Tried Swapping Barrels on my Savage
I tried one of the $200.00 E.R.Shaw barrel-swap kits for my model 16 Savage, going from a "magnum contour" .243 Winchester barrel to a 24 inch "sporter contour" barrel in 7mm-08 Remington.
The kit included the new barrel, GO and NO-GO gauges for checking headspace, and an E.R Shaw barrel nut wrench.
In addition to the kit, I had to buy a barrel vise from Brownells that cost 60 bucks, and an old-style grooved barrel nut in stainless for 17 dollars. - Here's a picture of mine, next to a familiar object for size comparison.
The hard part was getting the original smooth barrel nut to loosen up and come off. As others have done, I resorted to creating a groove on the smooth barrel nut with a cut-off disk on a moto-tool, then used a 1/2" cold chisel in the groove to tap the nut loose.
Some use a pipe-wrench to remove the smooth nut, but I couldn't find my pipe-wrench.
Once I had the original smooth barrel nut loosened, I could unscrew it and the barrel from the receiver by hand. The rest of the job went very quickly.
I put anti-sieze compound on the barrel threads before reassembling the rifle with the new barrel.
Head-spacing is positive and easy. - I took off the ejector and extractor from the bolt, screwed the new barrel in part way, then chambered the GO gauge and screwed the new barrel in until it contacted the gauge. Then I tightened up the new grooved barrel nut with the wrench provided in the kit.
Once I had the barrel nut tightened up on the new barrel, I did a test... The GO gauge would chamber and the bolt would close on it - but with the NO-GO gauge in there, the bolt handle would not close more than about 1/3rd of the way down... This meant that I had perfect head-space.
As opposed to other actions, headspacing a new barrel on a Savage is easy, positive, just takes a few minutes and does not require any machine tools.
The gun is a lot handier with the lighter contour barrel, and a bit more powerful in the 7mm-08 chambering.
Once you have the equipment to change a Savage barrel and know how to do it, any barrel-swaps after that can be done in 20-30 minutes.
I'm still breaking in the 7mm-08 barrel and having a lot of fun with it - but I'm already thinking about a new barrel in .358 Winchester...
Since my gun is a short action Savage, I can re-barrel to any cartridge that uses the .308 Winchester case as a starting point. I can also go over to 6.5 Creedmoor or perhaps .284 Winchester.
For now though, I am trying different 7mm-08 loads and carefully breaking in the new barrel.
I own a bore-scope and examined the new E.R. Shaw barrel prior to installing it. - It's a quality barrel, button rifled but with hardly any chatter. Very smooth inside.
I've only fired twenty rounds through it so far... The first rounds went into four inches or so, but as I got near the end of the box of ammo, the bullet holes started touching each other. - I think once I get it broke in and develop a handload, it ought to be quite accurate.
If you like to try new cartridges and barrel weights but are on a budget and do not own a lathe, owning a Savage is a very good way to go.
The Savage bolt action is the AR of the bolt action world, easy to modify and accessorize at home. - They make tons of aftermarket stuff for them.
Anyway, if you own a Savage and have been wondering about swapping barrels, I'd report that it is not hard to do if you follow the directions carefully and when you do - it's just like having a new gun except not so expensive. Watch a You-Tube video or two, and it's a no-brainer.
( Click images to see them bigger )
very nice write-up Salvo!:D
i have a Marlin XS7 in 7mm-08. after you get some loads worked up, you will absolutely love the round!
I ordered that rifle in .243 when I lived at the southern tip of Texas, which is whitetail country. Then I moved to west Texas in the high desert, where it's mule deer and elk so I knew that I needed something with more grunt than the .243.
I've read several places about 7mm-08 in a 24" barrel being roughly equivalent to a .270 Winchester with a 22" barrel.
It kicks a little more than the heavy barreled .243, but it's still not bad. I'm thinking of getting a Hogue OD green rubber overmolded stock to lighten it up a bit more. The laminated thumb-hole stock is fairly heavy, not something I'd want to haul up and down these mountains.
In general, the thumb-hole stocks are a problem for hunting with Savage bolt guns, as they make it awkward to use the thumb-safety located behind the bolt, thus nullifying one of the guns best features.
I think I'll keep the thumb-hole stock with the heavy .243 barrel, and use them together. The .243 barrel is very accurate, it makes an ideal range gun or heavy varminter with the 70 grain bullets it likes.
Salvo,Welcome to the Brotherhood of the Barrel Nut.
Savage rifles are addicting once you start swapping barrels,or building complete rifles just from parts. Over the years,I've probably swapped 40-50 barrels out of friends rifles and my own.
With the Savage,it's not necessary to remove the ejector and extractor to get a proper headspace. I never have removed them,nor do many others that swap barrels.
The varmint contour 7mm-08 E.R.Shaw barrel I put on my 12 FLP is pretty picky on what it likes to shoot. It shoots 150 gr bullets excellent,but doesn't care for lighter or heavier bullets.And,I've tried them with many different powders,it just doesn't care for them.
I really like hunting with Thumbhole stocks,and have never had an issue with getting to the tang safety switch.While it's not as easy as a conventional grip stock,it isn't a problem for myself. I'm putting a Thumbhole stock on the new 6.5-06 I'm building.
Today was way too cold and windy for shooting, so I tried to find things to do indoors.
I have 50 rounds of 7mm-08 ammo loaded up now, with 20 rounds using AA 2495, 20 rounds using 760, and ten rounds with Varget. All utilize new Nosler brass, and Hornady 139 grn 7mm SST bullets at the recommended COL. All use Winchester large rifle primers.
The Hornady bullets have a bright red tip. I used a "Sharpie" permanent marker to make the AA2495 loads black on the plastic tip, and the Varget loads are two-tone, red and black. - The 760 loads are plain red.
When I put the reloading stuff away, I still had time on my hands so I took borescope images of the barrel after 20 rounds which showed some copper smears on the lands as one might expect, then I thoroughly cleaned the barrel and took another series of borescope images and was gratified to see that it had cleaned up well.
That left me with nothing gun-related to do, so I watched a movie, did some ham radio stuff and now I'm playing on the internet. The wind has died down, but now its dark out.
I think its supposed to be calm tomorrow and up in the 50's, so maybe I'll get a chance to visit the range and see how the various loads work out.
I really shouldn't be surprised at all, but every time I pick up the rifle I am amazed again at how much better it handles now, with the sporter contour barrel.
Range report soon, I hope!
My plan is very similar with different parts
Shaw .35 Whelen Barrel kit. length cut to 22" Muzzle recut to 11 degrees
Savage 111 blued action Accutrigger DBM I'll be starting with a 30-06
Boyds Classic Stock in Walnut with checkering
Then a Leupold VariX II 3-9X I have been holding on to for this project. Leupold mounts and rings
This will then become my Bear/Elk rifle.
Salvo, the nut wrench supplied with the Shaw kit, would not loosen the nut ?
As far as any other bolt or magazine parts Numrich,Midway USA,Brownells,or Savage are the go-to places for them,as well as Northland Shooters Supply,or Sharp Shooters Supply.
When changing to a caliber with a different size case head,you must change out the bolt face to that calibers size.
Not all Savage rifles are ideal for barrel swapping.Some of the early models have stocks that there are no aftermarket replacements for(models with a side magazine release),and there is also the dreaded Savage action's with integral scope bases.These actions were known for twisting when they were heat treated,and lining up a scope on these actions can be a total waste of time when the bases are twisted out of alignment.
My rifle had the new smooth barrel nut, which is generally discarded by barrel-swappers and replaced with an old-style nut that is much easier to work with.
I bought the grooved barrel nut first, knowing that it would be required.
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