Why Doesn't the Savage 10ML-II Kick?

By Randy Wakeman

Savage 10MLBSS-II
Illustration courtesy of Savage Arms

Many, many shooters have written to ask why the Savage 10ML-II has so very little recoil compared to some other muzzleloaders. Some rather wild explanations have been tossed about, including the craziest one I've ever heard: "It happens so fast just you can't feel it!"

It is a combination of factors. For starters, the classic stock design of the Savage 10ML-II is inherently soft shooting compared to some stock styles. This is easily demonstrated: even though the Thompson Encore is of similar weight to the Savage, a 100 gr. by volume Triple 7 charge pushing a 375 Buffalo SSB out of my Encore has recoil that I can only describe as painful. The same, identical combination out of the Savage 10ML-II is a very comfortable load to shoot by comparison.

Another clear factor is the weight of the powder charge for a given muzzle velocity. In the Savage, 42 grains of Vihtavouri N110 pushing a 250 gr. Hornady XTP shows a recoil energy of approximately 19.14 ft. lbs. and a recoil velocity of about 11.54 feet per second. To approach this level of performance out of other muzzleloaders (if allowed by the manufacturer) you will need three Pyrodex pellets. I just weighed three "50 gr. equivalent" Pyrodex pellets on my RCBS electronic scale, they weigh 111 grains by actual weight. Recoil energy now skyrockets to 39.35 ft. lbs., with a recoil velocity of 16.55 feet per second. Directly put, shooting corrosive Pyrodex at equivalent velocities inflicts more than DOUBLE the recoil on your shoulder and your equipment, at a more punishing velocity as well.

If that isn't enough (don't you think it ought to be?), there is a third, if more esoteric factor involved. As Pyrodex burns, so-called "burnt" propellant is not completely combusted,about half of the mass of burnt, "dead" Pyrodex is left behind in your muzzle as fouling and corrosive smoke. Once that dead weight that no longer can produce expanding gas is formed as a nasty, partially combusted solid, you might as well add at least a portion of it to your bullet weight. It is considered ejecta, just as your sabot must also be. By contrast, the N110 load cited has about a 95% powder burn and burns almost ash-free in the Savage application, no swabbing or patch licking ever required. This is not to say that the Savage 10ML-II cannot be made to kick; it certainly can. But, that is mostly due to people with bad habits.

Often overlooked is the fact with 100% of the game-getting ability, and less than half the recoil of other muzzleloaders, the Savage 10ML-II is the ideal muzzleloader for the young, the old, anyone that is recoil sensitive or might have a sore back or perhaps a touch of bursitis in their shoulder. It is also a very smart choice for shooters that just do not care to needlessly punish their scopes or themselves while shooting and hunting.

I believe that the Savage 10ML-II has been sorely overlooked as the ideal youth muzzleloader and the ideal muzzleloader for the recoil-sensitive. All the ethical game getting ability you could hope for, without the scope-eye, broken scopes, or aching back. Your shoulder will tell you the difference in a far more meaningful way than this little missive can.

As far As I'm concerned, all the performance yet with less than half of the recoil is a very, very good thing indeed.

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Copyright 2005, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.