This .308 Model 10 BA Is
Light, Strong And Accurate
By Holt Bodinson
Photos: Joseph R. Novelozo
Combining elements of an AR with the barreled action of a bolt gun, a completely new modular hybrid in the firearm world has emerged along with a new descriptive term—the chassis rifle. Chambered in the sensationally accurate 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5mm Creedmoor, .308 Win and .243 Win, the chassis rifle has been burning up the increasingly popular long-range and tactical matches. A new chassis model, our Savage 10 BA “Stealth,” debuted recently.
The heart and soul of a chassis rifle is a precisely machined aluminum body assembly with a magazine well, a lower and, possibly, an upper handguard. The chassis accepts and anchors the barreled action in place. Normally, the chassis features a solid “V” block bedding system that eliminates the need for glass bedding while other chassis makers offer an adjustable bedding block. Either way, the build is basically a drop-in fit. Once the chassis and barreled action are joined, the fun begins as a rifle build such as this now offers the maker almost unlimited options for triggers, pistol grips, buttstocks, sights and accessory rails.
Typically, the chassis is machined so it will accept AR-style pistol grips, receiver extensions and buttstocks while makers like Accuracy International offer chassis stocks completely finished with all the components fitted for a variety of actions.
For the shooters who have been brought up on AR platforms, the chassis rifle is a natural fit. For shooters more accustomed to conventional stocks, there may be a learning curve. What all shooters learn to appreciate is a stock fully adjustable to the individual shooter while, delivering controllable in-line recoil. Most important, when the chassis stock is fitted with a bipod and possibly an adjustable monopod at the butt, the chassis rifle becomes a rigid, stable shooting platform capable of delivering sensational accuracy.
A flexing bolt head is a key element and enhances
the accuracy of Savage’s centerfire rifles.
In fact, personally, I can shoot a chassis rifle with 3-points of contact and support easier and more accurately than I can shoot the same rifle off benchrest bags. My hunting rifles carry Harris or Harris-type bipods for the same reason. Three-points of contact with terra firma form a rock steady position for delivering super accurate, repeatable fire.
Savage’s entire centerfire rifle line has always been noted for its sterling accuracy right out-of-the-factory-box. I once asked Savage’s former president, Ron Coburn, what their secret was. Coburn emphasized three factors: their uniform, button rifled barrels; minimal headspace achieved by snugging up the barrel on a headspace gauge and locking the barrel in place with Savage’s signature, external locknut. Finally, the pin-retained bolt head is free to float, ensuring the bolt lugs are fully seated and the bolt face is centered and square to the base of the case.
In building their new 10BA Stealth, Savage already had a highly accurate barreled action. What they needed was a chassis stock. Enter Drake Associates.
Drake had taken the LSS Chassis System made and marketed by Modular Driven Technologies, tweaked it a bit with MDT’s help to create Drake’s Hunter Stalker LWSS chassis, combined it with Savage target-quality barreled actions and sent the complete chassis rifles into the field with US Military Special Operations teams. Under recent combat conditions, the Drake chassis rifles in .308 performed so well that Drake and Savage combined forces to take the design to the next stage.
The FAB Defense fully adjustable buttstock gives the shooter
the ability to fit the gun perfectly for the task at hand.
Savage’s AccuTrigger is safe, reliable and user adjustable.
The Stealth takes advantage of the Savage 10’s long-admired
Bill Dermody, director of Firearms Marketing at Savage observed, “Because the MDT/Drake was so successful, that meant there were a lot of them out there already. We didn’t want the Savage product to look like anything already in the field, so that’s what we attacked—the look of the chassis. We hired an industrial designer to give it a complete makeover. What we ended up with is a great look you will only see on a Savage Stealth.
“On the functional side, the barreled action we use is what we call a ‘factory blueprinted action.’ During the building of a Stealth, we take a few extra steps to make sure the various critical parts—the receiver face, bolt lugs, bolt lug recesses, recoil lug, barrel locknut, etc., are a perfectly matched and closely fitted set of components. We can do this more economically than, for example, your taking a rifle to a gunsmith to be blueprinted, since we’re blueprinting the components before the rifle is assembled in the first place.”
Cleaning and lubricating the Stealth after unpacking it, I noticed immediately the bolt lugs were bearing in full contact with the lug locking recesses—a rarity in factory rifles—and a definite reminder that bolt lugs should be kept lubricated with a good lug grease to prevent galling and premature wear. Not only were the bolt lugs well mated, but as I closed the bolt on factory match ammunition, my impression was that headspace was definitely set to a minimum, just another factory touch to enhance consistent accuracy in the Stealth.
Savage’s Stealth chassis features not only distinctive, industrial designer lines but its modular features make it adaptable to accessorizing. The receiver extension tube carries the bat-winged logo of Drake Associates while the attached 6-position buttstock is a Model GLR-16 from FAB Defense. The buttplate of the GLR-16 is tactical, textured rubber, and it clings to your shoulder like glue. Hidden beneath the pivoting buttplate is a sealed storage compartment with room for two CR123 or AA batteries. The neat part about FAB’s design is as you close the buttplate, two rubber pressure pads push against the base of the batteries, eliminating any telltale rattling that could put a premature ending to your “calculated stealth.” The FAB buttstock also features an adjustable cheekpiece plus multiple sling slots and quick detachable sling points. The pistol grip is by Hogue.
Riding in the chassis is a Savage Model 10BA barreled action in either 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Win. The heavyweight barrel is 20 inches long, totally free-floated and partially fluted while the muzzle is threaded 5/8×24 for supressors or muzzlebrakes. The threads are protected by a factory barrel nut, but barrel nuts will drive you nuts if they’re not screwed down tight. Nothing will defeat the accuracy potential of a Stealth faster than a loose, vibrating barrel nut hanging out there on the end of the muzzle. My recommendation is to secure the barrel nut with a drop of Loctite Blue No. 242, which will lock the nut in place while still keeping it removable if you upgrade to a suppressor or brake.
The 10BA action sports Savage’s owner-adjustable AccuTrigger and accepts a 10-round, single-stack polymer magazine. Riding the bridge is a 6.5-inch Picatinny/Weaver-style rail to which we mounted a Bushnell 6-24x50mm Elite Tactical scope. This is a new model Elite Tactical with a 30mm tube, 1/4 MOA or 0.1 mil click-value target knobs, side parallax adjustment, a variety of mil-dot reticles and with lenses coated with Bushnell’s permanent water-repellent coating. The scope we tested was set up in the second focal plane, but first focal plane construction is also available in the Elite Tactical series. It proved to be a bright, accurate, adjustable optic for target and tactical deployment, but it also exhibited uncorrectable parallax.
The stock is machined aluminum and Drake Associates developed the
Stealth prototype by combining a Savage barreled action with their
Hunter Stalker LWSS chassis. Accurate rifle in hand, Savage then
took the concept to an industrial designer to give the rifle its
Combining the elements of an AR with a bolt gun,
the Stealth is a modular hybrid chassis rifle.
For testing purposes, on hand were three well established .308 match loadings including Black Hills 168-grain BTHP, Federal’s Premium Gold Medal 168-grain Sierra MatchKing BTHP, and Hornady’s Superformance 168-grain A-MAX.
To begin to evaluate the quality of a long-range chassis rifle, life really begins at 200 yards. Testing a rifle at 200 will quickly tell you what ammunition the rifle favors and what the accuracy potential of the rifle may be. With temperatures in the mid-90’s, testing was limited to two 2-shot groups at 200 yards, letting the barrel cool 10 minutes between ammunition brands. Firing was done with a Harris bipod attached to the front sling swivel and a rabbit ear bag under the butt.
The Stealth definitely favored Hornady Superformance Match with groups measuring 0.53- and 0.96-inch. The Black Hills load delivered 1.0- and 1.2-inch groups, and Federal, 1.4- and 1.6-inch groups. Immediately, at the end of the session, with the barrel at maximum temperature, I fired a 3-shot group with the Hornady to see if the barrel was temperature sensitive. In spite of heat mirage flowing off the barrel, the check group still measured a tight 1.1-inch while the point-of-impact hadn’t wandered.
Conclusion? The Stealth has the potential of being a 1/4-MOA rifle, given the right ammunition and the right shooter, particularly the latter. The Savage Stealth certainly earns the title of a 1/2-MOA rifle.
Next morning, it was off to a long-distance, gong range with a fellow long-range enthusiast, Nelo Sanchez. Sanchez is a perfectionist when it comes to building and selecting the hardware and ammunition for long-distance riflery, and I was glad he was along as another shooter and spotter.
Since we would be firing Superformance Match ammunition, I checked Hornady’s ballistic charts which track out to 500 yards. They showed that with a 200-yard zero, the drop of the 168-grain A-MAX with a starting velocity of 2,700 feet per second was minus 48.8 inches at 500 yards. Since the average velocity of the Superformance Match in the Stealth had clocked 2,693 fps over the chronograph, I dialed in 48 inches of elevation on the Bushnell scope, nothing for windage because it was dead calm, and fired an opening round at an 8-inch white metal gong placed at 500 measured yards.
Sanchez indicated the first and second shots were high and a bit right and then proceeded to walk me down-and-over, click-by-click, until we were both able to punch consistent center hits on the gong.
Is the Savage Stealth an accurate long-range chassis rifle? Yes, it is, and Sanchez and I agree it would also make a nice sporting rifle for the open, rolling, desert country we hunt.
It’s a classy chassis, right out of the box.
The Stealth is fed by a 10-round, single-stack magazine.
A hinged buttplate reveals internal battery storage compartments.
SAVAGE 10 BA STEALTH
MAKER: Savage Arms
100 Springdale Rd.
Westfield, MA 01085
ACTION TYPE: Bolt action repeater
CALIBER: .308 Win (tested), 6.5 Creedmoor, .243 Win
CAPACITY: 10 (detachable magazine)
BARREL LENGTH: 20 inches
OVERALL LENGTH: 38.5 inches
WEIGHT: 9.2 pounds
FINISH: Matte black
SIGHTS: None, Picatinny rail installed
STOCK: Savage chassis
Elite Tactical ERS 6-24x50mm
Overland Park, KS 66214
TUBE DIAMETER: 30mm
LENGTH: 13.5 inches
WEIGHT: 27 ounces
EYE RELIEF: 4 inches
CLICK VALUE: 1/4-inch or 0.1 mil
FIELD OF VIEW: 17.5 feet at 6X, 4.5 feet at 24X
RETICLE: Standard and illuminated mil-dot
P.O. Box 1895, Shelter Island
New York 11964
43 Yakov Olamy Street
Moshav Mishmar Hashiva, 50297 Israel