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.
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