View Full Version : Found Some Oldies

November 22, 2005, 12:43 PM
My wife and in-laws and I were cleaning out an old 100+ year old farm house that "Aunt Viola" lived in for 98 . She went to her heavenly rewards last spring and we are now closing up the place for winter. I knew she was an avid hunter, and shot her last buck at age 92. I thought all guns were out of the house, but we were cleaning in a bedroom and found 2 rifle cases.

One had an old Marlin lever action, octagon barrel, tang sight, marked 32-40, serial #285038. The other had a Savage lever action Model 1899 .250-3000 #240508. My dad-in-law wants me and my wife to have them.

The obvious question is what the heck are these? Are they shooters or wall hangers? The both look to be in great shape, ready for hunting this weekend if I could find ammo. Any insight would be great.

This Just In!! We've found an old singleshot 12ga.. "New White Powder" is all we can find on it. This one was tucked in the basement ceiling...gotta look harder now.


Mike Irwin
November 22, 2005, 01:19 PM
Both the Marlin and Savage are older guns, the Savage probably from just post WW I.

You can easily get ammo for both, but they both must be checked out by a competent gunsmith prior to being fired.

Jim Watson
November 22, 2005, 02:43 PM
Marlin 1893 .32-40 is a nice old rifle, tang sight adds interest and value. Ammo available if you scout around. Not real powerful but adequate deer rifle if you can shoot.

Savage 1899 (Marked that way means it is pre - WW I) is a classic in the field and .250-3000 Savage is a very respected game calibre. Is it a takedown or solid frame? (If takedown there will be a foreend latch like some shotguns'.)

White Powder Wonder shotgun is a cheap rabbit gun of a bygone era. There was an article in a recent magazine about shooting the old "farm guns" but it might be best to clean it up and hang it on the wall.

Q for Mike, how many secondhand guns have you trotted off to the gunsmith with to have vetted for shootability? Internet posters seem awfully cautious these days, almost like they were afraid they would be liable for somebody's clunker.

Q to gunsmiths, how many secondhand guns do you have brought in to have vetted for shootability? What do you tell your customer about a clean looking but out of production firearm?

James K
November 22, 2005, 07:57 PM
When I was working as a gunsmith, I had quite a few guns brought in for a checkup. Unless something appeared wrong, I gave the guns a good eyeball, checked headspace if I had the gauges, then just fired them. Then I took a look at the fired case, rechecked the gun, and told the customer it was OK. Sometimes I needed to make a chamber cast to determine caliber, and many milsurp guns were sporterized and the caliber changed without marking the barrel. But I never had any problem.

There were exceptions. I refused to fire or fix any Damascus or Laminated, or twist barrel shotgun. Period. Sometimes, I would just tell the customer the gun was a wall hanger and give it back.

On older guns with no parts supply, I would simply tell the customer that, and recommend not firing it. If he chose to do so, and broke a part, he could try to find the part or pay me lotsa money to make one. Usually, it wouldn't be worth it. Worse, sometimes customers would tell me that the gun had sentimental value and they wanted it fixed regardless of cost. When the gun was fixed, I found "regardless of cost" didn't exceed ten bucks. After a couple of those, I started asking for a heavy deposit, and the "sentimental value" business came to a screeching halt.


Mike Irwin
November 22, 2005, 11:02 PM
"Savage 1899 (Marked that way means it is pre - WW I)"

Except for the fact that that serial number puts the rifle firmly in the 1921-22 range.

The change in nomenclature/markings didn't come until after World War I for most models, right around 1920, with some being serial numbered and made as late as 1925, apparently a result of the factory using up the last of the pre-war barrels that were lying around.

I've even seen one rifle from the transition marked 1899 on the barrel and 99 on the frame ring, which is where the new model marking ended up.

"Q for Mike, how many secondhand guns have you trotted off to the gunsmith with to have vetted for shootability?"

Myself? None. But I know which end of the muzzle the bullet comes out of.

I DON'T automatically make that assumption of someone posting on a firearms board. Just because they find their way here doesn't mean that they have a vast, insightful knowledge of firearms, especially when they ask "The obvious question is what the heck are these? Are they shooters or wall hangers?"

I'm not going to answer such a question by advising someone to run out, grab a box of shells, and hit the nearest vacant field.

No offense, Virgil.

November 23, 2005, 07:43 AM
None taken.

Thanks for the help. I don't have a vast knowledge of firearms...and I can prove it.

I knew those rifles were old, I knew they were pretty darn cool, and I knew that if I touched one off I might be missing body parts.

1921-22? Wow. Other than my swede mauser, that's the oldest rifle I have.
It is not a take down model from what I can see. It appears to be completely serviceable. As does the Marlin...Both are in remarkable shape.

The New White Powder is a bit pitted and has some rust.


Jim Watson
November 23, 2005, 10:06 AM
Ok, the reference book went with the guns when I sold out a deceased friend's estate and all I had to go on was an out of date Blue Book.

I guess I am stuck in an older era when if we turned up an old gun, grabbing up a box of shells and heading for a vacant field was exactly what we did. The constant internet admonitions to have a gunsmith check out any firearm older than about ten years seems a little timid, but no doubt it reflects the current crop of gun owners. And the number of 8mm headspace gauges it sells must be staggering but would have amazed Hatcher and Ackley who found that headspace was less critical than usually thought IF the brass was not to be reloaded.

November 23, 2005, 06:34 PM
The savage collectors forum at the 24 hour campfire. 24hourcampfire.com There are some guys there that know a lot about 99's. They will want you to post everything that is stamped on the gun, take off the forend and buttplate to see if the wood #'s match the rifle, and most of all they will ask for pictures!! They have a link to a guy that has the old Savage records and (for a price) will write you a letter with all of the factory info - when it was made,original configuration, who it was shipped to and where.


Mike Irwin
November 24, 2005, 11:44 AM
"I guess I am stuck in an older era when if we turned up an old gun, grabbing up a box of shells and heading for a vacant field was exactly what we did."

That's fine for you or me to do.

But I'm not going to advise someone to do same when they just found two old, potentially valuable, rifles.

I don't want the slimmest possibility of someone coming back and saying "YOU TOLD ME TO DO THIS, AND MY GUN IS NOW RUINED! YOU'RE RESPONSIBLE!"

You also never know what kind of some gunsmithing was performed on some of these guns.

Some years ago I saw a Savage 99, beautiful condition, except for the fact that someone had WELDED, not brazed, a set of rings to the barrel.

I wouldn't fire that gun. I'd be too afraid of the barrel heat treating being compromised.

November 25, 2005, 05:08 PM
You tie the gun to a tire and pull the trigger with a string. Oh, and hide behind a tree while you do it. Haven't you always wondered why southerners kept a tire or two in the front yard?


Jim Watson
November 25, 2005, 05:33 PM
Yah, I had a nervous coworker do that one time... with a pristine Arsiaka which of course did fine.