Creating savage switch barrels


May 7, 2013, 02:33 PM
I know how to switch savage barrels, adjust headspace and tighten the nut

But that sorta requires taking stock off, etc. Someone told me his buddies had 2 different barrels for different calibers (same bolt face) for some non- savage guns and they could change them at the range! (Going from short range caliber to long range higher power caliber for example)

Could one pin the savage nut to a barrel in some way when the barrel was correctly headspaced and achieve the same effect ? (Easy to take barrel off and tighten back to exact same spot) ?

Any thoughts?

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May 7, 2013, 03:31 PM
If you have barrels done for the savage and have sholders turned on them like on a Remington instead of using the barrel nut and pin the recoil lug, you would be in business.

All you would need is a barrel vise and a rear entry action wrench and you can leave the action in the stock while you change barrels.

May 7, 2013, 04:13 PM
My thought was to find a way to do it that I can do myself without needing a gunsmith

May 9, 2013, 08:45 PM
I look around and will find a used rifle in a different caliber for less than the barrel and smithing would cost without having to deal with the swapping part. Just look at a lot of rifles at a lot of places and there will be deals to be had on occasion.:) Not to mention that having a complete rifle in each caliber that will function even if the other one fails for any reason while at the range is a great idea. YMMV

May 9, 2013, 09:18 PM
Switch barrel rifles always seem like a great idea.

But in actual practice, the ones there are most often have a working rifle at the range, and the extra barrels setting in a gun cabinet some place else.

(Going from short range caliber to long range higher power caliber for example)
Any two calibers that are bolt face & magazine compatible are pretty much six of one and half a dozen of the other.

What two calibers would you want to switch at the range?
A bedded, and sighted in .243 Win for 400 yards, and an un-bedded and un-sighted in .308 for 500 yards??

It's just a bad idea all the way around, or Savage would already be selling them.


May 10, 2013, 05:42 PM
It's just a bad idea all the way around, or Savage would already be selling them.

That statement seems a little myopic. Personally, I don't see much utility in a switch-barrel rifle system. But, just because Savage isn't making them doesn't necessarily mean that they're a "bad idea". There are plenty of reasons that manufacturers make decisions regarding which products they choose to market.

Perceived demand.
Manufacturing costs.
Resource allocation.
Limitations of current equipment.
Competition between current product lines.
Overall margins. (<--- $$$)

And the list goes on.

Just because a manufacturer hasn't stepped up and decided to produce a certain product doesn't mean it's a bad idea. All it means is that they either haven't thought of it, or they came to the conclusion that there's not enough money in it for them to pursue that market.

And, even in the "end user" arena, there are plenty of firearm modifications that people spend a lot of money on that don't make financial sense. The difference is, end users don't have to answer to stockholders or a board of directors when making those kinds of decisions. If they want to do it, and they have the resources, they just do it.

Heck, even something as pedestrian as changing a rifle's chambering is often met with suggestions to just sell what you have and buy what you want because it's more cost effective. But, plenty of folks still decide they would rather just rebarrel their current rifle. Doesn't make it right. Doesn't make it wrong. It's just a project that some people decide to take on, and other's decide to pass up.

May 11, 2013, 09:25 PM
RC is right IMO, because he is addressing the question from the perspective of an American who can own as many guns as he wants. Where switch barrel makes sense is in those countries where you are limited in the number of guns you can own a single receiver with multiple barrels would allow an avid shooter to have multiple calibers but only count as one "gun".

Who wants to have to sight in their rifle over and over again every time they switch barrels? The chance of screwing on a different barrel and have it shoot to the same POI is pretty darned low. I understand taking on projects just for the sake of it, but not one that is a constant, never ending PITA.

May 11, 2013, 09:34 PM
That statement seems a little myopic.Dang Nabit! :banghead:

Now I gotta go find my old Funk & Wagnall's and find out what kinda insult you called me.


May 11, 2013, 11:43 PM
Not an insult. It just means you're focusing on one thing without seeing the rest of the picture.

May 11, 2013, 11:48 PM
No, I'm just seeing a lot of extra barrels for shotguns, & uppers for AR-15's still setting in my gun cabinets unused, since I bought them 20- 45 years ago.

Again, it sounds good in theory.
But in actual practice?

You never ever have the right extra barrel along when you need it, or want to use it.

The need to sight in again every time you change barrels on a bolt-action rifle would make the whole thing even less practical then it already is with shotguns and AR-15's.


May 11, 2013, 11:50 PM
RC is right IMO, because ...

I also agree with RC's post, right up to the statement that something is a bad idea just because Savage isn't selling it.

May 12, 2013, 12:08 AM
The OP ask about a switch-barrel Savage rifle.

So that is what I answered about.

However, few other rifles have the easy change barrel capability of the Savage 110 design.
And that also would make it a logical choice if a company thought there was a market or a reason to do it.

Savage hasn't, and I doubt they ever will.

The switch-barrel rifles out there are made in Europe, and priced up there with low end BMW & Mercedes cars.

Because only in Europe is a switch barrel rifle a good idea if you can only own one rifle due to government regulations.

Here in the good old USA?
You can buy another decent rifle cheaper then a new good barrel for the one you already have.


May 12, 2013, 12:56 AM
I understand what you're saying, RC, and I don't disagree with your opinion. Typically, re-barreling a rifle isn't cost effective either. But lots of folks spend perfectly good money to do just that. Same with re-blueing, or any number of custom modifications that people regularly perform. And if the OP want's to experiment with making a switch barrel rifle out of his Savage, we may not understand why, but who are we to say it's a bad idea.

The OP didn't ask our opinion about whether or not the idea is good or bad. He asked a specific question (in the gunsmithing forum) about the technical aspects of a project he's considering. That question has yet to be answered.

Jim Watson
May 12, 2013, 10:21 AM
dsink described the method used by benchrest shooters who want to use the same action and stock to shoot in different classes.
ONCE PROPERLY FITTED, the barrels are not screwed in all that tight and can be changed out with CORRECT hand tools.

But the OP wants to DIY.
Unfortunately he does not acquaint us with his level of expertise and available tooling.

Pin the Savage barrel nut to give the equivalent of a shouldered barrel shank?
Maybe, but that sounds like a pretty blunt instrument.

I think I would try to design a wrench and maybe a modification of the nut that would let me tighten it without taking the action out of the stock.

But as rc says, Murphy's law dictates that if you have a caliber convertible firearm, the barrel in place will be the caliber you did NOT want to shoot today.

May 12, 2013, 05:34 PM
I kind of like the new colt AR that can be changed from .223 to .308 by changing the magwell and the upper. Makes one rifle for big game and varmint a viable option.

Howard Roark
May 12, 2013, 07:30 PM
I pinned my Rem 700 actions recoil lug and only bedded the action to be able to switch barrels. I chambered two barrels for it, .260 and a Palma .308. I have never shot it with the .308 due to concentrating on across the course shooting. I even built a barrel vise that attaches to my bumper.

A switch barrel is appealing to someone that wants to use the same stock and action to shoot both MR and LR without investing in two setups.

This setup sounds better than it actually is and the only times that I actually witnessed switch barrels were before the .260 got popular and heavy .243 bullets came out.

Simply stated, there is no reason to use two different calibers to shoot prone highpower competition today.

May 14, 2013, 12:25 PM
its always more fun to do it yourself so I understand where you are coming from.{%22p%22:%220%22}

May 14, 2013, 02:35 PM
Sorry, guys, for not paying attention. Didn't realize anyone was commenting on this thread.

I'm not sure exactly what calibers my friend was using, but I think it might've been 6BR. With the .472 head, he then has access to any number of higher power cartridges for long-distance work. I'm not sure, but it might've been 6 x 47, or even 30 ought six, I think these have a similar head dimension, so no bolt change needed

These guys had to have both rifles shouldered and installed by a gunsmith, and they merely kept track of the change in the scope settings. Probably fired a sighter or two as well. They were pretty good at it, so I bet this was a difficult for them.

I've changed several savage barrels, so no sweat there. The idea was to pin or glue Savage nut to create an effective shoulder. I've even seen people mill a flat or two on the muzzle in for a simple handtool.

Almost seems to me that you could put some JB Weld on the threads, headspace the gun, and then it would be a switch barrel. have to be sure to keep the JB under the nut end and not into the receiver. Or pin it.

May 14, 2013, 02:38 PM
These guys had access to a range that went all the way to 800 yards. So I think they did 100 and then 600

May 14, 2013, 03:09 PM
"B-flat", switch Carol"? Are you a musician using Dragonspeak or some other voice to text program? :)

May 14, 2013, 06:17 PM
Haha! Yep, have to use iphone at work to reach this forum (work computers deny access) and can't get to keyboard so try to use voice recognition....not the best on iphones. Good catch. I went back and edited.

The idea is to do something INEXPENSIVE to make easily changeable barrels -- the savage concept does not require a lathe!

May 15, 2013, 08:39 AM
7 years ago I built a barrel vise and bought a barrel nut wrench and gave it to a guy I hunted with.
He wanted the barrel switching system.
His wife said he had too many guns.
In the field I showed him how to use it, by taking the barrel off and putting it back on my Sav 110 30-06.
He has never really used the set up.

May 15, 2013, 07:58 PM
Yep. The only difficulty with that is that in order to get things around the receiver & nut, you have to take it outta da stock.....

If you pin the lug to the receiver, somehow fix the nut to the barrel, put a flat or two on the barrel somewhere outside the stock, then I *think* you could manage 30 or 40 ft lbs to take on/off barrel without having to remove it from the stock. At least that's what I'm guessing.

I know that some benchrest guns are GLUED INTO their stock and you have to be able to change the barrel without taking it out of the stock. I don't know exactly how tight the barrel has to be in order to work, but in my (limited) experience with a non-fixed nut, when you put that last 10 or 20 ft lb s on the nut, the barrel always goes another .001. But if the nut were pinned or glued to the barrel--they would move (and come to a screeching STOP) together until the shoulder of the nut (now acting like the shoulder of a normal screwin barrel) hit the receiver -- I *think*. I'm wondering if I have the cahoonas to give it a try on my hunting gun.

To pin something, I'm assuming that you just drill a slightly undersized hole and then get one of those rolled-up pins and gently pound it in, right? Any trick to this that I should know?

I'm about to get a new barrel for my 7mm08 and I have a spare nut, so I could glue/pin the existing nut to the existing barrel and give it a try without risking the new barrel until I know it works.

If this worked, it could give me the ability to have any of several calibers that use the .308-sized boltface.

With the benchrest crowd, I've read of them screwing off their competition barrel to put on a used-up barrel for the purpose of fire-forming new brass, as well.

Jim Watson
May 15, 2013, 08:09 PM
I think I would use a set screw instead of a blind pin. That way you could get it apart if you wanted to.

May 16, 2013, 05:27 AM
Hmmm.... good idea!

May 17, 2013, 01:35 AM
I drilled for a pin last year in a Rem700.

I don't have any trouble getting the pin to come out.

May 17, 2013, 06:58 AM
I dunno. Some folks think that new-fangled Thompson Contender might have promise...but, nah, no-one'll actually use that thing. Sure, it's not a bolt-action, but it's not like any bolt-action rifles could just have a scope mounted on the barrel. I mean, that never happens, right?

Oh, wait. That's actually fairly common. So, it's no big deal.

May 17, 2013, 01:27 PM
One question - suppose you get one barrel all finangled, head spaced correctly, and you glue the back half of the bbl nut in & twist the 1st bbl out. How do you set headspace on the 2nd bbl?

<rereads> - ah, I see, you're putting the nut on the bbl, & then freefloating down the bbl channel the diameter of the nut. So you can buy standard Savage takeoff bbls, you just have to buy a new nut each time.

May 19, 2013, 01:38 AM
You don't need new nuts.

But if you take a barrel off, the glass bedding under the barrel has got to go.

May 19, 2013, 09:06 PM
I don't usually bed the barrel -- just the receiver.

May 20, 2013, 09:48 AM
So how are you setting headspace on the 2nd bbl then?

Jim Watson
May 20, 2013, 09:56 AM
If I were doing it, I would take the action out of the stock, put the new barrel in, screw down the nut at correct headspace, then pin, screw, or glue it like the first one.
After that, it would be a straight changeout, assuming enough clearance around the nut and shank to get barrels in and out without unscrewing the guard screws.

May 20, 2013, 04:05 PM
solder the nut on. After spacing of course.

May 20, 2013, 08:26 PM
solder the nut on. After spacing of course.

Or use Red Loctite.

I did the switch barrel thing, it's not really worth it to me.

You need to rezero each time and you seldom get headspace exactly the same every time, so then you're full sizing brass....

May 20, 2013, 10:49 PM
Yep the red! That'll do it. Same end result. TORCH!

May 21, 2013, 10:09 AM
I'm still confused. Is the nut secured to the bbl or to the receiver?

May 21, 2013, 03:59 PM
the barrel

May 21, 2013, 04:46 PM
Watson: that is exactly the idea. I have a barrel on there right now, am about to replace, think I might attempt a setscrew or pin to hold it; that would give me a chance to try out this idea. While I have it out of the stock to headspace the next barrel, I could test putting it back on.

I have some marks on my barrel that showed its angular position where it closed on the GO versus NOGO gauge. On the 1.something" chamber end of the barrel, circumferential movement of about 3/8" separated "go" and "nogo" gauges, a few thousandths of headspace. You could very clearly set it "tight" "Medium" or "loose" however you wished.

My ability to set shoulders back on reloaded rounds is somewhat less than perfect: measurements suggested that my errors were in the .002" range (different brass, different hardness I guess), so I just settled on FL sizing .002" or so short and that was pretty good. Factory brass was more like .020 short -- quite a difference.

So I think one could easily set headspacing accurate enough for reasonably sized brass -- and according to my friend, the guys in the local benchrest group have successfully done it with shouldered-barrels (Rem700 style). I just don't like paying (and finding!) a gunsmith who can do that, when I can go it myself with a Savage.

May 21, 2013, 04:49 PM
I doubt I could solder them. That would be risking the temper properties of the barrel I think; some of my barrels are stainless, some are chrome-moly and who knows how they would solder.

With about 1.125" dia chamber end, and about .430 case dia, there should be 0.3" worth of metal between chamber and OD.....I'm not sure I'm willing to drill radially into that! Maybe with a milling machine. Doubt I could get more than a thread or two. Pin, maybe. But JBWeld would probably hold the nut...

Is red loctite as strong as JBWeld?? I've never used it. Anyone have experience?

A tangential pin also a possibility

May 21, 2013, 09:03 PM
The red is incredibly strong. But you'll need a torch to loosen it.

May 21, 2013, 09:14 PM
I'd trust the red over jb. I trust silver solder over all others other than tig welding it. The torch only needs to get the barrel nut up to melt temp and warm the barrel up to bond temp. The flux and capillary action will do the rest the barrel will not loose any temper. The jb is brittle and may crack under tortional stress over time.

May 22, 2013, 11:44 AM
Great advice

May 25, 2013, 08:44 PM
Well the new barrel arrived yesterday and the precision nuts today. And when I went to make the switcher -- could NOT find the RED Loctite.... drat! Bought a tube JUST for this project and put it somewhere special....

I ended up mixing up some JBweld, and carefully glued the old barrel nut, spaced so it would headspace just perfectly right at the GO gauge, then took it off, being careful to put the nut exaxtly same spot,

headspaced the NEW bull shilen barrel, with some JBweld under the new precision nut on THAT barrel, and snugged it up also.

I do not as yet have any "flats" on the barrels, so no good way (other than rubber-coated pliers jaws) to turn the barrels, but that could be added.

I have access now to a milling machine and once I get it going well, I could mill in the flats to fit some just-about-same-size-as-barrel open ended wrench.

Not sure how open I am to TESTING it just right now, but after I get the new barrel tested out and working properly, it might be worth a try.

May 27, 2013, 04:53 AM
It is being done in F class shooting. They have a shoulder on the barrel..

As to the utility of a switch barrel

go shooting varmints one day.. use the 22-250

Go Elk hunting at 500y the next week, 30-06 or .308 or 270 or even a 25-06

Daughter wants to go hunting for deer the next week, 7mm-08

use QD rings and a different scope for each barrel.. 2-3 shots and you're back ready to go.

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