• The Savage Model 110 Rifle: The Rest of the Story

    by Robert (Bob) Greenleaf

    This writer's article in the July 1997 issue of PS, "The Savage Model 110 Rifle", was not as detailed as it could have been for several reasons...not the least being the amount of space that the good Editor would allow for one article. Be that as it may, it should be pointed out that the Model 20 rifle used only one forging - the breech bolt. It used a receiver made from round bar-stock with a separate recoil lug twenty-eight years before Remington introduced the Models 721 and 722. It was, apparently, the first production high-power bolt action rifle so fabricated. In the factory it was known as the Model "U". The barrel thread was the same as used on the Model 99, which was the Model "B" in the shop.

    The Models 40 and 45 (Sporter and Super-Sporter) receivers wee also machined from round bar stock. They were extremely stiff, as their single-column magazines did not require wide openings on the bottom - 0.6" versus 0.9". The shell opening or ejection port was only 9/16" wide. It is hardly possible to make a repeating high-power bolt action receiver with narrower openings. The Schultz & Larsen rifles and the Remington Model 788 receivers were similar in concept; round bar-stock with rear lock-up, but ejection ports and magazine openings were wider and therefore the receivers were less stiff. They all stretched momentarily when fired, perhaps as much as 0.005". The S & L receivers were apparently based on the Savage Model 40/45 receivers, as they were all flat on both ends. The Models 40/45 were known as Model "S" in the factory. The magazines for both the Model "U" and "S" had recoil shoulders to prevent bullet tip battering when firing; a feature not yet universally adopted. Both of these rifles had to be discontinued because between World Wars I and II the traditional hunting rifle was the lever action rifle: the Savage 99, Winchester 94, and the Marlin 1893 and 1936.

    The list of cartridges available in the 112-V has been criticized as wrong or incomplete. The latter is more nearly correct as I had only shown those available in 1975 when the gun was introduced. In 1976 the 223 Remington was added. In 1978 only the 222 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 220 Swift, and 25-06 Remington were available. In 1979 the 112-V was replaced by the 112-R (repeater) in 22-250 Remington and 25-06 Remington and continued to the end of 1980, when the 112 series was dropped, to be be revived in the 1990's in the long action form.

    When Nicholas Brewer designed the Savage "high Power Bolt Action Rifle" that was introduced as the Model 110 he did it with the idea of it being offered eventually in short and left-hand versions. The rifle introduced in January 1958 had an action long enough for the .30-`06 and 270 Winchester cartridges that it was chambered for.

    In 1959, two additional cartridges, the 243 Winchester and the 308 Winchester, were available in a new short action, as well as left-hand left-hand versions of both the long and short actions. The difference in the maximum lengths of the .30-`06 and the 308 Winchester is 0.540" and this was the amount the receiver and the bolt were shortened. As far as the stock was concerned, it only meant moving the front action screw hole and the recoil lug abutment rearward the same amount.

    This arrangement, longs and shorts, existed until the late 1980's when the short action was discontinued for economic reasons, as new management tried every scheme necessary to reduce manufacturing costs while actually increasing quality. In rifles chambered for the short cartridges such as 223 Remington, 243 Winchester, 250 Savage, 300 Savage, and the 308 Winchester, a front baffle with a rearward extending leg was used to limit the bolt throw. While it did work, the more serious shooters complained, feeling that the balance of the 308 Winchester rifles, for instance, was too far forward, especially when longer, heavier, replacement barrels were installed.

    If you pray loud and long enough your wishes will likely come to pass, and Savage is now introducing a new shorter action. The new action will not look different at first glance, but it will be about 0.850" shorter than the present action or about 0.310" shorter than the original short action.

    This has been accomplished by moving parts closer together and in some cases by shortening parts. About 0.200" was eliminated by moving the magazine rearward to be closer to the bolt head. This should also facilitate loading the magazine from above. There were several people involved in various phases of this project. It was finally all put in working order by Carl B. Hildebrandt, Senior Product Engineer, an experienced forearms designer, and engineer Dan Borecki.

    In 1998 when the new short action rifles are introduced it will be noticed that they have new model numbers. Instead of three digits, such as 110, there will be only two. The first digit will be dropped so rifles with three digit model numbers will be known to have long actions.

    Short action rifles will be available in 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 243 Winchester, and 308 Winchester. There will be eighteen versions differing in stock material, barrel material, barrel length, left-hands, repeaters, and single-shots. Not all chamberings will be available in all versions but still it is not likely that there will be unconsummated wishes. Composition stocks will have two pillars and wood stocks will be adorned with new, pleasing, checkering designs.

    The Savage Model 110
    "The Rest of The Story"

    by Bob Greenleaf
    Originally published in Precision Shooting Magazine
    February 1998, Volume 45, No. 9
    Republished with permission of author

    Early Short Action Information

    As mentioned in the above article, Model 110 short action rifles were produced prior to 1998. These short actions are commonly referred to as "J-Series" rifles, although the series of the rifle has nothing to do with the action length. The various series (as Bob pointed out) was simply used by the factory to identify small design changes to certain parts or components of the rifle for the purpose of ensuring the proper replacement parts were used should the rifle ever be returned to the factory for repair.

    So how do you go about determining if you truly have an early short action or a long action? The easiest was is to simply measure the center-to-center spacing of the action screws. An early short action (Gen I) will have an action screw spacing of roughly 4.522". All long actions will have an action screw spacing of roughly 5.062". The newer short actions (Gen II - 1998-2007-ish) will have an action screw spacing of roughly 4.275".

    The latest short actions (Gen III - 2005-ish to present) will have an action screw spacing of 4.400". These actions are easily identifiable by their center-feed magazine. Blind center-feed magazines are not attached to the action like the old staggered-feed units, and thus will stay in the stock when you pull the barreled action. All detachable box magazine and hinged floorplate models with the magazine release on the bottom are Gen III actions.

    - Suppliment by Jim Baker