Savage 99 Project

maverick2

Handloader
Dec 22, 2013
344
21
This is turning into one of those “off-the-wall” projects, but I’m having fun with it so will share it here as I watch the snow come down in buckets outside (and sip on a light whiskey as I feel sorry for the Easter Bunny for having to go out on a night like this). Of all the rifles I’ve ever owned, the one I’ve always enjoyed shooting the most is a Savage 99. That’s the rifle I started hunting with (in a .308) and has always been the first one out of the gun safe for sentimental reasons. Over the last 10 years though, I’ve figured out that it’s also my favorite rifle to carry on long days (it’s light), it feels the most natural and almost intuitive following moving targets (I’m assuming because of its balance), and last but not least, there’s NOTHING more fun than filling the air with lead using a lever action trying to nail a running coyote. When I combine all the above, it’s about the ONLY rifle that comes out of the gun safe anymore for me. The only downside is that it has some limitations in the accuracy department when it comes to long range and repetitive shooting – the thin profile barrel and the “hanger” on the barrel for attaching the forearm effectively precludes its use for those two particular applications (both of which I really enjoy). As a result, when I ran across a “sound but abused” 99 in 308 for the right price a couple years ago, I grabbed it with the intent of trying to make a 99 function as a long range/varmint rifle. My goal was to fix what I think are the 99’s biggest weaknesses (get a stiffer barrel and figure out a better way to attach a forearm) while not screwing up the 99’s weight and balance. I addressed the barrel stiffness and weight issue by swapping the original 24” savage 308 barrel out for a 22” medium-heavy contour carbon fiber barrel, and am hanging the forearm off the 99’s substantial steel on the floor of the action. I ended up paying a 4-6 ounce weight penalty for the carbon fiber barrel, but moved it’s center of gravity back a bit while GREATLY increasing barrel rigidity, so am pleased with that aspect. I think the forearm is going to work out well also. There’s plenty of steal to attach to w/o interfering with the rotary system in the action, so I started carving up a piece of wood to fit tightly to the floor of the action. That actually attached extremely well – better than I expected. Pics will give you a sense as to how that forend attaches, and what it’s going to look like. (I’m working on the piece to fill the gap between forearm and barrel, and will do the fit-up so the barrel free floats – will trim the finished forearm down a bit when it’s complete, but I think it’ll remain somewhat of a beavertail configuration since that’s what feels best in my ham hands.)
Savage 99 - a.jpg Savage 99 - b.jpg


Since this rifle will serve as my go-to for whitetail deer, coyotes, wolves, and long-range varmints, I opted to chamber this barrel to a 6mm Creedmoor instead of the 308. Now if the snow and wind would let up for a couple days, I’d take this thing out and shoot it before worrying about finishing it just to satisfy my curiosity, but the weather has been downright nasty since the gunsmith did his magic with the barrel. This may well turn out to be the ugliest “custom” rifle I’ve ever seen, but I’m really liking how it feels and fits so far, so I’ll have no complaints if it shoots how I think it might.
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,460
2,228
Fascinating project. Without a doubt, the Savage 99 is a great rifle to use in the field. I had one in 38-55 Winchester. I should never have let it go. It was a joy to carry and to use. I always thought I needed one in 358 Winchester. It would be an ideal woods rifle.
 

KinleyWater

Handloader
Jun 15, 2019
534
510
I can't see from the pictures, but I am thinking you may be able to pick up a couple of ounces by boring the forearm from the front; assuming you wanted to.

Very interesting project as well. I have often heard that AR platforms (and Glock handguns) are "Lego" guns because of all the ways you can modify them with over the counter parts. It is fascinating to see something like this done with such a classic design. As far as looks are concerned - well, it's as beautiful as you find it and if you love it, you love it. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
 

maverick2

Handloader
Dec 22, 2013
344
21
Fascinating project. Without a doubt, the Savage 99 is a great rifle to use in the field. I had one in 38-55 Winchester. I should never have let it go. It was a joy to carry and to use. I always thought I needed one in 358 Winchester. It would be an ideal woods rifle.
Thanks. Finding a 99 (or building one) in a 358 is on my bucket list. Assuming I'm able to make this shoot the way I want, this rifle and a second one in 358 will pretty much handle all my hunting needs.
 

maverick2

Handloader
Dec 22, 2013
344
21
I can't see from the pictures, but I am thinking you may be able to pick up a couple of ounces by boring the forearm from the front; assuming you wanted to.

Very interesting project as well. I have often heard that AR platforms (and Glock handguns) are "Lego" guns because of all the ways you can modify them with over the counter parts. It is fascinating to see something like this done with such a classic design. As far as looks are concerned - well, it's as beautiful as you find it and if you love it, you love it. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
Very good point about the forearm. I'll end up trimming the current hunk of wood down quite a bit, and will cut the barrel channel very deep on the wood yet to add, so will shave a bit more weight off. I'm actually not too concerned about overall weight, but am pretty particular about not messing up the balance. One thing I've noticed is that I'm really going to enjoy having some wood beneath the action. When walking with rifle in hand (which I do a lot of) the natural balance/carry point for a 99 (at least for me) is my left hand wrapped around the action. That hunk of steel is a cold son-of-a-gun in late November and radiates thru gloves. With the forearm extending back beneath the action, it's going to make this much more pleasant to carry.
 

maverick2

Handloader
Dec 22, 2013
344
21
I can't see from the pictures, but I am thinking you may be able to pick up a couple of ounces by boring the forearm from the front; assuming you wanted to.

Very interesting project as well. I have often heard that AR platforms (and Glock handguns) are "Lego" guns because of all the ways you can modify them with over the counter parts. It is fascinating to see something like this done with such a classic design. As far as looks are concerned - well, it's as beautiful as you find it and if you love it, you love it. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
It's funny that you mention the AR platforms. I like to tinker with my stuff to customize it to me for fit and function, so you'd think an AR platform with all the options available out there would be tailormade for me. But interestingly enough, they hold zero appeal for me. I've never enjoyed shooting them, and don't think one would venture out of my gun safe very much for that reason. I'm not even sure why -- I've got nothing against ARs, but apparently they just aren't my cup of tea.
 

grry10

Handloader
Dec 7, 2007
303
70
My Savage 99CL .308 became a .358 Win thanks to JES. My youngest son harvested his first deer with it when it was still a .308. I'm sorry to say that it doesn't get used much anymore but it is still a joy to shoot.
 

Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
1,984
537
I am interested to know what carbon fiber barrel you went with?

Also, in the interest of maintaining the original balance to the rifle and improving the cold-weather carry aspects, instead of adding wood underneath the action, could you have used a thin, soft rubber padding material like that you can find to build thin layers on a cheek piece of the stock? I believe that they are adhesive on one side for application...and you could trim to fit, so that you could still see your cartridge counter on the side of the action. (May not solve the issue of attaching the forearm with the carbon fiber barrel...) Just a thought I have had in the past when people have mentioned the same complaint of carrying a rifle by the cold action.
On really cold hunts, I wear a thin glove inside heavy gloves, so as to protect my hands from the cold when it does come time to shoot., shedding the heavy outer glove.
 

maverick2

Handloader
Dec 22, 2013
344
21
I am interested to know what carbon fiber barrel you went with?

Also, in the interest of maintaining the original balance to the rifle and improving the cold-weather carry aspects, instead of adding wood underneath the action, could you have used a thin, soft rubber padding material like that you can find to build thin layers on a cheek piece of the stock? I believe that they are adhesive on one side for application...and you could trim to fit, so that you could still see your cartridge counter on the side of the action. (May not solve the issue of attaching the forearm with the carbon fiber barrel...) Just a thought I have had in the past when people have mentioned the same complaint of carrying a rifle by the cold action.
On really cold hunts, I wear a thin glove inside heavy gloves, so as to protect my hands from the cold when it does come time to shoot., shedding the heavy outer glove.
I went with Hell's Canyon Armory for the carbon fiber barrel. They use Benchmark Barrels for their blanks, and had a standard barrel/shank configuration that matched the action size of the 99 almost perfectly. (And they are local to where I live, so I was able to deal with them in person rather than the nameless/faceless internet.) Was very pleased with my service from them.

And yes, I could have used a soft, rubber padding under the action, but the way I did my forearm I needed to cover the bottom of the action anyway with wood. The way that action is configured, there's enough steel and surface area to attach to that I'm still able to leave the cartridge counter exposed.
 

Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
1,984
537
Always great to have good, in-person customer service! Local helps too!
Look forwards to seeing how it shoots.
I am happy with the Benchmark barrel I have on my 6.5 CM, and hoping the one on my 7mm-08 provides the same consistent results.
I have a Wilson carbon fiber barrel on my 338 Federal, and now that we have the throat issue fixed, looks like it is going to be a winner w/ sub-MOA performance.
 

maverick2

Handloader
Dec 22, 2013
344
21
Always great to have good, in-person customer service! Local helps too!
Look forwards to seeing how it shoots.
I am happy with the Benchmark barrel I have on my 6.5 CM, and hoping the one on my 7mm-08 provides the same consistent results.
I have a Wilson carbon fiber barrel on my 338 Federal, and now that we have the throat issue fixed, looks like it is going to be a winner w/ sub-MOA performance.
Ah, nice to get some good feedback on the Benchmark barrels. Thx!
I'll post some results after I get a chance to shoot it. May be a while though -- picked up 5 inches of snow last night and it's not very pleasant out there.
 

KinleyWater

Handloader
Jun 15, 2019
534
510
It's funny that you mention the AR platforms. I like to tinker with my stuff to customize it to me for fit and function, so you'd think an AR platform with all the options available out there would be tailormade for me. But interestingly enough, they hold zero appeal for me. I've never enjoyed shooting them, and don't think one would venture out of my gun safe very much for that reason. I'm not even sure why -- I've got nothing against ARs, but apparently they just aren't my cup of tea.
Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.
 

7mmstw

Beginner
Mar 27, 2015
26
9
Love every aspect of this!
I had a shot out 300 sav.
had a DOUGLAS bechrest contour 1 in 10 .257 barrel that didn’t get used for it’s original intention
so I took them both to the smith
had him fit it snugly & cut it down to 22 “ & about #4 mid weight
chamber it in 250 savage
I bought a set of beavertail forearm & montecarlo stock
put it all together all with hopes of a light quick coyote rig
only to have my father volunteer to break it in for me…lol
i guess it’s taking longer than he thought…he is still breaking it in 3 yrs later…guess I should have known …lol
i have pulled same on him
still working up a load for his 338 20 yrs later karma is a bitch lol
eventually I will get it back
enjoy yours sounds fantastic
 

maverick2

Handloader
Dec 22, 2013
344
21
Love every aspect of this!
I had a shot out 300 sav.
had a DOUGLAS bechrest contour 1 in 10 .257 barrel that didn’t get used for it’s original intention
so I took them both to the smith
had him fit it snugly & cut it down to 22 “ & about #4 mid weight
chamber it in 250 savage
I bought a set of beavertail forearm & montecarlo stock
put it all together all with hopes of a light quick coyote rig
only to have my father volunteer to break it in for me…lol
i guess it’s taking longer than he thought…he is still breaking it in 3 yrs later…guess I should have known …lol
i have pulled same on him
still working up a load for his 338 20 yrs later karma is a bitch lol
eventually I will get it back
enjoy yours sounds fantastic
Hahaha. I like how your father operates! (Has he bothered to let you know how it shoots so far as he's breaking it in?)
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,460
2,228
Love every aspect of this!
I had a shot out 300 sav.
had a DOUGLAS bechrest contour 1 in 10 .257 barrel that didn’t get used for it’s original intention
so I took them both to the smith
had him fit it snugly & cut it down to 22 “ & about #4 mid weight
chamber it in 250 savage
I bought a set of beavertail forearm & montecarlo stock
put it all together all with hopes of a light quick coyote rig
only to have my father volunteer to break it in for me…lol
i guess it’s taking longer than he thought…he is still breaking it in 3 yrs later…guess I should have known …lol
i have pulled same on him
still working up a load for his 338 20 yrs later karma is a bitch lol
eventually I will get it back
enjoy yours sounds fantastic
What a generous father!:sneaky: You're fortunate to have a dad who cares.
 

cloverleaf

Handloader
Sep 10, 2006
3,975
365
Wow! what a cool project! You have more nerve than me- to drill and tap that 99 receiver! Keep us updated as you progress. Where did you find the cheek rest? I need something for a straight stocked rifle I'm working on... 7mmSTW good for you, chambering a Rifle in THE calibre! I'd say I was jealous, but I am working on a project of my own.... CL
 

maverick2

Handloader
Dec 22, 2013
344
21
Wow! what a cool project! You have more nerve than me- to drill and tap that 99 receiver! Keep us updated as you progress. Where did you find the cheek rest? I need something for a straight stocked rifle I'm working on... 7mmSTW good for you, chambering a Rifle in THE calibre! I'd say I was jealous, but I am working on a project of my own.... CL
What's make/model rifle are you turning into a 7mm STW??? Very cool caliber!

As far as the cheek rest, I made it. About $20 worth of Kydex, expanding spray foam, and some epoxy, and about 4 hrs spread over a couple evenings. Pretty easy gig -- I'm liking it so much I'll make a second for my daughters 99 and another for the 99 I turn into a 358 Winchester when the time comes. If you want, drop me a PM with your email and I'll give you a rundown on how I did it. (And then you can make you own improvements.)
 

RL338

Handloader
Mar 23, 2017
921
949
This is turning into one of those “off-the-wall” projects, but I’m having fun with it so will share it here as I watch the snow come down in buckets outside (and sip on a light whiskey as I feel sorry for the Easter Bunny for having to go out on a night like this). Of all the rifles I’ve ever owned, the one I’ve always enjoyed shooting the most is a Savage 99. That’s the rifle I started hunting with (in a .308) and has always been the first one out of the gun safe for sentimental reasons. Over the last 10 years though, I’ve figured out that it’s also my favorite rifle to carry on long days (it’s light), it feels the most natural and almost intuitive following moving targets (I’m assuming because of its balance), and last but not least, there’s NOTHING more fun than filling the air with lead using a lever action trying to nail a running coyote. When I combine all the above, it’s about the ONLY rifle that comes out of the gun safe anymore for me. The only downside is that it has some limitations in the accuracy department when it comes to long range and repetitive shooting – the thin profile barrel and the “hanger” on the barrel for attaching the forearm effectively precludes its use for those two particular applications (both of which I really enjoy). As a result, when I ran across a “sound but abused” 99 in 308 for the right price a couple years ago, I grabbed it with the intent of trying to make a 99 function as a long range/varmint rifle. My goal was to fix what I think are the 99’s biggest weaknesses (get a stiffer barrel and figure out a better way to attach a forearm) while not screwing up the 99’s weight and balance. I addressed the barrel stiffness and weight issue by swapping the original 24” savage 308 barrel out for a 22” medium-heavy contour carbon fiber barrel, and am hanging the forearm off the 99’s substantial steel on the floor of the action. I ended up paying a 4-6 ounce weight penalty for the carbon fiber barrel, but moved it’s center of gravity back a bit while GREATLY increasing barrel rigidity, so am pleased with that aspect. I think the forearm is going to work out well also. There’s plenty of steal to attach to w/o interfering with the rotary system in the action, so I started carving up a piece of wood to fit tightly to the floor of the action. That actually attached extremely well – better than I expected. Pics will give you a sense as to how that forend attaches, and what it’s going to look like. (I’m working on the piece to fill the gap between forearm and barrel, and will do the fit-up so the barrel free floats – will trim the finished forearm down a bit when it’s complete, but I think it’ll remain somewhat of a beavertail configuration since that’s what feels best in my ham hands.)
View attachment 16592 View attachment 16593


Since this rifle will serve as my go-to for whitetail deer, coyotes, wolves, and long-range varmints, I opted to chamber this barrel to a 6mm Creedmoor instead of the 308. Now if the snow and wind would let up for a couple days, I’d take this thing out and shoot it before worrying about finishing it just to satisfy my curiosity, but the weather has been downright nasty since the gunsmith did his magic with the barrel. This may well turn out to be the ugliest “custom” rifle I’ve ever seen, but I’m really liking how it feels and fits so far, so I’ll have no complaints if it shoots how I think it might.
Show up to a local benchrest match with it and you’ll draw a crowd. That is probably the only lever Creed on the planet.
 
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