I shot the donor, dammit...

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Coyote Hunter

Single-Sixer
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Dec 5, 2007
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... because it turned out to be a sub-MOA shooter with randomly selected factory ammo. The donor was a used Savage FXP3 in .243 Winchester I picked up at a gun show in Colorado Springs last week for $305 out the door. My plans were to stock it with a different/better stock and rebarrel to something "more useful". Options included a .260 Rem, 7mm-08, .308 Win and .338 Federal. Changing the bolt head and cartridge follower were not out of the question with a rebarrel and allowed even more options.

Last Sunday I got it to the range with my custom 6.5-06AI and my .308 Ruger Scout. More about them later.

The first two shots with the Savage printed 0.55" @ 100 yards, on the target to the right of the one I was aiming at. 48 clicks to the left and a few up resulted in a 2-shot 0.50" group. A couple more clicks resulted in a 3-shot group measuring 0.88" and centered just where I wanted it. Not bad for randomly selected factory ammo. (Actually, there was nothing random about the ammo selection. I chose the cheapest Federal/Hornady/Remington/Winchester load Cabela's had on the shelf, Winchester Super X 100g Power Point, X2432.)

A previous owner had bubba'd the AccuTrigger adjustment spring so trigger pull was essentially at maximum. A $2 spring and $2 adjustment tool arrived from Savage yesterday. The spring took all of 10 minutes to install. I screwed it in all the way (to the lightest possible setting) and checked it. It is now light and clean as I could want on a hunting rifle. Awesome!

Here's the "donor". It was typical Savage "homely" when I purchased it. It still is, even though the factory supplied scope, rings and bases have been dumped in favor of Warne rings and bases and a Burris Fullfield 3-09x40 with Ballistic Plex reticle. The scope came off my Ruger Scout in .308 Win after completing load development when I replaced it with the factory peep sight:

Savage_FXP3_243_Win_with_Burris.jpg


Here is the target I was aiming for, two groups separated by a scope adjustment. The first group was off paper on the target to the right, 48 clicks away from the upper group:
Savage_243_Win_Target.jpg


After shooting that target I went to the long range where I proceeded to pop two or three clays at 500 yards once I got the windage and drop figured. Missed the clays at 600 but all 600 yard shoots would have been really bad news for antelope.

While I will still paint the stock or replace it with a laminate, I guess I'm "stuck" with a .243 Win. :)

==============================
Other good news of the day:

With the .308 Win Ruger Scout I was hitting almost every clay at 100 with the peep sight using two different loads (130g TTSX and 150g BT). The only difference was 1 turn of the peep was required for the heavier BT load. Something like 18 of 20 hits. This is exactly what I wanted the Scout for and it has not disappointed. By contrast I tend to hit about 1 of 5 with the standard irons on my Ithaca Model 49 .22LR. Peeps are awesome!

Couldn't hit the 500 yard clays more than twice with my .223 Ruger MKII and 40g BT loads but kept it dancing just off the edges. The cross breeze was light but just erratic enough to blow the light bullets.

My "600 yard clay pigeon shooter" lived up to its name. It is a custom 6.5-06AI built on an Interarms Mark X action, a Krieger fluted #5 barrel and a Timney trigger. The scope is a Burris FFII 4.5-14xAO Ballistic Plex. Pigeons at 500 didn't stand a chance. It splattered 8 pigeons at 600 with about 30 fire-form loads using 140g A-MAX at a sedate 2740-ish fps. Misses were almost always by less than a clay pigeon diameter, many or even most by much less. Now to load up some more 130g Scirocco II's at 3161fps.
 

Quattroclick

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 5, 2008
Messages
292
Location
Erie, North Colorado
I hate it when that happens! I have a Remington 700 donor in 270 that I made the mistake of shooting. It shoots the cheap Federal blue box better than just about every other gun I own shoots worked up hand loads. Needless to say, that barrel stays where it is.
 

Major T

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
622
Location
ft worth, tx
Mine was a 60s Browning Safari, pencil barrel .308 on a small ring Mauser, floated not so nicely, and an inch short with a pad. I bought it for a song in view of a custom build, but had to see what it would do. Cheapest a Federal 150, 1/2"?? Next group of three, 5/8", then another 1/2" group. Forget custom. I even learned to like the short stock, especially with winter clothing, and my daughters can use it year round. One problem, it has become the favorite in the rack for all of us.

Best,

Jack
 

Rocdoc

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 23, 2008
Messages
1,412
Location
N. Texas
Never understood why folks bad mouth Savages. A 110-e 30-06 was my first deer rifle $200 NIB, killed a bunch of deer with it, sort of regret rebarreling, but the now 338-06 is just so cool.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
9,168
Location
Greenville, SC: USA
Seems I've got a Savage in 30-06 somewhere around here I bought from one of yous guys a year or so ago.... its the one with the small composite stock and that kind of gives it a serious kick... need to find it and take it to the range sometime.
 

Rick Courtright

Hawkeye
Joined
Mar 10, 2002
Messages
7,897
Location
Redlands CA USA
Rocdoc said:
Never understood why folks bad mouth Savages. A 110-e 30-06 was my first deer rifle $200 NIB, killed a bunch of deer with it, sort of regret rebarreling, but the now 338-06 is just so cool.

Hi,

Jealousy? When a $300 range Savage, right out of the box, can match the kinds of groups a $1000 Ruger Precision rifle reportedly turns in, dontcha think there are gonna be some hurt feelings?

My favorite Savage story came at the range shortly after the .204 Ruger cartridge came out. A fellow in the lane next to us had one of the then fairly new Savage varmint rifles, the $1200 single shot bolt action that ejects out the left side, and a $3000 Cooper he'd just picked up, each chambered for that round. Both rifles had matching, very spendy, Leupold glass up top, but were otherwise as delivered to him. And, of course, the Cooper lived up to its maker's reputation for building beautiful rifles! It was gorgeous.

His goal was to develop a handload for the Cooper that would shoot as well as factory ammo did in the Savage. He was "getting closer" as he described the fact both rifles were shooting 5/16" groups. Only the Cooper was doing that at 100 yds, the Savage at 200!

My own Savage '06, a 111 package gun, CAN turn in 1" 100 yd groups, on purpose, on those rare days when I can do my job, and I've even "lucked into" better ones now and then. And it isn't even that picky about ammo, either. When we take both of 'em to the range on same day, my BIL's Ruger 77 '06 is the pretty girl you wanted to take to the school dance back when, while my homely Savage is the one you're glad you chose when you were trying to decide who to spend your life with... ;)

Rick C
 

Coyote Hunter

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 5, 2007
Messages
265
Location
6491 feet above sea level
Savage rifles have a reputation for being shooters, something I was well aware of when I bought the rifle. In the late '90's Dad gave me a Savage 110e in .22-250 with well over 1500 rounds through it. (He gave me the empty cases, too, as he didn't reload. I gave away everything but the Federal brass, which is what I counted.) Daughter #2 generously called that 'walnut finished' Savage 'homely', but for the first few years it would put 5 shots into a 100 yard group you could cover with a dime. Finally wore it out and, foolishly, sold the rifle rather than rebarrel. Got $250 for it from a guy that wanted the action and turned around and paid $400 for a minty 1989 Ruger M77 in .257 Roberts. The Ruger was so little used there were no scratches in the bluing under the slide safety. Paid $400 for the Ruger and that included the Leupold M8-4x scope that was in the rings. The Ruger has been my favorite rifle ever since and has turned in one of my best 3-shot groups ever at .232". The Leupold went on a Marlin rifle and since I had paid $100 for a used one just like it a month before, I figure my trade-up cost on the Ruger was only $50. :)

While I’m happily surprised this Savage shoots as well as it does, there is still some disappointment that a rebarrel to a cartridge of my choosing doesn’t make any sense. The ugly black stock was going to get replaced but that, too, is out the door. Can’t see changing something that works in an attempt to get something that works.

A previous owner had bubba’d the Accutrigger adjustment spring on the Savage but a $2 replacement form Savage fixed that. The cartridge follower problem (cartridges popping out) was fixed by fully loading the magazine, which apparently oriented the follower or spring correctly. It now feeds flawlessly and the Accutrigger is sweet.

Bought some dies and Hornady 95g SST bullets this last weekend and loaded up some development rounds with H100V and H4831SC. Since I only had 20 cases to work with, I built loads at 5 charge weights for each powder with 2 loads at each weight. The H4831SC turned in the nicer groups , although the wind was a little gusty when I was shooting the H100V.

In the H4831SC target below, there is no shot #2 – I used what would have been the #2 case to build my dummy load which will be used to set my seating die in the future. The shots were fired sequentially according to their powder charge - #1 @ 44.0g with no #2; #3 and #4 @ 44.5g; etc.; with #9-10 fired last and having the highest powder charge.

Given that shots #3-6 made one ragged hole, I’ll build some more at 44.8g for my next range test, which should give about 2925fps. If they work as well as expected, load development for the 95g SSTs will be done. I know that load data for different powders shows another 150fps or so might be had even with the 22” Savage barrel, but I have a new jug of H4831SC and would much rather have bug holes than speed records.

Target_-_243Win-95SST-H4831SC.jpg


Next up will be test with the 105g AMAX, which a Hornady tech says should stabilize in the Savage 9.5 twist barrel, Nosler 90g AB and 95g BT and maybe Barnes 80g TTSX.
 
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