August 14, 2013

Savage 11/111 Lightweight Hunter No. 19209 308 Winchester, $899

Gun Tests magazine tested 308 Win. bolt rifles in the January 2013 issue. Here’s an excerpt of that report, used with permission:

The 308 cartridge lends itself to being chambered in light rifles. The cartridge performs quite well on deer-size animals, and also it’s lots of fun to plink with, given the easy accessibility to inexpensive ammo. For this test we looked at three light 308s. These were a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Compact ($880), a Savage 11/111 Lightweight Hunter ($899), and a Mossberg 4X4 No. 27656, $471). We were unable to obtain a walnut-stocked Mossberg for a better comparison, but they are offered at $624, quite a jump from the black-plastic-stocked test rifle. We tested with Remington Core-Lokt 150-grain, Winchester Super X 180-grain, and with Remington Core-Lokt 180-grain loads. Here’s what we found with one of the rifles:

Savage 11/111 Lightweight Hunter No. 19209 308 Winchester, $899

We’ve never seen quite as light a 308 rifle as the Savage, though the Kimber might come close. This one was easy to hold with one hand at arm’s length, though we didn’t try shooting it that way. The rifle came full of holes for lightness, and with a twisty-looking bolt, which also cut weight. The rifle had an empty weight, unscoped, of 5.8 pounds. The wood stock was a lesson in how to cut a rifle’s weight, as was the very slim barrel. The wood had vent holes in the bottom of the forend, and it was easy to see lots of the wood inside had been removed. It had two crosspins to avoid splitting.

The 20-inch barrel tapered to 0.564-inch diameter at the muzzle. The bottom metal was matte-black aluminum, as was the base of the magazine. The stock had a good Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad, nicely fitted. The walnut was well checkered in four panels, and there were sling studs fore and aft. There were no provisions for iron sights.

Gun Tests Magazine

With the classic and light Weaver K2.5 mounted, the Savage was the epitome of a light hunting rifle. Weve seen very few 308 rifles this light. The well-checkered and -finished walnut stock with its thick recoil pad was well proportioned, and the rifle felt just right.

The action also had cuts in it to lose weight. The cuts, which didn’t compromise the integrity of the lockup, were along the left rail, and around the rear bridge. The forward bridge had dual opposing gas ports. The rifle had a detachable magazine that held three rounds. The bolt fluting was stunning, to say the least. The exterior surface of the bolt body was milled with eight grooves 1⁄8-inch wide, cut in a spiral pattern. This took off weight, gave a place for oil to stick, and looked great because the bottoms of the grooves were blued while the bolt body was polished white.

Removing the bolt from the rifle required opening the bolt, pressing the trigger, and then pressing a button in front of the trigger guard to let the bolt out. Reinserting the bolt required pressing the trigger again. The rifle had a three-position tang safety, all the way back to lock, midway to work the bolt, and forward to fire. We liked that safety, its position and quiet operation. The rifle’s trigger was Savage’s AccuTrigger, the best in the business. It was set at just under 3 pounds. The bolt had a recessed face, sliding extractor, and a plunger ejector. Bolt travel was slick and smooth.

The Savage 11/111 also came with Weaver bases attached, which we thought was a mighty nice touch because we like them and use them all the time for testing rifles. This simplified our scope mounting. We had two scopes set up to drop onto this rifle, one a 36-power Lyman target scope, and the other the little 2.5 Weaver we tried on the 375 H&H Winchester Model 70 in a recent test. The little Weaver was our pick, and on it went. We can’t recall a rifle that we were more eager to shoot than this one.

Gun Tests Magazine

Heres a close look at the Savage bolt. The 11/111 had two gas vents on the action. The Savage and the Mossberg had similar bolt designs that had a recessed head, sliding extractor, and plunger ejection. Workmanship here was excellent.

On the range, we found the rifle to be easy to shoot and slick to handle, though the heavier bullets did give us some felt recoil. The good recoil pad made sure the rifle never hurt us. While the dedicated bench experimenter or fun shooter might want a heavier rifle, we thought that for a shot or two at game, this rifle is plenty heavy enough for its power. We found we could load the magazine with it in place, as we could the Mossberg’s magazine, but both were far easier to load when removed from the rifle. The Savage held three in the magazine, and we could load one in the chamber on top of that.

Our Team Said: We found the Savage 11/111 to be a mighty pleasant rifle in all ways. It was necessary to make sure the mag was securely seated and latched into the rifle. Feeding was slick and smooth, as was ejection. The fine trigger made testing this little 308 a happy experience. The rifle gave plenty of accuracy with even the heaviest bullets we tried, so we found the test target that came with the rifle, showing a small group with match ammo, was justified. Although the Winchester was prettier, this one was half a pound lighter. We’d buy this one.

Comments (5)

Some interesting comments..... I have always had an affinity for caliber .308 Winchester, from the time I purchased a Savage M99 in that caliber in 1966. With the proper loads and the proper techniques, the .308 is capable of doing just about anything one would want it to do. I still have my Savage M99, and I have added several other pieces in the same caliber to include an AR-10, SOCOM16, Saiga 308, and most recently a Ruger Gunsite Scout.....not to mention other turnbolt military pieces like my CETME FR-8. I have owned, and still do own other calibers of rifles, but in my estimation, the .308 will always be the most versatile.

Posted by: canovack | August 19, 2013 8:48 PM    Report this comment

I have never understood why people want ultra light guns. They heat up fast because of their skinny barrels, they kick like hell and roar and belch fire like dragons, making accurate shooting quite impossible.

Their short barrels lose lots of velocity.

Light rifles are also more difficult to hold steady when shooting them.

Lets face facts if you are not in good enough health to carry a 7 1/2 or 8 lb rifle you are not healthy enough to even go hunting.

Posted by: wild romanian | August 17, 2013 9:54 AM    Report this comment

"The 308 cartridge ... also it’s lots of fun to plink with, given the easy accessibility to inexpensive ammo." Is a dollar a round inexpensive? And plinking, for me, is shooting tin cans with a 22. What are we plinking with a 308? Dump trucks?

Posted by: OLD_MP | August 15, 2013 11:21 PM    Report this comment

I found a used Light weight in 7mm-08 with one ding on the stock for cheap! Barrel heats fast but first two shots are on the money. Nikon 2X7 keeps the weight comfortable for this old man. May be my new go to gun.

Posted by: JRandolph45 | August 15, 2013 1:13 PM    Report this comment

Mine is a great rifle, and a far cry from my first centerfire rifle 45 years ago...a Savage 340 in .222 Rem.

Posted by: J J | August 15, 2013 10:23 AM    Report this comment

Add your comments ...

New to Gun Tests? Register for Free!

Already Registered? Log In