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Any of you folks up there have any experience with the .303 Savage??

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  • Any of you folks up there have any experience with the .303 Savage??

    I just inherited my Great Grandfather's Savage 1899 in .303 Savage circa 1907. It has a 26" Octagonal barrel. While i also got 5 full boxes of 190 grain Imperial ammo, i hope to find some dies for it and load for it. That heavy 26'" barrel sure balances nicely and i think it would be fun to shoot. Anyways i was wondering if any of you folks up there in the Alaskan frontier had any experience with this cartridge??

  • #2
    Originally posted by Win94 View Post
    I just inherited my Great Grandfather's Savage 1899 in .303 Savage circa 1907. It has a 26" Octagonal barrel. While i also got 5 full boxes of 190 grain Imperial ammo, i hope to find some dies for it and load for it. That heavy 26'" barrel sure balances nicely and i think it would be fun to shoot. Anyways i was wondering if any of you folks up there in the Alaskan frontier had any experience with this cartridge??
    I hhad one years ago, and enjoyed it a lot. As a died-in-the-wool Savage fan I've always regretted parting with it. Brass may be a little hard to come up with, so take good care of what you have, and be on the lookout for more. BELL or somebody may still produce it, but I'm just out of touch.

    I always felt it was a little under-loaded powerwise, but if cases are hard to find I'd resist the temptation to load it hotter than book max. I never chronographed mine, but field performance indicated it was a whole lot like the 30-30. Mine was a whole lot more accurate than most 30-30's.

    I'm reaching way back, but if I recall correctly those old Imperial 190's were loaded a fair bit hotter than American standard. Maybe not, but that sure is tickling my memory bone.

    Good rifle, unusual with the octagonal barrel, and really neat to keep it in the family. There will undoubtedly be collector interest and some attractive offers. Keep it in the family and tell the collectors to go pound sand.
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard

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    • #3
      Thank you for the reply BrownBear. I figure if i use .30-.30 load recipes i should be safe and even maybe a tad faster due to the 26" barrel over my 20" Barreled .30-.30's and 16.5" barreled .30-.30 for that matter. I will definitley be keeping it in the family!! It sure is neat to see the engineering that went into that rifle what with the rotary magazine and round counter on the side of the receiver. All this from a firearm built in 1907. Pretty amazing. Its way more robust and built hardier than any of the stuff put out today. It sure cycles ammo smoothly as well.

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      • #4
        I have a model 94 Winchester in 30-30 that was built in 1909 and it is better made than even the 1950's 94's! They sure took pride in their work back then.

        Andy
        Andy
        On the web= C-lazy-F.co
        Email= Andy@C-lazy-F.co
        Call/Text 602-315-2406
        Phoenix Arizona

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Win94 View Post
          Thank you for the reply BrownBear. I figure if i use .30-.30 load recipes i should be safe and even maybe a tad faster due to the 26" barrel over my 20" Barreled .30-.30's and 16.5" barreled .30-.30 for that matter. I will definitley be keeping it in the family!! It sure is neat to see the engineering that went into that rifle what with the rotary magazine and round counter on the side of the receiver. All this from a firearm built in 1907. Pretty amazing. Its way more robust and built hardier than any of the stuff put out today. It sure cycles ammo smoothly as well.
          The 45th Edition of the Lyman Reloading Handbook has a page of data (p.290). Comparing that with the 30-30 data in the same manual, using the 30-30 data is a good idea. I didn't compare further than IMR-3031, but max for the 30-30 is a little below max for the 303. Using max 303 data nets you 100-150 fps more than the 30-30 with both the 150 and 170 grain bullets. While that's significant in some folk's minds, it's really not enough to affect game performance. In fact, if you can't come up with an alternate source of brass, you aren't going to want to shoot max 303 loads anyway.

          If you can't come up with Lyman's #45 manual, drop me a PM and I'll see what I can do to help.
          "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
          Merle Haggard

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          • #6
            Brownbear i have a copy of that very manual in my gunroom!! I will check it out after work tonight!! Sure appreciate the insight from you fellas!!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Win94 View Post
              Brownbear i have a copy of that very manual in my gunroom!! I will check it out after work tonight!! Sure appreciate the insight from you fellas!!
              There's a small section of "obsolete" cartridges near the back, including some other goodies along with the 303.

              Enjoy that rifle! It's a goodun.

              I just checked and Buffalo Arms has new Norma 303 Savage cases for $23/20, as well as cases reformed from 30-40 Krag cases for $22/20. I'm not sure about the latter, but if that's an easy conversion you could just as well do it yourself from the more readily available 30-40 cases. John Donnelly's book of cartridge conversions suggests a complicated process using 220 Swift cases, which doesn't look even a little bit practical.

              Norma brass is good stuff, and I'd go that route for a few boxes, even if the 30-40 route turned out good alternatives.
              "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
              Merle Haggard

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              • #8
                An interesting rifle. My dad had a matched pair of Savage 1899 models in his rather extensive Savage collection, one in 303 and one in 22 Savage high power.

                This 303 was the first caliber made for the 1895, which became the 1899, then just the 99. The 303 was popular up 'til the 1930's. It was generally considered superior to the 30-30 ballistically probably because it was loaded to higher pressure, Savage was in to that as evidenced by their association with Charles Newton. The 303 case will hold a couple grains more powder than a 30-30 Winchester case, not enough to carry any real ballistic advantage but the 99 rifle is a great deal stronger than the 94 Winchester. I think it was the first caliber ever loaded with spitzer bullets in this country and it was made with the 1895 rifle to compete for a military contract, which it never got. The world wasn't ready for such a good rifle and caliber I guess. It was a very popular caliber for a few decades with hunters. It was superior to the 30-30 also from the point of the heavier bullets used commercialy, the 190 grain round nose was a popular loading and I have a box of Western ammo of that one from my dad.

                Of course today, there would be no real advantage over any other caliber but the enjoyment of the old rifle and cartridge that dad or granddad once carried.

                I think Starline makes brass for it, I'm not sure. It is of odd dimensions the rim is .505", the same as the 30-30, 38-55, etc but the body is .442" vs .402" for the 30-30. The 30-40 rim is .545" with a body diameter of.460" about the same as the 303 British round. Brass can be made from those two but forming is rather extensive and the rim must be turned down. If you have a supplyof he Imperial brass you should be good for a while. Forming from 220 Swift will work but there isn't enough rim so we must headspace on the shoulder, not a bad idea anyway.

                Good luck with that fine old rifle, enjoy it.
                Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?


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                • #9
                  Thankyou for your input Murphy. I sure appreciate it. I am seriously thinking of using the Savage for the two whitetail doe tags we are alloted each year. It would be fun utilizing a 100 year old rifle.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Win94 View Post
                    Thankyou for your input Murphy. I sure appreciate it. I am seriously thinking of using the Savage for the two whitetail doe tags we are alloted each year. It would be fun utilizing a 100 year old rifle.
                    Great! Sounds like a good way to use a century old rifle. I did find Norma brass at Graf & son for about $25 for twenty. Not as bad as it could be.
                    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?


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                    • #11
                      One of the fellows I used to hunt with had a 303 carbine and he thought it was the best rifle ever. He had more modern rifles but really liked the savage for little meat damage and great penetration. He was deadly with it. At one time he had a broken and casted leg and therefore could not walk in the woods very far. He was on a stand and we came to get him about noon one day. He had four deer lay scattered about within 80 yards of his stand. BRFSwampbuck knows him too! He is now long dead. I am smiling as I remember the good times with a past hunting partner and his 303 Savage. J.

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