A Hunter's Gun
The cuts in my knees bled and my entire body ached as I knelt on the blazing hot rock. The sweat hit my eyes looking up the mountain as I moved slowly as to not make any sudden movements. The sand found its way into every cut, but I didn’t give it a second thought. Time slowed. Looking up, we spotted a herd of blue wildebeest, all females. Suddenly my PH, Uncle Fanie, propped up the sticks. Out of nowhere the herd stood up, all at once a mere forty yards away. Fifteen seconds seemed like an eternity when the herd bull stands up. In the scope, I could see his old battle-worn horns, his hide covered in the red dust of Africa. Then I heard the magic words, take him. The Savage barked, and the poor man’s buffalo buckled.
After days of little sleep and lots of walking the pain didn’t bother because I was in God’s country, Africa. I had put in countless stalks on blue wildebeest an animal commonly known as the poor man’s buffalo and took him down with one shot from my 300 Win Mag Savage 110 Long Range Hunter. In times like this, the most important aspect of a rifle is accuracy. The Savage had accuracy covered in spades and more importantly it’s a cost-effective rifle to carry when taking on the dark continent.
I have a special place in my heart for the Savage 110 model rifles. My first centerfire rifle was an early model 110 in 270 Win that someone spray painted camo. It was all I could afford at the time, and it stayed with me through my first few seasons of deer hunting. My hunting mentor, Mr. Vernon Clark, who has killed more deer than anyone I have ever met in life took almost all of them with a left-handed Savage model 110 in 30-06 that his father gifted him as a teenager. To this day, I have yet to encounter one that doesn’t shoot well.
Upon receiving the rifle, I noticed a few things. The gun I was sent was no cherry-picked show model. The gun had been shot and from the looks of it, hunted. This was excellent as the bolt was already smooth as silk, having the same feeling as a broken in leather boots. For caliber, I chose the 300 Win Mag. I had taken game in Africa before with this round and found its performance nothing short of excellent. In the recoil department, this rifle shines above the competition with honestly the best designed brake I’ve ever encountered on a rifle. Most brakes on rifles are removable for hunting situations but the gun will generally not shoot to the same point of aim after removal. Savage has remedied this with a break that twist from an open or closed position. A brilliant design feature because now while sighting in on the bench one can leave the brake open, and while hunting close it to save the hearing of everyone around you.
The load selected for this rifle was the new Federal Edge TLR 200gr bullet. This load is designed by Federal to give long range performance in a bonded core bullet. The load shot at just under an inch from a cold barrel. Atop the gun was one of my favorite scopes on the market currently, the Vortex Light Hunter 2-10x. After zero was confirmed, the real practice of shooting from field positions began. Shooting standing up from sticks is a must if anyone wants to pursue game in Africa via spot and stalk. It’s no secret that I normally practice off sticks during range sessions, but this was a new rifle with a hunt fast approaching.
The only issue I experienced with the rifle was it fed twice out of about 60 rounds if the bolt wasn’t slammed open with force. This is no different than what I have found on most push feed guns
Arriving in Polokwane after 2 days of traveling I wasted no time confirming zero with the rifle and pursuing game. The first few days were filled with busted stalks due to terrible weather and the winds continual shift. On the third day of the hunt with nothing in the salt I rounded the corner of a giant baobab tree and there standing perfectly broadside was a beautiful impala ram. The sticks went down, and Uncle Fanie said it was time to put the rifle to work. One shot square on the shoulder and the impala fell in its tracks. We walked another hour with a failed stalk on a cull kudu bull and the sun beat down hard. We waited for the truck to come pick us up by a waterhole in a blind, which was a welcomed break from the sun. Not five minutes passed, I heard a giant roar coming from the white thorn trees. I woke up Uncle Fanie from his nap, thinking a leopard was surely beneath us. He laughed with a big smile. The sound was another impala ram in rut, and he was even bigger than the one I had just shot! Another shot right on the shoulder, and I added two impala to the salt.
Driving down the mountain the next day in search of kudu we cut a nice set of tracks. A few hours we sat and glassed a hillside, searching for those tell-tale corkscrew horns. Suddenly, a big bull broke cover running up. I waited for him to stop and pressed the trigger. Sadly, I missed the biggest kudu I have ever seen in my life. A consolation was that on the way back I dropped another impala, this time a nice fat female, good for eating. The next morning, I got my blue wildebeest and my heart was overjoyed.
Africa is an amazing place and an excellent proving ground for the Savage. When most people I know are on a budget for a safari every penny counts. Why buy a custom rifle for hunting plains game if this gun will do just fine? Put that money toward another animal on the list and trust the Savage. Good luck and good hunting. ~ Ian
Ian Bradley Johnson
Ian Bradley Johnson is a passionate firearms enthusiast. His gun hobbies include historical military and sporting firearms, hunting and collecting. Johnson is an avid hunter who enjoys travel and experiencing different hunting cultures abroad.