• Review: Savage Arms Model 110 Hog Hunter in .350 Legend


    In January of this year (2019) Winchester announced a new cartridge specifically aimed at deer hunters in those states which don't permit the use of traditional bottle neck centerfire rifle cartridges. In the past these states had limited to deer hunting with a firearm to handguns, muzzleloaders or shotgun slugs, but over the past several years those same states have changed their regulations to permit the use of straight wall centerfire rifle cartridges. This new cartridge from Winchester, the .350 Legend, sets it's crosshair squarely on the deer hunters in those restricted states.

    Savage Arms has since announced several different models of bolt-action rifles that are being offered in the new .350 Legend cartridge. Those models include the 110 Apex Hunter XP, 110 Apex Storm XP, 110 Engage Hunter XP, 110 Hog Hunter, Axis II XP (blued and stainless options), Axis XP (both blued and stainless), Axis and Axis II. Naturally all of the XP options come as package rifles with a factory mounted optic which varies depending on the model/package. As the title indicates, this article will focus on the 110 Hog Hunter which I received for evaluation.

    The 110 Hog Hunter is based around the standard Savage Model 110 short-action and features the familiar AccuTrigger which is adjustable from 3.5 to 6lbs. The bolt handle on the Hog Hunter is a large knob style similar to what's found on the Model 12 Varmint Series rifles, the difference being the end has a flat machined on it rather than being completely round. Other standard features include a bottom bolt release, three position safety and Axis-style detachable box magazine which holds four of the .350 Legend cartridges.

    The barrel of the 110 Hog Hunter is 18-inches in length with a heavier contour measuring 0.750" at the muzzle. The muzzle is threaded 5/8-24 to accept a muzzle device and comes equipped with a thread protector from the factory. The barrel is also fitted with iron sights, the rear being a ramp-style that is adjustable for both elevation and windage and the front being a dovetail ramp featuring a 0.095" brass bead. Twist rate for the .350 Legend is 1:16".

    The stock used on the 110 Hog Hunter models is a basic olive colored synthetic stock. Unlike the AccuFit stock which features an aluminum skeleton and adjustable comb height that is offered on the premium models, the Hog Hunter's stock has no reinforcement and only offers adjustment to the length-of-pull via spacers which are included. 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, though recoil is very mild with the .350 Legend cartridge. The ergonomics are good with a nice semi-open pistol grip and slightly higher comb to better align the eye with a scope.

    Overall length of the 110 Hog Hunter with a standard 13.75-inch length-of-pull is 38-1/8 inches and Savage provides a claimed weight of 7.06 pounds. The "as tested" weight with optic, mounts and a full magazine is 8.0 pounds. MSRP on the Model 110 Hog Hunter in .350 Legend is $599.00 at the time of this writing.

    For testing, a Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm CDS .350 Legend scope (sku#177910) with Duplex reticle was mounted using a set of DNZ Products Hunt Master mounts. Ammunition used during testing consisted of the following three types:


    After bore-sighting and zeroing the scope at 50 yards with the Winchester 150gr load accuracy testing was performed at both 100 and 200 yard distances with all three types of ammunition. All testing was performed from the bench using a Harris S-BR Swivel Bipod and a Protektor Low Profile Bunny Ear rear bag shooting three shot groups.

    At 100 yards all three types of ammunition shot fairly well with the majority of the groups measuring between 1 and 1.5 inches. The best 100 yard group measured 3/4 inches and was shot using the Hornady American Whitetail 170gr SP load. Worst group at 100 yards measured 1-7/8 inches and was shot with the Winchester Deer Season XP 150gr load. The aggregate group size for five 3-shot groups of each type of ammunition are as follows:

    Hornady American Whitetail 170gr SP = 1.075"
    Winchester Deer Season XP 150gr Extreme Point = 1.400"
    Winchester Super-X 180gr Power Point = 1.325"

    As you can see from the agg's all three types of ammunition shot very consistently and fairly well. One caveat I have to make is that the aggregate for the Winchester Deer Season XP 150gr Extreme Point was hampered due to one pulled shot on my part which resulted in the aforementioned 1-7/8" group that proved to be the largest group shot at 100 yards. Throwing out that group the Winchester 150gr load would have had a four group aggregate of 1.281 inches.




    Moving out to 200 yards things got pretty ugly with most groups falling into the 2.5 to 3.5 inch range. Best group at 200 was shot with the Winchester Deer Season XP 150gr load and measured 1-1/4 inches. Worst group at the same distance measured 3-3/4 inches and was shot with the Winchester Super-X 180gr load. The aggregate group size for five 3-shot groups of each type of ammunition are as follows:

    Hornady American Whitetail 170gr SP = 3.025""
    Winchester Deer Season XP 150gr Extreme Point = 2.375"
    Winchester Super-X 180gr Power Point = 2.700"

    The lack luster accuracy at 200 yards can be attributed in part to my having an off day, but the sythetic stock also played a contributing roll as well. Savage's basic synthetic stocks are notorious for having a lot of flex in them, and shooting with them off a bipod really magnifies that weakness. The targets used for testing are the NRA 50-Yard Smallbore Prone targets which feature five 3-7/8 inch black bullseyes and any slight change in grip pressure would cause the crosshair to move quite a bit on the target due to the stock flexing which made it very difficult to maintain consistency from shot to shot and group to group.




    You will also note that most of the bullets hit low at 200 yards. The Leupold scope used in testing features their Custom Dial System (CDS) and is calibrated for the Winchester Deer Season XP 150gr load. With that load and the scope dialed to the 200 yard mark on the turret cap the rounds were impacting 3/4" to 1" low at that distance. Shooting the Hornady American Whitetail 170gr load with the same setting had the rounds impacting 2 to 3 inches low. Shooting the Winchester Super-X 180gr load I had to dial in an additional 10 clicks (5") to get close to my aim point, which was right at the 350 yard mark on the CDS turret cap, though another click or two wouldn't have hurt as my groups were still a little below center. This was to be expected with the heavier, slower, flat-nosed bullet used with this load.

    I'm not sure what length barrel Winchester used to base their ballistic data on (I'm guessing 22" as that's what the barrel length is on the Winchester XPR rifles in his caliber), but clearly the 18" Savage barrel isn't getting the same velocity to match up with the CDS dial and Winchester's ballistics. Something to keep in mind if you you decide to put together a similar package with a Leupold VX-Freedom .350 Legend CDS scope.

    Impressions

    Build quality is very good as I have come to expect from Savage Arms over the years. The metal finish is flawless on both the action and barrel, and the stock is absent of any defects or sharp mold separation lines. The AccuTrigger came set at just over 4-pounds out of the box, which is as low as it would go using the factory supplied tool.

    As previously noted, the 110 Hog Hunter uses the Axis-style magazine and the example I received had the new and improved bottom cap and retention system. This new system is light years better than the old molded spring clip style used on Axis magazines in the past. The magazine still sits flush with the bottom of the stock which I prefer, and no changes were made to the stock so this new style magazine (or just the bottom cap) can be purchased and used in any older Savage rifle that use the Axis-style magazines.

    Feeding was one area where i had some issues with this rifle. The main issue that kept popping up was a failure of the bolt to pick up a round from the magazine. This issue I feel is a direct result of Savage once again dropping the ball when it comes to the magazine when adding new cartridges to their offerings. We have seen similar issues with the 6.5 Creedmoor rifles which use standard .308 Winchester magazines. We've seen it with 110 rifles chambered in .450 Bushmaster as well. Now we're seeing it again with the .350 Legend as Savage chose to use the standard .223 Remington magazine with this cartridge.

    The problem with using the .223 Remington magazine box is two-fold. First, with the .223 Rem case body diameter being 0.378" at the web (most actually measure closer to 0.372") and the .350 Legend having a case body diameter of 0.390" at the web (factory loads actually measure 0.384") it makes the .350 Legend rounds very difficult to load into the magazine. Secondly, due to the body diameter difference the .350 Legend rounds sit lower in the magazine leaving less protruding above the feed lips for the bolt face to catch.

    Extraction and ejection on this rifle were flawless with no issues to report. The three-position safety also functioned just as it should, as did the AccuTrigger with a nice clean break and negligible over travel.

    The only other issue to report was with the Hornady American Whitetail 170gr ammunition. For whatever reason, closing the bolt on this ammunition was very difficult. Chambering and ejecting an unfired round showed now visible sign that the bullet was jamming into the lands, so I can only assume that the stiff bolt closing is either a result of a slightly thicker case wall thickness at the mouth of the case or that the brass is a little long for the chamber. The Hornady brass is known to be a couple thousandths thicker at the mouth so that's a very viable possibility. With the .350 Legend headspacing off the case mouth, the brass being a little long could also be a very viable cause. I had no issues with the Winchester ammo, and measuring fired cases didn't show a noticeable difference in overall case length so I'm more inclined to lean towards the thickness of the Hornady brass being the root of the problem.

    While I didn't do any range testing using the iron sights, they are quality metal pieces that offer a good sight picture. My only complaint would be that the rear sight doesn't fold down and out of the way when using a scope as it is rather tall.

    Final Thoughts

    While overall I really like the size and configuration of Savage Arms Model 110 Hog Hunter, the synthetic stock and feeding issues leave me a little disappointed and underwhelmed. Had Savage taken the time to make a dedicated magazine box tuned for the .350 Legend cartridge and fitted this rifle with one of their AccuFit stocks or just a plain hardwood stock it would be a real winner, but that's not the rifle I received.

    I fully understand that the included stock is a cost-related choice made by Savage, but when you look at all the other models Savage is currently offering in .350 Legend one can't help but wonder why they wouldn't have put an AccuFit stock on the 110 Hog Hunter. Those wanting to purchase a bare rifle with a cheap stock to keep the cost down will look to the Axis and Axis II models which list at $225 and $171 less than the 110 Hog Hunter - easily enough of a difference in price to cover the cost of an aftermarket laminate stock in most cases. At this point Savage Arms doesn't offer a single premium grade model (with AccuFit stock and cartridge specific magazine) chambered in .350 Legend for those who want something more than an economy rifle or budget package rifle. The 110 Hog Hunter could easily be that rifle with two simple upgrades and the accompanying moderate increase in MSRP.

    As it sits though, the 110 Hog Hunter needs some work to be a ready-to-hunt rifle in my opinion. Tweaking the feed lips on the magazine box to get it to feed reliably won't be too much of an issue for those who have a bit of knowledge about working on firearms, but the reality is they shouldn't have to work on a brand new rifle to make it function properly. The factory stock is serviceable, but it is something I would recommend replacing if you are a stickler for consistent and repeatable accuracy. The adjustable length-of-pull is nice, but I would give that up in a heartbeat in favor of a stock that is rigid.

    If you are in the market for a rifle chambered in .350 Legend and absolutely have to have iron sights or a threaded muzzle the 110 Hog Hunter is your only option. If you can live without those features I would recommend going with one of Savage's less expensive models and used the money you will save to upgrade the stock.




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