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Author with Savage 99 Rifle

The Savage 99 Rifle: An Icon of Innovation and Endurance

  • Greg

The Savage Model 99, a lever-action rifle, stands as a testament to American ingenuity and resilience in firearms design. Introduced at the cusp of the 20th century, the Savage 99, created by Arthur Savage, revolutionized the world of hunting and sporting rifles with its innovative features and enduring legacy.

A Revolutionary Design

The Savage 99 was introduced in 1899, at a time when lever-action rifles were immensely popular, yet they faced limitations in terms of strength and functionality. Arthur Savage sought to overcome these limitations with a design that was both robust and versatile. Unlike its predecessors, the Savage 99 featured a rotary magazine, a groundbreaking innovation. This magazine allowed for the use of pointed (spitzer) bullets, which were more aerodynamically efficient and thus offered better range and accuracy compared to the flat-nosed bullets required by tubular magazines.

The rotary magazine also provided another advantage: it eliminated the risk of accidental discharge that was a concern with tubular magazines, where the bullet in the magazine could be struck by the bullet behind it under the recoil of the gun. This made the Savage 99 a safer option for hunters and shooters.

Features and Variants

The Savage 99 was known for its strong action and reliable performance. It was chambered in a variety of calibers over its production run, including the .300 Savage, which was developed in 1920. The .300 Savage cartridge offered performance comparable to the .30-06 Springfield, making it a popular choice among hunters for its balance of power and recoil.

Another distinctive feature of the Savage 99 was its hammerless design. This not only provided a sleek appearance but also reduced the risk of snagging on clothing or brush, a common issue with exposed hammers. The rifle also featured a unique cocking indicator, a small button located on the top of the receiver, which allowed the shooter to quickly determine if the rifle was cocked.

The rifle’s design included a brass counter on the side of the receiver, which indicated the number of rounds remaining in the magazine. This feature was particularly appreciated by hunters in the field, allowing them to keep track of their ammunition without having to open the action.

Author with Savage 99 Rifle

Enduring Popularity

The Savage 99 enjoyed a production run that lasted until the late 1990s, a testament to its popularity and the enduring quality of its design. Over its near-century of production, the Savage 99 was available in numerous models and variations, including takedown models, featherweight versions, and deluxe models with checkered stocks and high-grade wood.

Hunters and sportsmen around the world praised the Savage 99 for its reliability, accuracy, and versatility. It was particularly favored in North America for hunting deer, elk, and other big game. Its ability to handle powerful cartridges and its durable construction made it a preferred choice in rugged conditions.


The Savage 99's influence on the firearms industry is undeniable. It represented a significant step forward in the evolution of the lever-action rifle, combining the advantages of both lever and bolt-action designs. The rifle's innovative features, such as the rotary magazine and hammerless action, set it apart from its contemporaries and paved the way for future developments in rifle technology.

Today, the Savage 99 is a sought-after collector's item, cherished by firearms enthusiasts for its historical significance and engineering excellence. Its legacy lives on, not just in the hunting fields and shooting ranges, but also in the annals of firearm history as a symbol of innovation and enduring quality.


My MOS when I served in the United States Army was 76Y. The Military Occupational Specialty of 76 Yankee means that I was a Unit Armorer. While on REFORGER 85, I trained with German Paratroopers and qualified as "Expert" with the German G-3 rifle, the Israeli Uzi 9mm sub-machinegun and the 9mm handgun.

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