Putting the Savage Arms Model 111 Long Range Hunter in .338 Lapua Magnum to the Test
by Mike Garman
In the previous series Hellsgate Tactical Precision Rifle Clinic, I talked about the basics of shooting long distances. Over the years I have shot several different rifles at targets at distances of 1,000 yards. It’s quite satisfying to hear a steel target ring when you hit it at 1,000 yards with a .308, but I wanted to be able to hit targets at 1500 to 2000 yards, and to do that I needed something a little more potent than my DPMS LR-308. To hit targets at those kinds of distances requires a very high quality rifle and a high power round; prices for such a rifle start at $3,000 and go up from there. After lots of research I found a rifle that is budget friendly, very good quality and fires the potent .338 Lapua Magnum round.
The Savage Arms Model 111 Long Range Hunter chambered in the truly massive .338 Lapua Magnum is that rifle, and it is based on Savage’s outstanding Model 10/110 action with their patented AccuTrigger. The Model 111 is a bolt action and magazine fed rifle capable of hitting targets at distances in excess of 1 mile (1760 yards). At an MSRP of $1,340, while not cheap, it is certainly more affordable than a Barrett Model 82 priced at $12,000.
At 50 inches in length and a fully equipped weight of 13 pounds, the 111 is no light weight plinker. With an ammunition cost of $5.00 a round, it’s not something you take out to shoot cans unless those cans are 55 gallon drums at 1500 yards. The Model 111 uses a 26 inch barrel with a 1 to 9 rate of twist, meaning that the rate of twist for the rifling is one turn in 9 inches. This works well with the bullet weights typical of the .338 Lapua Magnum round.
The .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6 X 70mm) round is huge. Using 107 grains of powder to propel a 300 grain bullet over a mile, it produces a velocity of 2,723 fps at the muzzle and 1653 fps at 1000 yards. Compare that to a 175 grain .308 Winchester (7.62 x 51mm) round that only achieves a velocity of 1,125 fps at 1000 yards. For those of you don’t know, the term grains refer to the projectile’s mass or weight. A grain is a very small unit of measurement where there are 437.5 grains in an ounce. So when you see a .223 round referred to as having a 55 Grain FMJ, the 55 refers to the mass of the bullet itself, not the entire cartridge.
A lot of reviewers don’t like Savage’s AccuTrigger, however, I’m not one of those. With a pull weight that is user-adjustable from 1-½ to 6 pounds, it’s crisp and has a very clean break when pulled. Being adjustable it can be set to the shooters preference, but I’ve found that the factory settings are pretty good. Using the AccuTrigger is not unlike a two stage trigger. It’s best described as an inner and outer trigger. The inner trigger, which extends beyond the outer, takes about a pound of pressure to move it rearward so that it’s flush with the outer trigger. The weight of pull for the second (or outer trigger) is what is adjustable, and the factory setting on this example is approximately two pounds.
The Model 111 has a three-position safety that in the forward position allows you to fire the weapon; the center position locks the trigger but allows the bolt to to cycle and in the full rearward locks both the trigger and bolt. The safety is easily operated and is mounted in the center of the rear tang.
The magazine holds five rounds of ammunition. Rather than design and build a magazine, Savage elected to use a high-end one from Accuracy International. A spare box magazine will run you less than $100.
The rifle comes with an adjustable cheek riser that is made out of plastic. While it works and does help with getting a good cheek weld, it’s hard and very uncomfortable after shooting just a few rounds. But I think it can be fixed with a little padding.
I equipped the 111 with a Bushnell 3200 Elite Tactical fixed 10x scope, a bipod and monopod and headed for the range. I don’t mind telling you that I was a little nervous about shooting a round that holds twice as much powder as the .308, which I am use to shooting. But I was pleasantly surprised by how mild the recoil of the .338 Lapua Magnum is. It’s obvious Savage did their homework when they designed the muzzle brake on this rifle. Unlike the LR-308, the Model 111 doesn’t slam you in the shoulder, it sort of pushes you back.
When shooting, one of the skills that you try and master is getting the sights back on target as quickly as possible for a follow on shot. This is particularly challenging when shooting a scoped bolt action rifle. The difficulty comes when trying to cycle the bolt to load another round. With the Model 111, the first part of the bolt movement can be done with two fingers. As the bolt rotates it becomes harder to move until you have to come off the rifle to finish cycling it. I think this can be fixed with a little polishing and a longer bolt handle such as this one from Glades Armory.
Due to range limitations I wasn’t able to shoot beyond 100 yards or achieve the accuracy I desired. Although it took time for me to get the scope dialed in, I found once I had the accuracy of the rifle was very good. I was able to put 6 rounds in the ten ring with three of those in the X ring. I think that with match grade ammunition and some practice, hits at 1000+ yards are going to be easy.
I would like to acknowledge Joe Luhn owner of Crazzy Joe’s Weapons Sales, who was gracious enough to lend me the Savage 111 Long Range Hunter to test for review. Crazzy Joe’s is located in Arizona City, AZ, which is about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. In addition to firearm sales, Joe has a class 7 FFL (Federal Firearms License to manufacture firearms and ammunition, and act as dealer) and builds custom AR-15s. He has just about anything that you could want.
The list price on this rifle is $1340. Joe’s price would be $1100. Keep in mind that he can’t ship a firearm directly to you, but can arrange the legal transfer through an FFL holder in your area. For more information contact Joe Luhn at:
Crazzy Joes LLC
Arizona City, AZ