• Savage Model 11 Trophy Hunter XP .223 Rem Review

    Let's face it, the vast majority of rifle owners out there are hunters, and as hunters they typically only pull their rifles out of the closet or gun safe for a few weeks a year for hunting season. Each fall they dig it out of the back corner of the safe, blow the dust off, search through their stockpile of ammunition for that half a box of rounds they had left over from the previous year, and they head out to the range. They take a few shots to verify it's zeroed or to re-zero and then they're done and satisfied - it's ready to hunt. The next week they go out and sit in their favorite deer stand for several days before finally taking one, possibly two shots to harvest their deer and that's all she wrote. At best they might shoot a box of 20 rounds through their rifle per year.

    For more than two decades now Savage Arms has catered to this market of hunters with their tried and true package rifles. Always offered in a wide variety of cartridges ranging from .223 Remington up to .300 Winchester Magnum, no matter what your quarry Savage offered a package rifle that would fit the bill. While essentially bare-bones models with no frills or luxuries, their low-cost hardwood or synthetic stock combined with a sporter contour barrel and a economy 3-9x40mm optic that was bore-sighted at the factory made it possible for most anybody to go straight from the gun store to the range and be putting rounds on paper - no muss, no fuss. And for those who only use their rifle a week or two a year for hunting, that's all they want and need.

    In 2012 Savage Arms upped the ante` in their Package Series when they released the new Trophy Hunter Series. Gone were the barely adequate Bushnell and Simmons 3-9x40mm scopes with standard duplex reticles, and in came a much nicer Nikon 3-9x40mm with their proprietary BDC ballistic reticle. To minimize any price increase, Savage also found new ways to manufacture certain parts and/or utilized parts from existing lines to offset the cost of the higher value scope. In the end you get essentially the same rifle with a much nicer optic for nearly the same money as before. Who couldn't be happy about that?

    The Trophy Hunter Series is based around the iconic Model 110 design and is equipped with most all of the same features and options as Savage's higher grade models (i.e. Weather Warrior, Classic, Varmint). The Trophy Hunter comes with the same 2.5 to 6-lb. AccuTrigger that is found on Savage's standard and Specialty Series hunting rifles, and it has the relocated bolt release the same as all the higher grade models.

    Where things start to differ is when you get to some of the smaller components. Both the bolt handle and rear baffle are unique to the Trophy Hunter and have obvious mold lines indicating either a different casting process or less clean-up work. The stock is unique to the Trophy Hunter series with it's own checkering pattern and I would suspect that Savage has employed the same new process they're using for the Axis stocks to minimize the per unit cost. Last but not least, the Trophy Hunter Series uses the same plastic bottomed detachable box magazine as is found in the Axis rifles rather than the higher grade (and more expensive) all metal arrangement found on the higher grade models. Again, it's all a matter of cutting costs where ever possible without affecting accuracy, durability or reliability to provide the best possible product for the best price - something Savage Arms has always excelled at.

    The big news though is the new Nikon optic. Anyone who's owned one of the previous generation of Package Rifles knows that the old Bushnell and Simmons scopes were barely adequate for your kids Rascal 22LR rifle and had no place on a centerfire rifle. Most people who bought the package rifles eighty-sixed the $20 scope as soon as they got it home and out of the box - usually giving it to one of their kids for their BB gun or 22 rimfire. I'm sure I'm not the only one who still has a few of those cheap old package scopes buried in the back of a drawer or collecting dust on a shelf somewhere.

    The new Nikon optic is a 3-9x40mm variable just like it's predecessors, but where the old ones had a standard heavy duplex reticle the new Nikon features their proprietary BDC Reticle. The optical clarity and resolution of the new Nikon optic is worlds better than it's predecessors as well, and the light gathering has thus far been more than sufficient for what I would consider any legal daylight hunting hours. In fact, the only real complaints I have seen regarding the new Nikon optic is that the eye-relief is a little on the short side and it's a little picky about eye alignment, but that's to be expected - it's still not a $300+ scope after all. No dust covers or flip-up caps are provided so you will need to source them on your own to keep the objective and ocular lenses clean and clear.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. maggiejcampbell's Avatar
      maggiejcampbell -
      I am a new owner of this rifle, having purchased about a month ago. I am having a problem with the magazine being a sloppy fit in the gun. The bolt constantly fails to load a round into the chamber. To load a round, I have to push up on the magazine with my hand and hold the magazine so the bolt will make contact with the round in order to load the round into the chamber. Is there a better quality magazine available for my rifle?