American Rifleman - July 2011 - 64

THE .250 & .300 SAVAGE CARTRIDGES
continued from p. 57

and is offered in so many different
rifles that the resulting deluge just
overwhelmed the competition,
including the .250 Savage.
Certainly few cartridges,
including the .243 Win., can match
the .250 Savage for history and
romance, and they can never hope
to penetrate as deeply into or
leave such an indelible mark on
the soul of the American rifleman.
Moving Up
In 1920, the .250-3000 gained
a sibling with the .300 Savage.
The .30-'06 Sprg. was growing
in popularity with hunters, and
Savage wanted to come up with a
cartridge that would approximate
the performance of the '06, but still
fit in its flagship rifle, the Model
99 lever-action. The case length
for the .300 Savage is 1.871", and
the cartridge length is 2.600". The
case has very little body taper, a
radically sharp (for the time) 30
degree shoulder and a short neck.
All this was to increase the propellant capacity as much as possible,
given the length limitations necessary to fit in the Model 99 action.
Although the cartridge clearly
could never duplicate the .30-'06
Sprg.-it has less powder capacity and is loaded to considerably
lower pressure (47,000 p.s.i. vs.
60,000 p.s.i.)-the fact that it came

so close is amazing. The 150-gr.
.300 Savage load duplicated the
original .30-'06 Sprg. sporting load
with a muzzle velocity of 2700 f.p.s.
Also, unlike other lever-actions,
the Model 99 had a rotary box
magazine so it could be loaded
with spitzer-profile bullets, just like
the '06, which helped increase the
effective range. Today, of course,
those numbers have changed
with the .30-'06 Sprg. 150-gr. load
raised to 2910 f.p.s. and the factory
150-gr. .300 Savage velocity down
to 2630 f.p.s. But, in 1920, the gap
in performance was narrower.
Currently Federal, Remington
and Winchester offer .300 Savage
150-gr. factory loads, and Federal also has a 180-gr. load with a
muzzle velocity of 2350 f.p.s. Remington dropped its 180-gr. load a
couple years back.
The .300 Savage brought a
new level of power to a compact
lever-action rifle. In 1920, the idea
of a .30-cal., 150-gr. bullet at that
velocity was not seen from any
lever-action except the big, heavy
Winchester Model 1895. In fact, the
.30-'06 Sprg. was the only commercial 30-cal. cartridge that could
equal that performance, and it was
mostly chambered in big, heavy
rifles such as the 1895 and the
Springfield. This kind of performance in a sweet-handling rifle like
the Model 99 was cutting-edge.
The .300 Savage enjoyed
tremendous popularity with deer
hunters, and it has been chambered in a lot of different rifles,
including the Savage Model 20 and
Model 40 bolt-actions. Remington
chambered the .300 Savage in its
Model 722 bolt-action, the Model
81 semi-automatic, the Model 760
pump and the Model 700.
It was one of the world's most
popular hunting cartridges for
generations, but when the .308
Win. hit the market in 1952, its

days were numbered. The .308
Win. fit in the same action size as
the .300, but it had more power.
New gun buyers always favor
the cutting-edge cartridge, and
the .300 Savage did a slow fade
from gunmaker's listings. Savage
dropped it in 1964. There have
been a few limited-edition guns
like the Remington 700 Classic
and the Savage Model 110 50th
anniversary rifl es, but for the most
part it has drifted from the American gunmaker's catalogs (see
sidebar on p. 57).
But many who remember family
deer camps and the smell of wet
wool still love this cartridge. I own
two .300 Savage rifles. The first is a
Model 99 Savage, simply because
every gun guy should have a 99 in
.300 Savage. I also have a Remington
Model 722 bolt-action with a Lyman
peep sight. I spotted this rifle in a
gun shop a few years ago and knew
instantly I wasn't leaving without it.
I took the Remington to Texas
that fall, where I used it to shoot
a buck that was well on the down
side of his prime. Somehow it
seemed fitting that the old warrior
would fall to a proud old gun and
a classic cartridge. The fact that he
dropped in his tracks was nothing
new for the then almost 90-yearold .300 Savage.
In this era of "magnum of the
month" new cartridge introductions, it's easy to lose perspective
on how we got here. Without a
doubt the .250 and .300 Savage
cartridges were far ahead of their
time, and they were pivotal in hunting cartridge evolution. They were,
and are, two of the greats; may
they live on in the whitetail woods
forever. Or even, for that matter, in
the ice fields of the Arctic where
the polar bear calls home. After
all, those bears are "tough customers," and "you don't want to mess
around with them."

When introduced, the .300 Savage (center) was a big advantage over the
popular .30-30 Win. (l.), but when the .308 Win. (r.) was introduced in 1952
the .300 Savage fell out of favor with hunters. Thanks to Savage's
Model 14 bolt-action rifle, the classic cartridge is making a comeback.

62 J

ULY

2011

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American Rifleman - July 2011

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