I was at my gunsmiths today, Ron Heppler of Mio, Mi, he said all Savages appear to be a bit loose when fully open but close up tight if they are as supposed to be, he said its one of the best machined rifles that he has seen over the past twenty years, high praise from a gunsmith who gets as much work as he does, mostly family hunting guns, this is a small country town where most everyone wants a nice rack but mostly wants to fill their freezers. We do get a huge amount of down staters up here for deer and bear season. So he gets the fancy deer rifles too.
" a well- armed citizenry is the first defense against tryany". Thomas Jefferson
Okay, so I guess I am just a bit picky and a little play in the action when fully open is not to be too concerned with.
So know to decided on which cal. I also found another Savage 111 in a 7mm rem mag. 308 or 300 win mag. Or 30-06 I currently have at least one in each cal.
This build will be primarily for LR target but would like the option for game as well (deer & elk). My longest harvest was an elk at 320 yards with a 30-06. Have not heard many people shooting 30-06 as a target round though. Thought about trying out an F class shoot to.
Free play in a savage action is normal, its not a 1 piece bolt. As for the 111 action it will hold anything a rem 700 will and do it safer as the floating bolt head can act as an additional pressure point if the lugs were to let go, but I haven't seen that happen. Get the cheapest long action you can find, bolt heads are 20 bucks and can be changed in 10 minutes. I would go for the 300wm with a 26-28" 10 twist Brux barrel with a Vias break, if its not an accutrigger early 111 the Rifle Basixx is a damn good trigger for under a 100 bucks, I use badger ordinance or callahan recoil lugs, stockys, bell and carlson, hs and stockade make some nice stocks. As for barrel contour i'd go with a sendero contour.
Jerry Teo has uploaded a couple very detailed build documentaries. Just search for "long range hunting rifle on a budget" in google and it should take you right to them. Specifically, they are done on Savage/Stevens actions. He swears by them. He outlines in the builds everything as far as cost conservation, utility, and performance is concerned. They really are fantastic explanations on how to go about building a long range rig...I followed them for a 338 RUM build and it turned out amazing. 1/2 MOA rifle all day everyday for ~$850. Including trigger, muzzle brake, and fluted bolt. Optics were extra. That being said, I ended up selling the rifle because I honestly built TOO NICE of a gun. It had a beautiful custom walnut stock and I hated the thought of beating the crap out of it on a hunt. I did shoot a bison with it last year. After selling it, I got a great deal on a Sendero and then followed the principles I learned from my stevens build to make that thing a tack driver. 1/3 MOA at 200 yds as of this last weekend when I got to sight it in...Remington builds are a little more expensive, however there are advantages to both. As for the laxity in your action, don't worry about it whatsoever. That's by design and just gives the bolt clearance as you rack it back and forth. Once locked up it is extremely strong. One of the inherent advantages in the Stevens/Savage bolts is the fact that it is two pieces and has a floating bolt head ensuring equal contact on the bolt locking lugs as it locks up in the chamber. You would have to have a 700 blueprinted to do the same thing, which costs a couple hundred bucks.