GUN TESTS GRADE: A (OUR PICK)
According to a national feral-hog-control organization, “The solution to the feral hog problem has not been readily apparent. The ultimate answer as to how to control these animals has not been found to date. In many ways, feral hogs are America’s most successful large invasive species. All of which means that feral hogs are a veritable nightmare for land and resource managers trying to keep the numbers of these animals and the damage that they do under control.” Scientists may not have discovered the ultimate solution to this problem, but various firearms manufacturers are trying to help. Savage is a great example with its Hog Hunter series. The company is now offering a variant of the Model 110 in three different calibers (223 Rem., 308 Win., and 350 Legend) in a configuration they believe would appeal to hog hunters. Our sample, of course, was in 350 Legend.
|Overall Length||38.1 in.|
|Barrel||18 in. long; 1:16 twist|
|Overall Height w/o Scope Mount||5.8 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||7.1 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded (145 grain, 4+1 rounds)||7.3 lbs.|
|Sight Radius||10.7 in.|
|Action Finish||Matte black|
|Barrel Finish||Matte black|
|Magazine Type||Detachable box|
|Drop at Comb||0.5 in.|
|Drop at Heel||0.62 in.|
|Length of Pull||13.75 in.|
|Receiver Scope-Base Pattern||Savage Model 10 short action|
|Trigger Pull Weight||2.7 lbs.|
|Warranty||1 year for original owner|
|Made In||USA, Massachusetts|
So, what does a hunter need to go after hogs? A decent cartridge? Check. A short, handy barrel? Check. Provision for a suppressor? Check. Good trigger? Check. Those requirements don’t differ substantially for shooters who hunt deer in the Midwestern woods.
The 223 and 308 versions of the Hog Hunter come with 20-inch barrels. The 350 Legend model ships with an 18-inch barrel installed. As with the Ruger Ranch Rifle, the shorter barrel did not seem to affect energy downrange too much, losing only about 3% to the longer Winchester. It is a thick barrel, measuring 0.75 inch slightly to the rear of the muzzle. The muzzle proper is threaded for a muzzle brake or suppressor and comes with a metal, knurled thread protector. Unlike the other two rifles in this test, the Hog Hunter is factory equipped with sights. These are not just emergency sights, but are instead tools fit for hunting. The rear sight is mounted about one-quarter of the way forward on the barrel from the receiver. The whole unit is metal. The blade sight sits in a dovetail that is mounted on a track and can be lowered or elevated as needed, giving the shooter plenty of movement to adjust for windage or elevation. The front sight is tall and actually has a brass bead on it. Both bases are mounted directly to the barrel and feel very sturdy to us. The receiver uses four screws to mount scope bases. We used a Warne Zero MOA one-piece Picatinny base along with Warne low 30mm rings. We tried the Model 110 bases only to find that this model requires short-action Model 10 bases. Make sure that you buy a base for the modern round-type receiver. Once we got the right parts, everything locked down solidly.
The receiver is the round type that you would expect on a Savage. The Savage system uses a collar to secure the barrel to the receiver that allows the precise setting of head space. A solid recoil lug is sandwiched between the receiver and the barrel, as usual. We were a bit surprised to find that the recoil lug did not abut against anything more substantial than a plastic shelf in the stock. But we were pleased to find the action screws insert through metal pillars molded into the stock, allowing those screws to be torqued properly without overstressing the stock.
The Savage Model 110 uses a smaller-diameter bolt than the Ruger or the Winchester we tested. It has a floating bolt head that is designed to allow more precise alignment with the chamber, thus aiding in accuracy. The bolt uses a pivoting extractor and a plunger-type ejector. It is a push-feed design just like our other two rifles in this project. It is removed by simultaneously pressing on the trigger and a button on the front of the trigger guard. Remember that last button. There are three screws that must be loosened to remove the action from the stock. Two of the screws are visible in the expected locations at the front and rear of the bottom material. The button in front of the trigger must be depressed to expose the third screw.
The safety is a three-position type located on the tang just to the rear of the bolt shroud. The bolt handle is oversized and easy to manipulate in a hurry. With a 70-degree throw, it also stayed well clear of the Nikon Black Force 100 1-6×24 scope we used. Optical clarity was very good on the Nikon, and its controls were easy to access. This model has an illuminated reticle with a 3-MOA dot at the center. The overall length of the Nikon, along with the magnification range, seemed to be sized appropriately for the shorter Ruger and Savage rifles.
The Hog Hunter comes with the Savage user-adjustable AccuTrigger. The unit on our test rifle broke cleanly at a consistent 2.7 pounds, and we wouldn’t change a thing. The magazine was an interesting design. Most of the working parts are plastic, but the rigid shell is metal. The magazine catch is actually part of the magazine. The base of the magazine is wide enough to allow a short double-stack of cartridges, but then narrows to feed lips one shell wide, which presents rounds from a central position. The manual says this is a four-round magazine. We were able to load five, as long as we didn’t want to close the bolt. We decided this was an easy way to load 4+1 shells, with the requirement that we start from an open bolt. We have used extended magazines made for the Savage 110 by Snyder Mags (SnyderMags.com) and have been very pleased with their performance thus far. We understand that an extended 10-round version for the Model 110 Hog Hunter should be available soon.
The stock design on the Savage had several features we liked. The dark olive-green polymer had a combination of checkering and grooves molded into the fore-end and the wrist. The overall effect was a very secure grip without being uncomfortable. There are spacers included with the rifle that allow length of pull to be adjusted. Remove two screws accessible through the very soft recoil pad, take off the current spacer and replace with your size, then remount the recoil pad with the screws — simple. Three different-sized spacers and appropriate screws are included in the package with the rifle.
Our Team Said: Accuracy of the Hog Hunter was the best of the three rifles tested, with an average five-shot group of 1.63 inches. Several of those groups were right at or just below the magic 1-inch number. This is a good-shooting rifle with an adjustable trigger for less than $500. That sounds like a bargain, and the Hog Hunter would be Our Pick of these three new chamberings.
350 LEGEND RANGE DATAAll groups were shot at 100 yards from a solid bench using a Caldwell TackDriver front rest ($44 at MidwayUSA.com) and a T.A.B. Gear large rear bag ($30 at TABGear.com) with the heavy fill. Muzzle velocity was determined using a LabRadar chronograph ($559 at BuyMyLabradar.com). Location: American Shooter Centers (AMShootCenters.com) in Houston.
|Winchester 145-grain FMJ||Ruger American Ranch Rifle||Winchester XPR||Savage 110 Hog Hunter|
|Average Velocity||2193 fps||2234 fps||2155 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||1548 ft.-lbs.||1608 ft.-lbs.||1496 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||2.09 in.||0.95 in.||1.83 in.|
|Average Group||2.39 in.||2.10 in.||2.03 in.|
|Winchester 150-grain XP||Ruger American Ranch Rifle||Winchester XPR||Savage 110 Hog Hunter|
|Average Velocity||2251 fps||2308 fps||2223 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||1688 ft.-lbs.||1775 ft.-lbs.||1646 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||2.19 in.||1.54 in.||1.01 in.|
|Average Group||2.42 in.||1.77 in.||1.33 in.|
|Hornady 170-grain Soft Point||Ruger American Ranch Rifle||Winchester XPR||Savage 110 Hog Hunter|
|Average Velocity||2211 fps||2250 fps||2212 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||1847 ft.-lbs.||1911 ft.-lbs.||1847 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||1.98 in.||2.35 in.||0.99 in.|
|Average Group||2.71 in.||2.57 in.||1.52 in.|
VALUE GUIDE: BOLT-ACTION RIFLE SCORES
|Winchester Model 70 F’wt Stainless 308 Win., $951||Apr 2020||A||Our Pick: Smooth handling, very good accuracy and classical styling.|
|Remington Model 7 CDL 26423 308 Win., $798||Apr 2020||A||A nice piece of wood, a good trigger and a compact 20-inch barrel on a rifle that could really shoot.|
|Tikka T3x Lite Stainless JRTXB316 308 Win., $748||Apr 2020||A-||Best Buy. Functional polymer stock, the smoothest bolt in the group, and the best out-of-the-box trigger.|
|Ruger Hawkeye Compact 37139 308 Win. $691||Apr 2020||B+||Short length of pull and a 16.5-inch barrel; could be a great truck gun or suitable for a smaller shooter.|
|Savage 110 Scout 57139 450 Bushmaster, $829||Jul 2019||A-||Best Buy. The Savage Axis proved accurate, reliable, and fast handling. Adjustable LOP.|
|Ruger Scout Rifle 6830 7.62 NATO, $1139||Jul 2019||B+||The Ruger Scout comes closest to the original Scout rifle concept, but it falls short due to weight.|
|Mossberg MVP Scout Combo 7.62 NATO, $780||Jul 2019||B||Not a true interpretation of the Scout Rifle concept. Accurate, well-handling short rifle at a good price.|
|Ruger 77/44 Model 7401 44 Remington Mag., $754||May 2019||A-||The 77/44 offers accuracy and power in a lightweight rifle. We disliked the magazine.|
|Ruger American Rifle 6903 Standard 308 Win. $382||Dec 2018||A||Light enough, accurate enough, and inexpensive enough for us to want to keep it.|
|Savage Axis II XP 57095 308 Win. $411||Dec 2018||A-||Best Buy. It works well, is accurate enough for hunting, and it is affordable.|
|Savage Model 12FV 18393 308 Win., $420||Dec 2018||A-||Most accurate rifle tested. Modest recoil. The rifle never failed to impress us.|
|Mossberg Trophy Hunter 308 Win., $240||Dec 2018||C||Overall, the rifle was worth the modest price, but there are better choices.|
|Ruger American Rifle Ranch 06968 300 Blackout, $420||May 2018||A-||Shot well both suppressed and unsuppressed. Short length would make it handy.|
|Remington Model 700 SPS-T 84205 300 Blackout, $680||May 2018||A-||Shot well in 300 BLK supersonic and subsonic.|
|Savage Arms 10PT-SR 22356 308 Win., $550||May 2018||B+||Good build. It did shoot sub-MOA with one round. We loved the handle and AccuTrigger.|
|Remington M700 SPS 85538 308 Win., $600||Oct 2018||B+||This short rifle isn’t the most accurate, but the overall handling is superb.|
|Remington Model 700 SPS 84218 308 Win., $606||Oct 2018||B+||Hard to find a production rifle that is capable of greater practical accuracy.|
|Savage Axis 19223 308 Win, $240||Oct 2018||C||Accuracy wasn’t the best. The rifle was dogged by a heavy trigger that we fixed.|
|Remington 783 85847 308 Win., $340||Mar 2017||A||Best Buy. This was the most accurate rifle tested, and there were no demerits.|
|Remington 700 SPS 85538 308 Win. $655||Mar 2017||A-||There are few rifles that are as handy as this one.|