By Bruce Potts
Monday, 18 January 2010
The Savage 11 BTH rifle is a refined but inexpensive piece of vermin control equipment.
Savage 11 BTH rifle review.
Savage has always been able to cater for the sportsperson who wants a dependable and accurate rifle but doesn’t want to pay through the nose for it.
That’s why early Savages were functional but lacked refinement. Today you can have your cake and eat it, as the new models that come from the Westfield Massachusetts factory in the US are all superbly finished and available in styles and calibres to suit any shooter in Britain.
The Model 11 BTH is one such rifle.
It combines the updated version of the time-tested 110 series action available in short or long forms, dependent on calibre, and comes in wood, synthetic or laminated thumbhole designs.
All exteriors are now finished with attention to detail so that you get a handsome rifle, which shoots as well as it looks.
STOCK, ACTION AND BARREL
The most striking feature on this model is the stock design and the way it handles when shouldered.
The stock is fashioned from weather-resistant laminate material with alternating dark and light hardwood layers. It’s visually very striking and the epoxied laminates form a strong chassis to which the action can be bedded with little chance of your initial rifle zero shifting, even in the worst downpour.
The finish is a thick matt lacquer, which is practical but very slippery as there is no chequering on the stock.
Instead, the thumbhole section affords a good enough grip and the fore-end has three slots cut through. This, combined with the rounded 1.5in wide fore-end section, compensates for the lack of chequering.
Those slots are there to aid barrel cooling but they also give the BTH its distinctive look. There is a nice cheekpiece to the butt and the length of pull is 13.75in.
The thumbhole is 1.5in diameter so offers an easy access for the supporting hand to grip. A solid rubber recoil pad finishes off the stock as does a set of quick detachable sling swivel studs.
Derived from the timeless 110 action, it is constructed from a solid tubular single piece of steel, which gives integral strength and is the basis for any rifle’s potential accuracy.
The bolt has the characteristic dual forward locking lug system common to Savage rifles.
This allows a precise lock-up on the foremost lugs while the twin rear lugs act as a guide through the action raceways to ensure non-twisting of the bolt travel and precise lock-up on closing the bolt. The bolt is substantial - 0.690in in diameter and 6in long - and on this model has a jewelled finish.
The entire action is beautifully blued with a rich lustre that matches the barrel and makes it stand out.
The bolt handle still has that imprinted chequering to its top but its straight-line profile and quite high arcing movement make it smooth to operate and that’s what counts, as does the lock time, which is fast, and so should contribute to some good accuracy in field tests.
The barrel is chromoly and is a handy 22in in length with a muzzle diameter of 0.6in that comes factory-threaded with a 0.5in UNF thread as standard.
The barrel is beautifully blued and is free-floated from the fore-end for its entire length, again contributing to the fine accuracy and eliminating problems relating to warping of the fore-end in bad weather.
TRIGGER AND SAFETY
The AccuTrigger system designed by Savage allows the shooter to have a precise and light trigger pull but with a foolproof safety feature to make it reliable.
It can be adjusted due to a unique safety bar or interrupt system giving a safe let-off even after excessive adjustment by the owner.
The integral skeletonised lever within the trigger-blade, the AccuRelease, has to be depressed at the same time as the trigger.
If not, then a safety bar from the trigger drops and prevents you firing.
The adjustment range is from 1.5lb to 6lb, allowing you to cater for your own preference. It may look odd with that second subsidiary trigger-blade but it works and now features on most of the Savage range.
The safety catch on the tang at the rear of the action allows operation with little movement of the thumb. In the foremost position a red dot appears, meaning the rifle can be fired.
In the middle position it is safe but you can unload the magazine as the bolt is still operational. The final position is rearmost, locking the trigger sear and bolt.
Combine this with its excellent trigger mechanism and you can feel safe.
ACCURACY AND TARGETS
I tested a variety of factory ammunition and most made 1in three-shot groups at 100 yards.
Some of the heavier bullets did not stabilise sufficiently (60-grain and above), though the Winchester Supreme load was accurate, shooting a 50g bullet at 3,761fps into 0.95in groups consistently.
The .22-250 is a versatile round suited to vermin and fox control with the lighter fast bullets, or deer control where legal with the heavier more controlled expanding bullets provided that the rifling twist stabilises them.
The best reload came from the blisteringly fast 40-grain V-Max reload with maximum velocity from the 22in barrel at 3,901fps and 0.65in accuracy at 100 yards.
When zeroed at 100 yards you are only 1.6in low at 200 or 7.5in low at 300 yards.
The BTH has a hinged floorplate design magazine, not a detachable one as on some Savage rifles.
The capacity is four shots in .22-250 calibre, which are loaded through the receiver from the top.
The metal floorplate is released by pushing the release catch back which pops a hinged catch and allows the floorplate to swing free and release the cartridges.
Slotted through the trigger-guard is a toggle sliding catch that when pushed rearward reveals one of the two stock screws and acts as a bolt release.
This only works on first lifting the bolt as this cocks the trigger, and if you take this section apart when you want to disassemble the rifle for cleaning, it is difficult to reassemble.
Always read the manual!
Apart from some of the heavier bullet weights the Savage proves accurate with factory or reloads
Despite the stock’s shiny surface, the Model 11 thumbhole stock gave a good shooting position
The AccuTrigger system is safe and far better than most triggers on similar production rifles
It looks great and, being laminate in construction, is weatherproof so that the rifle’s zero will not shift
Savage rifles are always very good value and now they look even better
The rifle shot well over the chronograph and in the field, and the thumbhole stock offers good handling.
It is a good fox/vermin tool and its accuracy will appeal to stalkers. Its lightness makes it suited to smaller shooters.
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