rosbertos

Savage 99...restore it or leave it be?

44 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

So I have a Savage 99F in .308, made in 1958, has the rotary magazine with round counter, safety on the lever, and hand cut checkering.  It was my father's first deer rifle and I have owned and used it for the last 20 years.  The bluing is probably at 50% with no pitting, the bore is excellent, and the stock and fore end show signs of use of course..some dings, scratches, and flaking varnish.  It's quite accurate for a lever gun (1.5 MOA all day long), points like a finger, and has some collector value although the caliber isn't as desirable as say .300 Savage or .250-3000 Savage.  After this deer season I was planning to strip, sand (but preserve the checkering), and refinish the wood with TruOil and have the metal bits professionally re-blued to preserve the gun and hopefully get another 40 years of use from it.  Should I restore it, or leave it be and retire it to the safe?  I have never owned a "modern" bolt rifle in a deer caliber and am looking for opinions on whether the current offerings in say the sub $500 rifles that are all the rage these days are enough of an improvement over what I have to justify retiring my 99.  100% of my shots taken over the years are 200 yards or less, often waaay less.  Anyone here make the switch from old to new and regret it later?

Edited by rosbertos

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1 hour ago, rosbertos said:

So I have a Savage 99F in .308, made in 1958, has the rotary magazine with round counter, safety on the lever, and hand cut checkering.  It was my father's first deer rifle and I have owned and used it for the last 20 years.  The bluing is probably at 50% with no pitting, the bore is excellent, and the stock and fore end show signs of use of course..some dings, scratches, and flaking varnish.  It's quite accurate for a lever gun (1.5 MOA all day long), points like a finger, and has some collector value although the caliber isn't as desirable as say .300 Savage or .250-3000 Savage.  After this deer season I was planning to strip, sand (but preserve the checkering), and refinish the wood with TruOil and have the metal bits professionally re-blued to preserve the gun and hopefully get another 40 years of use from it.  Should I restore it, or leave it be and retire it to the safe?  I have never owned a "modern" bolt rifle in a deer caliber and am looking for opinions on whether the current offerings in say the sub $500 rifles that are all the rage these days are enough of an improvement over what I have to justify retiring my 99.  100% of my shots taken over the years are 200 yards or less, often waaay less.  Anyone here make the switch from old to new and regret it later?

If it were mine, I would not redo the cosmetics.   Some BLO thinly rubbed on the wood and  Corrosion-X on the metal ought to keep it well enough together for the the next 40 years of use. 

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Posted (edited)

I have the same rifle. Had it restored over ten years ago.  Most older 99's turn into grey rats (worn receiver bluing) because the are carried by the receiver. Gunsmith even recolored cased the lever. Polished the cartridge spindal (it's brass) I redid the stock. Now too pretty to take into the woods. Savage introduced the model F in 308 Winchester in 1955 by lengthing the receiver . The 300 Sav & 250 Sav are shorter cartridges. Mine has a factory letter as to Its date of manufacture.  I recommend Gun Saver stock finish over Tru Oil. Still much better looking than AR. 15.

Edited by george6308

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Yeah, probably 90% of the bluing is worn off the lower receiver from carrying.  Much prefer the looks of the 99 to an AR, doesn't look like it's made of Legos.

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Posted (edited)

As long as the wood isn't bare, leave it. Or touch up the bare spots. Every bit of that wear was put there by you or your father. It would be a shame to see it erased. And as is, it is perfectly functional. You would gain little practical improvement with a modern bolt gun, at least here in the northeast. Great to have just the way it is. Just an aside, but I think the savage 99 is one of the best looking rifles, EVER. 

Edited by kross57

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3 hours ago, kross57 said:

As long as the wood isn't bare, leave it. Or touch up the bare spots. Every bit of that wear was put there by you or your father. It would be a shame to see it erased. And as is, it is perfectly functional. You would gain little practical improvement with a modern bolt gun, at least here in the northeast. Great to have just the way it is. Just an aside, but I think the savage 99 is one of the best looking rifles, EVER. 

Plus 1 on what kross57 said. :th:

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If you are going to re-do it, have the wood and checkering professionally done. Refinishing the stock without re-cutting the checkering always looks half-assed.

 

:v:

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I like to see the worn away bluing on my guns. Tells of many miles and many trails. My gloves have kept any rust at bay, just in the  carrying.

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Savage is still in business as a company.  Why was the 99 dropped?  I think it disappeared from production well before the current mania for AR-15 platforms, and it is a graceful, elegant firearm. 

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Posted (edited)

According to Chuck Hawks : "For hunting North American game the Savage 99 is still one of the finest hunting rifles of all time. In fact, it was a solid performer well into the later part of the last century, nearly one hundred years after its creation. It was manufactured for nearly a century with over a million rifles produced before the Savage 99 was discontinued due to decrepit machinery and increased cost."

 

According to American Rifleman, it was produced from 1899 thru 1997

Edited by rosbertos

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The Savage Arms Co in business today is not the same Savage Co. They have been thru several different owners.

The 99 was dropped to its high cost of production. The rotary magazine was dropped about 1980. In 1990 a few were assembled in Spain but again it was not cost effective and the introduction was stopped.

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After 35 years in the Gun Industry , I say leave it as is,   If you do redo it you'll always hear "Nice Gun"  "To bad its been screwed with "

Unaltered is always best

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You hear that over and over in relation to top-notch USA-made firearms. "It became too expensive to produce." Sigh...

 

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You hear it, but I'm deeply skeptical of the explanation.  "Decrepit tooling" means that some corporate absentee owner bled the company for cash and made no investment in new machinery .... ever. Labor relations probably got lousy,the company was simply unwilling to work on the issue; cheaper to end production and send the bean counters off to acquire some new investment to starve of cash.  That's the New American Way!  And it's damn unlikely that anyone made a serious effort to review the cost of production against the cost of modern tooling.  CNC machinery can do things with insanely fine tolerances.

 

Rotary magazines do have a bumpy history.  The original Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifles used a rotary magazine, too, and the company had to drop it for cost-of-production reasons as well; the modern company's rifles are made with Mauser actions.  Yet, even there, has a modern team of production engineers made the time to review what these older designs might cost if production was reviewed for CNC work from start to finish?  Additive manufacturing is making its' way into aviation rapidly, and you can't read about it without reading that the technique makes a ten-step process, say, with a dozen parts, into a one step process that produces a single component that's cheaper, lighter and tougher then what went before. 

 

The firearm described is in .308?  Ammunition is everywhere.  That'd be a delightful thing to own as a hunting rifle. 

 

Made in the USA .... if FN can make money making Model 70 Winchesters in South Carolina, is it really so impossible? 

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The reason the 99 not made any longer is simply, not enough people bought them anymore. If Savage did a limited run in the future, who here would pay $1500 for one?

 

:v:

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