Savage 110 Ultralight review

Review: Savage 110 Ultralite rifle


Savage’s 110 Ultralite weighs a mere 2.85kg, shoots MOA and is relatively affordable. Utilising high-tech materials, the Ultralite is aimed at the high end of the market, which includes serious hunters who go afield in all weathers and don’t mind paying the price demanded.

The majority of today’s factory bolt-action rifles weigh between 3.5 and 4kg when equipped with scope and sling. Going to the extreme, there are flyweights that weigh barely 2kg.

Savage 110 Ultralight review
Three identical groups shot with three different bullet weights at 100 yards. The Ultralite proved consistently accurate

Reducing a rifle’s weight is done by using durable yet lightweight materials. If they include titanium, Kevlar, graphite and carbon-fibre, rather than less expensive alloys or polymer, the result is a significant increase in production costs. 

But the added expense from using high-tech materials is outweighed not only by the reduction in weight, but by the extra durability and weather resistance.

The Model 110 Ultralite is a spin-off from the original Model 11/111 Lightweight Hunter, which was affordable, accurate and easy to carry in mountain country where the hills are steep and the air is thin. 

Savage 110 Ultralight review
Very light composite stock has pillar bedding, aiding accuracy without adding weight

The new Ultralite is even lighter. My test .30-06 has the least heft practical in this calibre, for the accuracy needed and for the recoil felt.

The Ultralite naturally uses the same receiver and bolt as its predecessor. The former is CNC-machined from a stainless steel billet to have angled flats and an outside dimension of 31.75mm. The top and bottom are left round.

The Melonite black receiver has been skeletonised and the left outside receiver wall has four lightening slots that reduce in length toward the receiver ring. The rearmost slot is duplicated on the right side of the receiver’s bridge. 

Savage 110 Ultralight review
Bolt has deep spiral fluting. Grooves are treated with black oxide to provide an attractive contrast

The slots are a neat solution to the problem of reducing weight without marring the outside appearance of the action. The factory claims the slots result in a reduction in weight of 46 grams.

The bolt was also included in the weight reduction exercise, by being given deep spiral fluting. Each flute measures 5mm in width and the grooves are treated with black oxide, which contrasts with the outside diameter of the bolt which is left in the white, giving it quite an attractive appearance. 

Better still, it has the effect of removing a further 227 grams of steel from the Ultralite. It may not sound like much, but together with the slots, it makes a noticeable reduction in the rifle’s heft.

Savage 110 Ultralight review
To cut weight, the Ultralite has a skeletonised receiver and fluted bolt. Tang safety has three positions.

The bolt, as in other Savages, has dual-opposed locking lugs backed by a baffle ring which resembles a second set of locking lugs. A notch in the righthand baffle ‘lug’ rides on a rail machined into the right side of the receiver and acts as an anti-bind device. 

A deep counterbore in the bolt face houses a sliding-plate extractor and plunger ejector. The bolt baffle and handle, which boasts a checkered knob, have the same black oxide finish as the flutes and a 90-degree lift.

A three-position safety is located on the tang and a spring-loaded bolt release button slides back and forth through the front of the trigger guard. 

Savage 110 Ultralight review
Muzzle has 5/8-24 threads with a protective cap and dished crown

Standard on most Savage rifles, the AccuTrigger is also fitted to the Ultralite. The trigger is user-adjustable from 1.1kg to 2.7kg, but I found the factory setting of a crisp 1.36kg just about perfect. 

Savage teamed with Proof Research to craft the Ultralite’s barrel, which shaves even more weight by using a thin stainless steel, straw-like tube encapsulated in a thick layer of lightweight carbon-graphite fibres to give it stiffness as well as the strength necessary to contain high-pressure cartridges. 

This system is claimed to be 80 percent lighter in weight than an all-steel barrel of the same dimensions.

Savage 110 Ultralight review
Recoil lug is sandwiched between receiver and steel sleeve covering carbon-fibre wrap

The Ultralite’s carbon-fibre barrel is 560mm long, with an ultra-light sporter contour, and measures 18.86mm at the threaded 5/8-24 muzzle cap.

The carbon-fibre is capped with a steel band about 24mm behind the muzzle which has a radiused crown and is permanently bonded using an engineering-grade ceramic adhesive.

The carbon-fibre on the barrel is black with a very handsome mottled grey finish. Steel is exposed on the barrel for a distance of about about 8mm ahead of the recoil lug and the carbon fibres are enclosed at the rear by a steel band about 19mm long and 26mm in diameter.

Measuring 44.45mm high, 32mm wide and 5mm thick, the recoil lug is sandwiched between the notched barrel locking nut. The receiver has a small tab that corresponds to a similar-size notch at the receiver’s front.

Savage 110 Ultralight review
Test Ultralite was equipped with Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40 scope in alloy rings on Weaver bases

Just as Savage trimmed unnecessary heft from the steel components, more weight reduction was achieved by using a graphite/fibreglass-filled composite stock. 

The grey AccuFit stock has a thick, high, straight comb that does away with any need for a cheekpiece and is adjustable for height. 

The butt is fitted with a soft, thick recoil pad and length of pull is 350mm, but can be shortened by removing some of the thin polymer spacers in front of the recoil pad. The slim pistol grip is open with a diameter of 120mm. 

The forend is slim, rounded on the bottom and has upwardly concave checkering patterns molded-in which match those on the grip. 

The barrel is almost as wide as the stock’s forend. While the forend is 34mm wide at the forend tip, the barrel is 28mm in diameter. As a result the top edge of the forend is thinned to almost a knife edge where it meets the barrel.

The forend is hollow to help reduce weight, but reinforcing X-shaped struts give it added strength. 

The AccuFit stock weighs less than 454 grams! It does away with the aluminium chassis of the AccuStock and instead uses dual steel pillars for bedding. 

The forend and butt have sling swivel studs and the pistol grip has a plastic disc insert with the Savage logo in red letters.

The new Ultralite uses the same four-round, polymer and sheet metal detachable box magazine as the Lightweight Hunter and the Axis before it. The polymer trigger guard, which has seen use on previous models too, has, over the years, proved capable of withstanding the roughest handling and terrain.

For the Ultralite to live up to its name it is necessary to equip it with a compact scope and light mounts such as Weaver two-piece bases with alloy rings. The test rifle was accompanied by a Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40 CDS-ZL which was attached using a pair of Weaver bases and alloy medium-height rings. The combination weighed a neat 3kg with scope and mounts, making it a joy to carry no matter how steep and rough the mountains were.

Although testing was carried out on hot day we didn’t have to wait for the barrel to cool between shot strings since the carbon-wrapped barrel cooled faster than a conventional barrel of similar mass. 

The carbon wrap promotes thermal dissipation and harmonic damping through its effect on the barrel’s harmonic signature. Barrels, like a tuning fork, vibrate when fired. The carbon-fibre wrap acts as a mechanical interrupter by limiting vibrations. 

The fibre’s high modulus of elasticity lowers the amplitude of the vibrations by increasing their frequency, thus, theoretically at least, it has the ability to improve accuracy.

The Ultralite barrel wrapped in a sleeve of carbon-fibre actually promotes heavy-barrel performance from a featherweight rifle. 

It is also claimed that barrel life is greatly increased into the bargain.

The composite wrap is very tough — it takes diamond tooling to machine it — and stands up well to heavy hunting and shooting wear and tear. 

At first I thought I would prefer a Savage Lightweight Hunter with slim, trim walnut stock, but once I started shooting the Ultralite I changed my mind. 

I’ve tested a number of light rifles that shot three-shot groups of an inch or less, but it is most unusual for an Ultralite rifle to consistently land five shots with five different bullet weights into near one-inch groups. 

The Ultralite did this time after time. You can depend upon the Ultralite to hold a constant point of impact and deliver its bullets where they will do the most good.

Choosing loads from among the variety of factory .30-06 ammunition on hand, I put the rifle through its paces. The results are listed in the accompanying table.

Savage 110 Ultralight review

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Manufacturer: Savage Arms
  • Type: Turnbolt-action, centrefire
  • Receiver: Blueprinted, stainless steel
  • Calibre: 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 270 Win, .280 Ackley, 28 Nosler, .30-06 (tested), .300 WSM
  • Barrel: 560mm, carbon-wrapped stainless steel, 1:10 twist
  • Magazine: Detachable, 4-round box
  • Sights: None, drilled and tapped 8-40 for bases
  • Trigger: AccuTrigger single-stage adjustable from 680 grams to 1.8kg
  • Stock: synthetic; LOP and comb height adjustable; drop at comb 10mm; drop at heel, 15mm
  • Overall length: Long action 1090mm; Short action 1078mm
  • Weight: Long action, 2.85kg; short action, 2.27kg
  • Indicative price: From $3000 (2022)
  • Distributor: NIOA

 

 

 


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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.

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