We are seeing a trend of new rifles being introduced for the suppressor-savvy shooter. Some of the rifles are lighter, some aren’t. Most, however, do have threaded muzzles. Many have shorter barrels, keeping your rifle at a reasonable length, even with the suppressor attached. We selected two long guns of this type for review. The first is a Savage Arms Model 110 Tactical 57770, $663. A solid 8-pound rifle, the Model 110 Tactical features a medium-profile 18-inch barrel, an embedded aluminum chassis, and is adjustable via inserts for comb height and length of pull. Our second choice is the new Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout 1739966, $2100. Weighing in at a feathery 5.9 pounds, the Christensen features a carbon-fiber-composite stock mated to a 16-inch carbon-fiber-wrapped stainless-steel barrel. Both were chambered in the relatively new 6 ARC (Advanced Rifle Cartridge) rifle round.
The 6 ARC Round
We readily acknowledge that, all other things being equal and up to a reasonable maximum, the longer the barrel on the rifle, the more complete the powder burn will be, resulting in higher velocities. Much of the testing and most of the results you read in manuals is derived from firing a cartridge from a universal receiver attached to a 24-inch barrel. Your barrel being shorter can quickly explain why your velocities don’t equal that listed on the box of your favorite bullet. We have also noted in our testing that medium to small cartridges, loaded with correspondingly less powder, may not need as long a barrel to achieve optimum velocity. They may even benefit from a shorter, stiffer tube. Both are great reasons we decided to test these abbreviated barrels with the new 6 ARC from Hornady.
The 6 ARC was originally designed by Hornady in response to a request from the Department of Defense and certain special groups in the agency. The goal was to optimize the energy and accuracy that could be projected from a standard AR-15/M4 platform and magazines for that rifle with, again, standard dimensions. In 2020, Hornady introduced the 6 ARC to no small fanfare and an ad campaign that unfortunately coincided with the onset of Covid-19. To say the least, details about the new cartridge did not stay front page very long.
The Hornady engineers and ballisticians produced a new cartridge with substantially better muzzle energy than the 5.56 in current usage. For example, Black Hills Ammunition lists its outstanding 77-grain MK 262 Mod 1 5.56 ammo as generating just short of 1300 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. With our rifles and factory Hornady ammunition, the Hornady 108-grain ELD-Match 6 ARC ammo topped 1600 foot-pounds, a 23% increase over the 5.56 round. According to our Applied Ballistics Mobile app, the Black Hills MK 262 5.56mm ammo stays supersonic (where bullet flight is still stable and predictable) to about 1050 yards and maintains 1000 foot-pounds of energy (the minimum suggested for deer) to about 150 yards. The 108-grain ELD-M recorded just under 2600 fps out of the Savage 110, resulting in over 1600 foot-pounds energy, with bullets that stayed supersonic to about 1250 yards (at sea level) and 1000 foot-pounds energy to about 400 yards. Both numbers predict the rifles chambered in 6 ARC would be effective at longer distances.
Hornady designed its loads for AR-15 gas-operated rifles, which limit desired pressure to about 53,000 psi. They also noted that the same loads can be utilized in a bolt gun, max pressure for which was rated at 62,000 psi. In most of a thousand rounds of load development, staying strictly with published loads, we were able to get another 100+ fps from 16- and 18-inch bolt guns, thereby also increasing energy and effective range. That brings performance up to near-243 Winchester levels with less recoil and less muzzle blast. In other words, we think the new 6 ARC cartridge and short, handy barrels make a great combination.
The round is certainly new, but the line up of gun makers chambering for it is significant. Hornady lists these other companies as chambering rifles for the 6 ARC: Adams Arms, APF Armory, Barrett, Brenton, Brownells, CMMG, Geissele, Howa, Lantac, Mile High Shooting Accessories, Mossberg, NEMO, Noveske, Odin Works, Radical Firearms, SanTan Tactical, Seekins Precision, Stag Arms, Uintah, and others. We expect the list will continue to grow.
How We Tested
All testing was done at American Shooting Centers in Houston. We fired multiple five-shot groups at 100 yards using a Caldwell TackDriver Pro rest and a large rear bag from Tab Gear. We obtained three Hornady rounds for the test, 103-grain ELD-X expanding Precision Hunter ammo from Battle Hawk Armory, Hornady Black 105-grain boat-tail hollow points from Able Ammo, and Hornady 108-grain ELD-M Match rounds from MidwayUSA.com. We used well-proven Vortex PST II Viper 3-15×44 scopes ($1000, Amazon.com) on both rifles for accuracy testing. The Vortex Viper has the same EBR-7C reticle we use on the Gen 3 Vortex Razor scope mounted on our match rifle, and we love having the consistent view. The image is clear, crisp, and precise. The 600-yard targets fired at were easy to see and hit. As is our normal practice with Pic rails, we used Warne Maxima rings.
Considering the utility of the lightweight Christensen Scout, we also fired it with a 1-10×28 Crimson Trace Hardline Pro as well as a Trijicon MRO, $460, mated to a Trijicon 3X magnifier, $379, both from OpticsPlanet.com. Here’s how the 6 ARC performed in our test rifles.
Gun Tests Grade: A-
We secured this rifle shortly after its introduction in late 2021. Our sample sports an 18-inch medium-profile barrel made of carbon steel. It is fluted to save weight and provide more surface area for cooling. Twist rate is 1 turn in 7.5 inches, and the muzzle is threaded 5⁄8×24. As expected, it is attached via the customary Savage lock nut which, in turn, sandwiches a recoil lug between the receiver and the barrel.
|Overall Length||38.25 in.|
|Barrel||18 in. long, 1:7.5 twist|
|Overall Height w/o Scope Mount||6.75 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||8.1 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded||9.0 lbs.|
|Action||Matte black steel|
|Barrel||Matte black steel|
|Magazine Type||MDT detachable box, AICS pattern|
|Drop at Comb||Adjustable|
|Drop at Heel||0.75 in.|
|Length of Pull||Adjustable, 12.75 to 13.75 in.|
|Receiver Scope-Base Pattern||Savage 110|
|Trigger Pull Weight||1.3 lbs.|
|Safety||Tang and trigger|
|Warranty||1-year limited for original owner|
The receiver is the standard Model 110 short-action length. Designed for a 308 Winchester-length cartridge (about 2.80 inches long), it leaves more than a little extra room inside with the 6 ARC round, which tops out at a maximum length of 2.26 inches. Savage and Christensen both solved the potential feeding problems by utilizing a magazine from Modular Driven Technologies, or MDT. Produced in Canada, the AICS-pattern mags use a special follower with a tab at the rear that pushes the cartridge almost 0.5 inch forward, making sure that the stubby round releases from the feed lips and hits the feed ramp all at the right time. We have used other MDT magazines in our MPA rifles for several years and were very pleased to see their inclusion with these rifles. The specs on the Savage website say this is an eight-round rifle, but we were able to fit and feed 10 rounds from those magazines with no problems.
Other features on the top end include a 20-moa Picatinny rail that allows your scope a bit more elevation for the longer shots possible with the 6 ARC. The steel bolt has twin lugs that float a bit, helping them align precisely with the bore for greater accuracy. The rifle uses a plunger-style ejector along with a sliding extractor. The bolt is removed by depressing the trigger (please make sure the rifle is unloaded first!) simultaneously with a lever on the right side of the receiver. For what it’s worth, it is very easy to engage the tang safety on this rifle while cleaning, and the bolt will not go back in with the safety on. Took us a few anxious seconds to figure that one out. The bottom metal isn’t metal but is instead a polymer piece that formed a nice magwell protruding slightly below the bottom of the stock. A large lever “tactical mag release” is metal and provides an easy way to release the magazine. The bolt knob is listed as oversized, and it is that. Maybe a bit too much for our tastes because it kept bumping our trigger finger. The trigger guard has plenty of room and encloses what we found to be a wonderful sample of the Savage Accu-Trigger. Average compression required on our trigger was 1.3 pounds, with a standard deviation of only 1.7 ounces over 10 pulls on our Lyman digital gauge. If that trigger is a bit light for you, they are easy to adjust heavier.
We liked the stock. Polymer outside it may be, but we liked what they did with the inside and with the possible adjustments. First, the stock utilizes a polymer shell embedded with a fairly long aluminum chassis. The action and recoil lug snugged up tightly with full support for the action screws. An extension of the chassis runs almost the full length of the fore end, lending substantial rigidity and making sure the fore end stayed free floating even when substantial pressure was applied. Reasonable checkering was molded in at the fore end and the pistol grip. Everything stayed securely in our hands. The fore end is also almost flat and is fairly wide, helping us shoot well off the bags. The two sling-swivel studs on the front and the single stud at the rear let us do anything we needed with slings and bipods.
The rear of the stock is adjustable for both length of pull and comb height. The soft-rubber recoil pad attaches with two screws. With those removed, the shooter can add, remove, or change inserts to alter length and comb height. Four cheekpieces are included, as are several spacers with various widths for the length of pull. We’re pretty sure you can find a way to make it fit you.
Feeding and function were perfect. The bolt travel was a bit sticky when it first arrived, but, like many triggers, as we used it, things smoothed out. We like the way it runs now. Hornady says their 6 ARC round will do 2700 fps. Of course, that is testing from a 24-inch barrel. Depending on the load, Hornady factory ammo did 2540 fps to almost 2600 fps out of the Savage. With a five-shot group average of just over 0.8 inch, it showed a preference for the 105-grain Hornady Black Ammo. We expected to see at least a bit of difference in muzzle velocities given the 2-inch delta in barrel lengths. That was not the case. Both shot almost exactly the same speeds. Perhaps this cartridge won’t be quite as demanding in what barrel lengths it performs in.
Our Team Said: Slightly more accurate than the Christensen Scout, we also liked the versatility of the Savage stock and the excellent trigger. For most uses, this is Our Pick chambered in the 6 ARC round. As more rifles become available in this chambering, we’ll continue to test them, but it will be a feat to surpass this Savage.
6 ARC Range Data
We shot at American Shooting Centers in Houston. We fired multiple five-shot groups at 100 yards. All rifles were well-sandbagged in a Caldwell TackDriver Pro (Brownells 100-027-023, $49), further supported by a large heavy rear bag from Tab Gear (TabGear.com, $34). Velocities were measured with a LabRadar (MyLabRadar.com, $559).
|Hornady Precision Hunter 103-grain ELD-X||Savage Model 110||Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout|
|Average Velocity||2540 fps||2540 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||1476 ft.-lbs.||1476 ft.-lbs.|
|Average Group||1.068 in.||0.790 in.|
|Best Group||0.925 in.||0.782 in.|
|Hornady Black 105-grain BTHP||Savage Model 110||Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout|
|Average Velocity||2549 fps||2551 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||1515 ft.-lbs.||1518 ft.-lbs.|
|Average Group||0.821 in.||1.340 in.|
|Best Group||0.714 in.||1.086 in.|
|Hornady Match 108-grain ELD-M||Savage Model 110||Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout|
|Average Velocity||2594 fps||2600 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||1614 ft.-lbs.||1622 ft.-lbs.|
|Average Group||0.976 in.||0.890 in.|
|Best Group||0.837 in.||0.673 in.|
Value Guide: Short-Action Bolt Rifles
|Ruger Precision Custom Shop 18084 6.5 CM, $2419||Aug. 2022||A||Our Pick.The cost reflects the price required to get the bells and whistles to shoot comfortably.|
|Savage Axis II Precision 57552 6.5 CM, $999||Aug. 2022||B+||Best Buy. Excellent accuracy, a clean-breaking trigger, and a fairly comfortable stock. Needs a brake.|
|Mossberg MVP Precision Rifle 27962 6.5 CM, $1509||Aug. 2022||B+||The Luth-AR stock is excellent, as is the trigger. Needs a muzzle brake.|
|CVA Cascade SB CR3914R 300 Blackout, $621||Mar. 22||B+||Our Pick. The most accurate in the test, the CVA Cascade handles well and shoots well.|
|Savage Axis II 18819 300 Blackout, $385||Mar. 22||B||Best Buy. While not as accurate as its Model 10 and 110 brothers, this Axis II performed well.|
|Ruger American Ranch Rifle 26968 300 Blackout, $529||Mar. 22||C+||Short and handy, but the action was rough initially. Mediocre accuracy.|
|Tikka T3X Varmint JRTXH312 223 Rem., $999||Nov. 2021||A||Our Pick. The most accurate rifle and perhaps the most versatile, we’d buy the Tikka T3X Varmint.|
|CZ Model 527 03019 223 Rem., $785||Nov. 2021||B+||The trim receiver allowed the longest barrel, while maintaining a compact OAL. Outstanding trigger.|
|Ruger Hawkeye Predator 17122 223 Rem., $1359||Nov. 2021||B+||A brushed stainless finish, a gorgeous three-color laminate stock, and a great trigger.|
|CVA Cascade CR3907C 350 Legend, $658||Jul. 2021||A||Our Pick. Outstanding trigger and tons of features. Tied with the Savage M110 Hog Hunter.|
|Masterpiece Arms MPA BA MPR PRO 6mm CM, $2499||Apr. 2021||A||Our Pick. A heavy, yet graceful beast. The MPA is one of the most popular rifles on the PRS tour.|
|Christensen Arms MPR 801-03035-01 6mm CM, $1799||Apr. 2021||A-||Lightest sample in this group, tested for a sport that prefers heavy rifles, and it still almost won.|
|Ruger Precision Rifle 18032 6mm Creedmoor, $1599||Apr. 2021||B+||Good accuracy and dependability. We would have liked a crisper trigger and a wide, flat fore end.|
|Savage M110 Elite Precision 57558 6mm CM, $1999||Apr. 2021||B+||Least accurate with the Federal ammo. Black Hills and Berger ammunition were much better.|
|Savage Arms 110 Hog Hunter 223 Rem., $599||Feb. 2021||A-||Oversized bolt, adjustable iron sights, adjustable LOP, a box magazine, and a threaded barrel.|
|Christensen Arms Ridgeline 801-06015-00 6.5 PRC, $1793||Jan. 2021||A||Our Pick. Accurate with factory ammo, better with reloads. Carryover winner from Nov. 2020.|
|Seekins Precision Havak Pro Hunter 2 0011710059-F 6.5 PRC, $1895||Jan. 2021||A||Outstanding accuracy. We loved the stock and the trigger on this great rifle.|
|Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 6.5 RPM, $2249||Jan. 2021||B+||Beautifully put together, but downrange accuracy wasn’t up to what we saw with other rifles.|
|Bergara Premier M’tn 2.0 BPR28-65PRC 6.5 PRC, $1999||Nov. 2020||A||A 100% carbon-fiber stock and trim 24-inch barrel make this a premier mountain rifle.|
|Browning X-Bolt Max LR 035438294 6.5 PRC, $1180||Nov. 2020||A||A little longer and a little heavier than our other rifles. Beanfield rifle rather than a mountain rifle.|
|Savage M110 Hog Hunter 57534 350 Legend, $487||Jul. 2020||A||Our Pick. Compact size with a short, stiff, accurate barrel and a great trigger. Straight-wall chambering.|
|Ruger American Ranch Rifle 26985 350 Legend, $442||Jul. 2020||F/B+||First sample failed when the bolt disassembled itself. The replacement rifle wasn’t all that accurate.|
|Winchester XPR Hunter 535741296 350 Legend, $635||Jul. 2020||A-||A full-length rifle that looked great and handled well; dropped half a grade for its-average accuracy.|
|Winchester M70 F’wt SS 535234220 308 Win., $951||Apr. 2020||A||Our Pick. Smooth handling, very good accuracy and classical styling.|
|Tikka T3x Lite Stainless JRTXB316 308 Win., $748||Apr. 2020||A-||Best Buy. Functional stock, the smoothest bolt in the group, and the best out-of-the-box trigger.|
|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.|
|Ruger Hawkeye Compact 37139 308 Win., $691||Apr. 2020||B+||This rifle has a short length of pull and a 16.5-inch barrel. Could be a great truck gun.|
|Browning X-Bolt Micro Midas 22-250 Rem., $879||Dec. 2019||A||Our Pick. This is trim rifle from Browning is made for the small-statured or still-developing hunter.|
|Howa Model 1500 Youth 22-250 Rem., $529||Dec. 2019||A||Best Buy. With youth- and adult-length stocks available, this is a great rifle.|
|Bergara B-14 B14S104 22-250 Rem., $879||Dec. 2019||A||Designed with the full-sized hunter in mind, this would be a great companion on a coyote hunt.|
|Browning X-Bolt 035395291 6mm CM, $2400||Aug. 2019||A||A superior varminter that is good enough to shoot in competition, and certainly in the field.|
|Howa 1500 H-S Precision HHS62203 6mm CM, $1220||Aug. 2019||A||This is a great all-around rifle at a reasonable price. It will outshoot you for many years.|
|Barrett Fieldcraft Rifle Threaded 6mm CM, $1929||Aug. 2019||A-||This is a super-lightweight precision build you’ll want to take everywhere.|
|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, but accurate and well-handling short rifle.|
|Savage 110 Apex Storm XP 57344 6.5 CM, $605||Jun. 2019||A-||Best Buy. The Savage Axis proved accurate, reliable, and fast handling. Adjustable LOP.|
|Mauser M18 M18065P 6.5 PRC, $628||Jun. 2019||A-||Accurate and reliable. Expensive compared to the others.|
|Savage Axis II XP Rifle 57289 6.5 CM, $400||Jun. 2019||B+||A credible and accurate rifle for hunting. Superior stock treatment.|
|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.|