Savage Reinvents the MSR-10

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If you’re an AR-10 fan who likes to hunt big game or ding long-range targets, you need to see what Savage has done to the MSR platform.

by the ShootingDaily staff; promoted by Savage

There are certain rules you play by. We learned that years ago (although some of us learned better than others). The same goes for production firearm manufacturers. There are rules guiding innovation. The biggest rule of all, perhaps, is that the scale of economy trumps everything else. In other words, if an idea cannot be manufactured and sold in large enough volume to deliver a reasonable return on investment, then that idea usually goes into the, “Oh, well…” file.

But as we know, not everyone plays by the rules. Savage Arms certainly doesn’t. In the last several years, the company has pushed the boundaries in both engineering innovation and market segmentation to deliver the kind of high-accuracy, high-tuned performance rifles you expect to find in the realm of small-volume boutique manufacturers and custom gunsmith operations, not a large-volume manufacturer.

Consider the recently introduced Savage 10 BA Stealth. Here is an out-of-the-box long-range production rifle that can not only go toe-to-toe with the best custom-blueprinted and accurized rifles, but do so at less than half the cost.

Even the company’s “on-ramp” rifles such as the Axis line deliver off-the-shelf performance (courtesy of high-quality steel barrels, precise chamber dimensions, floating bolt heads, and the notable screw-in barrel/locking nut design) that routinely exceed production rifle expectations.

So, when we learned last year that Savage intended to take the deep dive into the modern sporting rifle marketplace, we couldn’t wait to see how the company would put their unique spin on the venerable Stoner design.

Enter the “Modern Savage Rifle” MSR

Rather than dribble out new models, Savage chose the all-in route to approaching the MSR market, releasing four distinct AR variants—the MSR 15 Patrol, MSR 15 Recon, MSR 10 Hunter, and the MSR 10 Long Range. While the MSR 15 Patrol and Recon models are intended to fill the more conventional expectations of M4-style fans (both are chambered in .223 Wylde), it is the MSR 10 models that have garnered most of the attention since the lineup’s introduction. And for good reason. The MSR 10 platform rifles represent the new frontier in hunting and long-range shooting applications.

Purpose-Built Performance

Thanks to its modular construction and predictable dimensions, the AR platform can be built in an almost infinite variety of flavors. That’s a good thing in one aspect, but it also leads some manufacturers to create rifles with parts that are not optimized to work together at peak proficiency. A good example of this is the barrel and gas system configuration. Carbine-, mid-, and rifle-length gas systems are fixed in length based on barrel length, and the length from the gas port to the receiver is critical to a direct-impingement gas system rifle’s performance.

Unfortunately, the mix-n-match approach to building an AR doesn’t always result in an optimally tuned rifle. Thus, Savage engineers started with a clean sheet of paper in designing the MSR 10 platform.


The barrel and gas system lengths for the MSR 10 series are specifically tailored for their respective cartridges—the .308 WIN and 6.5 Creedmoor. This means each of the two Hunter and Long Range models have unique barrel lengths and precisely adjusted gas tube lengths. What’s more, both series rifles include adjustable gas blocks to allow the shooter to fine-tune the system.

Speaking of the barrels, all are fluted to reduce weight and feature a Melonite QPQ finish inside and out. This is a non-reflective finish that not only delivers maximum wear- and corrosion-resistance, but also has a lower friction coefficient. That’s good news for helping to keep the barrel clean.

Another barrel enhancement shared among the MSR rifles is the 5R rifling technology. These barrels are button-rifled with five lands/grooves instead of the even-numbered four or six lands/grooves. Additionally, the lands are subtly slanted versus the sharp 90-degree angle between the lands and grooves found on conventional barrels. This obtuse angle makes the barrel easier to clean and reduces fouling buildup.

Combined—the Melonite QPQ finish, angled lands, and staggered, odd-number land/groove arrangement—provides just the right bullet support and spin with minimal constriction. Add to this the tuned gas system lengths and the MSR 10 rifles deliver smooth cycling with mitigated recoil and component wear.


A Look Apart

Another advantage of building a cohesive, ground-up rifle platform is the ability to create a sleeker, more unified look and almost monolithic profile of the upper, lower, and forend assembly. By designing their own proprietary forged upper and lower receivers and their own free-float forend, the Savage engineers have produced one of the most streamlined AR-style rifles we’ve ever seen. Note, particularly, the transition between the upper receiver and the forend. It is practically seamless. Ditto for the receiver rail and forend rail abutment. This mating surface is not only aesthetically pleasing, it’s also functional. The precise co-witnessing allows the installation of scope mounts that span both rails—an important feature for rifles that will inevitably sport larger-than-average optics for the type of long-range shooting these rifles were designed for.


Savage MSR 10 Hunter


While target and tactical applications continue to dominate the AR segment, every year, more shooters are looking to cross-purpose their rifles for hunting. That, of course, demands a cartridge capable of reliably and ethically downing large game. Heavier, purpose-designed bullets found in larger calibers supported by the MSR 10 platform are ideal for big game hunting. The .308 WIN and 6.5 Creedmoor, for example, have proven their mettle for effectively dropping large game at all ranges. Hence, the Savage MSR 10 Hunter.

Weighing in at 7.8 pounds in the .308 WIN configuration (8 pounds in 6.5 Creedmoor), the MSR 10 Hunter delivers accurate, long-range firepower in a platform that you can comfortably carry in the field all day.

The MSR 10 Hunter hosts an Enhanced Trigger. This is a single-stage trigger with MILSPEC dimensions and a duty/defense pull of 6-7 pounds. What separates this from the MILSPEC trigger, however, is the Boron infusion on the surface. This produces a hard, smooth surface that delivers an equally smooth pull and clean break. That’s not only an accuracy enhancer, the surface also requires no lubrication—perfect for working in a hunting environment.

A couple more features we like about the MSR 10 Hunter are the Blackhawk Knoxx Axiom AR grip and adjustable buttstock. Unlike standard A2 pistol grips that are small, slick, and not exactly ergonomic, the Knoxx Axiom AR grip is comfortable and glove-friendly. Also glove-friendly is the contoured trigger guard. As for the buttstock, the robust rubber butt pad not only does a great job of sucking up recoil, you can adjust the length-of-pull as the climate and your clothing requirements change.

Key Specifications: MSR 10 Hunter

  • Caliber: .308 WIN or 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Barrel Length: 16-1/8 in. (.308 WIN) / 18-in. (6.5 Creedmoor)
  • Rifle Twist: 1:10 (.308 WIN) / 1:8 (6.5 Creedmoor)
  • Gas Block: adjustable
  • Gas System Length: mid+
  • Trigger: Enhanced (single-stage)
  • Receiver (upper & lower): custom-forged 7075-T6
  • Bolt: E9310 high-pressure w/dual ejectors
  • Charging Handle: rear
  • Buttstock: Blackhawk Knoxx Axiom adjustable
  • Grip: Blackhawk Knoxx Axiom AR
  • Forend: Savage aluminum hexagonal w/M-LOK
  • Magazine: 20-round Magpul P-Mag
  • Weight: 7.8 lbs. (.308 WIN) / 8.0 lbs. (6.5 Creedmoor)
  • Overall Length (collapsed): 35 in. (.308 WIN) / 37 in. (6.5 Creedmoor)


Savage MSR 10 Long Range


There’s no denying that long-range shooting is the new frontier for a growing number of firearm enthusiasts. So, it seemed only natural that Savage would include a long-range variant in its new AR lineup.

Inspired by the military’s Special Purpose Rifle, the MSR 10 Long Range also comes chambered in .308 WIN or 6.5 Creedmoor, but with a few notable differences when compared to the MSR 10 Hunter.

First, of course, is the longer barrel—20 inches for the .308 WIN and 22 for the 6.5 Creedmoor. Both utilize Savage’s 5R button-rifled cut, with twists of 1:10 and 1:8, respectively.

The other notable difference is the buttstock. The MSR 10 Long Range is paired with Magpul’s PRS GEN3. This is a tool-less stock that lets you adjust the length of pull and cheek riser height for the ideal fit in any shooting position.

Another shooter-refinement feature of the MSR 10 Long Range is the trigger. This one is also an Enhanced Trigger, but in a two-stage pull.


As with the Hunter model, the Long Range is built on Savage’s own forged upper and lower receiver. The key difference with the Long Range is that its receiver features a non-reciprocating side charging handle in addition to the rear charging handle. Those of you who have shot AR-10 style rifles with appropriately sized optics already know the benefits of this—easier charging when shooting prone or with a large scope.

Key Specifications: MSR 10 Long Range

  • Caliber: .308 WIN or 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Barrel Length: 20 in. (.308 WIN) / 22-in. (6.5 Creedmoor)
  • Rifle Twist: 1:10 (.308 WIN) / 1:8 (6.5 Creedmoor)
  • Gas Block: adjustable
  • Gas System Length: rifle+
  • Trigger: Enhanced (two-stage)
  • Receiver (upper & lower): custom-forged 7075-T6
  • Bolt: E9310 high-pressure w/dual ejectors
  • Charging Handle: rear and non-reciprocating side charging
  • Buttstock: Magpul PRS GEN3
  • Grip: Blackhawk Knoxx Axiom AR
  • Forend: Savage aluminum hexagonal w/M-LOK
  • Magazine: 10-round Magpul P-Mag
  • Weight: 9.75 lbs. (.308 WIN) / 10.0 lbs. (6.5 Creedmoor)
  • Overall Length (collapsed): 41 5/8 in. (.308 WIN) / 43 5/8 in. (6.5 Creedmoor)

The AR platform has proven its versatility over the years, allowing for seemingly infinite customization options and performance thresholds. What Savage has done with its new MSR 10 lineup has certainly raised the performance bar across the industry. That they have done so in a production rifle environment while keeping retail costs in check is even more impressive.

If you’ve been waiting for a viable and affordable hunting or long-distance AR model to hit the streets, here you go…



Savage Arms

copyright © 2017; promoted by Savage

Although Savage is one of our sponsors, the views expressed in this article are those of the author. receives compensation from Savage in various forms to help promote their products.