Arthur Savage (1857 – 1938), was a world-famous entrepreneur, explorer and inventor, as well as one of the most distinctive personalities in the history of the firearms manufacturing industry. He was greatly influenced by his many travels around the globe and is most widely known for founding Savage Arms and for inventing the Savage Model 99 Lever-Action Rifle, which remarkably remained in continuous production for over 100 years. Even in spite of this important contribution to the world of firearms, his most important and sustainable invention to this day must be the radial tire. If these contributions were not enough, Savage is also credited with the invention of the detachable box magazine, which came to be utilized in virtually all modern military firearms. In 1892, he arrived in Utica, New York, still a young man, with his eyes on greater exploits, even as he had already come to purchase what was then the largest cattle ranch on the continent of Australia.
Upon arriving in Utica, Arthur Savage set to work both on the railroads and in gun manufacturing. While supervising the building and development of the Utica Belt Line Railroad, Savage also worked on the original designs of his concept for the first hammerless, lever-action rifle. He was deeply interested in designing and manufacturing rifles and was always looking to implement the most advanced firearm technology, while also maintaining competitive prices. Savage succeeded with his first invention known today as the 99 model. He was especially pleased with the design of the steel receiver mechanism and the circular magazine. For the first time, there was a rifle on the market that allowed visual display of the ammunition in the receiver. For the times, that was more than a little extraordinary.
During this time in the trajectory of his career, Savage also forged connections with large Native-American Indian tribes, ultimately forming a close friendship with a renowned Chief known as Lame Bear. Their pact in 1919 facilitated the sale of his famous lever-action rifles to many Native Americans of the time, and also ensured that Savage would benefit from their help and protection. Arthur Savage continued to have modest successes within gun manufacturing, but he remained driven to achieve greater accomplishments. In 1919, he introduced the .22 caliber rifle, and a new series of pistols that began to introduce a variety of new types of ammunition.
The Savage Arms Company intensified its production during WWI and manufactured Lewis machine guns in collaboration with Driggs-Seabury Ordnance Company, a powerhouse in the firearms industry. In 1920, he used profits from his other ventures to purchase the J. Stevens Arms Company. This meant he was able to onboard the ingenious gun barrel manufacturer, Harry Pope. Arthur Savage was just getting started. It seemed that he wanted more, and further, that nothing could stop him. He purchased various other companies in the firearms industry and quickly became one of the most powerful and prominent firearms manufacturers worldwide, during his time. During WWII, Savage Arms fulfilled the military’s demand for firearms, focusing in particular on producing heavy munitions. Everything was perfect for Savage Arms, but changes were on the horizon.
After the second World War, Savage Arms floundered during certain decades, particularly in the 1960’s and 1980’s. It would not be until the end of the 80’s and the hiring of a new chief, Ronald Coburn, that the company would see itself back on solid footing and a relevant player in the world of firearms manufacturing once more. The company began thinking in term of innovation, that thing which had spurred on Arthur Savage and driven the company from the early days of its formation.
The invention that put Savage Arms back on the world stage is known as the 1992 SNAIL shooting range system. It was greeted enthusiastically by firearms companies, many police departments, military squads and even private protection agencies. Savage Arms began to distribute their products in America and in over 15 other countries. Some of their largest clients include the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the American Special Forces Brigade.
Savage Arms Company has respected and honored the memory of their founder. It has continued to produce .22 rim-fire rifles and also the famous lever-action rifle. In 1998, the company began to ramp up production of shotguns based on a bolt-action mechanism, as well as hunting handguns, with an aim to fulfilling the desires of hunters and sportsmen. Their reputation as one of the best firearms manufacturers in the world was further solidified in 2000, when Savage Arms developed a muzzleloader, the first smokeless firearm. The center-fire rifle series was also reintroduced, along with the well-known Magnum. Their products are of the highest quality and give testimony to the virtues of innovation and entrepreneurship as they relate to the field of firearms design and production.
Savage Arms Company now produces everything from rim-fire and bolt-action rifles to combo rifles and pistols. Their newest additions include pistols such as the Bolt-Action Striker, a range of new shotguns, and of course, the famous smokeless muzzleloader. The future appears bright for Savage Arms, as the company continues to develop new innovations and also improves on older generations of historic firearms.
Entrepreneurial zeal, curiosity for how to push the bounds and limits of current technology, and a desire to create lasting inventions that serve diverse groups of people are some of the hallmarks of Arthur William Savage’s life and the company he created. His legacy of talent and innovativeness are reflected in the company’s ongoing efforts, which are driven in large part by notes left by the founder himself, written with the purpose of guiding future employees and generations at Savage Arms in best practices for developing forward-thinking shotguns that achieve optimal accuracy and performance.