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Rifles of the month for July Winchester 88 & Savage 99
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 Posted: Thu Jul 6th, 2006 04:20 AM
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WildBill



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We have a tie this month.



Winchester 88



Winchester 1962 catalog illustration showing Model 88 rifle courtesy of Winchester Repeating Arms Co.


Introduced in 1955 for the then new .308 Winchester cartridge, the hammerless Winchester Model 88 was entirely different and technically more advanced than any previous Winchester lever action rifle. In fact, its combination of modern features has never been equaled by any other lever action rifle except the more or less contemporary Sako Finnwolf, introduced about 10 years after the Model 88. Within a year the .243 Winchester and .358 Winchester cartridges were added to the Model 88, and in 1963 the .284 Winchester cartridge became available.

Visually, it resembled a lever action bred to a bolt action. It was a streamlined rifle that featured a solid frame, front locking 3-lug rotating bolt, side ejection, short throw lever, crossbolt safety, one-piece walnut pistol grip stock, black plastic butt plate, and a steel 4-shot detachable box magazine (three shot in .284 Win.). A hooded, gold bead front and adjustable folding rear open sights were provided. The receiver was drilled and tapped for scope mounts and aperture sights. Sling swivels were included. The round, featherweight contour barrel was 22" long and the rifle's overall length was 42.5". Catalog weight was 7.25 pounds, but most examples I've seen actually weighed about 7 pounds.

In 1968 a carbine version of the Model 88 with a 19" barrel was introduced in .243, .284, and .308 with a plain (not checkered) stock secured by a barrel band at the front. Pricing remained similar.

The Winchester 88's front locking, multi-lug rotating bolt operated much like the modern Browning BLR. Functionally, it was a bolt action rifle operated by a lever. It offered most of the features of a bolt action rifle with faster lever action operation. In particular, its manual operation and front locking bolt made it a suitable rifle for serious reloaders.

Its slim, one-piece, black walnut stock was originally adorned by cut checkering in a simple point pattern at pistol grip and forearm. In 1964 this was changed to a fancier impressed acorn and basket weave "stock carving" pattern. I have always felt that the simpler diamond point cut checkering better suited the 88's personality.

The Model 88's biggest advantage over bolt action rifles chambered for the same cartridges was that it simply handled better; it was sleeker, smoother and faster. The absence of a protruding bolt handle also made it a better rifle to carry in a saddle scabbard. And, of course, repeat shots could be fired faster with less interruption of aim.

The Winchester 88 was designed for modern short action, high intensity cartridges. These eventually included the .243 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .358 Winchester and .284 Winchester. The .243, .358 and .308 are all based on the same (.308) case necked up and down. The .284 was based on a unique rebated rim case of the same length and rim diameter but somewhat greater powder capacity. Among these, the .243 and .308 went on to become very popular, while the .284 and .358 languished, and this was reflected in Model 88 sales figures.

At the time of its introduction the .243 Winchester cartridge was advertised as driving an 80 grain varmint bullet at a MV of 3500 fps and a 100 grain deer bullet at a MV of 3070 fps.

The .284 Winchester was intended to provide .270 Winchester performance in a short action cartridge. The catalog MV was 3200 fps with a 125 grain bullet and 2900 fps with a 150 grain bullet.

The most popular .308 Winchester factory loads claimed a catalog MV of 2860 fps with a 150 grain bullet, and a MV of 2610 fps with a 180 grain bullet. This is the cartridge that best fitted the Model 88's personality and purpose, and was the best selling caliber.

The .358 Winchester was introduced with Winchester/Western factory loads using 200 and 250 grain bullets. The 200 grain Silvertip load had a catalog MV of 2530 fps. The 250 grain load had a claimed MV of 2250 fps. The .358 was, and is, a deadly medium range woods cartridge on the order of the previous.348 Winchester. This chambering was discontinued in 1964.

The M 88's only real drawbacks were that its trigger was neither as light or as clean as a Model 94 or a Model 70. Its trigger moved with the lever, avoiding a bruised finger due to careless operation, but complicating the trigger linkage. And, it kicked pretty hard in .284, .308 and .358. It was not a pleasant rifle to shoot in such powerful calibers. By modern standards the stock had too much drop at comb, and the surface area of the butt plate was too small. A good recoil pad would have helped, but was not supplied.

The 88 was reasonably popular and stayed in the Winchester line for about two decades; between 283,000 and 285,000 were produced. (The numbers seem to vary depending on the source.) The Model 88 was dropped from the Winchester line in 1973.



Savage 99




It was a great design, which was truly ahead of its time when Arthur Savage developed it in the 1890s. He designed the 1899 in hope of winning a contract with the war department. Although he did not, his design endured and the 99 went on to become a representation of its creator's genius.

For hunting North American game the Savage 99 is still one of the finest hunting rifles of all time. In fact, it was a solid performer well into the later part of the last century, nearly one hundred years after its creation. It was manufactured for nearly a century with over a million rifles produced before the Savage 99 was discontinued due to decrepit machinery and increased cost.

Before it was retired, it is purported that the company had plans to introduce the 99 with the capability to handle long action cartridges, such as the .30-06 and .270 Winchester. One such prototype is on display at the Savage factory and the other was recently sold for $6000.

The design of the 99 is superior to lever actions such as the Winchester 94 and the Marlin 336 because it can handle high intensity cartridges. It has several superior design features that make it more comparable to the Browning BLR and even modern bolt actions like the Winchester Model 70. The rotary spool magazine allows for the use of pointed bullets, which retain greater velocity downrange than the flat point bullets required by lever guns with tubular magazines. Its strong action allowed it to be chambered in many modern, short-action, high intensity cartridges. A few of the most popular calibers were the .250-3000 Savage, .300 Savage, .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester.

For a rifle designed in the last decade of the 1800s, it had many modern day features that are still prevalent on currently produced rifles. It has a cocking indicator on top of the tang. And it ejected spent cartridges at an angle, which made it easily adaptable to the use of telescopic sights.

Most 99s were not drilled and tapped for scope mounts until the late 1950s. Until that time, most were only available with drilled and tapped tang mounted peep sights or standard iron sights. It has a good trigger and is reportedly a very accurate and dependable rifle.

Another characteristic of the 99 that is worth mentioning is its great looks and balanced carrying qualities. The early models were produced with a straight grip stock and slim Schnable fore end. This era of rifles was stately, and as pleasing to the eye as it was satisfying to use. Later models appeared with a pistol grip stock, and rounded fore end tip. In the 1960's impressed checkering became standard on deluxe (DL) models.

The rotary magazine caused the bottom of the action to be rounded, which fit naturally in the hand. In an "Instructions for Use" guide that came with a rifle made in the 1950's, Savage encouraged customers to carry the rifle fully loaded, as it would balance perfectly if carried at the bottom of the rounded action. This is why so many rifles still around today, have receivers with worn bottoms. The rotary magazine would hold five cartridges, thus enabling the rifle to be fully loaded with a total of six shots. Another of its prominent aesthetic features was the color case hardened trigger guard and lever. This provided a distinguishing touch to an already lovely rifle.

The cartridges developed for and offered in the 1899 and 99 were as far ahead of their time as the rifle. The rifle was first offered with the .303 Savage. This cartridge was a ballistic twin to the .30-30 and some believe it was the first high velocity smokeless powder cartridge.

The next offering was the .22 High Power. This cartridge was developed by Charles Newton and would push a 70-grain bullet to a muzzle velocity of 2,800 fps. It is still popular in Europe today, where it is known as the 5.6x52R.

Shortly thereafter came the first commercial cartridge to offer a muzzle velocity of 3000 fps, the .250 Savage (.250-3000). The .250 achieved this breakthrough with an 87-grain bullet. For comparison, the modern .243 Winchester will push a 90-grain bullet to 3100 fps.

The next Savage cartridge, the .300 Savage, went on to become one of the most popular short action .30-caliber deer and elk cartridges of all time. Later it was to become the basis of the experiments conducted by the U.S. military when they began developing a replacement for the .30-06 service rifle cartridge. Ultimately, the 7.62mm NATO/.308 Winchester was the result.

All said the Savage 99 is a genius of a rifle that epitomizes the best in American craftsmanship, creativity, and originality. Although no longer produced it remains highly revered, as it was the foundation from which Arthur Savage built one of America's great gun companies.

A few notes to those who might consider the purchase of an older 99. All older models have matching numbers on the fore end, butt plate, butt stock and bottom of the receiver. The model is stamped in front of the receiver just behind the fore end. For example EG, R, or other variations.

The web site http://www.savage99.com has interesting information on the various models, their respective characteristics, and a date of manufacture reference based on serial number. All of the popular Savage cartridges are covered by articles on the Rifle Cartridge Page of Guns and Shooting Online.



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“Never Retreat...Just Reload.”



 Posted: Mon Jul 10th, 2006 03:36 AM
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mr mom
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 here is a pic of my son and his grandpa and the winchester 88 in 358 he gave him..

 he put 12 rounds  threw it the other day ... his sholder was black and blue...



 Posted: Sat Jul 29th, 2006 01:38 PM
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billt
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This is my Model 88 in .308 Winchester. It's a very nice, well put together rifle.  Bill T.



 Posted: Sat Jul 29th, 2006 02:26 PM
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bea175



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I have owned four 88's and about that many 100's over the years and still amazed how accurate they where to be a lever and semi-auto rifles , shooting with most bolt guns. I killed one of my biggest whitetails with the 88 in 308. I let my doctor friend have the last one i owned and it had less than 50 rounds down the tube. He has never fired it . I guess i need to get it back. One of Winchesters best rifles. Another good point about the 88 and 100 was the safety was reversible, all you had to do was turn it about 180 degrees and pull it out and put it back in from the other side and you had a left hand safety which i loved being left handed.:thumbs:



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