Savage 99 Feeding problem

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by R.Smith, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. R.Smith

    R.Smith New Member

    Oct 11, 2011
    Hi gentlemen and maybe a few ladies. I picked up a Savage 99 .300 at an auction a few days ago. To show you how much of a rooky I am I didn’t realize it had a rotary magazine until I read some things on the internet later (gun wasn’t on the sale bill). And now the problem I’m having: The fourth to the last cartridge in the rotary magazine always feeds incorrectly... point doesn’t enter the chamber. Every other cartridge always seems to feed just right. I’m hoping someone can share a few ideas about this problem.

  2. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR Active Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Imperial, MO
    range issue in the rotary mag or a bad spring. The 99 actions are super tough to deal with, take it to a smith that knows them, don't try anything on your own unless your really adventurous. The internals can become easily damaged along with the bottom part of the receiver, its really thin down there.

  3. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Assuming you are using .300 Savage cartridges, one thought is that that the follower is dented or somehow messed up at that slot. The trouble is that it is not a simple job to remove the follower to check, and even harder to get the magazine back together again with the proper tension on the follower. I don't think it is a DIY job for anyone without experience with that gun.

    I suggest finding a gunsmith with experience on those rifles or, if that is not possible, a good set of instructions on how to dis- and re-assemble them.

  4. steve99f

    steve99f New Member

    Mar 20, 2009
    Eastern PA
    R. Smith,

    How handy are you? If not so much, find a 'smith.

    If mechanical things don't put you off, this isn't rocket science.

    1. Make sure the rifle is unloaded.
    2. Remove the fore end. One screw is usually is all there is. If you have a barrel band model, take it to a smith.
    3. You will need a hollow ground screw driver, modified to fit on the split nut securing the rotary mag spindle.
    4. Loosen the small screw above the counter port and partially withdraw. This screw locks the magazine tensioner by interfering across the flats on it. You'll feel it drag across the tensioner. If you remove it all the way the tensioner will spin slack.
    5. Using the modifed hollow ground screwdriver and judiously moving the keeper screw on and off the tensioner, tighten the tensioner one flat and see if that takes care of your problem. Do not over tighten.

    Good luck. It takes longer to explain.
  5. CharlieSW

    CharlieSW New Member

    Jun 19, 2011
    Interesting... I saw a nice 99 in .308 at the local pawn yesterday -- It had a really nice scope on it. Maybe I will go and take another look.
  6. R.Smith

    R.Smith New Member

    Oct 11, 2011
    Thank you everyone for your inputs. At least for now I'm going to take the advice of not taking the rifle apart but will keep in mind what disassembly advice was given. There are three things slowing me down. First there's the fear factor. Also there has been one of those rubber buttplates put on and I'd have to imagine I'd damage it trying to remove it? Finally, and maybe I shouldn't have done this, I sprayed a little Liquid Wrench into the magazine area. Now the fourth cartridge put into the magazine which would have feeding problems almost 100% of the time will now only mess up about 10-20% of the time. Maybe just loading the magazine several times and then ejecting all the cartridges has made the difference. Or maybe the oil has helped somehow?
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  7. steve99f

    steve99f New Member

    Mar 20, 2009
    Eastern PA
    Don't over oil it. A little goes a long way.

    If you look closely at the recoil pad(non factory), there may be slits to allow access to the two wood screws. Or it could have been glued, not good.

    Do you have any idea what Model 99 you have? There were many made from 1920 on in 300 Savage. Can you post a picture? If not describe the stock shape for the fore end and butt stock and where the safety is located. Also what is the serial number? X out the last couple of digits.
  8. langenc

    langenc Active Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Montmorency Co, MI
    I am changing the scope on mine, prior to deer season. I accquired it about 14 mo ago.

    I have the rotary mag also. I cannot seem to load over 2 rounds. Ill try lubbing mine. The fore stock already has some 'oil stain' IN it. Ill remove both stocks and spray away-letting it drip and wipe dry. I have seen many stocks with 'oil stain' IN them.

    Scope rings/bases should be here Fri (or hopefully tomorrow). Have a really nice ebay, Weaver K4, duplex to mount.
  9. redwing carson

    redwing carson Former Guest

    Dec 11, 2010
    western wyoming
    I have a 99 that rides behind the stick in my Dodge Ram. The rotary mag gets dust in the breech. The rotary some times sticks. I never tear it down. I use some of the pressure spray degreasers to blow it out. Then put a small amount of light oil on the end of the magazine.:)
  10. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    A friend at work years ago had his recently deceased Dad's Model 99 that had surface rust on all it internals. Nothing short of a complete tear down and rust removal with steel wool would fix it. With the help of a Assembly/Disassemble book I tore it down to the last screw and pin. It was not hard and the toughest part was getting the rotary magazine spring tensioned but the book covered that. The task was a complete success. I ended up buying the gun off the friend.

    As I reload, I started developing loads for it with a Chronograph. I was after duplicating the velocity specs of commercial ammo, so my concentration was on the chronograph, not the results on the target. My expectations for accuracy were not very high as I have found that most lever guns pale by comparison to good bolt guns. So I just aimed at a target and collected velocity data for various load levels. To my surprise the targets came back with great groupings. These Model 99's are accurate. It makes sense as the lockup is very different from most lever guns and the gun is much stronger by design in the receiver area. The rotary magazine was the inspiration for Bill Ruger when he designed the rotary magazine for use in the 10/22 (he loved the Model 99 and his first major gun modification was to turn one into a semi-auto for sale to the US military during WWII, long before the Ruger company of the late 1940's... he got a job instead of selling his semi-auto concept).

    I too suspect the rotary magazine spring has lost some of its tension and a simple indexing of the spring may solve the feeding problem. I also suspect that a complete tear down and super cleaning and lubing may also help. Once you have done one of these super cleaning jobs you will be amazed at how much junk collects inside an old gun.

  11. slugslinger

    slugslinger New Member

    Oct 17, 2012
    I too have a recently purchased a Savage 99 (mine in 250-3000) with a similar feed problem. If you insert 2 or more rounds in the magazine, then the last one will not chamber. If you insert one (gently), it seems to chamber ok. I was pleased to see the response (thanks steve99f) about the adjustment, and will check it out. Even so, the spring in the magazine seems weak compared to other rifles I've loaded. Is replacing that spring difficult (requiring removal of the Magazine). I have seen numerous cautions regarding the risks with disassembly of these magazine, and difficulty reassembling correctly.
  12. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA

    There is a spring that you pre-tension when you put the gun back together. That should allow you to fix the feeding problem.

    The guns are unusual to take apart but a good assembly/disassembly book worked for me.There is also the Video from AGI:

    Generally the videos from them are excellent. The usual gunsmith that does them is very organized and explains each and every step. I would think he would cover the tensioning of the internal circular magazine.

    Theses are really neat guns and very accurate compared to other lever guns. I really like mine!!

  13. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA

    I just reviewed the AGI video for the Savage 99 as it had been over 15 years since I took mine apart. As an aside mine suffered poor storage and the whole of the inside was covered in a light surface rust (only on the inside of the gun) which was easily removed with no damage to anything (you can not detect there was ever surface rust in there) but I did have to take it completely down to clean the rust out. At that time I used a assembly/dis-assembly book. The AGI video might be a better path today.

    Anyway.... The takedown video is very complete and well done. Based on it I think the feeding problem can be solved by first thoroughly cleaning the gun's internals. You can try spray solvents and compressed air but if that fails you may have to tension the magazine spring.

    The magazine is a spool fitted inside the receiver. There is a circular recess just below the barrel in the receiver. There is a sheet metal plate at the magazine's front that can be seen by removal of the front hand guard. In the center is a bolt and nut that hold the spool together. The nut is staked to the bolt. So you have the spool (usually brass) and the plate, both tied together with a spring. Turning the plate in reference to the spool increases or decreases the spool tension. That tensioning is done with a flat bladed screwdriver that has its center portion ground away so that the the blade bridges the bolt and engages slots in the nut. The tensioning is done with the whole spool assembly(plate and spring included ) in the receiver. The whole of the plate turns as you tension the spool spring.

    The plate only has to be turned to increase the tension. The sheet metal plate is retained to the receiver by a long bolt through the side of the receiver that engages slots on the edge of the plate. So in theory you should be able to pull the front hand guard off, remove the plate retaining bolt, turn the plate counter clockwise to add tension and re-install the retaining bolt. But.....

    These guns are old and few have ever been apart. The plate may be stuck hard enough in the receiver that the tool may not be able to turn the plate in the receiver. It is certainly worth a try. If you fail this way then complete disassembly will be required to remove the spool assembly to free it.

    You know when you have enough tension when you push the mag follower with your finger and it returns all the way up to its stop ("0" should fully revealed in the cartridge counter window).

    Don't take the spool with its plate and spring apart unless the spring or spool or plate is broken and it have to be replaced. Yes, the spool is spring loaded but only when it is in the receiver and the tension is added by the adjustment.

    Hope this helps.

    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
  14. steve99f

    steve99f New Member

    Mar 20, 2009
    Eastern PA
    I had a Savage 99F in 243 that had a feeding problem in that some rounds would come up high to the chamber mouth. Not good for a hunting rifle.

    I corrected this by closing the arc of the lever a tiny bit. Remove the lever from the rifle and place it in a padded vice with the finger part of the lever clamped. The end of the lever that operates in the slot on the bolt should be above the vice jaws. Take a small ball peen hammer and tap the tip of the lever so as to close the arc. Go very easy. Don't muscle it. Tap and then try it in the rifle. This will also fix the lever that hangs down some.

    This is a factory fix.
  15. Tom Savage

    Tom Savage New Member

    Oct 27, 2014
    I have noticed the rotary magazine on my 99E in .308 will not load rounds loaded to an overall length of 2.800 even though the max overall length allowable for 308 win is 2.810. I determined that the longer bullets ride up on the curved forward end of the spool,and are forced out of the case groove by a few thousands, just enough to alter the bullet circle and jam the spool. Polishing the curve with some 400 grit paper on a lathe allowed the cases to fully enter the groove,and the loading problem vanished.
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