Savage 110 Ultralite Review: My new mountain hunting rifle?

Some of you are probably wondering right now, didn’t Ricky and Jim already review the Savage 110 Ultralite? And yes we did. But that one was not ultra-light. We reviewed the Savage 110 Switchback edition. It is a Sportsman’s Warehouse exclusive and it is the cheapest version of the Savage 110.

There are a whole bunch of different versions of Savage 110s, and the Switchback edition is much heavier. And frankly, we did not like that gun.

But we heard from many of our YouTube subscribers that we should give the Savage 110 another try because it is such a great gun, we think you got the cheapest version and there are some good versions of this gun.

So when we were walking around Cabelas and we saw the new version of the Savage 110, we decided it was worth a review because look at the thing. It is incredible.

This post is a part of a series I am doing, where I am testing different guns to figure out which gun I should bring elk hunting. I have tested some sweet guns and I have been so excited about it. The rifles I have been testing are mostly premium, but some are more affordable.

The Basics of the Savage 110 Ultralite

The Savage 110 has been around for years and years, but this Ultralite model is new. The barrel from Proof Research is just incredible. Proof Research has really made a name for itself, so I was excited to try that.

There is a cool multi-cam camo pattern on the stock, which is brand new. It does not come in all of the calibers they offer with the Savage 110. There is a fluted bolt in there also.

It is called Ultralite for a reason because it is ultra-light. It weighs 5.85 pounds (2.27 kilograms). Here are some more facts about the gun:

  • Cost: $1,274.97
  • 270 Win
  • 5.85 pounds
  • User-Adjustable AccuTrigger
  • AccuFit Stock
  • Carbon-Wrapped Stainless Barrel
  • Massachusetts Headquarters US and Canada Manufacturing

I am interested in the balance of the gun because it feels perfect. With the carbon fiber barrel, it is not front-heavy at all, but it is not back heavy either with a more polymer stock. They did not go with the carbon fiber stock on the gun. The balance is quite nice.

In the field, it was surprisingly easy to hold the gun steady. You would think with a heavy gun, sitting on the bag it would be better, but with this gun, I was able to hold it so steady, which feeds into the accuracy.

For example, I had a hard time keeping the Kimber Mountain Ascent steady. It is also very light, but there is just something about it. There is a little more reach to the trigger and less of a flat bottom on the stock. I just had a hard time holding it, even on bags, on a very steady rest.

Another thing that aids in that is the AccuFit stock. Savage is known for its AccuFit stock. When you buy the gun, you get extra cheek pieces to raise it up and extra pieces to slip in to extend the pull length, as well as you can obviously shrink the pull length for a youth shooter or someone will a small frame.

How We Tested The Ultralite

When testing the gun, we set up a mat on the ground with a sandbag for stability. We had been using the Caldwell Rock BR to steady our guns when shooting and it broke easily. The bag tore on the third shot! It was $100 and did not work great at all. I was really disappointed with the product.

So instead of the Caldwell Rock BR, we used a sandbag with a spot for the rifle to go in. It holds steadier than it did on the Caldwell thing anyway. The sandbag has been very nice and works well.

We set up 100 yards at the range to test the gun. The range we go to is great because it is only a few minutes from the office so we can get out there quick to shoot.

Before shooting anything, you have to bore-sight. We have a video on our YouTube channel on how to bore-sight. But essentially, you take out the bolt, which is hard to do with a Savage. You have to keep it pulled down, push the bullet release and the trigger at the same time, so you will have to use two hands. Even then, it is still hard. I hate that about Savages.

We used two different loads: Barnes LRX (130 grain) and Berger Hybrid Hunters (140 grain). My guess is that the Bergers are going to shoot better. Bergers are typically more accurate, but you will usually want to use the Barnes LRX for an elk hunt.

After shooting the first round, I saw that I put two through the same hole in two different places, which I was impressed with.

After letting the gun cool for a bit, I tried the Barnes LRX bullets. I made a nice daisy chain with four of the bullets, but the fifth one was within an inch of the chain. When we measured it ended up being 0.991 inches. This was out of the box with no break-in, the first load we tried.

When I tested the Berger Hybrid Hunters, the holes were about two inches. I did not like that ammo as much. Just from that first test, I could tell that the Barnes LRX bullets worked better with the gun.

Initial Impression

My initial impression after shooting the Savage 110 was that I was very impressed with the accuracy. One thing I did notice though is that when I chuck a bullet in there, it goes with no problems. The magazine has a plastic clip that does not look strong, but overall it is a metal box. It is a single-stack magazine that holds four bullets. It is tricky to get the magazine in there, but it feeds fairly well from what I saw.

The one hiccup Ricky had with the Savage 110 is that when you throw a bullet in, if it is not in there completely straight, it kind of sticks. That happened a few times, so throw and go can be difficult, but it feeds really well through the magazine.

With the Savage 110 Switchback, I was not sure if they are not doing all of the polishing or if we just got a lemon, but the Ultralite feeds a lot better, even though they are both Savage 110s.

After testing it some more, I was still really impressed with the Ultralite. It is only a 270, so it is not shooting a 700 nitro or anything, but there was no muzzle break and there were no problems at all.

What really helps with the accuracy is the AccuTrigger. You can adjust it down from where it is if you want. Not all Savages come with an AccuTrigger. Most Savages do come with it and it is a well-regarded trigger.

My Overall Thoughts

Proof Research talks a lot about the unique pattern on their barrels. There is a cool weave pattern and they say it is functional rather than an aesthetic choice even though it looks really cool. It helps dissipate the heat. You get a thick barrel with the Ultralite because it is made of carbon fiber.

To test how well the gun does heating up, I shot five 3-shot groups right in a row, going from top-left, top-right, middle, bottom-left, bottom-right to see if the groups started to open up as we went. What we found was that there is no trend towards opening up as we shot a lot. We did fifteen shots in very quick succession and the barrel was only warm to the touch, which is dang impressive.

A lot of our subscribers ask how we do our accuracy testing and I wish we could have a fixed test of exactly how it happens, but there is a lot of artistry to determine the accuracy of a gun.

For example, with the Kimber Mountain Ascent, there is such a thin barrel, so it heats up very fast. The gun is extremely accurate, but after a few rounds, it starts kicking them out wild because the gun starts heating up.

With the Savage, you could shoot five to seven-shot groups and you can still show something impressive. We actually did this multiple times with three-shot groups and there was no opening up of the groups after it was fifteen shots in quick succession. The best of those five groups was actually the fourth group.

With the actual loads, the Berger ammo opened up. It was not a very good group. But with the Barnes, you would shoot through the same hole multiple times. That is another thing to keep in mind when doing the accuracy testing.

Just about every gun for sale right now says it is “Sub MOA” but the Ultralite is actually Sub MOA nearly every time. I was extremely impressed with the accuracy of this gun. It does not feel anything like the Savage Axis. It does not feel anything like the Savage 110 Switchback. This is a different caliber of gun.

The tang safety is in the back which I appreciate because it is easy. I like it a lot. I had an issue feeding because there is a hump in the middle which makes it hard for the toss and shoot. The magazine is a little stiff to get out. There’s a little plastic clasp that is a problem. It should be metal. It is not my favorite, but that is such a small detail.

One thing to note is the chambering for this gun is not available in as wide an array of chambering as some of the other Savage 110s are. It is probably because it is so light and you do not want to put a 300 PRC in this gun. 

Here are the types of chambering you can use with the Savage 110 Ultralite:

  • 308 WIN
  • 270 WIN
  • 28 Nosler
  • 280 Ackley Improved
  • 30-06 Springfield
  • 300 WSM
  • 6.5 Creedmoor
  • 6.5 PRC

Who Should Buy This Gun

I know this is an expensive gun, but for a $1200 gun, it looks, feels, and definitely shoots like a much more expensive gun.

In the end, this gun is not for the hyper-budget conscious, as it is a bit pricey. It is a step up from what a lot of people should take out hunting.

It is a fantastic gun for backwoods because it is so light. It is especially great for the backwoods hunter that wants to shoot more than three times without the barrel heating up and having fliers, so if we were going backwoods, this is probably the gun I would take.

There are some really capable guns that we have in this series of which gun you guys want me to take on the elk hunt, and this is one of the more reasonably priced ones. I am dang impressed.

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4 Comments

  1. I was interested in how the elk hunt went with this rifle? I just recently found Backfire and watched your four elk rifle review and know the Savage edged out the Fierce. I’m a long time fan of the .270 Win cartridge having owned and hunted with one for nearly 30 years now here in Colorado. I’d love a follow up video or blog on the hunt.

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      Well the rifle did great, but unfortunately we got skunked.

  2. Jim,
    I’m looking for a 7-08 rifle and need help. I like the varguard high country, savage high country, CA Mesa and bergara wilderness terrain as they have higher combs for my big frame, cerakote and muzzle brakes. I’d like a .280 or AI for my all around gun but I can’t find ammo and due to my neck injury I can’t take lots of recoil or I’d probably just get a 300wm. the 6.5prc is interesting as well but again ammo availability so 7-08 seems like a great deer and shorter range elk gun. What say you?

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      I think 7mm-08 would be perfect for what you’re describing. .280AI is also a good choice and I have seen factory ammo becoming available recently for it as it seems to be increasing in popularity in the last few years. I would take the CA Mesa off the list as it has an older sporter stock without a very high comb. You may want to add a Browning X-Bolt to your list as I think it’s a very well-made gun and some configurations include an adjustable cheek piece.

      The 6.5 PRC does check all the boxes and I do really enjoy 6.5 PRC, but I still feel like it’s pretty light for elk-sized game and my experience hunting with it this week in Africa supports that thought.