Chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor or 308 WIN, the new Savage 10 BA Stealth is a factory hotrod within reach of the workingman’s budget.
by the ShootingDaily staff
For precision rifle enthusiasts looking to take their shooting performance to a new level, that “next step” can be a mighty big one. Traditionally, it’s a long leap between a modest post-factory customized rifle (trigger upgrade, bedding job, muzzle brake install, custom stock, etc.) and a rifle that’s accurized from the action outward. Until recently, you couldn’t even get into a turnkey hotrod capable of delivering reliable performance at ≤ 1/2 MOA for under two and a half or three grand—and that was just for the rifle.
Now, all that has changed. The new Savage Arms model 10 BA Stealth is an off-the-lot long-range screamer with a sticker price that shocks (but in a good way). That’s because the BA Stealth has a cost-to-performance ratio that tips heavily in the buyer’s favor.
Those of you who are familiar with the latest crop of Savage firearms know that the company has a knack for packing ten pounds of performance into a five-pound bag. In other words, engineering features such as the company’s proprietary AccuTrigger, precision barreled action design, and heralded barrel quality find their way into many price-value Savage rifle models. With that row well hoed, it seemed only natural that Savage take that same “more for less” concept and produce a true long-range sharpshooter that fits the workingman’s budget.
Dressed to Thrill…and Drill
At first glance, the 10 BA Stealth looks more like something cooked up in a custom tactical shop than a rifle produced by a mainstream firearm manufacturer. Credit that to the Stealth’s monolithic aluminum chassis (developed in cooperation with Drake Associates). Dressed with a black matte Cerakote finish, this free-floating barrel chassis is machined from solid billet with crisp, flowing contours that make it both ergonomic and relatively light—especially when compared to conventional long-range chassis systems. The foregrip is slim and sweet in the hand, but off-hand shooting is not what the Stealth is about. A sling swivel stud is integrated into a forend that features the M-LOK rail attachment system for securing mobile long-range shooting hardware—a bipod mount and laser rangefinder.
The similarities between the Stealth’s profile and a Designated Marksman Rifle or Special Purpose Rifle is not lost on us. A conventional-style AR pistol grip (this one manufactured by Hogue) provides a comfortable grip with good trigger finger alignment. The included adjustable six-position buttstock lets you optimize length-of-pull, and it comes with an adjustable cheek riser. For those who may wish to swap this buttstock for a DMR/SPR-style stock they are already familiar with, the Stealth accepts standard AR extension tubes to make this a simple operation.
The Stealth uses a drop box magazine with a release lever similar to that of an AK/AKM. Simply push forward and the mag drops effortlessly from the receiver.
The Heart of the Matter
Much as we appreciate the streamlined efficiency of the 10 BA Stealth’s unitized chassis and ergonomic furniture, it’s what’s nestled inside the receiver that truly separates this rifle from the herd. While Savage could have easily dropped in any number of its regular production barreled actions and had a long-range performer, the engineers went one better.
Part of what has earned Savage a reputation in recent years for excellent out-of-the-box accuracy is the company’s high-quality carbon steel barrels and precise chamber dimensions coupled with a screw-in barrel/locking nut design that ensures optimal headspacing, and a floating bolt head. By using a quality barrel and minimizing cartridge slop in the chamber, accuracy has rounded second base and is heading for third. To bring it on home, the 10 BA Stealth receives a factory blueprinting. More accurately, this is a custom “truing” of the bolt and receiver assembly to make sure all is squared, parallel, and concentric to the barrel and bore. This effort, combined with a free-float barrel configuration (which the DA chassis delivers) is the final step for maximizing rifle accuracy (defined as repeatable point-of-impact) before moving on to load-tuning.
Pick Your Flavor
Savage offers the 10 BA Stealth in two chambers—6.5 Creedmoor and 308 WIN. Aside from the chambering, the only significant difference between the two is the barrel length, at 20 inches and 1:10 twist for the 308 WIN and 24 inches with 1:8 for the 6.5 Creedmoor. Weight is the same for both at 9.2 pounds, and both come with 10-round polymer magazines.
On a side note, Savage has also has in its stable the 10 BA Stealth’s big brother platform, the 110 BA Stealth, available in 300 WIN or 338 Lapua Mag, for extreme long-range shooting. Part of the Savage Law Enforcement Series, these long-action rifles come with a muzzle brake and extended Picatinny rail.
Since the 6.5 is the leading cartridge in the Precision Rifle winner’s circle these days, and is a proven load for those seeking to cash in on the round’s exceptional ballistics, we expect the 10 BA Stealth in 6.5 Creedmoor to be the hot ticket for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re pleased that Savage included the 308 WIN in the Stealth stable. It’s a comfortable round for many veteran shooters, and no doubt there are plenty of hunters itching to advance their open-range shooting opportunities with this setup.
We like to develop our initial evaluations of any rifle by tossing it into the ring cold, raw, and without the benefit of high-end peripherals. That’s certainly what we did with the BA Stealth. All our good glass was already zeroed on other projects, so we grabbed a lower-tier 3-9×40 scope we had on hand, bought an $8 set of economy grade high centerfire rings to mount to the factory one-piece EGW rail, installed a hunting-grade bipod, and said, “Show us what you got.” No cleaning and no break-in. Straight from the box to the bench. Ammo was a 6.5 Creedmoor off-the-shelf hunting load featuring a 129-grain jacketed soft point leaving the muzzle at 2820 fps.
Unlike many of the trued, tight-tolerance custom barreled actions we’ve run in the past, the Stealth’s bolt operates quite smoothly, without any hiccups when cycling the bolt. That’s good news if you’re planning to use this rifle as a dual-purpose target and varmint sniping platform.
The other shooter interface is, of course, the trigger. Swapping a stock trigger for a smoother, lighter, and crisper aftermarket trigger is usually one of the first things we do with a dedicated target rifle. No need here. The Savage AccuTrigger in our Stealth delivers that precise, surprise shot with no perceptible travel. We’re not sure if Savage performs a bit of trigger tweaking to the BA Stealth models before they leave the factory, but ours certainly felt more refined than most of the AccuTriggers we’ve pulled in the past.
After a quick, 25-yard bore sighting and a few 50-yard refinement shots, we moved out to 100 yards for the dial-in. Despite our optic/bipod/ammo handicaps and sink-or-swim approach (no cleaning or barrel break-in), the 10 BA Stealth delivered the sub-MOA performance we had hoped to see. Although our average sheets ran 1/2 to 3/4 MOA, our best 3-shot string delivered a .251-inch group. Call that 1/4 MOA.
For an out-of-the-box rifle shooting off-the-shelf hunting loads…yeah, we’ll buy that all day long.
The Bottom Line
Those of you who are familiar with precision rifles know that what we just described is the stuff of specialty manufacturers or build-to-spec custom gun makers, not a volume firearm manufacturer. And that’s the point. The 10 BA Stealth is delivering custom precision rifle performance from a mainstream manufacturer at a price far below what we’re used to paying for builds of this quality. With an MSRP of $1,207, here is a competition-ready rifle that’s within striking distance for those of us on a beer and brat budget.
Be sure to check out the video below to see an out-of-the-box BA Stealth pull of a 1-mile, two-state shot with factory ammo!
Savage Arms 10 BA Stealth
Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
Barrel: carbon steel, fluted
Twist: 1:8, right-hand
Barrel Length: 24 inches
Barrel Finish: matte black
Muzzle: threaded, 5/8×24
Action: Savage bolt, factory blueprinted
Trigger: Savage AccuTrigger
Chassis: monolithic aluminum
Accessory Mounting: M-LOK forend
Buttstock: 6-position, adjustable cheek piece
Magazine: detachable box, 10-round
Weight: 9.2 pounds
Overall Length: 45.25 inches
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