• Savage's MSR10 Hunter in .308 Winchester

    First impressions of the MSR10 Hunter upon arrival were very good and quite surprising to say the least. What shocked me most about the rifle was that it didnít feel any heavier than my carbine length Smith & Wesson M&P15-TS. This lighter weight is primarily due to Savageís shortening of the receivers and bolt carrier group, and for most the weight savings will be greatly welcomed as AR-10ís arenít typically known for being lightweight.

    As I started looking the rifle over more closely I was very impressed with the overall quality of the components and assembly. Proper stakes were found on all the parts that should be staked, the hard black anodized finish on all the aluminum parts was very uniform and consistent, as was the melonite finish of the barrel and muzzle brake.

    The Blackhawk Knoxx grip offers a very comfortable feel in the hand, but myself and most everyone else who handled the rifle noted that it seemed to have a very short reach to the trigger. After some measuring and comparing I found that the reach on the MSR10 is approximately 0.015″ shorter than that of a standard AR-15. This difference was consistent across the four different grips tested on both platforms, but due to the shape of the backstrap on the Knoxx grip it feels much shorter.

    The Blackhawk AR Blaze trigger was also a very pleasant surprise with an out-of-box pull weight averaging 3.1 pounds. The trigger has some noticeable take-up, but the reset is reasonably short Ė at least compared to a standard mil-spec trigger. The break on the Blaze trigger isnít as crisp as it is with my Rock River Arms Two-Stage Varmint trigger, but I can definitely live with it.

    The Blackhawk Axiom Carbine butt stock is also very comfortable and the honeycomb rubber butt pad does a good job of taming the recoil. The location of the adjustment lever to change the length-of-pull took a little getting used to , but I do like itís placement and the design is much better than that of the standard mil-spec carbine stock. QD sling mounts are also incorporated into either side of the Axiomís adjustment lever which may not be the best place for them.

    My favorite piece of furniture on the MSR10 Hunter however is the slim and trim M-Lok forearm which is made by Midwest Industries (MI). While most forearms are round in shape, this one is more oval shaped making it thinner than it is tall so it lays very well in the hand. Both of my personal ARís are fitted with Troy Industries Alpha rails which are smaller in diameter than most of your round free-float tubes and quad rails, but this rail from MI is even slimmer. I did have to purchase a Magpul M-Lok bipod adapter separately be be able to mount my Harris bipod to the rifle, and I feel Savage should provide at minimum one short length of compatible rail with the rifle for mounting such accessories.

    Bushnell Optics was nice enough to extend their loan of the previously reviewed Elite Tactical DMR-II Pro 3.5-21x50mm rifle scope so that I could use it for this review as well. A set of Tasco aluminum 34mm high rings was used, though it should be noted this placed the scope higher than ideal which resulted in a poor cheek weld.

    Federal Premium was kind enough to provided a selection of ammunition for this review. The list is as follows:

    • Federal Premium 150gr Trophy Copper
    • Federal Premium Big Game 165gr Partition
    • Federal Premium Edge TLR 175gr
    • Federal Fusion 180gr
    • American Eagle Predator & Varmint 130gr JHP

    In terms of accuracy I found Savageís MSR10 Hunter to provide a similar level of accuracy of what I typically get from my other AR/MSR-type rifles when shooting factory ammunition. I say that because I have never been able to shoot rifles of this type as accurately as I can most any other type of rifle. The ergonomics just are not to my liking with the shorter reach to the trigger and the angle of the grip. Try as I might Iíve just never been able to get very comfortable or consistent with AR/MSR-type rifles.

    That said I still managed a few sub-MOA groups with the MSR10 Hunter. Groups at 100 yards didnít fare as well as those at 200 yards, but thatís probably more shooter or conditions related than ammo or firearm related. Numerous 100-yard groups had four shots touching and one outlier. Best group at 100 yards was right at one-inch and was shot with Federal Premiumís Big-Game 165gr AccuBond load.

    Groups at 200 yards were a little better with a couple coming in at just over 1/2 MOA. Best group at this distance was shot with the Federal Premium 150gr Trophy Copper load and came in at 1-1/4 inches. Federalís Big-Game 165gr AccuBond load wasnít far behind with a best of 1-1/2 inches.

    During testing the adjustable gas system on the MSR10 Hunter made fine tuning the rifle to a given type of ammunition quick and easy. Ensuring the gas system is tuned for the ammunition at hand offers the shooter three key benefits:

    • minimizes recoil
    • lessens wear on rifle components
    • ensures proper cycling of the system

    Adjusting the gas system is as simple as turning the adjustment knob clockwise or counter-clockwise using the tip of a bullet or anything with a small enough diameter tip (screwdriver, allen wrench, etc) to fit the 4 holes in the knob. If the rifle cycles properly with the first shots, you can try adjusting the gas system down a couple of clicks and try again. Continue until the rifle fails to cycle properly, then start working up one click at a time until the rifle cycles reliable and consistently.

    Comments 5 Comments
    1. celltech's Avatar
      celltech -
      Great article Jim! I love reading about AR-10's as I got the bug to build one 6 months ago. I settled on an Aero Precision M5E1 platform and tried to keep it as light as reasonablly possible. I ended up right at 8 lbs.

      So the Savage claims they are 7.8 lb, did you actually weigh it? What is the profile on that barrel? It looks pretty chunky at the muzzle and maybe fluted under the handguard? As mine has an 18" barrel and a full rifle length gas system I went minimalist with the MFT stock. I am shocked how soft shooting it feels considering it's a .308.

      Even though you say the handguard is thin I still wish all the vendors would get rid of the mostly useless top rail, like the Atlas-S systems. That would turn this rifle into a more serious, hard hitting, GTW companion.

      Thanks as always for the great articles...we appreciate all you put into the site!

      Attachment 5453
    1. J.Baker's Avatar
      J.Baker -
      Weight: Yes, it came in just a touch over 7 3/4 lb so the claimed weight is pretty spot on.

      Barrel profile was thicker than I thought it would be given the light weight but I didn't measure actual diameters. Yes it is fluted under the forearm.

      Hunter comment - that was just a little tongue-in-cheek humor since it's setup very similar to a M4 carbine (16" barrel, collapsible stock, etc).

      I don't mind the top rail, it gives you a place to mount a front back-up sight if you want to run them.
    1. big honkin jeep's Avatar
      big honkin jeep -
      Here are a couple of my observations using a full size "heavy" AR. Not a Savage but I picked up a.308 chambered modern sporting rifle many moons ago with visions of it being a "hunting rig". The one I picked up was a DPMS LR .308 with an A2 style stock and 24" stainless fluted barrel. It will barely close in a 38" zippered case. It weighs over 11# empty with no glass, sling or bi pod and I tuned it up a little further with a Chip McCormick trigger (The factory trigger sucked) and a JP recoil eliminator brake. The accuracy is flat out awesome and rivals some of my better shooting bolt actions, BUT... All my envisioned advantages quickly went out the window when I tried to hunt from a wooden 4'x4' box blind with veiled windows, carpet, shooting rails, and a comfy swivel office chair looking over a green field. One would think that such an ideal blind setup would make it a piece of cake but here are some of the shortcomings I found with my particular rig. The length weight and bulk were very cumbersome to manipulate within the blind or get out the window. It seemed that the magwell (even with a 4 round hunting mag) and the hand grip were just protrusions to hang on to, or bang into stuff and make noise when trying to silently move the rifle while watching out the window. I found the round hand guard did not lend itself to propping up steady on a flat shooting rail like the flat bottom side of a typical hunting rifle fore end. The scope mounts so high on an AR because their is no drop at the comb due to the buffer tube that high or extra high rings must be used which makes the vertical profile of the rifle extremely tall. Especially if you count the distance from the top of the scope turret to the bottom of the mag or grip. I'm running a 6.5-24x50 Vortex on mine and once I did manage to get the muzzle out the window I found myself looking at the wall of the blind above the window as the narrow blind windows, Which I'd never had a problem with before, suddenly weren't tall enough. I finally left the comfort of the box blind and tried to hunt prone in some sagebrush from a mat. Yeah it wound up being kind of a miserable hunt.
      On the other hand I do have an accurate and fun range toy. A fella at the range commented "Nice ammo waster" My reply was " Take a look at my target" "It's only wasting ammo when they don't all go dead center"
      Anyway maybe try out some of the other AR10 or SR25 rifles on the market and I think you'll agree that A flat top with a shorter lighter configuration weighing 7.5# is much better suited as a "Hunter" than most of the rest of what's out there. Sounds to me from your review like they trimmed it up pretty well to match the application. Thanks for the review.
    1. celltech's Avatar
      celltech -
      I think that once you get an AR-10 to the 8lb and below point you are on to something. Now I would still take a true lightweight rifle if I was slogging through miles of brush, but this is a handy, hard hitting, and easy to shoot rifle. I am still working on the weight and profile of mine and have a thinner handguard on the way. My biggest hinderances to consistancy were the trigger...taken care of by a LaRue MBT...and the very lightweight MFT stock. That one I am still working out my technique on. But man...it this thing fun to shoot, way less felt recoil than any of my bolt guns including a heavy 12FV. And it's accurate enough at this point.
    1. Tallowbox's Avatar
      Tallowbox -
      Sounds much like the discussion which went on for a year or more about naming the winery I envisioned and helped establish. Yep finally the board voted to use the name I first proposed.

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