Rifles > Lever-Action

Savage Model 99: A Look Back

Savage’s Model 99 had an almost century long run, and is still an interesting rifle.

7/7/2010

During the waning years of the Victorian era, America, the red-headed stepchild of the British Empire was maturing into a world force. The Industrial Revolution was in full bloom, and inventors, engineers and industrialists seemed to pop up in every town. Meanwhile in Utica, N.Y., Arthur Savage, a traveler of the world, businessman and adventurer, settled with his family and began to design guns.

Lever-action rifles had taken over much of the hunting public and law enforcement community, but they had one major shortcoming. Their under-barrel tubular magazines could not be safely loaded with spire-point bullets, thus they were limited in terms of trajectory and energy. Savage and his son, Arthur John, designed a lever-action rifle that had its magazine contained within the stock in the Model 1895, and later, the magazine was incorporated into the receiver. Savage patented his rifle and dreamed of lucrative contracts with the U.S. War Department; however, by the mid-1890s the government was committed to the bolt-action rifle. Savage continued to refine his rifle and by 1899 had developed a truly elegant firearm. The Model 99 Savage and its .303 Savage round brought high velocity and flat trajectory to the lever-action rifle.

The most notable feature on the Model 99 is its rotary magazine. First introduced on the Savage Model 1895, the magazine consists of a machined brass spool capable of holding five cartridges. A novel idea at the time, and Savage also provided a small hole in the side of the receiver that allowed the magazine to show how many cartridges were in it. The Model 99 was the first hammerless lever gun, and its spring-loaded firing pin had a much faster lock time than one fired by a hammer. The rifle also featured a tactile cocking indicator on top of the receiver toward its rear where it could be easily checked with the thumb. All of these innovations were ahead of their time.

Along with the cutting-edge improvements to the lever-action rifle, Savage, ever the astute businessman and inventor, offered his rifle in both cutting-edge chamberings as well as the standbys. The .303 Savage was initially intended to be Savage’s contribution to military rifles, but it turned out to be the first chambering for the Model 99. With its 190-grain bullet, it earned a reputation as a great bear and moose slayer, despite the fact that ballistically the .303 is virtually identical to the .30-30 Win. However, it was dropped from production at the end of World War II, and ammunition for the .303 can be difficult to find today.

Along about 1912 Savage chambered the ’99 for Charles Newton’s .22 High-Power, basically a .25-35 Win. necked down to take a .228-inch bullet. This chambering enjoyed a pretty fair amount of popularity during the early 1900s, but its non-standard bullet and a lack of accuracy in the Model 99 eventually doomed it in the 1930s.

Savage tapped Newton’s genius again in 1915 when the Model 99 began chambering the .250 Savage, which was then known as the .250-3000 for being the first commercial cartridge to break the 3,000 fps muzzle velocity threshold with an 87-grain bullet. The .250 Savage is my personal favorite chambering for this rifle. It holds a slight ballistic edge over the popular .243 Winchester, yet is as equally pleasant to shoot. With a 100-grain bullet it falls short of three grand, but it makes a nice 250-yard deer or pronghorn gun nonetheless.

Once smokeless powder replaced black powder, American shooters became enamored with the .30 caliber. The .30-06 had just won World War I, and returning doughboys wanted a .30 to take afield. The Model 99 receiver was too short to accommodate the government round, so Savage developed a shorter cartridge that came close to replicating the ballistics of the .30-06. On the cusp of the Roaring 20s, the .300 Savage debuted and proved to be one of the most popular chamberings for the Model 99. Some three decades later it was the basis for developing the 7.62 NATO or .308 Win. cartridge. During its production the Model 99 has also been produced in many chamberings: .25-35 Win., .30-30 Win., .32 Win. Spl., .22-230, .243 Win., .308 Win., 7 mm-08 Rem., .284 Win. and .38-55 Win.

The Savage Model 99 had a 98-year run—1899 to 1997, less a few years for the war—with numerous variations, each designated by a letter or two after the model number. It remains a popular deer rifle in the east, and I still see a few of them out in the west. Several others and I have badgered Ron Coburn, CEO and owner of Savage Arms, to reintroduce this great rifle, even in limited edition form. About three years ago an effort was made at Savage to do just that. Sadly, there simply was not a way to produce the rifle and make a profit today.

Collectors admire the Model 99, and prices, while still somewhat high, have not skyrocketed to the levels of the old Winchesters. If you have an old ’99, shoot it and treasure it. If not, perhaps now might be the time to keep your eye peeled for a desirable example.

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60 Responses to Savage Model 99: A Look Back

Al Richardson wrote:
February 15, 2014

I have a model 99EG. I want to install a Marbels peep sight on it. Anyone have any hints on how to remove the original buckhorn sight. I put a few drops of Kroil on it and tried to drift it off using a piece of dowel and hammer, but it doesn't want to budge, and I don't want to do any damage to the rifle. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks for the help.

Big E wrote:
February 09, 2014

Looking for a manufacture date on a 99c serial number F6002xx. Is there a big difference in price of the 1990s models of the 99c. How many 99c were made in the 90s? Thanks

Norm Dodson wrote:
December 31, 2013

Looking to pushase a rear wood stock for a 300 savage 99F.

Bob C wrote:
June 14, 2013

I have a savage 300 modell 99 f F is for Featherweight made in 1952 serial number 7633XX 99% almost mint. Can anyone tell me what i can get for it?

Bob C wrote:
June 14, 2013

I have a savage 300 modell 99 f F is for Featherweight made in 1952 serial number 7633XX 99% almost mint. Can anyone tell me what i can get for it?

John wrote:
June 08, 2013

IHi I have a savage 99 series A cal .358. The only number I can find is C378xxxx. Can anyone tell me when it could have been manufactured.

Jim Rock wrote:
May 28, 2013

Where are you finding all your factory284win,150gr. Mess, for Regg and$

Regg Simmons wrote:
May 02, 2013

My Savage 99 in .284 Win. is the best shooting rifle in my entire collection. <1/2" MOA at 100 yards day in / day out using 150 gr. factory loads....

Brad Kimmick wrote:
April 30, 2013

I have a model 99that 300 it is a take down but my gun smith is having trouble getting the barrel off. Any ideas on how to do this without damaging the gun?? Please email me.

Dean wrote:
April 11, 2013

I have a 250.3000 1889 that I just had re-blued. My Grandfather bought it new (built in 1923)and I first shot it at a turkey shoot in about 1951/2 and the last time was in about 1963. The gunsmith that did the recent job thought it was a 99 and was using a blow-up to disassemble it and noticed that it didn't have anywhere near the amount of parts that were shown. He checked the barrel and found it was stamped an 1889 and has considerably less parts although they look identical??? It is a really fine rifle.

Bruce wrote:
April 11, 2013

I have a Savage 1899 Excelsior grade. Factory engraved. I was told that it was re-barreled because it's a screw in barrel. Is this true? I would be grateful for any help. Thanks

Ray wrote:
April 05, 2013

Sad to say I had to sell my 99 this year and I regret it that was my grandfather first deer rifle over the last decade I've dropped alot of deer with it

MW wrote:
March 20, 2013

http://www.savage99.com/savage99_dates.htm

PATTY SEMINOLE wrote:
March 15, 2013

I HAVE INHERITED MY DAD'S SAVAGE 30/30 S/N 277614, CAN ANYONE GIVE ME INFO HOW OLD THIS GUN IS AND CURRENT VALUE? 80-90% CONDITION.

Bill Knox wrote:
March 07, 2013

I need to know what year Savage Arms changed the twist in the barrels of the .250 from 1 in 14 to 1 in 10. My .250 was made in 1925. What twist is in the barrel?

David Sewell wrote:
March 02, 2013

I have a savage rifle with strange marking. On the barrel it denotes it was made at the utica factory and list several dates but does not list the designation ie. no 99 or any 99 such as G, F, E, eg etc. Stamped on the barrel just before the reciver is 30 H.P. The serial # starts with 192. Could anyone tell me what I have.

Lew Gage wrote:
February 20, 2013

I have been loading the 60 grain Hornady bullet with 39 grains of 3031. This produces about 3500 FPS. Also 37.4 grains of 3031 works well. Both of those loads are from the old Lyman #38 handloading book. I have been handloading since 1951 when those books were published.

Joe w wrote:
February 20, 2013

To uncle jack , could you tell me what round are you using in your 99 savage 300 ?

Eugene wrote:
February 03, 2013

I have a 99 in 250/3000. My father traded a new Winchester 30/30 for it. I can't count the number of deer he shot with that gun. Great gun. Does anyone have a load for Hornady 60 grain Spire Point. Most manuals start at 75 grains. Thanks.

josh wrote:
January 31, 2013

I have a savage 9930-30 but I have no letters with serial number manuf.date says feb. 7 93- oct. 3 99 and the only number by the lever says 41,165 .....just trying to figure out the date of manufacture? 1993 or 1893to thanks for any input

Uncle Jack wrote:
January 29, 2013

Have a 99 chambered in 300 savage, manufacture date 1939, been using it for many years hunting elk and deer in Colorado, bought it used at a gun shop for $75 back in the early 80's and would never give it up. One of the best shooting rifles I own, shoots straight everytime, very solid well built rifle.

pat mcintyre wrote:
January 27, 2013

i have a savage 1895 or 99 i dont know. it has 2 inches of octagon at the start of the barrel and the rest is smoth. has the counter i cant fined one like it sel# 81.925 its a 30 30 with a 24 inch barrel. help me has enyone seen one and what is it?

Tyrell Hicks wrote:
January 08, 2013

I have a 56' savage .300 modle 99 its one of the most reliable guns I own.

Anthony Vargis wrote:
December 03, 2012

I have a 99 chambered in 250-3000 that i think was made around the 50s it has the safetyabove the lever/trigger. sporting a 3x9 leopould scope. Shoots fantastic, super smooth action and its in great shape. I also have 2 savage 110s in 30-06 both with leopuld scopes on them one from the 40s or 50s right handed. and i have a left handed 110 with the removable 5 round clip and a 3x9 leo scope from the early 60s. All 3 guns shoot 1- 2 inch groups at 100yrds and i only once in my 35 years have had to adjust one of the scopes on my right handed 110 since i dropped it on the scope:(. Its nice to know no matter how long my savages with leo scopes sit, I know i can pull them out and hit a silver dollar @ 100yrds year after year after year.

petaluma bill wrote:
October 08, 2012

I have fired the one I got from my dad 4 times, two hit the necks of standing bucks, the other two hit the chests of running bucks. Tried my nephews Winchester and ot felt like a red rider, yuck.

Derek Nelson wrote:
September 09, 2012

Have a 1928 model 99 303 using the 190 grain super x ammo and it will again this year be hunting deer. Great gun.

Red wrote:
August 25, 2012

The model 99 .300 savage is the finest shooting open sight rifle ever made in France they go for 4,000, how much are they sold for in usa?

cody rounsville wrote:
August 17, 2012

i have a avage model 99 c its my dads but hes giveing it to me i love the rifle its a .308 cal im useing it for deer season this year

a j mazz sr wrote:
July 16, 2012

I have a model 1899 with the a (R) at the end of the serial #, 26" barrel. round, walnut plain stock,peep adjustable sight 30/30. I can't find a listing for it

Lynn H. wrote:
July 15, 2012

I have a Model 99m that I received in 1966 as a gift from my parents. It is .308 cal. and makes a very good brush gun. My father has a Model 99F in the .308 cal.

Jerry Williams wrote:
July 09, 2012

I have the .22 hp and the 303 model 99. Both were used as deer rifles

Michael wrote:
July 07, 2012

I have a 99 in 250-3000, 243win, 300 Savage, and 303 Savage. Love these rifles. I still want a 22 High Power, 358, and 32 Special.

Mark wrote:
July 03, 2012

Cabela's carries ammo in 250 Savage (Remington) or try Cheaper than Dirt on-line

Larry T. wrote:
May 21, 2012

I just happen to have a .250-3000 I inheireted from my grandfather about 20 years ago, and it still shoots great, just having a hard time finding shells for it.

Clifford carlin wrote:
April 24, 2012

I have a 308 savage 99s what does the s mean my dad bought it in the 50's no one can tell me why there is an s

ThotOdinson wrote:
April 07, 2012

Where can I find an description of all the Savage 99 letter designations? Pictures would be great!

Thomas C. Rhino wrote:
April 01, 2012

There's a great book called the Ninety-Nine, author's last is Murray, if you like Savage Rifles, this book will give you a lot of enjoyment too!

Palmer Triplett wrote:
March 23, 2012

Own several 99s, including all Savage calibers. Have taken over 40 deer (and a couple of wild hogs)with mine at ranges from 20 to 312 yards. Who needs a magnum for deer!

duane wrote:
February 25, 2012

i have a model 1899 303, called the saddleman model love this gun.

Dale wrote:
February 14, 2012

Hate to admit that I never liked the Savage 99. I have one with the safety down by the lever, just so unhandy. Don't really like the looks but, it is an old timer with family history.

Christina wrote:
January 23, 2012

I have a Model 99 that has a retractable sling in the butt of the gun. I have never seen another like it..does anyone know if savage made them like that or if it was custom made?

cody wrote:
January 15, 2012

I noticed in an article in the american rifleman that they are going to be making the .250-3000 in the same issue they were discussing the savage model 99. Does anyone know who will be taking the helm and building these and please email me and let me know????

Sean Leary wrote:
January 02, 2012

makress, your model 99 will have the SN stamped on the underside of the magazine near the trigger guard, on the butt plate, and on the forearm stock where it fits in the magazine. Let me know if this helps.

makress wrote:
December 29, 2011

I have a model 99 but can not find the serial number. I have torn it completely apart. Help pleass.

Sean Leary wrote:
December 27, 2011

I have a Model 99 .250-3000 handed down to me from my father that will be 100 years old in 1915-1916. (S/N 180434) Original bluing and stock; all S/N match. Can anyone give me an idea of what its worth?

Tommy Walden wrote:
December 13, 2011

Just traded a Hungarian AK47 for a Model 99E series A in Win243. It is equipped with Winchester rings and Bushnell Sportview in 3x9x32 all in excellent condition. This will compliment the 99DL series A that i bought new around 1972 it is equipped with Weaver rings an a 2.5x7 Weaver Widefield still in excellent working order it is chambered for 308WinComments...

Victusi de Seville wrote:
November 24, 2011

I use a 99C in 284 Win. here in Germany for roedeer and chamois, handloading a 140 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip. I mounted an MPI synthetic stock and forend, Williams FP aperture and Streamline front sights, see-through scope mounts, and a Lisenfeld 3-9x42 scope with German no. 4 reticle. My handloads consistently group the Nosler into 5 cm (2") from a rest at 100 meters (109 yds.). All in all, a fine mountain rifle and cartridge.

Dustin Griswold wrote:
November 16, 2011

My dad has been holding onto one that my Grandpa gave him to give me and i just got it from him last year. Best rifle I have ever hunted with. I love it. Was kinda wary about having it drilled and tapped for scope mount but now that its done i dont regret it one bit. Absolutely love this gun and will never let it go.

DanPowne wrote:
November 07, 2011

i have a savage model 1899, serial # 505511GK... What I want to know is, what configuration does the "GK" represent? By the way, I love this rifle. Living in Northern Ontario, i"s the perfect rifle for moose.

matthew wrote:
November 03, 2011

Comments...I have a Mod 99F 358 in very good shape just used it for a canadian moose hunt would anyone know how much this rifle would be worth (not going to sell) just would like to know for Ins reasons

Terrell E Holmes wrote:
September 22, 2011

My proudest possession is my grandfather's model 99 .300 Savage that he used to hunt deer, elk, & black bear. I look forward to carrying on the legacy.

Bull Mountain wrote:
September 10, 2011

Never once was the 22-250 cal. brought up in the story to which I have two.

Adkbear wrote:
June 07, 2011

You guys/gals wanting to know the age of your 99s go to www.savage99.com find "dates of manufacture" and open. You just type in your S number and it will give you how old.

Swampbuck wrote:
May 24, 2011

Mike Hall: Length of bbl? Strait/pistol grip? Cal? Checkered/plain stock? Take down? Will help tell what 99 ? model it is. About 1937.

Mike Hall wrote:
April 15, 2011

Just got handed a 300 Savage 99 ser# 366348. Owned by my great Uncle. Anyone know what year?

Chris wrote:
April 07, 2011

I inherited a 1927 99 WIN .30-30 from my Grandfather; love that gun.

Bill Kille wrote:
March 13, 2011

Being a left hand shooter on my way to Alaska back in '63, a friend of mine got me in touch with the Mdl 99, .308. Still have it, restocked with a Bishop Stock for a left hander. A sweet shooting accurate rifle.

james locke wrote:
January 18, 2011

i have a 300&303 savage model-99. wish i had more.

fred wrote:
December 18, 2010

i want to know what is the age of a savage 358,lever action.

dtk1952 wrote:
December 13, 2010

The best lever action ever made. Wish that Savage was still making them.