1899 (1904 or 1905) 303 Savage

1899 (1904 or 1905) 303 Savage

I’m looking at an 1899 Savage right now. Probably made in around 1904, but possibly as late as 1905 depending on who you believe. It’s chambered in 303 Savage. Savage’s answer to the 30-30 Winchester. (Yes, I know they aren’t the same. LOL)

It’s got the half octagon barrel of an 1899C. but the furniture is terrible. Looks like it needs both a new sofa and a new coffee table. The fore end is likely not for this rifle at all as it does not have the same taper and swell as any I have seen images of. Modern furniture is available, and a few places sell take off furniture. The modern furniture may be better fitted to the 99 instead of the 1899C. Mechanically they are more or less the same rifle, but barrel shape may be different.

The mechanical bits all seem to be functional. I find the round counter to be a neat feature for the age. Heck a neat feature for any age. Almost like Savage was able to foretell the HUD on a modern day video game over 100 years ago.

The safety/unlatch is not as crisp and as clean as I would like. It just slides back and forth with no other feel, but it does work.

The bore is… well the bore is 100 years old. You can see it has (or rather had) rifling, but unless it is more badly fouled than any barrel I have ever seen (not impossible given its age) a call to Track of the Wolf for a new liner might be in order. Yes, you CAN reline many of these mid power center fire 30 caliber rifles. I have thought about the wisdom of rechambering to 30-30 if relined. Its roughly the same power and similar size. The gun was made in 30-30 as well. There are two big negatives to rechambering. Loss of C&R status (original configuration) and having to remark the barrel. The big plus of course is that 30-30 is not obsolete yet and is readily available at a moderately reasonable price. Of course, I am not yet completely sure if rechambering with the new liner is possible. I may look into that if it finds it’s way into my collection.

Also, a big argument for relining is the owner says, “Its strictly a 100 yard gun.” Now that set off my cognitive dissonance detector. It should be a 200 yard gun. Other similar size/power 30 caliber rifles like the Winchester 1894 (Winchester 94) in 30-30 are solid 200 yard guns. Dinner plate placement at the same point of aim more or less. It could be that the rifling is worn completely out and/or badly fouled, but there is another thing I ran across. There is a claim in a couple different places that these 1899 Savage rifles were originally .311 bore and later production was changed to .308. I’m not sure 3 thousandths is enough difference to make a difference, but I’m not sure its not either. Similar power. Similar length. Generally they should have similar range and accuracy. Yes, the 94 typically used a lighter (150-170gr) bullet than the 303 Savages 190 grain bullet, but that just means a little hold over. Right now 303 Savage rounds are most available in 150 grain so… same same. A relining would make it .308 bore.

One thing I was a little disappointed in, but not particularly about the rifle. The ammunition uses the same round nose blunts as tube fed rifles like the 94. With Savage’s self-contained rotary magazine they could have used more pointed bullets for a better BC. Certainly, if somebody were to reload for one, they should consider a ballistic tip bullet. Of course, now there are soft ballistic tips for 30-30 as well which claim to not have the risk of magazine detonation from recoil. The thing is that was NEVER an issue with the Savage 1899 or later Savage 99.

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