model 10 BA Stealth, this load averaged 2,652 fps with the first screen of the Oehler 35P Chronograph set 10 feet from the muzzle. Five, 5-shot groups at 100 yards averaged .96-inch. The two 300 yard, 5-shot groups averaged 2.65 inches. At 500 yards two groups averaged 4.75 inches. That is consistent sub-MOA accuracy across the spectrum. (See detailed range results of all the loads below.)

The best thing about this Savage is price. MSRP is $1,207, which means the street price will probably be under a grand. So for a fraction of the price you used to pay for a precision rifle, you can buy one from Savage that will run with the big dogs in performance. Use all that savings for practice ammo, and before you know it you’ll be ringing steel at ranges you never thought possible.


SPECIFICATIONS

Savage Model 10 BA Stealth

Cartridges chambered .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor
Cartridge tested 6.5 Creedmoor
Magazine Detachable box (accepts aftermarket magazines)
Capacity 10-round magazine
Barrel 24-inch black matte fluted carbon steel
Rifling button-rifled
Twist rate 1:8
Trigger 2 lbs pull weight (user-adjustable Accu-Trigger)
Sights none (includes rail for attaching optics)
Safety Top tang, 3-position
Stock Aluminum chassis
Overall length 38.5 inches
Weight 9.2 lbs
Metal Finish black matte
MSRP $1207.00

100-YARD RANGE DATA WITH TEST RIFLE

Load 1

Manufacturer: American Eagle

Bullet: 140-grain HPBT

High velocity: 2703

Low velocity: 2607

Extreme spread: 96

Average velocity: 2652

Standard deviation: 23

Distance to target: 100 yards

Group #1: .9 in.

Group #2: .9 in.

Group #3: 1.1 in.

Group #4: 1.2 in.

Group #5: 1.3 in.

Number of shots per group: 5

Group average size: .96 in.


Load 2

Manufacturer: Hornady

Bullet: 140-grain ELD

High velocity: 2716

Low velocity: 2637

Extreme spread: 79

Average velocity: 2670

Standard deviation: 20

Distance to target: 100 yards

Number of shots per group: 5

Group #1: 1.45 in.

Group #2: .9 in.

Group #3: 1.25 in.

Group #4: 1.0 in.

Group #5: 1.2 in.

Group average size: 1.07 in.


Load 3

Manufacturer: Nosler

Bullet: 140-grain HPBT Match

High velocity: 2716

Low velocity: 2637

Extreme spread: 79

Average velocity: 2670

Standard deviation: 20

Distance to target: 100 yards

Number of shots per group: 5

Group #1: .9 in.

Group #2: .7 in.

Group #3: 1.3 in.

Group #4: .8 in.

Group #5: .85 in.

Group average size: .91 in.


Load 4

Manufacturer: none (handload)

Bullet: 140-grain A-Max

Propellent: H4350

Charge weight: 41.5 grains

Primer: Federal LR Match

High velocity: 2656

Low velocity: 2608

Extreme spread: 48

Average velocity: 2634

Standard deviation: 15

Distance to target: 100 yards

Number of shots per group: 5

Group #1: .9 in.

Group #2: 1.2 in.

Group #3: 1.4 in.

Group #4: 1.0 in.

Group #5: 1.0 in.

Group average size: 1.1 in.

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