January 04, 2023
The Savage Model 110 bolt-action rifle has been serving hunters for more than 60 years. It's gone through numerous changes during that time, including changes in its manufacturer’s ownership, and has been offered in hundreds of variations and chamberings. The 110's original reputation was one of affordability, retailing for 20 percent to 30 percent less than competing bolt-action rifles in its early years. It quickly gained esteem for accuracy as well, and these two qualities combined earned the 110 high marks for value.
During the last two decades, Savage has advanced the 110 by including smart, new design features while continuing to offer its flagship rifle at reasonable prices. One of the latest variations, the Ultralite, is a great example of the company’s penchant for providing hunters with rifles having modern upgrades that remain within most budgets.
As its name suggests, the Ultralite is a lightweight version of the 110 made for backcountry pursuits or any hunt where a day will add miles to your boots. Of course, you don't have to hike over half a dozen ridges to appreciate how easy it is to carry the Ultralite. A still-hunt, for example, when the best place for your rifle is in your hands at all times and not over your shoulder, is another situation where the Ultralite shines. You may only cover 300 yards in three hours, but keeping a heavy rifle at the ready can lead to fatigue over time. I doubt this will be an issue with the Ultralite.
Weighing just 5.8 pounds in .308 Win., the 110 Ultralite is almost 1 1/2 pounds lighter than the standard 110 Hunter. Most of the weight savings comes from the Ultralite having a Proof Research carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel rather than a typical steel barrel. The Proof Research barrel starts as a 416R stainless steel blank, which is thinned between the chamber and the muzzle, reducing both weight and profile. Proof Research then rebuilds the barrel contour by wrapping the thinned area of the blank with high-strength carbon fiber bound with a proprietary resin. The resulting barrel is both stronger and up to 64 percent lighter. In addition, the carbon fiber improves heat dissipation and reduces harmonic vibration, which lessens shifts in point of impact. The barrel on the Ultralite has five-groove, single-point cut rifling, and the muzzle has 5/8x24 threading to accept a suppressor. It comes with a flush-fitting cap.
Another place where Savage reduces weight is in the receiver. Instead of the round contour of most 110 receivers, the Ultralite’s stainless steel receiver is milled with flat sides having rectangular recesses where material has been removed. A durable, corrosion-resistant Melonite finish covers the receiver. Spiral fluting on the bolt further reduces weight, although to a smaller degree than the receiver cuts and the carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel.
Savage blueprints the receiver to ensure that critical surfaces are square to the receiver’s center line. The barrel is secured to the receiver with Savage’s hallmark barrel nut, which allows for precise headspacing, with the recoil lug sandwiched between the two. As with all Model 110 rifles, the Ultralite has a two-lug bolt with a floating head that permits the lugs to self-center in the barrel recesses to achieve ideal lockup. All these design features contribute to excellent accuracy.
The Savage AccuTrigger helps hunters realize that accuracy. It’s user-adjustable with a small tool (keep it somewhere safe) for a pull weight of 1 1/2 to 4 pounds. The rifle I tested came from the factory with the pull weight set at a little more than 2 1/2 pounds as measured with my digital trigger-pull scale. I detected no creep in the trigger pull. The AccuTrigger is one of those seemingly small upgrades that make a big difference when shooting at game from field positions. It’s a whole lot easier to hit where you’re aiming when you don’t have to wrestle with a stiff or spongy trigger while trying to hold steady.
Another feature of the Ultralite that helps hunters shoot the rifle to its greatest potential is the AccuFit stock. The composite stock comes with spacers and inserts that permit adjustments to length of pull and comb height. The polymer spacers nestle between the end of the buttstock and the recoil pad, and two screws secure them in place. Length of pull is adjustable from 12 3/4 to 13 3/4 inches in 1/4-inch increments by selecting one of the four spacers provided with the stock. Five comb inserts are also included. One follows the lines of the buttstock, and the other four increase in height in 1/8-inch increments. Find the one that allows you to acheive a solid cheekweld while maintaining a full field of view through the riflescope. You’ll shoot the Ultralite better, and more comfortably, when it fits you and your natural point of aim. Switching spacers and comb inserts does not require any special tools, and tailoring the Ultralite to your body should take less than 15 minutes. It’s time well-spent.
The fore-end of the stock is slim and, coupled with the rifle’s light weight, makes for a gun that’s easy to handle and point quickly. Overmolded panels on the stock’s fore-end and grip improve purchase in dry, dusty conditions as well as rain and snow. The Ultralite’s four-round magazine fits flush with the belly of the stock and complements the rifle’s streamlined form. The magazine requires some force to seat it within the well, but it latches tightly and feeds cartridges smoothly.
The three-position safety is located on the tang where it’s easy to access without altering your grip on the rifle. The middle position unlocks the bolt for cycling a round from the chamber but does not permit the rifle to fire. In front of the trigger guard is a cylindrical button that serves as the bolt release.
Some lightweight rifles have a reputation for being difficult to shoot well. From what I’ve seen during testing on the range and while hunting with the Ultralite, accuracy is as notable as the rifle’s weight. I fired a half-MOA group at 200 yards with my test sample—one of the best groups I’ve managed to get from a hunting rifle in quite some time. At 100 yards the Ultralite demonstrated sub-MOA performance with all three hunting loads I tested. Even better, on a recent trip to Alaska’s Kodiak Island, I used the Ultralite to take two blacktail bucks and a caribou with three shots at ranges of 170 to 230 yards. That’s the kind of accuracy Savage is known for and hunters will appreciate—especially when it comes in a rifle that weighs less than 6 pounds.
The Ultralite is available in a lefthand version as well as with a KUIU Verde 2.0 finish on the stock. With an MSRP of more than $1,600 for the base version, the Ultralite is at the upper end of the Savage price range. But realize there are many rifles that weigh about the same as the Ultralite and retail for more than $2,000. When you consider its features and weight, and compare them to other sub-6-pound rifles on the market, you’ll realize that Savage is still committed to providing hunters with value.
- Type: Bolt-action centerfire rifle
- Caliber: .308 Win. (tested)
- Barrel: 22"; Proof Research carbon-fiber-wrapped stainless steel; 1:10" twist rate
- Trigger: AccuTrigger; adjustable for 1 1/2- to 4-lb. pull weight
- Safety: Three-position tang
- Magazine: Detachable box; 4-round capacity
- Sights: None; receiver drilled and tapped for bases
- Finish: Matte black Melonite
- Stock: Synthetic AccuFit; adjustable for length of pull and comb height
- Overall Length: 42 1/2"
- Weight: 5.8 lbs.
- Info: savagearms.com
- MSRP: $1,649
- Load: Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X
- Bullet Weight: 178 grs.
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,558 fps
- Average Group: 0.87”
- Load: Remington Core-Lokt Tipped
- Bullet Weight: 150 grs.
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,761 fps
- Average Group: 1.03”
- Load: Federal Premium Terminal Ascent
- Bullet Weight: 175 grs.
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,573 fps
- Average Group: 0.76”
Muzzle velocity is the average of 10 consecutive shots fired through a Caldwell G2 chronograph at 10 feet. Accuracy is the result of five consecutive, three-shot groups fired from a sandbag rest at 100 yards.