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Savage Arms has been busy launching new products recently, but most of them have been consistent with the company’s traditional bolt-action rifles, semi-auto rimfire rifles and various shotguns. Therefore, most of us in the firearms industry were shocked when Savage announced that a completely new product line consisting of four Modern Savage Rifles (MSRs) would be introduced at the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

This new line consists of two AR-15 and two AR-10 type rifles. The AR-15s are the base (not basic) MSR 15 Patrol and the MSR 15 Recon. The AR-10s are the MSR 10 Hunter and MSR 10 Long Range. These four rifles pretty well cover the middle ground of both the AR-15 and AR-10 platforms offered today.

“This is an accurate, high-end rifle with all of the features that you would expect from a $2,000 AR-10 type modern sporting rifle.”

The subject of this end-user evaluation is the Savage MSR 10 Long Range chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. It is a direct-impingement semi-automatic action with an adjustable gas block.

This is an accurate, high-end rifle with all the features that you would expect from a $2,000 AR-10 modern sporting rifle. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a flat-shooting, long-range cartridge that allows you to accurately reach out and touch things at 1,000 yards or more.

Savage Arms provides its own muzzle brake on the MSR 10 Long Range. The 6.5 Creedmoor doesn’t create a lot of recoil, but the muzzle brake did seem to help limit muzzle rise.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is a flat-shooting, long-range cartridge that allows you to accurately reach out and touch things at 1,000 yards or more.

SPECIFICATIONS

The upper receiver is forged from 7075 T6 aluminum and is matte black hardcoat anodized. It features a non-reciprocating side charging handle, forward assist, polymer dust cover, rear charging handle and a 1913 MIL-STD rail that runs the length of the receiver. The bolt carrier is by Savage and the bolt is machined from E9310 alloy steel and high-pressure tested.

A Savage aluminum octagonal handguard with M-LOK attachment points along  seven sides and a full-length 1913 Mil-Std rail at the 12 o’clock position is solidly bolted to the upper receiver with four socket-head cap screws. The 22-inch fluted barrel is machined from 4140 steel and is Melonite QPQ finished. Rifling is 5R style with a 1:8 twist rate. Savage attaches a muzzle brake of its own design, using the barrel’s 5/8-24 threads, to help mitigate recoil.

“The smallest group fired at 100 yards was 0.59 inches using Hornady #81492 120 grain A-Max ammunition.”

The lower receiver is also machined from an aluminum 7075 T6 forging and is matte black hardcoat anodized. The magazine well is beveled to facilitate quick magazine changes. A MIL-STD diameter, AR-10 length buffer tube is used with a standard carbine buffer assembly. The trigger assembly is from Savage’s sister company Blackhawk!—an AR Blaze two-stage trigger with boron-infused steel for a smooth pull. A tension adjustment machine screw is also provided to eliminate any play between the upper and lower receivers.

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A Blackhawk! Knoxx Axiom AR pistol grip and a Magpul PRS Gen 3 adjustable buttstock make up the furniture for the MSR 10 Long Range. The PRS buttstock allows the shooter to adjust the cheekpiece height and the length-of-pull both quickly and positively. The thumb wheels used to make these adjustments have very positive detents with approximately 0.180 inches of movement per 360-degree rotation of either thumb wheel.

At 44-1/8 inches long and 10 pounds in weight, the Savage MSR 10 Long Range is not small and light. But then, it’s not designed to be a lightweight. Most of the “excess” weight comes from the 4-6 inches of barrel length, 4 inches of handguard and the PRS buttstock. All of this is necessary in order to provide the velocity, accuracy and recoil management that this rifle provides.

MODELS

Savage offers the AR-15 series in MSR 15 Patrol and MSR 15 Recon models. Both  are chambered in .223 Wylde so that both .223 Remington and 5.56×45 (NATO) ammunition can be used. The Recon version comes with a low-profile gas block, Blackhawk! BUIS sights, Blackhawk! AR Blaze trigger and a Savage octagon aluminum handguard with M-LOK.

The AR-10 series includes the MSR 10 Hunter and MSR 10 Long Range rifles. Both are chambered in .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmore. Barrel lengths are 16-1/8 inches in .308 Win. Hunter, 18 inches in 6.5 Creedmore Hunter, 20 inches in .308 Win. Long Range and 22 inches for the 6.5 Creedmoor Long Range. The MSR 10 Hunter has a single stage Blackhawk! AR Blaze trigger and a Blackhawk! adjustable Knoxx Axiom carbine buttstock with pad.

AMMUNITION

Savage’s instruction manual recommends inspecting all ammunition prior to use to make sure that it is not damaged, corroded or of otherwise questionable quality. Use only the type of ammunition that matches what is marked on the barrel (top, just behind the muzzle). Use only new ammunition manufactured to SAAMI/ANSI/MIL-SPEC standards. Any other ammunition including reloaded, handloaded and remanufactured ammunition can cause gun damage or personal injury and will void the warranty.

We used six different factory loads from three different manufacturers when evaluating muzzle velocity and accuracy. All ammunition fed flawlessly through the Magpul PMAG LR/SR Gen M3 magazine and ejected uniformly due to the dual ejector plungers.

 

OPTICS

No sights are provided with the Savage MSR 10 Long Range. A Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR II-i 3.5-21x50mm F1 riflescope was mounted on the Savage MSR 10 Long Range using Weaver Tactical 34 mm rings for test purposes. This riflescope is an excellent match for the MSR 10 Long Range in 6.5 Creedmoor. The G3-i reticle offers a clean center yet allows accurate ranging utilizing 0.1 mil reference points and windage hold-offs utilizing 0.5 mil markings. We’ve now used a number of first focal plane riflescopes and I like the way that they operate and that the reticle can be used to range at any power setting.

“Savage took its 120+ years of firearms design and manufacturing experience and applied it along with some sound engineering and came up with the MSR product line.”

The fast-focus eyepiece, power change ring (Throw-Hammer lever) and the side focus adjustment knob all operated smoothly and with sufficient friction to eliminate inadvertent movement. This riflescope features a T-Lok windage turret which requires that the turret be extended prior to rotating and then pushed back in to lock the setting.

The Revlimiter (Zero-Stop) on the elevation turret can easily be set for a quick return to zero after an elevation change. Also, after elevation and windage adjustments have been completed, both turrets can be reset to zero. This is accomplished simply by removing the turret knob, then replacing it with the “0” mark aligned with the vertical index line on the turret.

The upper receiver features a non-reciprocating side charging handle, forward assist, polymer dust cover, rear charging handle and a 1913 MILSTD rail that runs the length of the receiver.

 

 

 

 

A full-length octagonal aluminum handguard using the MLOK attachment system provides a 1913 MILSTD rail on top and accessory attachment points on the other seven sides.

The lower receiver is also machined from an aluminum 7075 T6 forging and is matte black hardcoat anodized. The magazine well is beveled to facilitate quick magazine changes.

AT THE RANGE

We first broke-in the barrel with 20 rounds of assorted ammunition, cleaning the barrel after every five rounds. This also allowed me to become familiar with the feel of the trigger. The Blackhawk! Blaze AR 2-stage trigger was smooth and had a crisp, clean break. It is as good as any AR aftermarket trigger that we have used.

We fired each of the six loads using a Caldwell “The Rock BR” competition front rest and a sandbag rear rest. The barrel was cleaned and a fouling round was fired after each load was fired (16-21 rounds). Everything went so smoothly during this range session that it was almost boring. The gas-operated semi-auto rifle combined with the sweet-shooting 6.5 Creedmoor round made firing almost 150 rounds a pleasure.

“It’s great to see that Savage got it right on the first try.”

Top honors for 100-yard accuracy go to the Hornady #81491 120-grain ELD Match ammunition with an average group size of 0.95 inches for three, five-shot groups. American Eagle #AE65CRD1 140 grain OTM and Hornady #81500 140-grain ELD Match ammunition were close behind at 1.04 and 1.08 inches, respectively. The smallest group fired at 100 yards was 0.59 inches using Hornady #81492 120-grain A-Max ammunition.

Next, we fired the top three performers at 300 yards. Once again, the Hornady 120-grain ELD Match round came out on top at 2.89 inches average for three 5-shot groups (3.86, 2.50 and 2.30 inches). Except for one errant shot, that average could have been closer to 2.5 inches. One issue we did discover when shooting paper at 300 yards was that when the scope is set at 21x, the crosshairs cover most of the bullseye. Dialing back the power a little solved the problem but doing this obviously sacrificed precise aiming. Perhaps slightly thinner crosshairs would help. At closer distances and lower magnification, the finer crosshairs would probably not be a problem.

Hitting the 8-inch and 4-inch steel plates at 300 yards was like child’s play. The 2-inch steel was a little more difficult with about a 50% hit rate. The instant gratification of hitting steel consistently is hard to beat.

The PRS buttstock allows the shooter to adjust the cheekpiece height and the length of pull both quickly and positively.

The aluminum octagonal handguard is solidly bolted to the upper receiver with  socket-head cap screws.

The Savage MSR 10 Long Range comes apart for cleaning just like any AR; with the bolt in the forward position, push out the captive rear takedown pin and violá, it breaks open.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Savage MSR 10 Long Range in 6.5 Creedmoor is a very pleasant gun to shoot. Recoil is mild and everything functioned just as it was designed to do. Savage took its 120+ years of firearms design and manufacturing experience and applied it along with some sound engineering and came up with the MSR product line. It’s great to see that Savage got it right on the first try.

Almost one-third of the groups fired at 100 yards were under an inch and several more were just barely over an inch. With the correct factory or handloaded ammunition, this rifle should consistently shoot sub-MOA groups.

“If you are looking for a moderately priced long-range modern sporting rifle, the Savage MSR 10 Long Range could be the one for you.”

We also like the way that this rifle is set up right from the factory. It has just the right components without leaving out anything or adding anything frivolous and costly. All anyone needs to do is add a scope and possibly a bi-pod and the gun is ready to go.

If you are looking for a moderately priced long-range modern sporting rifle, the Savage MSR 10 Long Range could be the one for you. Take a hard look at it before making your decision.

 

 

Specifications: Savage Arms MSR 10 Long Range

Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
Rifling: 5R, 1:8 twist
Overall Length: 44.13 inches (collapsed)
Barrel Length: 22 inches
Weight: 10 pounds
MSRP: $2,284
URL: savagearms.com

Features:

  • Compact AR-10 design;
  • Fluted 22 inch barrel with 5R rifling;
  • Rifle length gas system with an adjustable gas block;
  • Custom forged upper and lower receivers;
  • Non-reciprocating side charging handle;
  • Free-floating M-LOK handguard;
  • Magpul PRS Gen3 buttstock;
  • Blackhawk! AR Blaze 2-stage trigger;
  • 10-round Magpul PMAT LR/SR Gen M3 magazine

Performance:

Ammunition Velocity E.S. S.D. Sm. Grp. Avg. Grp. 100 yards Avg. Grp. 300 yards
Hornady #81491 120 gr.-ELD Match 2,839 53 15.6 0.69 0.95 2.89
American Eagle #AE65CRD1 140-gr. OTM 2,638 35 12.3 0.96 1.04 3.69
Hornady #81500 140 gr. ELD Match 2,680 51 18.3 1.05 1.08 3.84
Hornady #81492 120 gr. A-Max 2,888 70 20.1 0.59 1.24
Winchester #S65CM 140-gr. Match BTHP 2,670 35 13.4 0.99 1.60
Fusion #F65CRDFS1 140 gr.-SP 2,713 48 14.5 2.53 3.18
Groups were fired from a Caldwell Rock BR adjustable front rest and rear sandbag at 100 and 300 yards. Velocity is in feet per second calculated at the muzzle using a LabRadar device; E.S. – Extreme Spread; S.D. – Standard Deviation; Sm.Grp. – size of smallest single group for that ammunition, in inches; Ave. Grp. – the average group size in inches for 3 5-shot groups.

Specifications: Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR II-i 3.5-21x50mm Riflescope

Model: ET36215GI
Field of View: 3.5x: 25.3ft.; 21x: 5.1ft. (at 100 yards)
Weight: 34 ounces
Length: 13.2 inches
Tube OD: 34mm/1.339 inches
Adjustment Range: Elevation – 30 mils; Windage – 20 mils
Reticle: Illuminated G3-i
MSRP: $1,999