In tactical situations, where lives are on the line, accuracy of fire is everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s the pistol shot of an LE entry team member trying to stop the execution of a hostage or the long distance rifle round fired to drop an insurgent bent on death and destruction…accuracy is everything! The most critical LE aspect of an accurate shot fired during the stress of a critical incident is a trained shooter who has the mental capacity to hold his nerve while finding the sights and pressing the trigger. Once such an individual is selected and trained, then the best equipment possible completes “the package.” Regardless of whether it’s boots, armor, holsters or weapons, those who choose to go in harm’s way to protect the citizens of this great land, whether law enforcement or military, deserve the best money can buy. When it comes to the precision marksman, only the best, most accurate rifle will do.
Sniping is the use of a specially built rifle for situations in which a hostile subject must be stopped quickly and efficiently at distances somewhere between 50 and 1,000 yards. To the best of these highly trained professionals, the difference in distance is a small matter as they are prepared to take a shot at any distance.
Savage’s tactical rifles are designed with this very serious mission in mind. Once thought of as the firearm of the mom and pop hardware store, Savage Arms is now a very serious contender in the tactical long-range rifle market, making some of the most accurate long range rifles available. In January 2009, Savage introduced several new tactical grade rifles that would be an excellent choice for LE, military operations or even the recreational/competition shooter. Offering the quality features needed by the tactical operations precision marksman, these new rifles from Savage offer a number of serious advantages.
The Model 10 BAS-K (bolt action sniper muzzle brake) is a .308 caliber short bolt-action rifle that’s optimized for precision shots at extended ranges. Every heavy contour barrel used on this series of bolt guns is button rifled for enhanced precision and features a recessed target crown. The floating bolt head ensures both lugs have full bearing on the locking surface, which eliminates the need to lap the bolt and ensures the headspace on every rifle is set at an absolute minimum. All rifles in this series offer standard features like oversized bolt handles permitting rapid follow-up shots as well as Savage’s crisp, creep-free AccuTrigger allows you to easily adjust trigger pull weight from approximately 1.5 to 6 pounds.
Stock choices are the well known H-S Precision Tactical, Choate or McMillan. These are top notch stock manufactures for today’s law enforcement and military special operations forces. In addition to custom stock, the Model 10 BAS-K also comes standard with a matte blue barreled action, heavy free-floating, fluted and button rifled 24-inch barrel, oversized bolt handle, detachable box magazine and a muzzle brake. My test Model 10 BAS-K tipped my scale at just a shade over 13 pounds without an optic.
My test gun came with the standard length, adjustable M4 style stock with custom cheek piece. I liked this set-up as it gave me both a solid cheek and shoulder weld while allowing for full adjustment for different shooters. In the case of law enforcement SWAT Team, this gun could be issued to a number of shooters during its service life and it is doubtful that all of the officers would have the same body build.
The Model 10 BAS-K is equipped with a Picatinny rail system that offers mounting surfaces on three sides so that any number of needed accessories can be added to the weapon system. While all of these features are exceptional in themselves, the feature that stands out the most on any of the Savage tactical rifles is the AccuTrigger system. Since a smooth trigger is extremely important to accurate shooting, I really appreciate a company that puts extra effort into offering the best trigger they can. In this regard, Savage deserves very high marks.
The Savage AccuTrigger gives the shooter the flexibility to set trigger pull to individual preference without having to pay a gunsmith for the service. But even when adjusted to its lowest setting, the AccuTrigger is completely safe and cannot accidentally discharge during normal use from being jarred or dropped when maintained and adjusted as designed. A newly designed teardrop safety is an additional feature on rifles with the AccuTrigger. It provides for better acquisition of the safety button and operates smoother and quieter. The crisp, clean light trigger pull allows the shooter to maximize the accuracy potential of the rifle.
The AccuTrigger is designed with an integrated AccuRelease that must be completely depressed or the rifle cannot fire. While pulling the trigger, the AccuRelease is intentionally manipulated, which unblocks the sear and allows the rifle to discharge. The AccuTrigger is one of the best out of the box triggers that I have ever used. It was easy to control with a crisp release that really helps with accurate shooting. The AccuTrigger is an exceptional piece of design technology.
The trigger has always been one area that captured Savage’s attention. Most triggers found in firearms produced these days have a very heavy pull with the reason being quite simple…liability…a concern that can be partly attributed to writers, trainers and of course, lawyers. Manufacturers cannot afford to ship firearms with triggers that could accidentally discharge, therefore, they design their firearms with heavy trigger weights. Even though factory triggers can usually be smoothed, any adjustments made to them can create an unsafe condition and usually void the warranty. With the addition of the AccuRelease, Savage can offer an effective trigger while lessening the concern of product liability. Kudos goes out to Savage for daring to offer a usable trigger right from the factory packaging.
As good at the Savage Model 10 is, it will only shoot as good as the shooter behind the gun and they need to be able to see what they are shooting at, as well as gather valuable intelligence. There are a number of excellent optics companies these days but few offer the level of glass that comes from Zeiss Optics.
For a number of years, I have been a strong advocate of their Z-Point for close quarter battle. Originally designed for the Heckler & Koch 4.6 MP7, the Z-Point has been largely ignored, which is a shame as it has a number of outstanding features. The same can be said for their line of high-end rifle scopes, primarily represented by their Conquest series of tactical grade optics.
The model that Zeiss sent me for testing was their 4.5x14x44mm. The Conquest line is a series of top quality optics driven to exceed the requirements of the tactical shooter. Zeiss MC (multi-coatings) on the lens achieve outstanding clarity, even in low light situations, while the durable one-piece tube bodies with hard anodized finishes withstand the harshest conditions. Self-centered second image plane reticle enables quick and precise sighting in.
The model is their lower priced version with a standard mil-dot reticle at my request. While it is true that you get what you pay for when it comes to such pieces of kit, I also realize that many police agencies will not purchase items that are of a higher price when something of lesser cost “will do.” In the case of this Conquest series scope, the less expensive model is really good. The mil-dot reticle is obviously placed into a high quality piece of glass as the sight picture was crystal clear with the reticle lines and dots being clean and crisp. Even with my aging vision, I was able to see everything I needed with this optic regardless of the level of light. The ¼-inch per click (100 yards) adjustment knobs are large and easy to grasp due to the indents that are cut all around the head of each adjustment knob. A yardage adjustment knob, that permits parallax adjustment from 100 to 800 yards and beyond is also standard. With a length of 14 inches and a weight of just 17.11 ounces, the Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14x44mm is a lot of scope for the money spent.
Zeroing a precision rifle can be a frustrating affair if you don’t take your time and do it right. Mounting a scope like the Zeiss Conquest needs to be done properly to having a set of their “permanent” rings was a real help. My shooting partner, Jack “Happy Jack” Yahle, a former member of the USMC Marksmanship Team in the 60s mounted/bore sighted the scope while I set up the range for testing. While my gun club has a 200-yard range, it was under construction at the time of my test, so I tested the gun for accuracy at 100 yards. In reality, this is the correct distance for law enforcement operations as the vast majority of precision rifle shots taken by American police officers are half that distance. The last set of statistics I saw presented by the National Tactical Officers Association placed the majority of shots between 50 and 75 yards with no rounds fired beyond 200. This being the case, 100 yards is the right range for a police rifle. I realize that military operations go well beyond this, but after testing the Model 10, I have no doubt that it will perform well at extended distances.
I do not consider myself a trained sniper, though I have attended a number of courses over the years. The reason for this was that I never deployed in this position, spending my entire SWAT career on an entry team. At the same time, I have great respect for those that adopt this specialized position as more goes into it than just shooting a few shots once in awhile. I also realize that the sniper does not always get to fire their shots from a prone position on a bipod as the terrain determines where the sniper’s “nest” will be located. For this reason, I like to test precision rifles from a bench rest, feeling they are more indicative of the chair, windowsill, pillar or curb, where the shot might be taken from.
I zeroed the Model 10 using the tried and true Federal 168-grain Sierra Match- King boat tail hollow point as it has been one of the most accurate loads in SWAT history, regardless of the rifle used. Once I was on target, I then tried a number of different bullet weights to see how they would do. I selected the loads tested due to their variance in weight as I was interested in how much the point of impact would be affected by this. I was using an 8-inch Birchwood Casey Dirty Bird target (similar in size to a human head) and found that the variance was enough that I could possibly miss the eye socket/nose region. Being the preferred target, it was reinforced in my head what my FBI Sniper Instructor told me years ago, “Know your rifle, your load and what it will do when the environment changes.” These are certainly words of wisdom.
I have come to like pistol grip stocks on long guns, something that I thought would never happen. I was trained many years ago on conventional rifle and shotgun stocks and I am a hard person to adopt change. But over the years, I have come to appreciate the pistol grip on long guns as they give me a continuity of feel between my Glock pistol, AR-15, pistol grip-equipped 870 and now this Savage Model 10. I like the way my finger depresses the trigger straight back versus the more upward direction of a conventional stock, giving me greater “feel” and thus control over the trigger itself. Some will disagree, but this is an individual decision and one that I have made over many years.
Another thing I liked about the Savage was the bolt handle with the generous “ball” at the end. When I trained with bolt guns in the past, I have spent a great deal of time learning how to efficiently manipulate the bolt so I could obtain the fastest shot possible. By “cupping” the ball in the palm of the hand, I have found that I can work the bolt through a series of hand turns that lift, pull back, push forward and turn down the bolt and with the short action on this Savage Model 10, I found that I could do this very quickly and efficiently. Sure, the bolt was a bit tight in the beginning, but many are. You just need to take time and “bring your rifle along.”
A gun like the Savage Model 10 BAS-K is like any other essential piece of kit, you take care of it and it will take care of you. This is one fine gun and I would feel very good about deploying with this weapon system. Savage has hit a homerun here and if you are in the market for a precision rifle, for whatever reason, this gun deserves a close look.