Need some input on the Savage 99

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Spencer_Murphy, Sep 19, 2022.

  1. Spencer_Murphy

    Spencer_Murphy Member

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    New to the forum and figured here would be the best place to find some answers to my question. Recently a local farmer I have done work for since 2014 has passed. He told his son to let me choose one of two Savage 99 lever action rifles from his collection that I was interested in and had offered to buy. One is a 1906 Savage 99 Carbine, I guess you could say. It is chambered in .38-55 Winchester, has a 22" Barrel and has lost 90% of its metal finish to a point of I guess a patina finish now. The second rifle is a 1902 Savage 99 Rifle, it is chambered in .32-40 Winchester has a 26" barrel and retains almost all of its metal finish except on the moving parts of the action and lever. Both rifles also have typical wear on their wooden stocks for 100-year-old firearms. That being said I can only choose one because the other is going to be sold at an estate auction and both have been appraised too at least $2800. I have no experience with either of these calibers, I never even heard of them until last weekend. Oldest metallic cartridge calibers I deal with in my collection is .577 Snider and .45 Government. I looked up these calibers in the Savage 99 Rifle and found very little information on the internet. .38-55 is the only caliber that I can find information on being chambered in the Savage 99 and as for .32-40 I'm coming up dry. I also assume (correct me if I'm wrong) that both .38-55 Winchester and .32-40 Winchester are obsolete cartridges. I also assume getting reloading supplies for each of these calibers will also be a mission, but I reload for .577 Snider so it shouldn't be too hard to source supplies for American calibers. That being said if anyone could put in their two cents and shed some light on this for me that would be great. Mostly I would like to use the rifle I choose to be a deer rifle and also something I can hit the coyotes with here on the farm. I live in Maryland, so deer aren't too big. Lastly, if anyone has experience with either of these cartridges in terms of performance, handloading or just general knowledge like which one is easier to obtain please feel free to share that information. My thanks to everyone who replies and shares some information.
     
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  2. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    38-55 is still going.

    If you want a shooter, that one would be the one to choose.
     
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  3. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    Both cartridges are good ones, classics for the single shot blackpowder target rifle crowd.

    At present 32-40 is a handload only proposition -- and even then brass isn't easy to source. Starline supposedly did a run, but good luck finding any. I recently had a Ruger No.1 action rebarrelled in .32-40 and I use slightly short cases made from reformed .30-30 brass.

    By comparison, for 38-55 you can get both newly-loaded ammo (not cheap) or new Starline brass:

    https://batrical.com/q/rifle-ammo/38-55-winchester-ammo/

    https://www.powdervalleyinc.com/product/starline-38-55-2-125-long-brass-50/

    The .32-40 uses an 8mm bullet, somewhere in the .319-.323" range; the .38-55 takes a .375 bullet in the .377-380" range. I have no idea what bore sizes Savage chose, so I would slug the bore first thing.

    Both cartridges are conical, in that the base of each case is larger than the neck with no appreciable shoulder. They are roughly equivalent ballistically. Neither is particularly difficult to handload when you have suitable components, and handloading is the way to go with both of these chamberings. One nice thing about the Savage 99 rotary magazine is that you don't need the heavy crimp or case cannelure required with tubular magazines.

    For me, I would base my choice mainly on the condition and features of the rifle. If you only want to shoot factory ammo, pick the best condition rifle as an investment and shoot something else.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2022
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  4. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    That's what I was going to say. I have a few friends that shoot the .38-55... so if you run into problems, I'm sure we can find a solution. The .32-40 is an orphan.

    I have 2 99's... a modern one, a 99F, in .308... and a pre-war (1923) 99B (I think) takedown in .30-30. That one has been, I was told by the guy I bought it from, refinished at one point... but if it is, I sure can't tell... they did that good of a job. It has it's share of bings and bangs, nothing for a 100 year old rifle that has been used. If you are put off by the patina of the worn receiver, I'm sure someone can refinish it, and the wood, too, if necessary. If you like honest wear on a firearm... then you are in high cotton.

    The 99 is one of those firearms you really don't want to breakdown or disassemble to clean or whatever, unless you are very handy, and very patient.

    Handloading for the .38-55 should start with slugging the bore... if you are going to shoot cast, you will need to know what size bullet you will need to match the bore.
     
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  5. mongoslow

    mongoslow Member

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    My opinion, get the one you can buy ammo for the 38-55 , I own a 1927 takedown in 30-30, it has no finish left other than patina and it has a lifetime of nicks and dings in the wood but it is a fine rifle and as long as my faulty eyes can see a target I can put a 150- 170 bullet into it.
     
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  6. Bcwitt

    Bcwitt Member

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    They can both be formed from .375 winchester brass. Will be a much better case also. 32-40 data is out there. I have a sorce somewhere. Ill send if i find it.
     
  7. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

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    I vote 38-55. Like said, its easier to obtain. Its also more powerful.

    Are the stocks the same? Pistol or straight grip? Any checkering? I have a pair, one in 22 Savage HP and one in 300 Savage.

    Pistol grip vs straight
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. David Hoback

    David Hoback member

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    32-40 can be formed with simple 30-30 brass.

     
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  9. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    38-55... and don't look back.
    ;)
     
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  10. David Hoback

    David Hoback member

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    Yeah.. 38-55 is easier. Plenty of formed brass, or can also be formed from 30-30. And even loaded ammunition from Buffalo Bore.
     
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  11. 25-20 WCF

    25-20 WCF Member

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    The OP may find these links helpful. If he wants a shooter, he needs to look at the bores or each rifle with a bright light at least, a bore scope would be good or have a decent gunsmith do it. The .38-55 sounds pretty rough on the outside, but it’s the inside that counts. I’ve reloaded for both, the .38-55 is my personal favorite but the .32-40 was overall a bit easier to load for. In a good firearm both can be quite accurate - by hunting standards anyway.

    https://www.rifleshootermag.com/editorial/ammunition_rs_3855winchester_200811/84300

    https://www.handloadermagazine.com/old-bottle-new-wine


    .
     
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  12. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

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    The .32-40 pricing seems a better value because it is only showing normal wear. The .32-40 cartridge is originally known as .32-40 Ballard, though Winchester made their own version slightly more powerful later on. The .32-40 is known for extreme accuracy, and has a variety of bullet sizes from which to choose over the 38-55. Both cartridges are used in Cowboy Action competition.
    The real issue is 100 year old rifles don't handle the same pressure as newer guns in the same caliber. And either gun should be hand loaded to safe 1900 pressures.
     
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  13. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

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    Take the better condition 32-40 rifle .The .32-40 is a great cartridge and you make it out of 3030 by annealing and running the 30-30 in ..32-40 does. There are surprisingly quite a few commemorative Winchester John Wayne 32-40 boxes of ammo around
     
  14. Frulk

    Frulk Member

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    $2800 seems a high appraisal for the worn one. Who did it? Not that it matters if you get to pick one for free (that’s how I’m understanding it)

    Both calibers bring a 20% premium. A 100% graded 1899A gun will bring $1,300 per the Gun Blue Book.

    Savage introduced the B,C,D and F and they bring different values. Would need more specifics to give you an estimate.

    Add 100% of the value if stock is fancy checkered deluxe grade wood or 30% for checkered plain grade wood.

    These values are for standard 99’s. Less than a thousand came engraved and can run from $2,500 to $75K and will need to be appraised individually by a competent appraiser.

    Rifles under SN 90K should be inspected for cracking at rear left corner of receiver.
     
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