• Savage Arms Model 110 Apex XP Stainless .30-06 Review

    For roughly a half century Savage Arms has been a leader and an innovator when it comes to offering ready-to-hunt package rifles. As early as in the mid-1960's Savage was offering their Model 110 rifle factory fitted with a Savage branded optical sight. Through the 1970's and early 80's Savage continued to offer package options, though not consistently. In the late 1980's and early 1990's under Ron Coburn's leadership Savage put more focus on their package offerings and they ultimately became a mainstay in the line-up. As a result the various package rifle offerings have become some of their best selling centerfire models.

    For 2019 Savage Arms has added yet another new line of package rifles to their catalog with the Model 110 Apex XP series. Like many of the other package models currently offered by Savage, the new Apex XP line is based around the Model 110 utilizing an Axis-style detachable magazine. What sets the Apex XP series apart however is that it features a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40mm optic.

    Standard 110 three-position safety and cocking indicatorAccording to my source at Savage Arms they received a significant number of requests from their customers in recent years to offer a package topped with a Vortex scope. This is not surprising considering how hugely popular the Vortex brand of optics has become in the last decade or so due to their offering good quality product at a very affordable price point.

    The rifle received for this review was the Model 110 Apex XP Stainless chambered in .30-06 Springfield (SKU# 57352) with a retail price of $749 at the time of this writing. The barreled action on this model is your standard fare stainless 110 action fitted with a 22" sporter barrel that measures just under 0.6" at the muzzle. The action features a standard small bolt handle with knurling on the top surface, a jeweled bolt body, three-position safety and the ambiguous cocking indicator at the rear of the bolt. The action is also fitted with Savage's AccuTrigger with a pull weight range of roughly 2.5 to 6-lbs.

    The stock used on the Apex XP models is a basic synthetic stock with no internal aluminum chassis or bedding block. Unlike the AccuFit stock with adjustable comb height offered on the premium models, the Apex XP's stock only offers adjustment to the length-of-pull via spacers. The stock features nicely textured panels in the grip and forearm areas which are accentuated by additional styling grooves. The buttpad is nice and soft to absorb and cushion recoil from harder kicking rounds like the .30-06.

    Stock features an adjustable length-of-pull via included spacers.As noted, the optic included with the Apex XP is a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40mm and it is mounted using a set of what appear to be aluminum Vortex Hunter rings and an EGW zero taper picatinney rail. This is the same Vortex Crossfire II that you could purchase from any reseller, not a lesser quality variant made specifically for Savage.

    Out of the box the first thing I noticed was that Savage did a rather poor job of mounting the scope on the rifle. As is typical the base screws were not adequately tightened and the crosshair was a good 15-20 degrees off from being level. Other than that there really wasn't anything obvious that jumped out at me good or bad. The metal finish was good, the stock didn't have any offensive mold separation lines to contend with, and the trigger was set to just shy of 3-pounds from the factory.

    Federal Premium was kind enough to supply an assortment of ammunition for my testing, and I also used up some Hornady and Remington ammunition which I had left-over from last year's review of the Savage 110 Storm in .30-06. I used the what Remington 150gr Core-Lokt ammunition I had remaining to get the scope zeroed at 100 yards as in my experience it's never been very consistent when shooting groups. All accuracy testing was shot at 100 yards and all groups consisted of three shots.

    Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40 optic and EGW picatinney rail.The Hornady American Whitetail 150gr Interlock ammo was up first and put in a good show as usual for a factory hunting load with groups falling in the 3/4" to 1-1/4" range. Recoil with this load was very manageable with the soft recoil pad making it a good choice for more recoil sensitive hunters.

    Next up was the Federal Non-Typical 150gr SP ammo, which also proved to be very consistent in accuracy. Most all of the groups shot with this particular ammunition fell within the 3/4" to 1" range making it another excellent hunting option for you deer hunters.

    The Federal Premium 165gr and 180gr Barnes TSX loads seemed to be a little more fickle with this rifle. The 165gr load consistently shot in the 1 to 1.5 MOA window, while the 180gr groups ranged in size from 1" to 1-3/4". While this isn't horrible by most standards, it's not great either and I would expect better from ammo carrying such a premium price. Given these are solid copper bullets and are thus longer than traditional lead-core bullets of the same weight, the slight drop-off in accuracy could possibly be due to the bullet being slightly less stabilized. The 180gr load also packs a bit more punch, and after a long day of testing I'm not above claiming possible shooter fatigue as a cause either.

    Last on the list was the Federal Premium 168gr Berger Hybrid Hunter load. This load shot marginally better than the 165gr Barnes TSX load above with groups falling within the 3/4" to 1-1/2" range. That said, the bulk of the groups were MOA or better with only a few outliers (likely shooter error) being over MOA.

    Vortex Deadhold BDC reticleIn conclusion the new Apex XP performed extremely well and proved to be what I expected it to be - another fine package rifle from Savage Arms that should serve it's owners well in years to come. Functionally it worked flawlessly with no feeding, extraction or ejection issues. As to be expected the AccuTrigger provided a clean, crisp break with negligible over travel. The ergonomics of the stock are good providing a nice open grip and slightly higher comb to better align the eye with the scope.

    The Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40mm optic is a nice step up from some of the scopes offered on Savage's package rifles in the past from Bushnell and Simmons. It features Vortex's Deadhold BCD reticle, which I greatly prefer over the ballistic reticle offered in the Nikon scopes Savage uses with the Trophy Hunter package guns. While not on the same level as some of the higher end optics I'm used to using the Crossfire II is a good serviceable optic with better than average glass. The only obvious negative I found with it was a fair amount of curvature of field around the edge and a slight bit of chromatic aberration. The turrets offer crisp, well defined clicks and in my limited use seemed to be accurate and consistent enough for hunting purposes.

    Federal Premium ammunition used during testing.Overall I think the new Apex II XP package makes for a very serviceable hunting rifle and I am glad to see Savage offer it in both blued and stainless steel options. It's a nice step forward from the Trophy Hunter XP package rifles with the updated stock design and adjustable length-of-pull, and the Vortex Crossfire II is a bit better scope than the Nikon's offered on the Trophy Hunter's.

    When you factor in the added value of the components you get with the Apex XP it becomes very obvious just how good of a deal they really are. The Apex XP in stainless can be purchased online for around $550. The Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40 typically sells for around $150 at most online retailers. The Vortex Hunter rings generally run around $20, and the EGW picatinney rail usually sells for $60 or so. All in that's $230 worth of packaged product. Subtract that from the $550 package price and you have a mere $320 in the base rifle itself. That's less than what you'd spend on an Axis II Stainless.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. celltech's Avatar
      celltech -
      As always, great review Jim!

      Most of your groups seem to have 2 close together and then a flyer...was that usually the 3rd shot? And maybe Savage should offer a premium package where they actually chase the scope hole threads, tighten the base, level the scope and boresight it. I think people would pay $25 extra for that
    1. J.Baker's Avatar
      J.Baker -
      Not always the third shot, but I think part of the spread was due to the front sling swivel stud catching on the front bag and affecting the recoil of the rifle in the bags. I noticed a big dimple in my bag from it when I packed up to go home.
    1. Robinhood's Avatar
      Robinhood -
      Thanks Jim, I always enjoy your writing and style. Looks like a new design on the BAS. Or at least this is the first I've seen.