Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Spencer_Murphy, Sep 19, 2022.
If you want a shooter, that one would be the one to choose.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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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