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Thread: Savage Model 99 vs. Winchester Model 88

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Default Savage Model 99 vs. Winchester Model 88

    Thought this would be a good discussion.

    Weight Differences, ability to disassemble for cleaning, accuracy, reliability and handling qualities would be interesting topics of discussion.

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    Well I donít know much about the ole 99, never happened onto one just right yet so donít have one.

    Now the 88 I know well, got a 308 and I love it. They have their quirks but are very deadly accurate, as good as a bolt (after all it is a bolt with a lever) so long as itís bedded correctly. Trigger is the biggest drawback, it moves with the lever so has a ton of joints and can be tuned to fair-to-middelin but never great. 88s donít like to be cycled slowly, they feel all jerky and I have heard it can jam from slow cyceling but mine never has. They like it rough, a good crisp cycling of the lever is what they want. Guys that grew up with a lever like I did will miss the hammer but give a little get a lot. I wish it had a tang safety (or just a hammer) rather than the button on the lever.

    Itís half bolt gun and half lever gun with most of the best of both but comes with the compromises I listed. Iím still looking for one in 358, someday.
    Andy
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    I've got half a dozen 99's and a couple of 88's, and have owned and used more of each since the 1960's. I never considered any weight difference, but I'm sure there's an ounce here and there. Balance and fast shooting with open sights are much better for me and other fans with the 99, but with scopes the 88 gets the nod for balance and mounting. There's just something about the stock differences that send the two in different directions. I suspect the comb is lower the 99 which eases lineup of open sights, while the higher comb on the 88 forces you to really bury your head to get to the sights, even as it lines up better with the scope.

    Accuracy differences boil down to the individual rifle. I've had gems and stinkers in both models. Of my 358's in each model, the 99 is much more accurate than the 88, even shooting with a peep on one and a scope on the other. Go figure. The 99 gets most of the use because it's just quicker than the 88. I've got a 284 in 99 that breaks an inch with several loads using a scope, so it's my only scoped 99 these days. If I could find an 88 in 284, that might be the better rifle simply because its comb would make it the better offhand gun. Seems kinda silly to put a peep sight on the 99/284, so I have never tried it that way.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I've got to admit the 88s leave me cold. In my youth I (maybe foolishly) passed up a dozen or so of these for a pittance- in a variety of chamberings. It seems at one point folks could barely give these things away- of late they seem to be getting more popular and prices are going up though.

    Of the two I like the 99s much better but I think a scope is an abomination on a lever gun so the lower comb to use peep sights probably sways me that direction. I've always thought the 88 looked rather more complicated compared to my 336 and several of the ones I played with felt kinda "clunky". The 99 seems a bit more svelte and iIf I run across a clean 99 in 250 Savage I'd likely pick it up, but those are getting hard to come by.

    I've always thought the higher pressure cartriddges were out of place in levers due to weaker primary extraction. I seem to recall several folks writing about stuck .308 cases in the 88s but don't remember similar issues with the 99. I also seem to recall Boddington writing about having to bash his 88 open with a rock(!) in Africa- but heck that was the 80s and I've slept a lot since then...

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    I continued through a box of federal 180 grainers that were so over-pressured that they left the cases darned near glued in the chamber. I would rack the lever with all I was worth and the extractor ripped em out. I observed the extractor to be very beefy on the 99. They were only reading 2500 over the chrony so I wasn't too worried. The trigger could use some help, but the design may not allow that. The 99 is very easy to disassemble once you understand the mechanics of the action. With that said, don't EVER take apart the internal rotary magazine.........unless you're brownbear that's owned em since the 60's!

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I have enjoyed them both and kinda wish I still had them along with the BLR, all were 308
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Member gunbugs's Avatar
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    I have a number of 88's, and have owned a couple 99's over the years. Neither is "easy" to disassemble, and both are weak sisters when it comes to a fragile buttstock. It's unusual to find a 99 without the usual crack running vertically back from the upper tang, sometimes breaking the entire side of the stock off. The 88's usually will break alongside the magazine well. If you have taken 88's apart before and have a set of slave pins already made up, then it isn't that big a deal. The rotary mag on the 99's is actually pretty simple once you figure it out. Shootability is about equal on both. There is a lot of variation in the stocks over the years on 99's, hardly any in the 88 lineup. The earlier 99's have a better trigger/safety arrangement as the later top tang safety has so much flex in the sheet metal parts that it requires large amounts of sear engagement to be reliable. I could go on with more minutae but thats enough for now.
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    88s often get mixed accuracy reviews and mine was all over when I got it, likely why the guy sold it to me in the first place. They can be as good as a bolt rifle though but how you get there isnít quite the same. They suffer from bedding issues, there is a mounting point on the barrel that makes floating the imposable. They have a recoil block at the back that must be bedded dead nuts square to everything. Any small mistake at either of these contact points and it will wander all over the paper. I had to bed mine twice as I learned the tricks to get it to shoot but she is easy sub MOA now and not picky about ammo.

    It also had a rough chamber when I got it giving tight extraction. After ripping the rim off a case (which is not easy with the starting leverage of the 88 lever) I took it down and polished the chamber, after that zero sticky issues at all with it.

    They are a different animal and I think they have these issues because so few people will take the time to figure out their hybrid half-this/half-that/all something else issues. For me I mostly just wish it had a hammer and was 358.
    Andy
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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Hello Andy,

    You could send it off to Jesse down in Oregon. He'd rebore your rifle to 358 winchester for $225. I may go that route with my 99 if it won't stabilize my 308 winchester/200 grain nosler partition load.

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    Member 1Cor15:19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    ...He'd rebore your rifle to 358 winchester for $225. I may go that route with my 99 if it won't stabilize my 308 winchester/200 grain nosler partition load.
    That sounds like a great idea Mainer. I hope your 200 grain load works for you, but I must hope that any and every hunter would improve their battery through the inclusion of a .358 Winchester...
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    Hello Andy,

    You could send it off to Jesse down in Oregon. He'd rebore your rifle to 358 winchester for $225. I may go that route with my 99 if it won't stabilize my 308 winchester/200 grain nosler partition load.
    I have considered it and I may yet but Iíd rather find another to send off. I have been looking for about a year now and I will find one, all things in their time. Good luck with the 200s, if you can push them fast enough I think it will work.
    Andy
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    Member pinehavensredrocket's Avatar
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    my favorite is the savage 1899, in just about any caliber. the early .303's and .22high power made history in the gamefields....and then of course the .250-3000!

    my current .250 savage is a nice rifle, a natural pointer and it excells in the deer woods. my only complaint is the trigger (?)
    happy trails.
    jh

  13. #13

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    Owned 2 88,s in .284 1 88 in 308 99,s from , 284, 3 250s,243,308,358 Kinda like them both the 88 stock to seems better for hunting
    with a scope. LH and like the levers, the 99,a need relief near the tang on top or most will crack. Some of the 99,s were more accurate. But both the 99 & 88 in 284 shot well. The 99 seems to have larger chambers, and more prone to case stretching, leading
    to case failures. Esp. in cases with lots of taper. The 88 locks up like a bolt and seems to have a tighter chamber.

    The 88 in 284 was a lucky one for me shot a solo Full curl ram, and nice bull moose. The 88 crossbolt safety is reversible for LH shooters. The 88 trigger has miles of creep and not easily corrected. Stock bedding can be an issue.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    My buddy Jim from back in Maine is coming up to AK in July and is thinking of moving here. He just joined the forum and is a lever action fanatic. He posted a useful youtube video about how to take apart the 99 and he makes it look so simple:

    http://youtu.be/TiwuPKv2LlQ

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    Thought this would be a good discussion.

    Weight Differences, ability to disassemble for cleaning, accuracy, reliability and handling qualities would be interesting topics of discussion.
    Grandpa ran a 300 Savage Model 99... so eventually, I found a nice older model for myself with similar lines Schnabel forend - excellent wood - perfect bluing, cool barrel tapering etc. Excellent shape rifle especially at my time of purchase the really nice ones like this were either dryin' up or going at ghastly askings. She's a pretty good shooter under 1" with the NORMA ammo made for Herters and goes 1 1/4" at 100 yds. with Federal blue-box soft-points or a bit more with Remington CL. This gun is a rifleman's rifle... both traditional and nostalgic. A feel good about yourself, practical shooter. Reliability seams quite good, and mine is in flawless condition.

    I sold off my Winchester 1968 limited carbine 88 with factory installed peep and beautiful wood in .308 WIN. She was reasonably accurate at 100 yds giving similar performances downrange to maybe even slightly better than my 99. I lucked out on my purchase and a few years later sold it for more than triple the cost I got it for. This is not however the reason I sold it! It went down the road because I'd never depend on this gun for what I see wanting paramount reliability in my kind of demanding solo hunts. I found the 88 to be generally fragile along lines for many of it's parts, overly complex for such a package, mostly not-tunable, unsuitable in truly harsh environments, and a field cleaning nightmare. I had a very nice 88 lever collector's piece at best.

    I'd never buy another 88. I'd never need another 99!!!

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Richardson View Post
    I'd never need another 99!!!
    Not until you find a mint 22 Highpower or 38-55 at a good price!

    Close to 40 years ago I let a really choice 22HP takedown from their custom shop wander out ouf my stable. Guy gave me a whopping $250 for it. I been whining and sniveling about it ever since, so don't mind me.

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    Member Darreld Walton's Avatar
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    I've owned several of both. At the moment, the only one I have is an early, straight grip .30-30 carbine that I restocked. Value on both models, in nearly all calibers, have gotten to the point that I dumped them, took the cash, and bought bolt guns to replace them.
    As far as maintenance, in my mind, the 99 is a heckuva lot easier to break down and reassemble. The 88 can be a two day job if things don't go just right. As mentioned, both have stock quirks that seem to be prevalent. 99's will eventually split through the grip on either or both sides, the 88 likes to break diagonally through the magazine box relief cut.
    Of the bunch, the one I enjoyed the most was the Sako Finnwolf, their copy of the 88, with a 24" barrel in .243 Winchester.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    It is good to do a glass bed fit along the enitire area of the Savage 99 where wood meets metal. Don't forget the release agent!

  19. #19

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    Ya got me going. I will pull my Dad's Mod. 99 .300 Savage out and give the barrel a good cleaning. I don't know if it's been fired in 40 years. What a waste of a good rifle and caliber. I also foolishly sold one in.358 years ago. Wish I had a 88 in .308.

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    Member gunbugs's Avatar
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    Do we have a Nigerian scammer on the forum here? The guy doesn't write like he speaks English.
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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