Working the Savage Model 110

Savage has sold thousands of Model 110 rifles to hunters seeking an inexpensive rifle. Watch for several things when they need fixing.


The Savage Model 110 has been with us in one form or another since 1958. Although it is not as visible nor as widely advertised as models from other manufacturers, it is seen often enough to warrant the gunsmith’s attention.

The Model 110 has been produced in many variations and calibers, including magnums and models with detachable magazines. The current Model 110 is available with either wood or synthetic stocks and has a concealed box magazine.

As we begin work on the Savage 110, those cautions we hear so often must be repeated. First, make sure the chamber and magazine are empty before handling or starting work. Safety glasses are also recommended. (Wearing safety glasses should become automatic.) In addition, the professional gunsmith will use screwdrivers that have shaped tips that fit screw slots correctly. This will help to prevent burring screw slots or galling the sides of the screw hole. Vises should have smooth, protective jaws to prevent marring the work. A clean bench mat to protect the work from the bench top also helps prevent marring of wood or metal parts. Finally, placing parts in containers as they are removed will help keep small parts from becoming lost.

Disassembling the Savage Model 110

Disassembly of the Model 110 – as far as is practical for preventive maintenance, cleaning and oiling – is not difficult. Before starting, check the chamber again to assure it is empty.

Safety Operation. Note that the safety has three positions: all the way forward for fire, all the way to the rear for safe (which also locks the bolt handle from being raised), and a mid-position which keeps the trigger blocked and on safe. In practice, to load or unload, the safety is placed in the forward “fire” position to raise the bolt handle, then the safety is pulled back to “safe.” Now the rifle can be loaded or unloaded with the trigger blocked. With the bolt handle raised, and the safety in the full rear or safe position, the safety will automatically set in the middle location when the bolt is operated.

Bolt Removal. With the safety off and the bolt forward, pull the trigger and press down the cocking indicator (the lever just in front of the bolt handle). The bolt can now be slipped out of the receiver.

Action Removal. As with most bolt-action rifles, the Model 110 stock is fastened to the action with two stock or action screws. In this instance, Phillips-head screws are found in the front of the trigger guard and about 4 inches ahead of the guard in the forearm. After these screws have been removed, the barreled action can be lifted away from the stock. The plastic follower with attached spring will either lay in the stock or fall out, as it is not contained in the action or stock. The rifle is now “field stripped.”

Bolt Detail Disassembly

Far too often a gunsmith will not completely disassemble the bolt to remove solidified oils that may have built up inside.

To detail strip the bolt, the cocking-piece pin must be rotated to rest at the bottom of the cocking cam to relieve pressure from the bolt-assembly screw. As the firing-pin spring is quite strong, a vise to hold the bolt will make this job easier. The slot in the screw is curved so a piece of .080-inch flat stock will need to be carefully fitted to the slot to prevent damage to the tight screw. Now the slotted bolt-assembly screw can be removed.

After the screw has been removed, the bolt handle is lifted off the back of the bolt. Next, the rear baffle assembly can be pulled off the back of the bolt. The baffle-pressure ball, spring, and plunger remain in the baffle. Now pull the cocking-piece sleeve to the rear and the cocking piece pin can be pulled out of the bolt. The firing-pin assembly and cocking-piece sleeve will slide out the rear of the bolt.

To complete the disassembly of the bolt body, press out the bolt-head retaining pin. With the front baffle and friction washer now loose on the bolt-head stem, the bolt head slides out of the front of the bolt. A thorough cleaning of the bolt is easily accomplished at this point.

Further disassembly of the firing-pin assembly is strongly discouraged, as these parts are factory adjusted. The firing-pin spring is held under strong compression, and reassembly may be difficult. If, for some unforeseen reason, the firing-pin assembly does need further disassembly, the cock-ing piece can be unscrewed from the rear of the firing pin, thus releasing the cocking piece and cocking-piece sleeve-lock washer from the firing pin. If not contained, the cocking piece and sleeve lock will spring free from the strong firing-pin spring and can become lost.

If the sleeve lock or cocking piece does become lost, the entire rifle will have to be returned to the factory for replacement, because these are restricted parts. Another caution—and reason for leaving the firing-pin assembly together—is that firing-pin protrusion (the distance the firing-pin tip extends beyond the bolt face in the fired condition) is a critical factory-set dimension. If the cocking piece and firing-pin spring are removed, extreme care must be used to see that the firing-pin stop nut is not moved from the original factory-adjusted position.

To reassemble the firing-pin assembly, slide the spring over the firing pin and pull the spring down until the cocking-sleeve lock washer can be placed over the firing pin. The tongue in the washer fits on the milled flat of the pin. Now screw on the cocking piece. Line up the cocking-piece pin hole with the slot in the sleeve. Once again, caution is urged, as the firing pin is strong and damage can occur to its slender tip; any bend will degrade the function and reliability of ignition. Note: Some firing-pin protection may be gained by inserting the firing-pin front into the rear of the bolt head while pushing down on the spring.

To reassemble the remainder of the bolt, place the front baffle over the bolt front body. (The bolt guide on the front baffle must be on the bottom of the extractor side of the bolt head.) The friction washer is placed behind the baffle, and the unit slides into the front of the bolt body. Rotate the bolt head until it seats into the bolt body. Insert the bolt-head retaining pin with the center hole parallel to the bolt. Check the retaining-pin hole for alignment by inserting the firing pin into the bolt. The firing pin must slide through the hole and extend beyond the bolt face.

Now insert the cocking-piece sleeve over the cocking piece until the forward end of the slot is lined up with the hole in the cocking piece. Insert the cocking-piece pin. Finally, slide the rear baffle onto the bolt (flat side forward) with the friction ball located in the slot on the side of the bolt. The bolt handle drops over the rear of the bolt, extending to the same side as the large head on the cocking-sleeve pin.

Trigger Work

The Savage Model 110 uses a unique trigger system. There are no aftermarket replacement triggers produced for this model. All trigger adjustments need to be done slowly and carefully as the trigger parts, screws, pins, and springs cannot be ordered from the factory. Damage to the screws or springs will require returning the entire gun to Savage. Aftermarket set screws or pins that fit and function may be found, but may cause liability problems due to trigger malfunctions.

The trigger assembly comes from the factory with four screw adjustments. The screw all the way to the rear on the trigger adjusts the safety. If there is motion to the trigger while the safety is on, this screw can be turned in to remove the play. It must not be adjusted so tightly as to prevent the safety from moving into the safe position.

The second screw adjusts trigger overtravel. When pulled, the trigger must clear the sear by a sufficient amount to prevent any contact or drag of the sear at the break. Any more than minimum clearance gives a poor feel to let-off.

The forward screw controls sear engagement. Any adjustment to this screw requires that the safety be inspected to see that it goes on and is adjusted until trigger motion in the safe position is removed.

The remaining screw is found on the right side of the trigger housing and is euphemistically called the “trigger-pull adjusting screw.” Screwing it in increases pressure on the trigger spring and increases the pull. Loosening it is supposed to decrease the pull. With the trigger-adjustment screw in its lightest position and the sear engagement in the shallowest adjustment, the pull will be light but erratic. It is possible that a slight stoning with a hard stone at the face of the sear where it contacts the trigger notch may smooth it up and help eliminate the erratic pull. As these rifles are primarily designed for hunting, a light, target-type pull may not be advisable. The 112 Single Shot, which came as close to a competitive rifle as any member of the 110 series, used this trigger system, but suffered the same trigger drawbacks.

When dealing with triggers, don’t forget it’s always better to make any adjustments toward heavier pulls rather than lighter—be safe and conservative.


Reading the manual from the latest version of the Model 110 (those with serial numbers above E963107) shows that Savage, like many manufacturers, reflects the current trend—fear of litigation and perhaps a distrust in the ability of gunsmiths in general. Out of some 58 separate parts listed in the instruction manual, half are restricted to either factory or “authorized” gunsmith installation.

Among those the factory will release are parts such as stock screws, sights, blank screws, magazine parts, and stocks. This leaves only a few internal parts available from the factory that most gun owners will have difficulty in replacing and will require the services of a gunsmith.

Those malfunctions that the factory will still allow us to work on are limited, and covered along with some additional factory/warranty gunsmith-only problems. (Factory or warranty gunsmith prohibitions apply to the latest versions.)

Ejection. The ejector is spring loaded and pinned into the bolt head in the same manner as the Remington 700-series rifles. As this ejector is quite thin, any bend in it will increase the possibility of binding and resultant ejection problems. Dirt is also another factor which causes sticky or erratic ejection. To change or clean the ejector, ejector spring, and hole, drive the ejector retaining pin out from the top of the right-hand locking lug to the bottom. Be sure to trap the ejector and spring, as they will spring out when the punch is removed. Check the ejector hole for burrs or dirt.

When installing a new ejector, replace the ejector spring as well. Springs can collapse or lose their springiness in time; it’s easy to install a new one at this point. Be sure to line up the ejector-pin slot with the bolt before installing the retaining pin.

Extraction. Failure to extract or leaving a case in the chamber can be caused by three major problems. One is dirt in the chamber, and that is cured by cleaning. If grit has galled the chamber, a light polishing with 320-grit cloth may help to smooth the surface. Don’t change the dimensions—just remove roughness. Be sure to clean the chamber and bore to remove the polishing grit.

The second cause is found with the extractor itself. In this instance, the extractor will need to be removed and inspected. Dirt buildup can cause extraction difficulties, and if this is the cause, a good cleaning will eliminate the problem. Any chipping along the edge of the extractor can cause the extractor to slip over the case-extractor cut. If inspection shows the extractor is broken or chipped, replace it. The extractor spring should also be replaced for the reason given above.

The final cause is excessive headspace. This should be suspected if the extractor is clean and no chips or breakage are found (see section on headspace). The extractor is removed by pushing the face of the extractor into the bolt, and pushing the extractor hook to the outside of the locking lug. The extractor-pressure ball (a .125-inch-diameter steel ball) and spring will be released as the extractor slides out. Be sure to trap the ball and spring.

To insert the extractor, install the spring in the extractor-spring hole and push the pressure ball against the spring. Slide the extractor into its slot and over the ball to complete the installation. This is easier said than done, however, because the ball has a way of escaping and you can waste a lot of time looking for it. Reassembling the extractor inside a plastic bag will trap any errant parts.

Feeding. Double feeding of shells from the magazine is caused by distorted magazine lips. The customer may have pried the box from the side and bent it in an attempt to remove the box. The cure is to replace the magazine box. To remove the magazine box, slide it as far to the front as possible, then use a wide screwdriver blade to pry the rear retaining lip forward until it clears the receiver. The box can then be eased out of the receiver.

To reassemble the new box to the receiver, slide the front tongue of the box into the cut in the front of the magazine-box recess. Place the blade of a wide screwdriver at the junction of box and rear tab. With a sharp bump, drive the box forward and down to seat the magazine-box tab in its retaining slot. There is a cam on the rear of the action magazine cutout that will assist in reassembly.

The failure to pick up shells from the magazine will probably be the result of either a weak magazine spring, dirt, or galling, any of which can prevent the nylon magazine follower from moving smoothly. During routine cleaning, check the magazine follower for smoothness, and clean up any abraded spots.

The symptom of a weak spring is intermittent feeding, especially if the bolt is worked rapidly. A weak spring will not push the round into position rapidly enough for pick up. A broken spring will be obvious when the stock is removed. In both cases, spring replacement is indicated.

If the magazine spring has become detached from the follower because of an enlarged screw-attachment hole, the follower may tip down in front, burying bullet points in the magazine box. A new follower should be installed.

If the cocking pin fails to remain locked above the cocking cam, one cause is a worn notch above the cocking cam. The depression that holds the cocking pin can be recut to reshape the notch, or the bolt body can be replaced.

Factory Repairs

The following problems on a Model 110 above serial number E963107 will require repair by a Savage warranty gunsmith or by the factory. Parts for older models may be obtained from one of several companies specializing in “obsolete” items. When ordering parts, be sure to mention the serial number, model variant (110E, 110DL, etc.), caliber, part name, and part number.

If the gun fails to fire due to a broken firing pin or a weak firing-pin spring, these parts will need to be replaced. Match the factory firing-pin protrusion when replacing pins. Failure to cock due to broken cocking sleeves or cocking pins also requires that the broken parts be replaced.

Excessive Headspace. The symptoms of excessive headspace can include hard extraction, protruding primers, incipient case separations, and may be caused by overloads. An overly oily chamber will also cause the case to appear as though headspace problems were present, and will eventually contribute to real headspace problems. If excessive headspace is suspected, a check with a No-Go gauge of the correct caliber will easily verify the suspicion.

If the No-Go gauge does close, replacing or setting the barrel back and rechambering are remedies that will cure the problem. If the No-Go gauge will not close, clean the barrel for possible over-oiling of bore and chamber. The use of an improper neck-sizing die on reloaded ammo can also give false headspace readings.


The average time needed to clean and oil a Savage Model 110 should run in the 30- to 40-minute range, and should include disassembling the bolt. The charge to the customer to disassemble, clean, oil, and reassemble should be about $25 to $30. This will also include a thorough inspection of the safety and trigger functions. Replacement of extractors, ejectors, magazine boxes, and so forth should add another 10 minutes to the work.


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