In 2018, Savage Arms released a re-interpretation of its excellent 10 BA Stealth rifle, already a long range standout. The new horse in the stable is called the Savage 10 BA Stealth Evolution, a long winded, but fitting name for a rifle that can easily transform a casual shooter into a long range performer.
Thanks to its size, the Evolution is more at home on the bench or in a predictable sniper’s hide than afield. At 11 pounds and 48.25 inches long with the stock fully extended, this is one heavy rifle—which makes shooting that much sweeter, as its sheer heft serves as a recoil minimizer. In addition, the threaded barrel comes standard with a three-slot compensator that further dissipates rearward momentum.
They kept the fluted, floated barrel design of the original, but the Savage 10 BA Stealth Evolution’s 24-inch carbon steel barrel has an 8 5R twist in the 6.5 Creedmoor chambering which I was provided for testing. The updated twist is specialized for greater bullet stability over long distances, by putting less bite into the projectile. That didn’t make intuitive sense until I learned that solid brass bullets are becoming commonplace in the long range competition and recreation arena.
In a redux of their approach to the Stealth, but with a very different appearance, Savage chose some out-of-house components combined with trusted in-house ones. Drake Associates makes the Evolution’s receiver and handguard, as with the original Stealth. However, this one’s finished in brilliant bronze. A combination of M1913 rail and M-Lok along the handguard offers ample room for attachments. A sling swivel stud still appears up front, serving me as an attachment point for a bipod, a near-necessity on this rifle.
Borrowing again from industry leaders, Magpul’s PRS Gen 3 stock brings up the rear. This big, beefy stock provides plenty of adjustable support for shoulder and cheek. I could do without the audible click-click-click of the adjustment dials but am thankful that my relatively small frame can get correctly positioned behind this big gun thanks to the stock.
Savage chose a Hogue pistol grip for this rifle, in a continued demonstration of using the industry’s best components. And likewise, the Evolution sports a Savage bolt action system, three-position tang safety, and the proven Savage AccuTrigger. For those not in the know, this single-stage trigger is user adjustable and features a safety block lever similar to those on a Glock pistol. Out of the box, the Evolution trigger was set light—2.13 pounds according to my Lyman trigger gauge. It’s perfect for bench shooting at this setting, along with the AccuTrigger’s clean and easy break.
The Savage 10 BA Stealth Evolution requires a great scope to realize its potential. Bushnell provided their excellent Elite Tactical LRTSi 3-12x. This scope, like the AccuTrigger, has proven itself on the long range, playing a big role in helping make some cherished memories of the long range. The scope mounts easily on the generous length of M1913 rail atop the Evolution, an extraordinarily stable design that had me ringing steel at 575 yards within a couple minutes of establishing zero.
This is a sub-MOA shooter, capable of half-inch groups at 100 yards. Ammunition does count, and our testing showed American Eagle Open Tip Match 140 grain, which unfortunately has been discontinued, and Federal Gold Medal Berger 130 grain performed with the greatest precision. The headspace control system used by Savage, in which individual barrels are fitted by hand to their own action and bolt. In this way, Savage achieves a custom touch and commensurate accuracy and consistency from their rifles.
Having tested the original 10 BA Stealth in the same 6.5 Creedmoor caliber, I expected the Evolution to be super-accurate. What I didn’t expect was how fast it would take me from zeroing to 575 yards, easily and with superb accuracy. This rifle truly puts custom, match-grade performance in a factory package, at a price that’s within reach for more shooters than a custom package. Look for the Evolution in 6.5 Creedmoor to be priced around $1,450 at local outlets. The rifle is also available in .223 Remington, 6mm Creedmoor, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Lapua, with some features differing from those described here.