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Old June 18, 2012, 02:25 PM   #1
jmstr
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Savage Model 99 .300Savage, how likely to slam fire?

I recently had a fun time at the range with my recently acquired Savage Model 99 in .300 Savage. It is one from before 1959, but I don't know when. I didn't see a letter code near the lever, so I can't figure it out.

Anyway, it shot great! I loved that gun. It hit everything I wanted it to all the way out to 300 yards with no problems.

However, I was loading the rotary magazine to the 'full' capacity [5 rounds] and then loading 1 in the chamber for a total of 6 rounds. The Savage manual says this is an accepted way to use it, btw.

When I closed the lever to chamber the round, the rifle fired. It was pointed in a safe direction, but it startled me, to say the least.

I guess it is possible that I accidentally touched the trigger as I pulled the lever closed, but I don't know for sure.

So, for anyone with experience on the Savage Model 99: how likely is it to have a slam fire as the breech is closed?

I was a bit startled as it seems there isn't a firing pin spring that is designed to prevent the pin from overtravel forward. It is a striker-fired design with the striker spring only.

I was just thinking I may need to strip it to see if the sear/firing pin [striker] engagement are is too small.

The trigger pull to fire seems to be in the 2-3# range. My guess is about 2 1/4- 2 1/2 lbs. I don't know how 'normal' that is for the Model 99, but that could be a sign of minimal sear/firing pin engagement.


Do any of you have any experiences you could share to guide me? Thanks.
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Old June 18, 2012, 04:53 PM   #2
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This model is not noted for slam firing to my knowledge. The firing pin may be gummed up and was protruding or you may have mechanical problems. Hie thee to a gunsmith who can check the gun out. These are great old rifles and well worth owning. Goat
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Old June 18, 2012, 05:27 PM   #3
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There are a few possibilities as to why it fired as you closed it (which is not a slam-fire in the strictest sense of the word). One, as you suspected, you may have held the trigger back as you closed the action, although if you did this and did not notice you are not paying attention, because you really have to try to do it (go ahead, try it with the gun unloaded, you will see what I mean). Another way, as goatwhiskers suggested, the striker may be stuck forward (possible but not likely IMO, as the gun cocks by the trigger nose catching the striker and drawing it back as the action is closed). And lastly, and most likely IMO, is that the striker sear section or trigger nose is worn or someone tried to do a trigger job on your rifle and carved away too much metal, and now the striker falls off as the action reaches the fully closed position. I have seen this numerous times (and surprisingly, it was always "a friend" who tried to slick up the trigger ). If it is this last situation, you really need to have someone familiar with 99s look at it to determine how to fix it.
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Old June 18, 2012, 07:25 PM   #4
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IMHO, a 2-1/2# trigger pull on a 7lb rifle is unsafe - as you have fortunately found out w/o harm to anyone.

I would definitely not load it again, until I had pulled the buttstock off for a look at the sear engagement & repair it.

Most likely someone has reduced the engagement too much by far, requiring the installation of a new sear to remedy the condition.

It's quite common to store those Model 99's in a decocked state via opening the lever, pulling & holding the trigger back while closing the lever slowly - but I've never recommended doing so with a live round chambered.

.
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Old June 19, 2012, 07:14 AM   #5
Mike Irwin
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"It's quite common to store those Model 99's in a decocked state via opening the lever, pulling & holding the trigger back while closing the lever slowly - but I've never recommended doing so with a live round chambered."


Slip closing the action will only work with rifles produced PRIOR to about 1950-1955 or so.

Around that time the action was modified. With that modification the slip close, which decocked the action, was no longer possible.
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Old June 19, 2012, 07:17 AM   #6
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I'd open it up and check out the sear, looking for signs of filing.
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Old June 19, 2012, 08:32 AM   #7
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Reloads or factory ammunition?

What primers on the rounds?

Primers are unpredictable things, they are made so that they ignite between “all fire” and “none fire” limits. The limits determined by dropping a steel ball on to a primer. All fire limits are around 15” drop height, I forget the none fire, might be 4 inches. However a primer lot is accepted even if primers fire at the lower limit, just too many primers cannot fire at the lower limit.

I am unfamiliar with the Savage 99 action, it is unusual for a firing pin in a manually operated arm to develop enough kinetic energy to ignite a primer. It is very uncommon in semi auto’s with free floating firing pins. Based on data from William Davis’s report on M16 slamfires, and his calculations, it appeared that a 1:64 million chance of a slamfire in the M16 was considered acceptable. About five to six people in the US die from snake bites, so dying from snake bite is around a 1:50 million chance in the US, so while both are rare, they will happen.

Incidentally, I heard 30,000 people a year die from snake bites in India!

It is possible a high primer could slamfire, given a hard enough hit, and several other conditions have to be met. According to CCI high primers are the most common reason for a misfire. The anvil has to be supported from the bottom, can’t be hanging in the air, and it has to be pushed into the primer cake. However, lets say that you have cocked primers, part of the anvil supported in the primer bottom, and some of the primer above the case head, I believe a hard strike could set off a sensitive primer, but I don’t have any evidence to prove so. If the primer pocket is shallow, primer above the case head, anvil firmly seaedl and pushed into the primer cake, a hard strike will set off the primer.

I suspect a mechanical explanation more than a chemical kinetic explanation. You really should check to see that the hammer is not following due to sear issues and the firing pin and hole are clean.

You should check this out as not all slamfires are in battery.

If the ammunition is fine and the rifle mechanically correct, maybe your big finger tripped the trigger.
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Old June 19, 2012, 09:16 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the tips. I will definitely open it up before I shoot it again.

BTW, it was factory Remington ammo, no reloads.

I'll also measure the trigger pull so that it isn't my 'guesstimate' but a verified number.

With an empty chamber I can slip the trigger as I pull the lever up to close the bolt and not leave the striker [Savage calls it a 'hammer', but it is a spring-loaded pin, like a Glock or M&P handgun] cocked.

Thanks for all the tips. I won't be able to get to it for a few days though. Please, if anyone else has some ideas, feel free to add them!
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Old June 19, 2012, 09:37 AM   #9
PetahW
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FWIW, Savage 99's cocked on closing, so by holding the trigger "back" as the lever's closed, it's simply kept from being cocked at all.

.
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Old June 19, 2012, 10:04 AM   #10
Mike Irwin
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Pete, once again you cannot slip close the action on a post 1950-1955 or so like you could the older ones.

Trying to do so could possibly result in the rifle firing.
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Old June 19, 2012, 06:22 PM   #11
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I don't know when they (Savage) started it, but there is a small (about 1/2) F/pin retracting spring in the back of the bolt. This seems to be lost most of the time you take one apart. I don't believe I ever heard of it causing a mistake firing if it was missing though. I would guess with the others about the problem. The trigger mechanism parts are long and thin and don't lend themselves to thinning out very well.
As far as a slamfire goes, don't ever wear heavy gloves when hunting and go for a fast 2nd shot.

Last edited by Gunplummer; June 19, 2012 at 06:25 PM. Reason: add
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Old June 19, 2012, 09:53 PM   #12
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With such a light trigger pull, the integrity of the mechanism is suspect. IT is entirely possible that the hammer "jarred off" as you closed the action. This is not quite the same as a slam fire, although the result is.

Generations of shooters were very happy to get a 3.5-4lb trigger pull on a 99 (and many never got one that light, and were still very happy) that weight being considered the minimum safe pull for a hunting rifle.

Here is a word of warning, unless you absolutely HAVE TO, do NOT take apart the rotary magazine!
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Old September 21, 2012, 12:11 PM   #13
jmstr
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Issue RESOLVED!

Thank you for all the great advice.

It took me this long to have time to pull the rifle apart to see what is going on.

It is the sear. A replacement is now on its way.

A previous owner [my dad bought it for me and can load a cartridge or clean a weapon, but is by no means a gunsmith and doesn't try stuff like that] had filed the tip off the sear. Yes, this made it a light 'hair' trigger to fire. But, the hammer [what savage calls it, even if it looks more like a striker to me] bounces off the sear when I forcibly 'slam' the lever home. If I gently use the lever, the hammer stays on the sear. If I 'slam' it, the hammer bounces up off the sear.

So, I have new springs and a new sear on the way from numrich.

Once I get them I will proceed to carefully reassemble.

I'll also pay special attention to the hammer rebound spring so that I don't lose it as well.

Thanks for all the great tips and info.

44AMP, can I remove the rotary magazine without disassembling it? I'd like to do a detail clean, as there is a lot of gunk inside the receiver.

I loved the balance and accuracy of this rifle. Now I'll be able to shoot it again [haven't fired it since observing the problem: used snap caps to replicate]!

I haven't begun reloading yet, but this will be a fun round to reload for. I am thinking I may start keeping my eyes open for a .308 version sometime soon. I know they are ballistically similar, but I like the lower cost and greater availablity of .308 ammo over .300savage ammo. Reloading solves this though.
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Old September 21, 2012, 12:18 PM   #14
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"44AMP, can I remove the rotary magazine without disassembling it?"

No, you cannot.

It is a bunch of discrete pieces that, if removed from the frame, spell no end of trouble and frustration for even really experienced hobbyists.

I took mine apart once...

I'll NEVER do that again. I'm still not 100% sure how I got it back together again.

Your best bet is to do a flush clean on it.
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Old September 23, 2012, 02:00 PM   #15
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No!NO!NO!!!

ABSOLUTELY do NOT disassemble the rotary magazine unless you have no other choice!!!

It takes a skilled octopus (and even he wishes for a couple extra hands) and no little luck to re-assemble the magazine. DON"T DO IT!

I'm pretty sure Savage uses a few jigs/special tools at the factory that aren't common for us hobbyists. If you need to clean the mag, use a spray type cleaner and flush thoroughly. Lightly lube and you'll be good for years.

If you want a few hours of frustration playing with a metal jigsaw puzzle (with an attitude), go ahead and take it apart. But don't say we didn't warn you!
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Old September 23, 2012, 02:05 PM   #16
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The Savage action has a huge engagement between the bolt and the I guess you could call it sear. Slam fire ain't gonna happen.

The trigger is capital H heavy because of that.

However, if someone tried lightening the trigger... because of how it works, that makes it liable to... not slamfire, but just slip off the sear accidentally.

With the '99, you pretty much have to live with the creepy trigger to be safe.
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Old January 9, 2013, 02:13 AM   #17
jmstr
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I've only had it out twice since I fixed it, but my 99 is working just fine.

I polished the flats of the sear and hammer/striker without changing the dimensions/angles and inserted the new sear.

Works just right. Yes, it has a LONG take up, but the polishing I did makes it a smooth take-up, even if it feels long and around 6-7lbs.

I used a snap-cap to avoid damage to the FP and did all the things that had made the hammer snap forward before: slamming the lever the last 2 inches to chamber the snap-cap, 'dropping' the rifle onto its butt from about 2-3 feet, etc. No slipping off the sear now.

I didn't try dropping it from 6 feet onto concrete: I like this rifle too much.

However, I'm pretty sure it is working at least as well as it was designed to, if not a little smoother.


Everyone: thanks for the tips on the magazine. I left it alone.

I am just irritated with myself as I had found a spare firing pin and it seems I lost it around the house. I'm thinking it might have been gray binned by the little lady, thinking it was garbage [in a small plastic bag].
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Old January 9, 2013, 11:01 AM   #18
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I had a 7mm08 that did this once after a gunsmith worked on the trigger. Only once, but allways was leary of it after that, good thing it was pointed down range!
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Old January 10, 2013, 08:06 AM   #19
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I'd like to thank you fellows that had the accidental discharges , for excersizing muzzle control ! Muzzle control is our friend , if everyone practiced it there would be no accidental shootings . Most Smiths won't fool with a 99 trigger , the ones that do , just don't know any better yet !
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Old January 13, 2013, 02:04 AM   #20
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I have a model 99 from 1951 and have never had an issue with mine, but have never overloaded it either. 5 rounds, that's it . of course 1 is all you need with that gun, very accurate.
never took it apart, never needed to.
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Old January 14, 2013, 11:57 AM   #21
Scorch
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Quote:
ABSOLUTELY do NOT disassemble the rotary magazine unless you have no other choice!!!

It takes a skilled octopus (and even he wishes for a couple extra hands) and no little luck to re-assemble the magazine. DON"T DO IT!
An octopus can't put a Savage 99 magazine back together, it doesn't have a tongue to stick out the side of his mouth as he squints at the rifle.

No, seriously, the Savage 99 magazine is not really all that bad to reassemble, but it takes experience. And like my dad used to tell me, experience comes from poor decisions (in this case, taking it apart to begin with).
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Old January 14, 2013, 07:04 PM   #22
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Yeah, been there, done that, got the T-shirt, also got the bill from the psycho ward. Let a good smith do it (if he will). Otherwise, flush, blow dry, and light oil. Polishing the mating surfaces on the sear will help with trigger pull, but wont remove the heavy pull, just makes it smoother so that it feels like it has been lightened. Be careful even when polishing.
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