Savage 110 GXP3 .223 Remington, $449
Whenever we hear the term package deal we cant help feeling this will be synonymous with compromise. At only $449 for rifle and scope, we feared we were in for a disappointment. But the Savage 110 GXP3 was a lesson in how to and where to save money.
The walnut stock was pleasingly sculpted and stained to a smooth low-gloss finish that highlighted its grain. Lacking a grip cap and featuring pressed, not cut, checkering, this was still a tasteful piece of woodwork.
The butt pad was featureless and thin, but adequate. It proved to be sticky and was always grabbing our shirts. We couldnt find the trap door to the enclosed magazine, because there is none. To empty the magazine without manipulating the bolt, you have to remove the action from the stock. This is done so by removing the two forward bolts underneath the stock.
Sitting atop the rifle was a Simmons 3-9X32mm scope held in place by two single-bolt rings. The optics and rifle performed well together, firing the Federal Gold Medal 69-grain Sierra Matchking BTHP into a couple of 0.9-inch groups, but the average landed at 1.1 inches. Our Black Hills ammunition shot groups from 1.2 to 1.5 inches, which just a few years ago would have rated superb for an off-the-shelf rifle shooting factory fodder. The Hornady VX in this gun was even better, tying the Remington for best group at 0.7 inch and notching average five-shot groups dead on at 1.0 inch.
Savage supplied a proof target displaying a five-shot group measuring about 0.6 inch firing the same Federal cartridge. You can see that we almost matched this accuracy with both the Federal and Hornady rounds without the benefit of a windless tunnel or gun vise.
How did Savage produce a near sub-MOA rifle that sells with scope for less than many shooters spend on a scope alone? We suspect it is because they paid attention to carefully machining and assembling parts, choosing and expertly mounting a complementary scope, and properly bedding a floating barrel. Testing the amount of float at the forend with dollar bills, we could stuff more $50 bills between the barrel and stock than it takes to buy this excellent package gun.