The Model 110 was a collection of parts that could be produced cheaply and assembled cheaply. It was the antithesis of the “milled from a block of steel” concept. The rifle was priced at $109.95 and was offered only in .270 and .30/06. Its walnut stock had ghastly lines and awful hand checkering, and the action was cursed with a rotten trigger. But the 110 worked, and it shot well, and people could afford it. It was also made left-handed which, in those times, was nothing short of miraculous.

In 1965, the line had been expanded to include the .22/250, and so I, as a confirmed woodchuck hunter, got one. I found that some things about the 110 were too awful to live with, so I had the factory stock replaced with a Fajen, the trigger ground down to an unsafe 2 pounds, and the nonfunctional rear-sight knot milled off the barrel.

Still and all, that rifle was a shooter. Fifty-two years later I can still remember the handload I used, and its velocity, and the size of the groups. Nicholas Brewer did better than he knew (or maybe he did know). What he worked for was cheap, but in the process of getting it, he also achieved accurate.


But all was not beer and skittles at Savage. It had become a company of outmoded machinery, poor designs, and retiring skilled workers who could not be replaced. In 1972 I visited the Savage plant. There I was shown their rifling machine…which had been installed in 1898, and was a source of considerable pride. Savage passed through the hands of a number of owners, each more incompetent than the last, and by 1988 it was losing $25 million a year and was weeks away from closing its doors.

Two things saved Savage. The first was Ron Coburn, who came to the company just before it was due to go extinct. Coburn looked down the dismal roster of Savage designs and asked, “What can we make that works?” His engineers told him, “The Model 110.” And from that point forward that was all they made, and is pretty much all they now make. Coburn, and Nicholas Brewer’s collection of parts, pulled Savage back from oblivion.