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SAVAGE 99

  The Majestic Savage 99


The Savage 99 model would be what I consider one of the top two or three lever action rifles ever made in my humble opinion. They were a unique design and in a lot of ways, were way ahead of their time when it was developed in the late 1890s.


They would have a distinct design with smooth looks and would be very functional. Just a pleasant firearm to not only hold and handle but to look at and admire.


Savage Arms would develop two cartridges for the Savage 99 model that were distinctly their own. One being the 303 Savage cartridge and the other being the 300 Savage cartridge. They would prove to be very popular for Whitetail hunting, much like the 30-30 Winchester.


They were used for bear and moose but probably would be on the light side for moose hunting. In the early days of the model 1899 and model 99 before World War II Savage did chamber their rifles in the 30-30, 38-55, and 32-40 amongst other cartridges. They of course have become quite desirable and are very collectible.


But the main point of writing this article is about what I consider, the golden age of classic firearms. For my definition of what a classic firearm is see my wood and blued article.


In the 1950s Savage would manufacture a very high quality rifle and this would carry-on into the 1960s.


While working on the 99 Savage as a gunsmith I would encounter a few problems with the gun and probably like a lot of firearms, a good deal of the issues would arise from poor maintenance.


One issue was with the rotary cartridge feed system and that sometimes would start to bind and the spring tension would start to decrease and not feed the cartridge up correctly. It usually could be remedied by disassembling the firing mechanism and feeding mechanism and giving the gun a good thorough cleaning. I would reassemble and tighten the spring adjustment. That would set up the cartridge to feed into the chamber much better.


Another issue was that the safety button could get loose or bind up over time. I did like the safety by the lever but it did have its issues. The safety was by the lever and when in safe position would lock the lever in the closed position.


Interesting to note that in the 1961 advertisements for the Savage model 99, they would show the DL and F models with tang safeties. The E and R models would still have the lever safeties.  


I would also over the years drill and tap a number of Savage 99's. As I look back some of the old ones made back in the 30s or earlier that I did drill and tap, I kind of wish now I had never done. But also looking at it I probably did something that would've been done anyway.


The Savage 99 that was factory drilled and tapped for a scope, the front two holes on the top of the receiver near the barrel would not be drilled into the Savage letters. When Savage Arms company started drilling and tapping the model 99 at the factory the letters that were on top of the receiver near the barrel were moved to the side of the receiver so that you could see it if a scope mount was installed. I believe they started drilling and tapping the Savage 99 for scope mounts in the early 1950s.


In the 1950s the number one selling Savage model 99 would probably be the 300 Savage cartridge. I did fire a number of these guns including my father's 300 Savage rifle that he still owns. It was one very sweet gun to shoot.


There was not much recoil and the Savage 99 did not have many issues with feeding or extracting. I consider it one of my all-time favorite rifles not only from the 1950s but for any rifle made during the 1900s. 



Savage firearms in the 1950’s would also chamber the Savage 99 in the 250-3000 cartridge. This I believe is also one of the best cartridges that the Savage Gun Company would produce.


By the beginning of the 1960’s Savage Arms Company would be chambering the model 99 in the 243 Winchester, 308 Winchester, and the 358 Winchester cartridges. These would be added to the 250-3000 and 300 Savage cartridges for the 1961 year in their advertisements. I always liked the 358 cartridge as an eastern U.S. whitetail deer cartridge. Just a great combination. 


If you are looking to buy one of these for hunting or just general shooting because you like it, then the condition will not be that big of an issue. If it was not factory drilled and tapped for a scope it would not be a big issue either as it makes a much better shooter. The Savage rifles do make wonderful hunting rifles no matter what. I will talk about restorations and alterations in separate articles.


But if you are going to buy it for collecting then watch out for rebluing and refinished stocks and of course the non-factory drilling and tapping. They would all have to be in great shape for a good collectible 99. I would give the Savage 99 in excellent rating and consider it a great gun to have in your collection.



Notes on Savage 99 rifles:


•    Many made (good numbers available)


•    Look for lever safeties (WWII thru-1950s)


•    250 Savage and 300 Savage Calibers (Early models)


•    284 Win and 358 Win Calibers (Latter models)


•    Watch for early guns drilled and tapped (Reblued)


•    Great Value ( I believe a good investment )




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