Savage 10ML-II Troubleshooting

By Randy Wakeman

Savage 10MLBSS-II

Illustration courtesy of Savage Arms

There are trends that have shown up repetitively with new Savage 10ML-II owners that can cause needless frustration. This list is compiled so perhaps you won't have to go through these issues uninformed.

I. Bad scope / bad scope mounting / loose bases.

The "my gun won't group" has been traced to simple sighting issues more often than I would have thought possible. It is VERY common to get bases with screws that are too long, and bottom out prematurely. People wonder, why? Well, base manufacturers do not make "Savage only" bases. The popular (and very good) Weaver Grand Slam S46 bases can fit about a DOZEN different makes of rifles, and dozens of models. The screws included are selected to be long enough for the worst case; it is far easier to shorten a screw than to lengthen it. You may have to take a couple of threads off your base screws for them to pull down properly. Even experienced shooters have missed this one. Several times, owners have "thought" they were struggling to get their guns to group, but it was just loose bases.

Scopes get smashed during mounting, and using cheap rings does not help the matter. Scopes also aren't "carrying handles." One fellow replaced his scope FIVE times (all used auction scopes) before his gunsmith popped on a confirmed tube for him. The "problem" went away at the same time.

II. Over-torqued pillar screws.

25 inch pounds are optimum, according to patent holder Henry Ball. Too many guns have deformed stock screws. Apparently a lot of 10ML-II owners really muscle their screws.

III. Not letting the barrel cool between shots.

A full five minutes between shots in warm weather (or more) is required. Heat is the enemy of sabots. The Savage 10ML-II is easy to load and shoot fast, but since no spit patching is required during smokeless operation barrel heating is an issue that needs to be looked at in the interest of accuracy. If you can feel heat from your barrel, your sabot is in peril. Make sure you load after realistic barrel cooling time has elapsed, not before. It is a wondrous muzzleloader, but not a semi-auto. Reducing powder charges by 10% may be required in extreme (90 degree F. plus) shooting conditions.

IV. Not seating sabots with consistent pressure.

They can't just drop down, nor need they be pounded down. Light engraving of the sabot all the way down is optimal. The bullet / sabot combination should rotate in concert with the rifling on the way down.

V. Not using MMP sabots direct from MMP.

With the exception of Barnes MZ-Expanders, which come with the correct MMP sabot for the job, it is very hard (if not impossible) to tell the type of formulation or manufacturer of sabots in bullets prepackaged with sabots. Sabots have everything to do with accuracy and consistent loading. Don't waste your time shooting blind with unknown sabots; call MMP direct at 870-741-5019 or visit and get sabots of a known quality.

VI. Home-Lapping of barrels.

You are unnecessarily taking life out of your barrel and jeopardizing the accuracy without reason. Henry Ball has loudly warned against it; so have renowned barrel experts such as Harry McGowan and Dan Lilja. Don't waste your time and risk destroying your firearm's accuracy in the process.

VII. If It Doesn't Fly, Tell It Goodbye.

Too many shooters want to decide for themselves what they want their gun to shoot, rather than letting the gun tell them. All guns are individuals, so rather than fighting one particular bullet that you like, change bullets until you find what your gun prefers. There is no other way. Sadly, we cannot psychically will our muzzleloaders to prefer one bullet just because it is what we want.

The 10ML-II was designed around 300 grain bullets. The Barnes 300 MZ-Expander with supplied sabot, the 300 .452 Hornady XTP (not "Mag") with the MMP short black sabot, and the Barnes Original .458 300 grain .45 / 70 semi-spitzer with the orange MMP .458 / 50 sabot shoot very well in the majority of 10ML-II's I have tested. Your gun may prefer the 250 grain XTPs with the short MMP black sabot, or the 250 Barnes MZ-Expanders. Only your gun knows exactly "hows they goes."

VIII. Drill Out Your Breechplug.

After every 100 shots, drill out the carbon from your breechplug with a 5/32" drill bit. As shown in the manual, first remove the ventliner, then drill out the carbon from the primer side. All this primer residue ends up spewed on your scope or in your action in other muzzleloaders. In the Savage's sealed action, it says in the breechplug where it belongs, but it must be removed for top accuracy.

Good luck & good shooting!

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Copyright 2005 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.