100% Reliability with the Savage 10ML-II

By Randy Wakeman

When it comes to big game hunting applications, there are few things more important than absolute reliability of your firearm. This is, if anything, even more critical in the sport of muzzleloading where the entire premise is "one shot, and make it a good one." By virtue of its patented, efficient breechplug design and its ability to use non-corrosive, non-moisture attracting propellants, the Savage 10ML-II is the most reliable muzzleloader ever manufactured. That is if we follow a few simple steps to ensure that reliability.


Regardless of propellant, it does not improve once it is loaded into a muzzleloader. It cannot. For the very same reason that we put powder back in the original bottle at the reloading bench, for the same reason that we put the lids back on powder bottles, we cannot leave an unattended muzzleloader loaded. Smokeless powder contains moisture; all of it does. Certainly, Savage propellants do not attract and absorb moisture in a manner comparable to blackpowder, Pyrodex, Triple Se7en and all the hygroscopic so-called blackpowder subs out there. Nevertheless, if you want complete reliability it is mandatory that your Savage 10ML-II get a fresh powder charge the morning of every hunt. After your Savage is loaded, normal temperature variations occur. Muzzleloaders go in and out of lodges, vehicles and so forth. Metal sweats, of course, and one only has to observe condensation on windows to realize that that leaving a muzzleloader loaded overnight, any muzzleloader, even the Savage 10ML-II is unwise. Predicting a misfire is very difficult; how close we are to a blooper is speculative. It is a pass or fail situation; either our muzzleloader goes bang with consistent velocity, or it does not.

Sure, you�ll hear a few folks brag about leaving their Savages loaded �since last year� and it still went bang. Unfortunately, the exemplary reliability of the Savage has resulted in some type of weird competition: that being who can leave their muzzleloaders loaded the longest. It makes no sense, it isn�t smart from the standpoint of safety or reliability, and is it unwise to compromise the complete reliability of your muzzleloader on a big game hunt for the tortured notion of saving a few cents worth of powder. In fact, with no spit-patching, bore cleaning, or attention paid to the bore between shots, the Savage is the easiest muzzleloader there is to clear at the end of the day and give a fresh charge the next morning.


Savage propellants are cleaner, more efficient and less hygroscopic than blackpowder and substitutes. That, however, does not mean that there are not salient differences between propellants; there are.

Double-based propellants are far less sensitive to moisture than single-based propellants. Single based propellants rapidly absorb and expel moisture compared to double-based propellants and moisture clearly does affect ignition and burn characteristics. This is not to suggest that single-based Savage propellants (N110, SR4759) are remotely as problematic as Pyrodex or Triple Se7en is this regard, for they aren�t. However, the double-based Accurate Arms 5744 is the easiest Savage propellant to ignite and less sensitive to moisture than any other 10ML-II propellant. The goal here is 100% reliability under all hunting conditions and in that context, Accurate Arms 5744 powder has yet to be bettered.

The better 10ML-II high-performance loads have been the subject of past articles, of course, and will be addressed in future articles as well. The subject at hand is flawless reliability, reliability we can count on, whether it is a humid ninety-degree day or twenty degrees below zero. Accurate Arms 5744 is the propellant of choice under challenging conditions for the reasons stated.


209 shotshell primers are filthy little sparkplugs, beyond question. All we have to do is look inside a 20 gauge shotshell hull and we can witness the impressive spew of particulate matter created by just one 209 primer. All breechplugs get lined and clogged with 209 primer material after a time, something that most muzzleloading manufacturer have failed to mention, much less address. The problem with many muzzleloading designs is they have no backstop nor positive locating of the 209 primer; small wonder that 209 primers all too often are free to spew their impressive spittle all over the inside of actions. Fortunately, this is not the case with the Savage 10ML-II�s patented breechplug.

The Savage 10ML-II�s patented bolt properly holds the 209 primer against and into the breechplug. Upon ignition, the 209 primer affects a proper seal and all of its flame, heat and particulate matter is efficiently injected through the 10ML-II breechplug. It is the most efficient breechplug ever created and its efficiency means you never have to disassemble a 10ML-II bolt for cleaning, never have to worry about a scorched scope and have no action fouling whatsoever. All of the primer�s eruption goes right where we want it, through the breechplug.

It is the Savage 10ML-II breechplug that is just about the only part of the entire rifle that requires a little regular attention, by design. Savage Arms has a commitment to 100% quality control. Part of that means that every single muzzleloader is fired several times before it leaves the factory, both with a proof overload and with standard full power hunting loads, to properly function test each rifle. No one tests their muzzleloaders better than Savage Arms.

When you get your new Savage 10ML-II, the very first order of business is to service your breechplug. As your gun has already been fired several times, we need to start with a verified clean breechplug. After removing the ventliner, go in with a 5/32ths drill bit from the primer side, drilling through the breechplug with your electric drill until the drill bit goes all the way through and comes out the ventliner (powder side). Do not worry about damaging the ventliner threads, it cannot happen, the drill bit is self-aligning. This takes but a few moments and is the only regular maintenance your 10ML-II needs. After every box of primers (100 shots), repeat this and install a fresh ventliner. Make no mistake about it; all inline breechplugs erode. Many folks never notice until they finally replace the breechplug. Annual replacement of breechplugs is eliminated with the 10ML-II�s patented breechplug. The ventliner is simply a replaceable flash hole, eliminating the need to replace the entire breechplug.

Typical cleaning of your 10ML-II�s barrel is just a few patches of Hoppe�s at the same time of breechplug service. When putting up your 10ML-II, a couple of patches soaked with Breakfree CLP does the trick as a longer-term bore protectant.

When you want to put your stored 10ML-II back into service, swab the bore with a clean white cotton patch. Hold a second white cotton patch down the bore, holding it against your breechplug with your ramrod or cleaning rod. Fire one, and only one, 209 to blow any oil that may have accumulated into your breechplug from storage. The patch catches any residual oil and you are good to go. Please do not make the mistake of snapping a bunch of 209�s in an empty Savage. All that does is fill your breechplug full of primer material much quicker than would happen in a normal firing cycle.


209 primers vary dimensionally by brand and by lot in some cases. As of this writing, I believe CCI 209M shotshell primers are the best available primers for your 10ML-II.


Bullets vary, as do sabots to an extent. So do individual rifle�s bores. Though preferred loadings are discussed in detail elsewhere, approximately a .004 in. interference fit between loaded sabot and your bore offers ease of loading with excellent accuracy. My first choice for the 10ML-II is the Orange MMP .458 / 50 sabot along with the Barnes Original Semi-Spitzer 300 grain bullet, Barnes part # 457010.

Follow the few basic steps mentioned here and you will discover what many have long enjoyed, the unparalleled accuracy that the Savage 10ML-II is famous for and 100% reliability that this muzzleloader achieves like no other.

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Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.