Savage 111 FCNS Bolt Action Rifle with AccuStock and Leupold’s New VX-3 Riflescope


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

April 1st, 2009




Whenever you walk into your local gun store or up to a table of rifles in a gun show, and pick up a new bolt action rifle with a good trigger pull, you can thank Savage Arms for that, no matter what the brand of rifle. A little over six years ago, Savage introduced their new AccuTrigger, and that wonderful trigger has changed forever the quality of factory triggers that are available on new bolt guns. Savage’s AccuTrigger was so superior to anything that other rifle major makers were placing on their bolt action rifles at the time, that every major brand now has a better trigger than they did a few years ago. Still, The AccuTrigger is leading the way. When other rifle makers were telling us that we had to live with a heavy trigger pull for liability reasons, or buy an expensive replacement trigger, Savage delivered.

Now Savage has introduced their AccuStock into the 2009 rifle line, which promises more rigidity and a more solid bedding of the action into the stock. This should deliver better accuracy, but that might be hard to prove, as Savage bolt action rifles are already famous for delivering excellent accuracy. The heart of the AccuStock is the aluminum bedding channel and spine that cradles the action on three sides, while the spine runs almost to the tip of the forend of the synthetic stock. The barrel is free-floated into the stock. Most of us have seen free-floated barrels in stocks before that had an uneven gap along the sides of the barrel, and in some cases, the stock touched the barrel on one side, but not the other. This really ruins the accuracy potential of a good barrel. The spine within the AccuStock prevents that from happening. The Savage barrel is free-floated, and it remains that way, no matter the weather. Back at the receiver section of the stock, that aluminum channel rises up on both sides of the receiver. Not a V-block, but a square-sided channel that grips the action on the sides as the receiver bolts are tightened. Forward of the receiver bolts is one more bolt that threads into a tapered wedge that tightly clamps the recoil lug to the rear of its mortise in the aluminum channel, eliminating all forward/rearward movement of the action within the stock. No up and down movement, no fore and aft movement, no lateral movement. The action is rigidly bolted into that stock like a heavy benchrest rifle. However, you don’t have to carry a lot of weight or spend a fortune to get this AccuStock. The Savage models that have the AccuStock also have other features, like either a detachable box magazine, or a hinged floorplate. Personally, I prefer the detachable box. More on that later. The AccuStock rifles also have a redesigned bolt release, that is now in front of the trigger guard, and it also hides one of the receiver bolts. The barrel nut on the AccuStock rifles is a new, smooth design, which looks a lot better but functions the same as the older grooved style.

The 111FCNS shown here is chambered for the .30-06 cartridge, but is available in several other chamberings, and Savage also offers a short action version as well, to better handle cartridges of .308 Winchester and similar length. As mentioned above, the 111 FCNS has a detachable box magazine. The design of this magazine is faultless. It holds four rounds, for a total loaded capacity of five. It detaches easily, but doesn’t dump the cartridges all over creation as does a hinged floorplate. Cartridges can be loaded into the magazine either while still in the rifle or while detached. However, for those who prefer, a hinged floorplate is standard on the similar FHNS version. The stock is black synthetic, with molded-in checkering on the pistol grip and forend. The Savage "Indian Head" logo adorns the pistol grip cap. Sling swivel studs are furnished, and the recoil pad is nice and soft. The barrel and action are a deep polished blue-black. The twenty-two inch barrel wears no sights, but the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts. Magnum chamberings get a twenty-four inch barrel. The barrel diameter measures 1.02 inches just in front of the receiver, and tapers to .572 inch at the muzzle. The sample rifle weighed in at seven and one-half pounds, which is a pound heavier than is listed for this model on Savage’s website, but I triple-checked the weight. The Savage safety is right on top, in the center, just as it should be, and has three positions. Fully rear is on safe, with the bolt locked down. The middle position is still on safe, but the action can be cycled, and fully forward is the “fire” position. The excellent AccuTrigger released crisply at just over two pounds pressure. Perfect. The bolt lifts ninety degrees, and the bolt handle is checkered on top of the knob.

Featured along with this new Savage rifle is the new VX-3 scope from Leupold. The VX-3 is replacing the VX-III line of scopes. The new series has better mechanical adjustments, and has a better coating system on the lenses than did the VX-III line. The new technology is called the Xtended Twilight Lens System, and the coating is Leupold’s DiamondCoat 2. The VX-3 also is reported to have a better waterproofing system. It is hard for me to tell you exactly how the new scope is different from their excellent VX-III scope, but looking through the new VX-3 is a real pleasure. The image is perfectly clear and bright, with absolutely no distortion or fading at the edge. The image is brilliant all the way across the lens. It is bright, clear, and crisp. The sample scope has the Duplex reticle, but two other reticles are available as well. The adjustments are graduated in one-quarter minute clicks, and are easily adjusted without tools. This is one of the best hunting scopes through which I have ever peered. The 3.5 to 10 power shown here wears a matte finish, and has a 40 millimeter objective lens. I mounted the scope atop the Savage rifle using Leupold Rifleman rings. These rings are sleek, lightweight, hold the scope securely, and are relatively inexpensive. They will fit any Weaver-style scope base. I get emails from shooters and hunters everyday asking about riflescopes. It is amazing to me how many folks will spend whatever amount necessary to buy a fine rifle, and then try to mount the cheapest scope they can find. I would rather have less rifle and more scope. It is a system, and like any system, it is only as good as the weakest component. A good rifle will not be accurate if the scope has internal movement. Same with the rings. They must hold the scope absolutely without movement. I have a box full of cheap scopes, and another full of cheap rings. They are worthless. Worse than that, they have cost me a lot of wasted time and ammunition, trying to get a rifle to shoot accurately, when the problem was the optics. Like my good friend John Taffin often says, “Cheap is too expensive”. He is right. It is a lot like buying good bologna. They don’t grind up the finest cuts of beef and pork to make ninety-nine cents per pound bologna. Same with good optics. They don’t put two hundred dollars worth of precision ground multi-coated lenses into a forty dollar scope.

Keeping all that in mind, I set out to see how well this system would shoot. I had a pretty good idea already, as I have come to expect nothing less than good accuracy from a Savage bolt action rifle, and Leupold has also earned my trust. I tried a variety of factory ammunition, along with my favorite .30-06 deer hunting handload, which consists of a Hornady 150 grain Spire Point (3031) atop 53.5 grains of IMR 4064 with a Winchester or Federal primer in Remington cases. This load has served me and a few friends perfectly for many years. It drops whitetails in their tracks, and is accurate in every .30-06 rifle in which I have tried it. In this new Savage, I was not disappointed. It grouped under one-half inch at one hundred yards consistently, and that is the best that I can shoot. Of course, I was using my Model 1000 rest from Target Shooting, Inc. Without a good rest, I cannot prove nor disprove a rifle’s accuracy. The Model 1000 is one of the best. Factory ammunition also performed very well in the Savage rifle. This is a hunting rifle, so I used hunting ammunition. No match ammo was fired, as buyers of this rifle will be hunters, not paper-punchers. All ammo tried would group under one inch at one hundred yards. One of my favorite factory whitetail loads is the Remington Reduced Recoil load that uses a 125 grain bullet. These kill as well or better than anything, are accurate, and are easy on both the shoulder and the budget.

Neither the rifle nor the scope featured here are externally very different than their predecessors. However, the Savage has what is probably the most rigidly-mounted barreled action in a mass-produced rifle available anywhere, at any price, and it still sells for less than the competition. The Leupold scope looks like the same Golden Ring scopes that hunters have trusted for generations, but internally, it is better than the excellent scopes which preceded it. Both the rifle and the scope are good buys in today’s market, offering better quality, accuracy, and value than rifles and scopes costing much more.

For prices and options on the many models of Savage rifles and shotguns, go online to

To look at the extensive line of quality Leupold optics, go to

To find a Savage dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Savage 111 FCNS rifle online, go to

Jeff Quinn

NOTE: All load data posted on this web site are for educational purposes only. Neither the author nor assume any responsibility for the use or misuse of this data. The data indicated were arrived at using specialized equipment under conditions not necessarily comparable to those encountered by the potential user of this data.  Always use data from respected loading manuals and begin working up loads at least 10% below the loads indicated in the source manual.


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:


Savage's new AccuStock system allows for perfect bedding every time.



AccuStock's wedge block tightly clamps recoil lug to aluminum bedding channel.





Target Shooting, Inc.'s Model 1000 Rifle Rest.



0.875" 100-yard group fired with Remington's Reduced Recoil factory load.



0.437" 100-yard group fired with Jeff's favorite handload.



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Click pictures for a larger version.


Savage's 111 FCNS bolt-action rifle with AccusStock and Leupold's new VX-3 scope.



Barrel is fully free-floated.





Detachable box magazine.





Recoil pad is soft and effective.



Bolt release.


The trendsetter, and still the best: Savage's AccuTrigger.



Three-position safety is located on the top tang, as it should be.





Scope rings are all too often an afterthought. Jeff believes in using the best, such as Leupold's Rifleman rings.



Leupold's excellent new VX-3 scope.