Important Savage 10ML-II "DO and DON'T"

By Randy Wakeman


Savage 10MLBSS-II
Illustration courtesy of Savage Arms

"When all else fails, read the manual" has never been more true than it is today. Most of us are guilty to an extent; I know I sure am. It really should not have taken me six weeks to assemble that entertainment center. We all want the same thing, though: maximum results with minimal effort.

A major powder manufacturer reported to me that well over 90% of their e-mails were questions already redundantly addressed on their website. A major scope manufacturer reported to me that well over 50% of all their returned products had no problems whatsoever after comprehensive disassembly and inspection.

There is a trend of sorts, here: we don't like to read instructions. The following list of "DO" is compiled so you can get the most out of your 10ML-II. The list of "DON'T" is likewise compiled so you can get the most out of your 10ML-II. That's what everybody wants, that's what the Savage Team wants, and that certainly is what new owners want. Even if you are otherwise experienced with other muzzleloaders or firearms, please do yourself a favor and review these items. It will make your new "out of the box" experience much more enjoyable, and you will discover the superior performance the 10ML-II provides a whole lot quicker.

I. DO USE CURRENT FORMULATION SABOTS

Everything we do is contingent on the performance of the polyethylene sabot. Unfortunately, it isn't easy to tell how old a sabot is just by looking at it or even who made it. Contingent on how retailers handle their inventory, we could be using old formula sabots that will not give us top performance. For Hornady .452" 250 grain and 300 grain XTP bullets, please take the vital variable out of the equation by getting fresh sabots from MMP at 870-741-5019, or see their website at http://mmpsabots.com. You need the short, black "MMP" 50 x. 451 sabot.

For longer bullets, MMP offers the .50 x .451 HPH12 and HPH24 sabots. The HPH24 sabots have an assembled outside diameter a bit smaller than the HPH12 sabots and are easier to seat. Ultraviolet light attacks and destroys sabots, so do not leave them on your dashboard, etc. A cool, dry place is best. Storing them where temperatures breach 150 degrees Fahrenheit can render then useless.

II. DO USE PROVEN BULLET COMBINATIONS

The Savage Owners manual lists loads for 250 grain to 300 grain projectiles. For best results, please stay within that range. The Hornady XTP bullets mentioned above have been proven over tens of thousands of shots over sixteen years, and rate a "must try."

Other sabot / bullet combinations have since been found suitable, such as the 300 grain Barnes MZ-Expander with the supplied sabot (an MMP HPH 12 sabot), and the Orange MMP 50 x .458 sabot married to the .458" Barnes Original 300 grain Spitzer Soft Point (#457010) and the Hornady .458" 300 grain Hollow Point #4500. These combinations work exceeding well in most Savage 10ML-II rifles. It just makes sense to take advantage of previous, well-proven results.

III. DO NOT USE POWERBELTS WITH SMOKELESS POWDER

Use of "Powerbelts" and other bore-sized conicals with smokeless powder is clearly prohibited by the Savage 10ML-II Owner's manual. They are undersized, and can cause misfires. The green gas check at the base has a hole in it, and is insufficient for smokeless powder. By virtue of being bore-sized, they fly poorly compared to the Savage recommended .45 caliber projectiles. Not jacketed, they are copper plated ("copper clad") or just pure lead. They have been tested, and in addition to all the other problems, filling your barrel full of lead has been the result, a horrible mess to to clean up.

However, heavier Powerbelts and other heavy conicals do shoot quite well out of the Savage when used with Pyrodex or Triple Se7en. Just do not cause yourself problems by using them with smokeless powder.

IV. ABSOLUTELY PLEASE DO USE STARTING LOADS

For best accuracy, as mentioned in most reloading manuals, never start at a high or "maximum" charge of powder. Every gun is an individual, and we must complete the one-time task necessary to find the most accurate load for our rifle. Specifically, with IMR SR4759 start at 39.0 grains of powder by weight. With Accurate Arms 5744 start at 40 grains of powder by weight. With Vihtavouri N110, please start with 37 grains of powder by weight. No exceptions!

All of these starting loads produce generous velocity, energy, and terminal performance to quickly, humanely harvest deer-sized game to 250 yards. In addition, you will appreciate the low recoil, low cost per shot, and low stress on your sabot, scope and mounts. You may not want or need to increase the respective charges beyond these levels.

However, you can certainly work up a more powerful load by increasing your powder charge weights in one grain increments to the levels stated in the Savage Owner's manual. When your groups start to open up, it is time to back down that powder charge a grain or so--you have reached the reliability and accuracy limit of your sabot.

It makes no sense to try the same powder charge again and hoping for a different result. We need to work up a load using the starting loads, not by starting high and working down. This gives us the accuracy and performance that we all seek, and is immensely satisfying.

V. DO NOT USE SUB-BASES OR ANY OTHER MATERIAL BETWEEN THE SABOT AND POWDER

Sub-bases have been shown to reduce muzzle velocity, inhibit proper load work-up, and are a needless complication and expense. The use of sub-bases or any other material between the sabot and the powder charge is clearly prohibited by the Savage 10ML-II owner's manual.

VI. DO INSERT RAMROD IN THIMBLES BEFORE PRIMING YOUR GUN

The ramrod absolutely must be removed from the barrel and inserted in the thimbles or placed away from the 10ML-II before inserting a 209 shotshell primer. Most of us would never think of leaving a cleaning rod in a shotgun or a centerfire rifle, for good reason. It is mandatory that a ramrod is never, ever left in the barrel of any muzzleloader.

VII. DO DISCHARGE YOUR GUN AT THE END OF THE DAY

Nothing good can possibly happen to powder after it is loaded into a muzzleloader. The wide variety of ambient conditions while hunting, temperature changes over the evening, moving a gun in and out of a vehicle, and so forth can impair the reliability of your charge. No one in their right mind would leave a bottle of powder uncapped and exposed to contamination.

In a harried hunting camp, muzzleloaders can (and have) "reloaded" guns that are already loaded with powder and sabot. The Savage 10ML-II uses non-corrosive propellants and requires no immediate cleaning. Discharging your gun in a safe direction at the end of the day helps insure reliability and accuracy that can be vital to a successful hunt.

VIII. DO SERVICE YOUR BREECH PLUG AND VENTLINER

The Savage 10ML-II needs the least regular maintenance of any muzzleloader made. However, to insure the best reliability and accuracy, the 10ML-II must be cleaned after ever pack of primers, or 100 shots. This is the simple task of removing your breechplug, taking out the ventliner, and drilling out the carbon from the breechplug by going in from the primer side with a 5/32" drill bit. Then clean the breechplug threads.

The barrel is cleaned as you would a centerfire rifle, and a new vent-liner has its threads coated with Mil-Spec 907E Anti-Seize (from any auto parts store) and installed in the breechplug. The breechplug threads are also lubed with Anti-Seize, and reinstalled.

Now you are good to go. Many Savage 10ML-II enthusiasts clean their rifles once a year, whether they need it or not.

IX. PLEASE DO ALLOW GENEROUS BARREL COOLING TIME

Heat is the enemy of sabots: it can quickly soften and weaken them. For best accuracy, allow your barrel to cool between shots before reloading. If you reload, it is too late, the sabot is already in direct contact with hot metal. If your barrel is hot to the touch, it is likely too hot to maintain full sabot strength or the best shooting accuracy.

By taking the small amount of time requisite to following the suggestions, you can help yourself get excellent results quickly, and are well on your way to a lifetime of shooting enjoyment. For further information, please do consult your Savage 10ML-II Owner's manual. It is supplied to help you get the most out of your new Savage muzzleloader.




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Copyright 2005 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.



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