September 2018

300 Win. Mag. Bolt Rifle Test: Savage, Steyr, Barrett Shoot Out

We shot this trio of precision rifles to see who would get hits way out yonder. Outcome: The 110 BA Stealth is a Best Buy, while the SSG 08 is Our Pick. The MRAD is great, too.

300 Win. Mag. Bolt Rifle Test: Savage, Steyr, Barrett Shoot Out

The Steyr SSG 08, top, without scope, is well appointed with numerous features that make shooting it easy, including a fully adjustable buttstock. The Savage 110 BA Stealth (center) is an excellent low-cost precision rifle with minimal features. The Barrett MRAD (bottom) is a non-traditional bolt action that allows a user to swap calibers. All rifles had sub-MOA accuracy. These rifles are quite capable of making hits on targets accurately out to 1,000 yards with the right optic, ammunition, and operator pulling the trigger.

Rifles set up for long-range precision shooting are specialized instruments with features that allow the user to consistency wring out accuracy at or beyond 1000 yards. We recently looked at three precision rifles in the big-boy cartridge of 300 Winchester Magnum to see what hit our wallets had to take to get in on the fun of precision rifle shooting. At the low end of the price range, we tested a Savage 110 BA Stealth and two that were nearly four times the cost, a Steyr SSG 08 and Barrett MRAD. After the dust had settled, we determined the cost of the rifle did not make much difference in its accuracy performance. All rifles grouped sub minute of angle, requiring us to measure to two decimal places, or hundredths of an inch, to determine the top gun in accuracy. Spoiler: We shot the smallest group with the Savage. What separated the low-cost 110 BA Stealth from the premium-priced Barrett and Steyr were features that made the premium rifles easier to shoot or were more adaptive to the user’s needs. 

We went to to fit the rifles with two affordable variable-power scopes and mounts. The first was a Bushnell Engage 4-16x44mm with Weaver Tactical Skeleton rings. The second was a Leapers UTG Accushot 4-16x56mm scope with a Bobro 1-Piece QD mount. The Engage scope uses what Bushnell calls a Deploy MOA reticle. We felt this scope offered clarity and sharpness. The locking turrets were easy to use and require no tools to adjust windage and elevation. We also liked the parallax adjustment, which we feel is a requirement for long-range shooting. The eyepiece was also easy to adjust and allowed different testers to dial in sharpness for their individual eyes. The magnification had just the right resistance so we could be on target and adjust magnification by feel, but not have to move out of position to make the optical changes we wanted. The Weaver rings are also a low-cost option that easily dealt with the recoil of the 300 Win. Mag. Since the Weaver set up used separate rings, we were able to ensure the Bushnell was well attached to the Picatinny rail of the Savage. The Leapers UTG Accushot 4-16x56mm performed similarly to the Bushnell but offered an illuminated reticle in either red or green, which some testers liked. A black reticle can be more difficult to aim on a black target. It featured a mil-dot reticle with a bubble leveler, letting the user know if the rifle is canted, which could affect the shot. Both scopes featured a second-focal-plane reticle, so the magnification needs to be set on a specific magnification for the reticle to be used in range estimation. The Bushnell needs to be dial to 16x, the highest magnification, and the Leapers needs to be dialed to 10x. In our opinion, the reticles and magnification ranges were suitable for long-range work, well over the yardage found at most public shooting ranges. We were pleased at the performance of both scopes.

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