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Savage 99F - what's the best caliber?

Discussion in 'Maintenance & Gunsmithing' started by FAL, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. FAL

    FAL Salem Active Member

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    I just took my Savage 99F to the gunsmith because of excessive headspace. Initially his quote on replacing the barrel scared me off but I realize it almost certainly has to be done. In order to set the current barrel back, the indexing of the rear sight, the front sight and the mounting lug would all be screwed up.

    So it looks like a new barrel for me. And now is the time to change caliber if there's one better than .308.

    The reason I chose .308 is because of ammunition availability and cartridge power. But .308 power may be too much for the Savage action because apparently the reason I have a headspace problem is because of action stretch, and this stretch will continue to occur until the gun becomes dangerous.

    So opinion time. Is the Savage action strong enough for .308 or should I be looking to have it rechambered to a lighter caliber and if so, which one? I'm not interested in weird or wildcat calibers, just good ol' standbys like .270, .243, etc.

    Thanks.
     
  2. DieselScout

    DieselScout S Clackamas County Well-Known Member

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    The .270 cannot be used in the Savage 99 as far as I can tell. It's based of the .30-06, so is a long action and from what I've read, the only way to get a .270 to work in a Model 99 is to use the .270 Savage cartridge, which is a 300 Savage necked down. As far as I can tell you need a short action chambering

    Now, you're telling us the .308 maybe too powerful for the Savage action, but I am not sure what you mean. The operating pressure for the .308 is 62,000PSI, for the .243 it's 60,000 psi, for the 7mm-08 is 61,000 PSI. So, if operating pressure it what you're worried about, I'd suggest going with a .300 Savage chambering, as it operates at a max of 47,000 PSI.
     
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  3. jluck

    jluck Really,Really, Close to Newport Oregon 97365 Voted #1 Member

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    I have one that just don't shoot like it used to, That got me thinking about a trip to my smith, I am thinking about going to a .260 Rem. Nice balanced round that will make a dandy loaner rifle IMO.
     
  4. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    I bet ive put 10,000 rounds thru my 99 in .308. May have been an action that was a little on the soft side.
     
  5. DieselScout

    DieselScout S Clackamas County Well-Known Member

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    For the OP, .260 Rem, 60,000 PSI.
     
  6. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Unless there is a reason you would want a lighter recoiling rifle, I would stick with the .308. It's a heavy enough gun that it doesn't kick too hard and will work well on elk and bear, too. If you're going to spend the same amount of money, why limit your gun?
     
  7. FAL

    FAL Salem Active Member

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    .308 it stays.
     
  8. FAL

    FAL Salem Active Member

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    But have you done a headspace check?
     
  9. Grizzly_A

    Grizzly_A Portland Metro Area Member

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    LOL!
     
  10. tdb59

    tdb59 OR Active Member

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    That is curious....

    It is possible to set back a barrel, cut the chamber properly, and have it index correctly.
    It is a detailed, and somewhat tedious process, but it is doable.
     
  11. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    The .308 is definitely NOT too much cartridge for the Savage 99 action. The 99 was chambered for a long time in this cartridge, as well as other "high intensity" offerings, such as the .22-250 and even the all-time favorite of guys who lay awake at night and stare at the ceiling contemplating cartridges: the .284.

    HOWEVER: It is my opinion, and that of many 99 fans, that nearly all the 99 rifles that are chambered in .308 deliver an amount of felt recoil to the shoulder and cheek of the shooter to remain constantly uncomfortable. This is as a result of stock design, and not really a flaw: The 99 was configured initially for iron sight shooting, and therefore the drop on the comb is angled to facilitate such. Most .308's ended up with a telescope adhered to their topside; hence the conundrum. There are Model 99 variations however, that mitigate and/or eliminate this characteristic. The earliest address of this "problem" was the 99RS. In this gun, Savage beefed up the buttstock significantly, allowing the comb to be of a more rounded contour, and raised the comb to a level that is more agreeable to shooting with optics. The forearm on these guns is beefed up as well, and with this added weight from added wood fore and aft, and the cheek of the shooter in proper elevation, felt recoil is in the acceptable range when chambered in .308. Later designs even incorporated the raised "Monte Carlo" hump on the buttstock. My RS .308 is noticeably heavier than any of my other 99's, and my eye centers perfectly in its scope when raised to firing position. Recoil is entirely tolerable to a self-admitted recoil wimp such as myself. I have never shot a Featherweight 99 in .308. I hope I never am required to.

    Since the 99's bolt "locks up at the rear" with a camming action against the receiver as the bolt arrives to battery, the action has a reputation for being "springy". With factory loads, or sensible handloads this is rarely if ever of any issue, but repeated firing of hot handloads will begin to illustrate certain things: Brass life will be somewhat shortened, and the 99 owner who chooses to "hot-rod" his loads (which the gun can certainly handle) would be well advised to look carefully at his fired brass (after 5 firings or so) for the telltale bright ring of incipient head separation. For those from Rio Linda, "incipient" means "gonna happen soon". This will manifest itself just ahead of where the thick web of the brass wall ends, and regular wall thickness begins: about 3/8" forward from the extractor groove.

    Additionally, bolts that lock at the rear are often pooh-poohed by "knowledgeable" gun persons as incapable of any level of accuracy. Riflemen somewhat longer in the tooth, and equipped with a bit more experience will instantly present the case of the Remington 788 (which quite often will outshoot any front-locker bolt gun). More to our purpose here, I would display the case of the Winchester Model 88: It was to be the "scientific and proper" modern lever gun. The 88 would take all the "flaws" of the 99 (two-piece stock and rear locking bolt) and through the miracle of modern engineering develop a better, more accurate gun. Sadly, most Winchester 88 owners will trade stories with others (as I have) about their trials and tribulations spent toward making their 88 shoot as well as their poorest Savage 99. So much for one more Gun Myth.

    If you like the .308, and intend to regularly hunt large bear or elk, I would stick with it for the caliber of your new (or properly re-headspaced) barrel. If you want to become a true Savage fan, my choice would be the .300 Savage (a practical equivalent, perhaps the biological father of the .308). If your purpose is generally for deer and lesser game, allow me the honor to present the absolutely perfect choice: the .250-3000Savage. This is the cartridge that MADE the gun, and is responsible for a large portion of the 99's reputation for accuracy and deadliness. It is also gentle on the shoulder in any stock configuration found on a 99. You will shoot it more. You may end up shooting it more than any other gun you own.

    Weird? Maybe. But only if you'd also consider a '57 Chevy weird. Wildcat? Quite the opposite. Foundation and Grandfather to one of the best "Wildcats" (.22-250). Factory ammo available.

    The cartridge also carries with it the uniqueness and historical reputation that will instantly establish you in circles of gun conversation as a rifleman who may know something others don't.
     
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  12. theguncrank

    theguncrank Columbia County Active Member

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    I would love to have a Savage 99 in .358 Winchester...
     
  13. eganx

    eganx Kingston WA Active Member

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    I would also go for a .358 Winchester. I dream of building a FAL one day in .358 Winchester......that would be a lead slinging beast.

    Do your research on the .358. It has a lot of potential.....
     
  14. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Now THERE'S a man who likes obscure and effective! For my previous stated purpose of elk and bear, this is the cat's pajamas. I'd insist on the RS wood, or a humpy Monte Carlo, and a Pachmayr Decelerator. (My Wimpy slip is showing.)
     
  15. Artpro

    Artpro Salem, OR. Artpro Bronze Supporter

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    A few years ago, I had my 308 99 C rebored to 338 Federal and since then I found a 284 magazine and a 338-284 reamer, I may even try that round. This is my 6-7th Sav 99 in 45 years. Several 308s, one 358, one 243, one 250 Sav and one in 284. Loved them all like grandkids and yet they went away over time. Boo Hoo!!.
    Art
     
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  16. evltwn

    evltwn Gold Hill Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    'Patch, not only did I learn, but was entertained by your knowledgeable thesis on the 99. Rather refreshing to see such a literate comment around here these days...thanks!