Savage vs. Remington
by Lucas Beitner
There are many excellent actions that one can use to build accurate long range rifles. Mauser, Winchester, Sako, Tikka, Weatherby, and many others have been used with excellent results. Action selection is a personal choice. The two that seem to be the most popular are Remington and Savage. Both these actions have excellent aftermarket support, the Remington 700 is by far the most popular. The Savages have been gaining momentum over the last few years. What are the key differences in these actions with regard to long range accuracy, and which is best for you?
The Remington 700
The great variety of stocks, triggers, floor plates, scope bases, speed lock kits, and any other replaceable part, available for the Remington 700 is a testament to its following. When you look into aftermarket actions you’ll find a great deal that are built with the same bolt spacing and outside diameter as the 700. This is not only because the its of sound design, but also to take advantage of the aftermarket support. The 700 has one of the faster lock times, from factory actions. This is an advantage when accuracy is the goal. Any gunsmith will be familiar with the 700, this may also result in lower costs for work. The 700 comes from the factory with an adjustable trigger that when tuned properly can result in a light pull, crisp brake, and no over-travel. A good trigger can be the difference between a rifle that is a joy to shoot and one you must struggle with to shoot accurately. It is generally agreed that the new X-mark pro trigger available from Remington are inferior to the original. It is a joy to cycle a well used 700 bolt. The feel is smooth and solid. The action can be worked fast without issue. Excellent detachable magazine systems are available. Accuracy from the factory is generally very good.
The Savage 10/110
Savage definitely has less aftermarket support but it’s getting better all the time. Lock times are slower because the sear must drag across the trigger, instead of a dropping free. There are aftermarket triggers like Sharp Shooter’s which help alleviate this problem. One can also replace the firing pin spring with a heavier one, but this will increase trigger pull weight. Older factory triggers all but non adjustable. Lightening the trigger requires removal of material from the sear and trigger itself. I don’t recommend trying this unless you’re prepared to replace the trigger or have experience modifying the factory triggers. The new accu-trigger is a better design than the original and it’s adjustable. The accu-trigger is adequate for long range accuracy but I would still recommend replacement. Cycling a Savage bolt is not as nice as the 700 in my opinion. It has a heavy bolt lift and feels cheaper when operating (Some are better than others). There are solutions to the heavy bolt lift available from Stockade. The Savage action works just fine. The bolt face is replaceable on Savage bolts. This makes changing from small, standard, and magnum, bolt faces possible (without paying a smith or ordering a new bolt). Head spacing on Savage actions is done with a “barrel nut” rather than an indexed shoulder like Remington. Having a barrel nut allows one to change a barrel themselves. Barrel makers can make chambered and threaded barrels ready to install. One needs only to have a barrel wrench, action vise, and head-space gauges (there are other ways if an action vise is not available). This allows one to save money while experimenting with different cartridges and calibers. Accuracy from the factory is very good.
A book could be written on these actions, the above is only a quick overview. There are many aspects of these actions that don’t impact long range shooting (and accuracy in general). I’m partial to the Remington 700 although I have both. I grew up shooting Remington and will continue to do so. The Savage’s have allowed me the satisfaction of building my own rifles (as much as possible). If you like to work on rifles and don’t have a lathe, Savage may be a good choice for you. The ability to change from magnum to standard cartridges (and back again), is a definite plus. Part of Remington’s popularity is the fact that it has remained essentially unchanged. This allows the aftermarket to design a part that can be used by many. Savage seems less content with their design and changes have been made, causing a scramble to design parts that will work with the new design. Both actions can provide outstanding long range accuracy. Like anything else the action you choose is a personal choice. I know one x-professional marksmen (sniper) that grew up shooting Savages and will not buy anything else. You’ll find most tend to go the other way, but there is no wrong choice. If you are more comfortable with one, you’ll likely shoot better with it.