An Easy Packin’ Rifle
The Savage Model 11 .260 Rem delivers
Excellent accuracy AND portability.
The Lightweight Hunter is one of Savage’s specialty series, offered in both the Model 11 short action and the Model 111 standard-length action.
Nominal weights are 5.5 and 6 pounds for the two action sizes, and individual rifle weight will vary depending on caliber and wood density. The rifle shown here is one I bought at a local store, a Model 11 in .260 Rem. On a certified scale it weighs 5-3/4 pounds.
Getting a rifle under 6 pounds isn’t too hard, the trick is to make it both light and well balanced. It’s easy enough to fit a slim, short barrel and boast of light overall weight, but an unbalanced, muzzle-light package is hard to hold steadily, or to swing smoothly for running shots.
The Savage barrel is indeed quite light. It is 20 inches long, measures 1.025-inch just ahead of the locking nut with a straight taper to 0.550-inch at the muzzle. When I first saw the rifle I was sure it would be too muzzle-light. It was a pleasant surprise to find it balanced very well, and when I measured, I found the balance point is about 5 inches ahead of the trigger, just where I like it.
Savage paid attention to the stock as well as the barrel. The stock weighs 30 ounces, including 6 ounces for the Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad, sling swivel studs, pistol grip cap and bedding pillars. Savage routed out wood under the recoil pad to reduce weight and improve balance.
The forearm is slim and trim, with 8 slots underneath to further reduce weight and aid in barrel cooling. (Actually the effect on both is minimal but it does make for a distinctive appearance.)
Four machined slots along the left-hand rail, and two more on the right side of the receiver bridge reduce receiver weight. The bolt has spiral flutes, which I think reduces weight by about 1/2 ounce, and in any case looks nice.
Speaking of appearance, Savage made some changes giving their flagship rifle more visual appeal. The obtrusive bolt release on the right side of the receiver is gone, replaced by a neat plunger at the front of the triggerguard. The barrel nut, which aids in precision headspacing, is now rounded and much less obtrusive than the original knurled nut.
The Savage 11 Lightweight Hunter in .260 Rem topped with a Burris Fullfield
E1 2-7x35mm scope is compact, light, well balanced, accurate and reliable.
It offers a tremendous amount of performance at a modest price.
Stock of the Lightweight Hunter is nicely shaped and very comfortable to shoot. Quality of materials and workmanship of both wood and metal is very good. Buttpad and pistol grip cap are well fitted, the machine-cut checkering is well done in a tasteful pattern and inletting appears smooth and precise.
Barrel and receiver have a non-reflective matte finish. Cartridge feeding, extraction and ejection were smooth and reliable. The rifle has Savage’s Accutrigger, and out of the box it weighed 3 pounds, 2 ounces with a crisp break. I used the adjustment tool included to reduce weight-of-pull to 2-1/4 pounds.
Of course there are some concessions to the modern age. The triggerguard and material surrounding the magazine are some kind of high-impact polymer. There are metal inserts around the holes for the action screws. These, along with the metal bedding pillars, allow the action screws to be torqued solidly without stressing the synthetic components.
The detachable box magazine is of metal with a synthetic base plate. It holds 4 cartridges in a staggered column tapering to a single straight-line feed of the top cartridge. The barrel is free-floated right back to the receiver.
The Savage Lightweight Hunter with Burris Fullfield E1 2-7×35 combo weighs 6-3/4 pounds,
ideal for the hunter planning to pack his rifle on long hikes. Knife is by Bob Dozier.
The Burris Fullfield E1 2-7×35 makes a nice package with the Savage Lightweight Hunter
using Burris Z-rings. Dave used medium rings to provide clearance for the power adjustment
ring and for bolt handle clearance. Note the 4 milled slots on the left receiver rail to
reduce weight. Machine-cut checkering is very well done in an attractive pattern. The
rifle has the excellent AccuTrigger, which broke cleanly at 3 pounds, 2 ounces and was
easily adjusted to 2-1/4 pounds.
Savage has replaced the obtrusive right-side bolt release with a plunger release
ahead of the triggerguard. The barrel locking nut is now rounded to match the front
of the receiver. Both changes make the rifle much more visually appealing. The
Lightweight Hunter has milling cuts on the receiver bridge as well as spiral bolt
flutes to reduce weight.
It’s A Shooter
Accuracy was very good (no surprise from a Savage rifle). The loads I used included Remington cases, W-W primers, Nosler 120-grain Ballistic Tip and Hornady 140-grain A-Max bullets, Alliant RL-17 and Ramshot Hunter powders. The barrel is throated so I could seat bullets out to just touch the lands, with the cartridges still fitting and feeding from the magazine.
Both bullets provided minute-of-angle accuracy in the Savage. As with any light rifle, minor inconsistencies in hold, which might go unnoticed in a heavy rifle, will pop a round out of the group.
The Burris 2-7×35 Fullfield E1 matches up nicely with this compact rifle. This scope has a separate power ring, unlike the Fullfield II, so the eyepiece doesn’t rotate when changing power. The reticle is etched on glass. Optics of the Burris are really good, as sharp and bright as scopes costing much more. A rapid focusing ring is used to adjust focus for individual eyesight.
After 15 minutes submerged in warm water and a night in the deep freeze the Burris scope showed no leaks or fogging. This model has 1/2-MOA clicks, which proved accurate and repeatable. The turrets have no “zero reset” feature after sighting in, making it a bit inconvenient for those who like to click turrets for different ranges. You can still do it; you just have to remember your starting point.
Since the scope has a “Ballistic Plex E1” reticle most users will use the reticle aiming points rather than spin turrets. This reticle has 4 aiming points in addition to the crosshair intersection. Additional dots on left and right are calibrated to a 10 mph full-value wind.
The elevation spacings match up reasonably well with typical cartridge trajectories. With the scope set at 7X, using a 140-grain Hornady A-Max at 2,750 fps and sighted at 100 yards, the other 4 aiming points were within 1/4 MOA of being right on at 200, 300, 400 and 500 yards.
With a cartridge such as .270 Win. or .300 Win Mag, sight for 200 yards and the other aiming points are approximately on at 300, 400, 500 and 600 yards. Obviously this will vary with cartridge, velocity and bullet, and needs to be confirmed by actual shooting at the various ranges.
I found real-world prices lower than suggested retail. I’m reminded again of the remarkable era we’re living in. Laser the range, pick your aiming point and first-shot hits from off the muzzle to 500 yards are routine. All for around $1,000 in a fast handling, well-balanced package under 7 pounds. Very nice!
By Dave Anderson
Model 11 Lightweight Hunter
Maker: Savage Arms
100 Springdale Road, Westfield, MA 01085
Action type: Bolt action
Caliber: .260 Rem, (tested), .223, .243, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08, .308
Barrel: 20 inches, 1:8 twist
Overall length: 40-1/4 inches
Weight: empty, 5-3/4 pounds
Finish: Matte blue
Stock: American walnut, oil finish, checkered, pillar bedded
Drop at comb: 3/4 inches
Drop at heel: 1 inch
Length of pull: 13-1/2 inches
2-7x35mm Fullfield E1
Maker: Burris Company
920 54th Avenue , Greeley, CO 80634
Power: 2X-7X, Main tube diameter: 1 inch
Objective lens diameter: 35mm
Ocular diameter: 40mm
Eye relief (inches): 3.1 (7X) to 4.1 (2X)
Adjustments: 1/2 MOA
Adjustment range: 60 MOA elevation & windage
Length overall: 11.4 inches
Length of main tube: 5.4 inches
Weight: 12 ounces
Reticle: Ballistic Plex E1