Reviewing A 6.5 CM Savage Model 10 With APO Chassis
I’ve been a precision rifle junkie for over two decades. In that time, I’ve seen a few things come and go. There has a been a great deal of equipment presented by a plethora of manufacturers, and today we are going to revisit a couple of those.
The rifle we are discussing today is a combination effort from two players in the shooting sports industry: Ashbury Precision Ordnance (APO), a rifle chassis and rifle system manufacturer, and Savage Arms, which is known for making affordable precision rifles, among other types of firearms.
APO is an international manufacturer and broker of firearms and accessories, offering high-performance shooting equipment. I was made aware of APO years ago when I began to see more and more of its rifles and chassis systems show up in forums, competition circles, marketing material, and elsewhere.
My initial impression was that APO’s designs were specifically focused on shooting performance – by that I mean its rifles and chassis were built quite robustly. Rigid and perhaps even overbuilt is one way you could describe them. For static accurate shooting, this is not a bad approach. But for fast-moving competitive shooting styles, it could be perhaps a little less ideal.
In recent years, APO has all but disappeared from the places I remember seeing its products so often before. So much in fact, I wondered if APO had moved on to another market. These are, of course, only one man’s opinions, and perhaps I am simply less observant than most.
I bought my first Savage decades ago. I was already deep into the dark art of rifling and had even had custom rifles built. But that old Savage 10FP just hit right, and I had to have it. It quickly because my favorite, due mainly to its flat-out performance. I would make some of the best shots of my career with that rifle because of the consistent use and familiarity.
This is a common thread among Savage shooters. In my opinion, despite the lower cost of Savage barreled actions, they frequently punch above their weight. This has led to a cult-like following by many who have had the same experience I did. On many occasions, I watched as my little Savage outshot rifles two and three times the cost (possibly due to the shooter’s skill). Today’s subject is a direct descendant of my old 10FP, as the Savage Model 110 is a more modern version of the same design.
When I first opened the box, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it was going to be an APO/Savage combination, but of what generation? As I lifted it from the box, my curiosity remained, as it appeared to be a slightly older model.
The complete rifle was quite long. The 24-inch fluted Creedmoor barrel was tipped with a three-pronged suppressor mount. The large diameter M-LOK handguard filled my support hand, and the AR-15-style pistol grip granted easy access to the trigger. The folding buttstock reminded me of times past. The stock was adjustable and mounted to an AR buffer tube.
The Savage action had the longer bolt handle and knob typically seen on the long-range models. It also featured Savage’s famous AccuTrigger and a tang-mounted safety. I ran the bolt a few times with the rifle shouldered, and everything felt right in the world. The rifle is fed by AI-pattern box magazines. This rifle came with a Magpul version, which was easily removed by the large mag-catch in front of the trigger guard.
Everything looked right, so it was time to prep this rifle for the range. I would need just a few things to see how this rifle would perform, including a riflescope and a bipod. I decided to put my US Optics FDN25X on the rifle, mainly because it was close and available. I installed a Magpul sling stud in the front of the handguard so I could install a Harris SL bipod.
Once I had those two items installed on the rifle, I again tested everything for compatibility and found something I wasn’t prepared for. Even after mounting my scope as far back as I could on the scope rail, the length of pull was so long I couldn’t get a good position to see through the scope. Despite all the adjustments on the buttstock, it was incapable of getting any shorter than it already was.
This was going to be trouble. I simply couldn’t shoot it as-is. I could have mounted the scope differently or used another scope, but it wouldn’t have completely solved the problem. I ended up having to swap out the buttstock for a shorter collapsible type – not exactly my first choice, but it would work to get the rifle on the range.
It was time to get this rifle on the range and see what it would do. I prefer testing rifles in the open country of the Rocky Mountains or the wide-open deserts nearby. It allows for long-range testing, and nobody is there to bother you.
Once I had this rifle on the firing line with a target at 100 yards, it was finally time to feed it. I loaded a few rounds of Hornady Match 140-grain ammunition. I’d boresighted the rifle previously, so I was expecting it to be on paper. I fired a few shots, and they went where I expected them to on paper.
The rifle shot OK. I would have liked it to shoot better, though. Groups averaged under MOA, but barely, and a rifle like this should be shooting 1/2 MOA all day long.
The more I shot the rifle, the more familiar I became with its functions. It fed like a dream, especially with that long bolt handle to give more leverage. The low friction of the Magpul magazine was surely also to thank. The 6.5 CM is not a big-recoiling rifle, but competition rifles are typically built for as little recoil as possible. This rifle could have used a better brake towards that end.
The chassis of the rifle was a bit cumbersome for me. It folds to reduce the overall size of the rifle, which is nice. But my complaints are more regarding use, as the magazine well seemed entirely too narrow. It required significantly more focus when reloading than other rifle chassis I’ve used.
Pros & Cons
Solid, robust design
Compatible with popular designs and accessories
AccuTrigger feels good, as always
Extended bolt handle for extra leverage
Buttstock was too long and couldn’t go short enough
Mag well was finicky
Accuracy wasn't what I expected
Three-prong muzzle device, perhaps a brake would have been better
In my experience, Savage rifles typically shoot better than this one did. It’s certainly possible that this rifle is in need of a tune-up after years of use with a previous owner. Or it could just be one of those occasional ones that doesn’t shoot that great.
The APO chassis was kind of a letdown, too. Looks aren’t everything, obviously, but they do count for something. This chassis felt like it had fallen out of a time machine from 2003. The only thing about it that felt relevant was the Magpul magazine.