August 22, 2023
Savage owners know that 110 models are one of the most affordable, accurate factory rifles on the market. If you dig a little deeper though, you’ll realize its unique design can adapt as your shooting needs change. I recently have been yearning for a multi-purpose 110 rifle that I can use for hunting or precision shooting and maybe upgrade down the road for another cartridge or pursuit. For now, I was looking at a rifle that could serve as a precision and hunting rifle. The 110 Tactical Desert fit the bill, especially since it is offered in 6mm Creedmoor, a popular long-range shooting cartridge.
What makes this model tactical is the oversized bolt handle, Law Enforcement Beavertail stock, detachable magazine, and 20 MOA Picatinny optic rail. The oversized bolt handle gives a surehanded hold when cycling the bolt with gloved or bare hands. The stock’s forend is the Beavertail part and flares out with a flat bottomed, improving stability when resting the forend on a wall or other surface. For feeding ammunition, the Tactical Desert uses AICS compatible detachable magazine, giving the shooter 10 rounds and quick reloads. Since tactical rifles may engage targets at 600 yards or more, the Picatinny rail is canted in the front to give a scope an extra 20 MOA of elevation travel. All these features benefit long-range shooting and most are common on precision rifles.
Weighing 9 pounds, the Tactical Desert has a 26-inch carbon steel barrel and Savage’s AccuStock. The barrel profile is heavy and capable of shooting 10-round strings from a 6mm or 6.5mm Creedmoor without the barrel getting crazy hot and spewing rounds. The 6mm Creedmoor model has a 1:7.5-inch twist barrel which allows it to stabilize the long, heavy, low-ballistic-coefficient (BC) bullets that are popular in long-range shooting. The model is also available in 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, and .300 Win. Mag., each with a different barrel length and twist rate.
The AccuStock is one of the better standard polymer stocks on the market in this price range and can pull crossover duties thanks to its adjustability and beavertail forend. It includes four buttstock spacers to adjust the length of pull from 12.75 to 13.75 inches, as well as five cheekpieces of different heights to center your eye to the optic. The forend is decked out with two sling studs while the buttstock has one. The two on the forend are so you can run a bipod and sling simultaneously.
More importantly there’s a partial aluminum chassis embedded in the stock. The aluminum chassis runs the length of the receiver and into the forend. The chassis supports the sides and bottom of the receiver while the recoil lug is anchored against it, greatly minimizing flex and improving precision and shot-to-shot consistency.
The AccuTrigger is also a boon to accuracy and such an innovative design that, in the 20 years since it was introduced, most other production rifle companies have been inspired to create their own versions. What’s unique about the trigger is the thin AccuRelease blade that bisects the trigger shoe. The blade blocks the sear from disengaging and releasing the firing pin. When the blade is fully depressed, the block moves out of the way for the sear to release the firing pin. The design gave Savage the freedom to create a light sear engagement yet not risk sear disengagement due to drops or hard impacts. By adding this safety lever, Savage was able to decrease trigger press weights down as low as 1.5 pounds without compromising safety. A lighter trigger means the rifle will move around much less when pressed. The trigger is adjustable from 1.5 pounds to 5.5 pounds.
Two features that make a Savage 110 platform popular are that the barrel is fitted to the action via a barrel nut, and the bolt head is removable. The barrel nut design allows a gunsmith or skilled DIY-er to replace the barrel with only Go/No Go Gauges, a barrel vice, a barrel nut wrench, and a torque wrench. There’s no machining involved to set headspace like many thread-on barrels. On top of that, if you choose to move to a cartridge with a larger or smaller bolt face, like 6mm Creedmoor to a 6.5 PRC, or 6mm Creedmoor to a .223 Rem, just swap out the bolt head. So long as the cartridge stays with the same size action, you should be good to go. This is great for those of us who may want to shoot the latest and greatest cartridge without spending the money for a new rifle.
Savage’s barreled action design is so popular that many barrel manufacturers like Proof Research, Shaw Custom Barrels and Helix 6 Precision offer pre-fit/drop-in barrels. Replacement bolt heads are available from Gun Shack and Pacific Tool and Gauge.
Shooting the Tactical Desert for accuracy test showed me that this rifle is a shooter. I shot Hornady Black 103 gr BTHP, Hornady Precision Hunter 105 gr BTHP, and Nosler Match Grade 115gr RDF. The average group sizes of three, three-shot groups were .46, .71, and .90 inch respectively.
Some of the standouts of this rifle were the trigger and bolt. The trigger came from the factory dialed in at 2 pounds, 5 ounces, and offered a predictable press and break. The bolt cycled smoothly with no binding or major side-to-side play allowing for fast follow up shots. The large bolt handle provided extra leverage on the 90-degree bolt and kept my fingers from thunking the large ocular lens of the Arken EP5 scope that I mounted for the test. Recoil was manageable but I’ll be adding a muzzle brake to tame recoil and muzzle rise.
Overall, the Tactical Desert makes for a great multi-purpose rifle. As it is, I can take it hunting or shooting steel at long range. Thanks to its extensive aftermarket support I can turn it into a .223 precision trainer without having to buy a new rifle. That’s the beauty of a buying Savage rifle, you will never outgrow it.
Savage 110 Tactical Desert Rifle
- Type: Bolt-action, centerfire
- Overall Length: 48.5 in.
- Cartridges: 6mm Creedmoor (tested), 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .300 Win Mag
- Capacity: 10
- Stock: AccuStock, polymer with partial aluminum chassis
- Receiver: Steel, matte black flash nitride finish
- Trigger: AccuTrigger, adjustable, 2 lbs., 5 oz. (tested)
- Barrel: 26 in. (tested)
- Weight: 9 lbs., 4 oz. (tested)
- Sights: none, 20 MOA rail
- MSRP: $869 (tested)
- Contact: Savage, 800-370-0708, savagearms.com
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