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how to time and true a savage/stevens?

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Unread 05-31-2010, 10:10 PM
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how to time and true a savage/stevens?

looking into building a savage myself. wondering if this was something i could tackle or would it be better left to a smith?
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Unread 05-31-2010, 10:38 PM
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Location: Philadelphia Pa.
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Re: how to time and true a savage/stevens?

Leave to the gun smith UNLESS you have a Machine Shop in the FAMILY
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Unread 06-02-2010, 05:11 AM
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Location: Carlisle, PA
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Re: how to time and true a savage/stevens?

I do my own - a Savage is easier to deal with because the bolt has a floating head which eliminates the need to sleeve the bolt or to do much of anything to it, and the receiver is round so it is easy to bed although some care has to be taken with the rear pillar.

I true the front face of the receiver to the bolt bore, machine a stub to use for truing the face of the barrel nut, use a competition recoil lug from Sharp Shooter Supply, dual pillar bed the receiver to the stock (I prefer wood or laminated stocks), install the barrel using go and no-go gages, and they shoot into a half MOA or smaller with the right loads.

That said, it does take an understanding of receiver/bore geometry, some skill with a lathe, the right tooling, and some practice to get it right. I've not messed with bolt timing. I lube the cocking and locking surfaces with a tiny bit of Lucas #2 red and sticky (or something like that) and they work just fine.

You can change barrels on a Savage with out doing anything to the receiver or even needing a lathe. Barrel vise, barrel nut wrench, go/no-go gages and you're good to go.

I do the little extra receiver work but I'm not sure how much good it does on a Savage with the floating bolt head and barrel nut. I've never been able to do a good comparative test to quantify the improvement, if any. There are Savages that shoot bug holes that have been trued and Savages that shoot bug holes that haven't been trued. You pick your pony and take your ride.

I have seen Savages shoot a "lot" better than factory with just a simple barrel swap. For all their reputation for accuracy, I've seen more barrels with chatter marks and other ugliness in Savages than any other brand. They often shoot reasonably well even with the chatter marks but they can be a bear to get clean.

I think if gun writers worried less about making the manufacturer's happy and published bore pictures (chamber, crown, and the worst places inbetween) of every rifle they reviewed, the industry would see a huge improvement in bore quality almost overnight. Alas, I think most gun writers wouldn't have a clue what they were looking at if they did take the pictures.

Savage barrel quality can range from superb to downright ugly. Talking about ugly, this is a picture of the barrel I took off my Savage Model 10 .243Win:

Pretty ugly.

On the other hand, I have a new Savage 112BVSS in 7mmMag that has an absolutely georgeous bore and throat. This is the throat after 30 rounds:

Factory rifles just don't get much better than that. The crown was a little rough but that was easy to fix. With receiver truing, a new crown, and epoxy pillar bedding it shoots 1/3 MOA or less with handloads.

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Unread 12-03-2010, 09:51 AM
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Re: how to time and true a savage/stevens?

Timing and truing a Savage:

Savages are mass produced and designed to be put together in a production line from a bin of parts.

The bolt bolt bodies are chrome plated tubing drawn on a mandrel. The triggers, trigger hangers, and sears are forged or stamped out.

Their factory barrel, actions, and floating bolt head are the hear of their inherent accuracy.

Some of the things that are done to improve on the Savage rifles are bolt fit, alignment and timing.

The factory actions bolt race are .7015 ID and the factory bolt bodies are usually about .696 OD. Real sloppy in comparison to other manufactures.

The cocking ramps are cut with an end mill and the helical leaves something to be desired.

The main screw, compresses against the cocking piece sleave that compresses the firing pin spring. Slop and deflection in the spring adds to the friction in cocking.
Bolt lift on cocking is the major complaint about Savages. Bolt lift can be reduced by 50-60 percent by timing and truing Savage actions.

Some gunsmiths use a deprimed spent 38/357 magnum case cut to fit inside the cocking piece sleeve and insert a ball bearing in the primer pocket. The ball provides a smaller and slicker surface for the main screw to mate up against.

I drill and tap the main screw .250 X 28tpi and insert a .750 x .250 28tpi grade 8 cone point set screw. I also make a shouldered cap with a center indentation for the set screw to mate with. This does several thisngs it reduces the friction, it aligns the firing pin, and it allows for external firing pin spring tension adjustment.

The bolt handles are fit to the back of the bolt and held in place by the main screw.

Upon opening the holt handle rubs up against the ramp on the rear baffle this is where the bolt gets its primary extraction.

When bolt head lugs are turned or lapped they can move the primmary extraction out of timing. There for the bolt body must be shortened to bring the primmary extraction back.

I recomend that folks also replace their factory bolt body with a .701 PT&G bolt body that is precision ground form tool steel. this requires some turning and machining to make it fit properly.

There are several friction points between the trigger, trigger hanger, and sear that should also be deburred and polished.

The bolt lugs should be turned and lapped into 60% or better bilateral engagement.

During the same operation the bolt face should be machined.

For high presure cartridges the bolthead should have the firing pin hole centered and bushed.

I have not seen any significant difference in accuracy between barrels using the nut vs shouldered barrels. The nut just makes headspacing easy and barrels interchangeable between different actions.

There is no reason a Savage rifle can not shoot with the best and most expensive factory actions.

Nat Lambeth
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Unread 12-03-2010, 01:42 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2008
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Re: how to time and true a savage/stevens?

Great post.

Do you guys feal that the savage target action needs this same kind of attention?
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Unread 12-03-2010, 02:25 PM
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Re: how to time and true a savage/stevens?


They are better because they are made in a different process. But the components are interchangeable other than the Target trigger spring weight.

I have multiple customers who are F-Class shooters shooting Savages and are very competetive. Several have National Records to their credits.

Nat Lambeth
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Unread 12-03-2010, 02:34 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: SW Montana
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Re: how to time and true a savage/stevens?

Mr. Lambeth,
I've been tinkering with Savages a little and I've fairly well figured out how to true the action but truing the bolt is a little harder for me to figure out, mainly since it is a floating head it seem that you wouldn't want do it as a solid bolt design. I just can envision it in my mind how to true the lugs and bolt face. Would appreciate any help!!
"Pain is weakness leaving your body"
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