Two Savages built for the long range (VIDEO)

Two Savages built for the long range (VIDEO)


In 2017, Savage Arms expanded the working person’s options for long range excellence by introducing the 10 BA Stealth. This year, the company went deep on options for distance shooters when they added the 10 BA Stealth Evolution. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do a months-long examination of the two platforms to inform some observations and preferences between the two models, specifically the ones chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. (The original Stealth is also available in .223 Remington and .308 Winchester, and the Evolution is offered in those chamberings, plus .308 Winchester Magnum and .338 Lapua.)

Barrels

Both rifles feature a floating, fluted, threaded, 24-inch carbon steel barrel. With the Evolution comes a hefty, three-slot compensator. Twist rate on the 10 BA Stealth is 1-in-8-inch. The Evolution’s barrel is cut with an 8 5R twist, a feature that reportedly causes less scarring of the bullet jacket and therefore delivers better accuracy–a nuance of performance I’ve not personally confirmed as of this writing.

Chassis and Features

The 10 BA Stealth (foreground) and its descendant, the 10 BA Stealth Evolution—similar platforms ideally suited for different applications. (Photo: Eve Flanigan/Guns.com)

Both rifles have a monolithic aluminum chassis and sleek, futuristic profiles, but here is also where their appearance and features differ greatly. The original Stealth has a solid matte black finish, with M-Lok slots on the forend. The Evolution is finished in striking bronze Cerakote—a slight betrayal of the “Stealth” title. Both have a sling swivel stud under the forend.

Prefer to mount accessories on Picatinny rail rather than M-Lok? The Evolution has you covered with a whopping 18-inch rail on top and a four-inch section on each side of the forend. The 2017 Stealth has a modest six-inch rail spanning the chamber. It’s been more than sufficient as a platform for the large and dependable Bushnell Elite Tactical LRS 6-24x 50mm scope.

Across the board, Savage stuck with their trademark ambi three-position safety just behind the bolt. This sensible feature gives the shooter the option to lock either bolt and trigger, or just the trigger, in silence.

Likewise the trigger on both models is the brand’s patented Accu Trigger, with a safety lever and user-adjustable pull.  Both these rifles’ triggers broke at less than 3 pounds out of the box. The break is as clean as any I’ve felt on expensive custom builds; I feel no need to change the factory settings.

Stocks

Only a mean mother or a gun writer would compare siblings’ butts. Here, it’s obvious the younger Stealth was bequeathed with more ample room behind. (Photo: Eve Flanigan/Guns.com)

Where these rifles look much different is in the after-market polymer stocks Savage chose. The 2017 10 BA Stealth has a six-position telescoping Fab Defense GLR model, with adjustable cheek riser. It’s a high-traction, lightweight choice that enhances the rifle’s lean and mean profile. Adjustments are quick and silent.

On the 10 BA Stealth Evolution is Magpul’s precision-rifle specialist stock. Close as I can tell, it’s that brand’s PRS Gen 3 Precision-Adjustable model, which retails alone for $254.95. It too is customizable for length of pull/eye relief and cheek height. Here again the Stealth name is a bit misleading, as adjustments entail a series of loud clicks as the dial is moved.

Both stocks have sockets for attaching sling mounts.

If you have to pick just one

Both these rifles have demonstrated accuracy that’s well below minute of angle. Both are capable of match-grade performance. With time invested in exploring various factory or hand loads to determine what performs best in an individual rifle, combined with a dependable scope and good trigger-pressing, their accuracy is on par with the best rifles available. But which one is the better choice? Here’s my take—

If going off the beaten path or law enforcement sniper work is your game, the original 10 BA Stealth packs all the good stuff into a more portable package. While two pounds of difference doesn’t sound like much, the actual handling of these rifles is different enough to mention. This matte black gun also has a more stealthy presence and is tactical in the true sense of the word, with its shooter interface being quickly adjustable for changing positions in new environments. Indeed, this rifle put this truth downrange last year by scoring a single-shot, dead-in-tracks kill of a muley buck at 327 yards using Federal Fusion ammunition.

The downside of this lighter package, sans a muzzle device, is more felt recoil. This has been a non-issue for our testers using the rifle afield with 6.5 Creedmoor loads.  It’s this writer’s guess that the .308 rendition of the original Stealth would be more fatiguing to shoot extensively than its Evolution descendant.

The Magpul stock on the 10 BA Stealth Evolution, with audible adjustment clicks, can be considered less stealthy than the 10 BA Stealth’s FAB Defense stock. (Photo Eve Flanigan/Guns.com)

A massive, three-slot compensator on the Evolution provides significant recoil reduction. (Photo: Eve Flanigan/Guns.com)

Thoughts of long days in prone behind the rifle may lead the heart to yearn for the Evolution instead of the original Stealth. The longer, heavier setup, in any caliber by comparison, should absorb more recoil. Laying on the shooting platform all day behind the Evolution is every bit as much a treat as a day on the beach—perhaps more so!

The traits that make the Evolution a great match/platform partner work against it afield. It’s a big package to lug around. A bipod or forend rest of some sort is a veritable necessity; it’s difficult for my five-foot, five-inch frame to support this long rifle even for one shot in prone.

The bronze finish is eye-catching and lovely, lending the Evolution instant visual appeal. However this, plus the audible and slower click-click action required to adjust the shoulder and cheek contact points, make it fall short of being an ideal partner for hunting or law enforcement. It may have the Stealth name, but it’s more like a flamboyant cousin. The longer barrel and advanced rifling design make it an ideal choice for bench or match shooting.

These rifles are both high-performance tools that can make their operator proud. It’s the operator’s own specialization that will make one or the other the perfect choice.

Spec comparison

  10 BA Stealth 10 BA Stealth Evolution
     
Frame: Monolithic aluminum, matte black Monolithic aluminum, bronze cerakote
 
Barrel: 24-inch carbon steel, fluted, 1:8 twist, threaded 24-inch carbon steel, fluted, 8:5R twist; threaded, with compensator
 
Trigger: Accu Trigger Accu Trigger
 
Stock: Fab Defense telescoping with adjustable cheek riser Magpul with adjustable length of pull and cheek riser
 
Magazine: 10-round detachable box 10-round detachable box
 
Overall length: 45.25 inches at max. extension 48.25 inches at max. extension
 
Weight: 9.2 pounds, unloaded 11 pounds, unloaded
 
MSRP: $1,209 $1,799

 

The video version of this review refers to the platform as “BA 10” and not “10 BA” Stealth. The former is correct.  Federal Premium Ammunition and Lucky Gunner sponsored ammunition for testing. 





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