What Every New 10ML-II Owner Should Know
The 10ML-II is the most hassle-free, maintenance free muzzleloader you can own. However, that does not mean no maintenance at all. You absolutely need a 5/32" drill bit, and will need to service your breech plug after every 100 shots (one box of 209 primers).
Remove the ventliner and using an electric drill, go in from the primer side and drill out the hard carbon residue left by the primers. Clean then relube your breech plug and ventliner with Birchwood-Casey choke tube lube (or any Mil-Spec 907E Anti-Seize such as Permatex, Never-Seez) and reassemble. It is the only regular maintenance your 10ML-II needs. Other than that, just treat it like a center-fire rifle.
Breech plug drilling out is mandatory as described for both accuracy and best reliability. 209 primers create the same carbon in other muzzleloaders; you can guess where it ends up. With the Savage 10ML-II, no bolt disassembly is ever needed.
Start with Winchester 209 primers. They fit most breech plugs the best, and are considered magnum primers. I also like Federal 209A primers. They are hotter, will give you a small velocity increase, but have a larger OD and may make your bolt a bit harder to close.
III. Scope Bases
You need a pair of Weaver S46 steel bases. Save yourself a headache, and make sure the base screws are not too long. It is easy to check. Screw in the screw without base, counting the number of turns as you do so. Repeat with the screw in the base. If it goes in the same number of turns, you are hitting a false bottom, and there is no proper tension against the base. You need to take off 2-3 turns of thread.
It is the front base where this is most likely to be found. Bases fit a variety of guns, so the makers have no idea what gun a base is actually going on, the screws need to be long enough for all applications. It is a one-time check, but be sure your bases are on firmly.
The absolute best thing you can do to eliminate the possibility of double loading or overcharging with any muzzleloader is the religious, continual use of a witness mark of your ramrod. It is easy with the Savage; you won't have any false stops due to fouling crud at the bottom of the barrel to confuse the issue. Please verify the seating depth of your powder / saboted bullet combination prior to each shot with a mark on your ramrod, and please remove your ramrod from the barrel after you do so.
V. Hot Weather Shooting
With no spit patching between shots, and no filthy Pyrodex or Triple 7 residue to insulate a sabot, you may need to wait three minutes between shots in warm weather. You can also make things easier on yourself by using 40 grains of Vihtavouri N110 and 250 grain Barnes Expanders or Hornady XTPs. With 300 grain Barnes bullets or XTPs, use 55 grains of Vihtavouri N120. With Accurate Arms 5744, use 39 grains with either bullet weight. All are still a great 200 yard loads, low recoil, and easy on a sabot, even a warm sabot.
Actually, all are also fabulous year-round hunting loads. Unless you are intending on taking anything past 200 yards, it makes little sense to go “high recoil” to get another 10–15 yards of 6” vital zone point blank range. Deer still don’t care how fast you miss them.
Low-strength primers can do nothing for accuracy, avoid them. Whether you select a blued or a stainless barreled 10ML-II, they both will shoot 1-1/2" groups, assuming a competent marksman, excellent range conditions, and a steady rest. There is no accuracy difference. Stainless barrels cool faster and last longer.
With the stainless / laminate model 10ML-II one MOA group capability is more often the rule than the exception, if you work at it a bit. Shoot out your load at the end of the hunting day with your Savage. With a non-corrosive propellant, there is just no reason not to if at all possible. You need no fouling shot the next morning.
Thank you for reading this. With just a small extra attention to detail, you are well on your way to getting the most enjoyment out of your new 10ML-II. I know I've said it perhaps a bit too often, but if you are a muzzleloader, you are a reloader. If you want to be a good muzzleloader, you also need to be a good reloader.
Don't fall prey to those who try to make this gun complicated. It was designed from the beginning to be easy to use and as close to maintenance free as a muzzleloader can be.
Regardless of other factors, it is shot placement that counts. The 1.60 millisecond locktime of the Savage 10ML-II action, the Accu-Trigger (the best factory trigger ever placed on a muzzleloader), and the closest barrel tolerances in the entire muzzleloading industry all combine to make the Savage the most effective muzzleloading tool that there is. That it is the most hassle-free, softest-shooting, longest lasting, and cheapest to shoot is all a bonus.
A very, very good one, though.
Copyright 2005 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.