Why There Will Be No More Savage Muzzleloaders
There has been a perpetual flood of questions about future availability of the Savage 10ML-II. Based on numerous highly placed sources, the straight answer is No, there is never going to be anymore Savage 10ML-II product made.
Sure, Savage could make them. Unfortunately, it is no longer cost-effective to do so. Savage Arms, now owned by ATK, has blossomed into a large company, as gun manufacturers go. Last year, Savage shipped 740,000 rifles and still had a backlog to carry over into this year. Savage could move machines around, do a tooling change and sell 6000 muzzleloaders in a heartbeat. While that number may have been of interest a decade ago, it isn't today. Time is money and to the extent that running muzzleloaders stops production on center-fires in Westfield, Massachusetts, it is a losing proposition. All for unit sales potential of less than one percent of Savage Arms output.
If Savage Arms was not running three shifts, six days a week, with some production on Sundays, it would perhaps be feasible. However, they are and they still have not been able to keep up with the orders, despite an aggressive investment in more capital equipment and a doubling of their work force. Selling six thousand rifles would certainly be a dream come true to a custom rifle-maker, but it is a losing venture for Savage Arms.
Additionally, the 10ML-II receiver cannot be used for left-hand models or other mainstream Savage product, nor can the bolt or the stocks. Unlike other Savage products, the 10ML-II is a non Form 4473 arm. The lack of locking lugs and proprietary bolt was one of the concessions made to satisfy the ATF in the 10ML-II.
On top of all these factors, the Savage rimfire plant is stressed to capacity. As a result of the rimfire backlog, the new Savage B.Mag using the new .17 Winchester Super Magnum is being made in Westfield, Massachusetts, consuming space previously used for part of 10ML-II manufacture.
The Savage 10ML-II had one of the longest continuous runs of any American inline muzzleloader and is the only mainstream inline designed from the beginning to use smokeless powder. The Savage 10ML series launched an entire industry, for now there are countless smaller manufacturers of smokeless muzzleloaders, although they are at much higher price points than the mass-produced, more popularly priced Savage 10ML.
It isn't good news for those who don't have a Savage 10ML-II, to be sure. For the 50,000 or so folks that do have them, your investment is now worth more than double what you paid, perhaps a bit more. That doesn't happen with muzzleloaders very often. Somehow, I get the feeling that the late Henry Ball is smiling down and whispering, I told you so.
Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.