Thoughts on a Savage Switch barrel Build

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by CaptBeach, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. CaptBeach

    CaptBeach Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    I've been thinking about building a Savage switch barrel all packaged in a Pelican case. I am a former Marine 2111/2112. I've been building and shooting for 30+ years now...FIRST BOLT GUN BUILD...I've worked on them and tuned them but first ground up Savage build...I love Savages.


    Savage long action .473 bolt face
    Choate LA Tactical Stock, pillar and glass bedded.
    Aftermarket trigger unless the donor gun is an Accutrigger.
    20MOA Base
    High end optics
    Harris BP
    CBI Bottom Metal and AICS mags

    Mounting one of the following barrels and the other two with proper Head Space gauges stored in the Pelican case.

    26" Heavy in 30-06
    20" Heavy in .308
    26" Heavy in .300WM with correct bolt face

    My thinking is I can run the .308 in the LA still using the CBI/AICS mags (same
    cartridge diameter?) and a dedicated .300WM mag (do I need this) anyway, the .308 will fit into the 30-06 mags with room to spare. My thinking is I can have a custom .308 barrel with the throat set out a little farther and run some VLD bullets with a longer OAL and still fit in the mags with room to spare.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Experiences?



    Capt Beach
  2. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    I am not a big fan of switch barrel rifles, so dont be offended.

    I tried this many years ago and what I found from my own personal experance that
    there was very little savings and more time and money spent re zeroing and more ammo

    I feel that two rifles are better in the long run because you can Cary both on a hunt and use
    the one needed and still have a back up if something goes bad. (A fall or drop damage).

    It was an interesting project but impractical because every time you changed barrels I had to
    not only re zero but had to burn ammo and adjust the scope back and forth. and even though
    I kept good records the zero changed slightly each time from taking it in and out of the stock.

    This can be avoided buy hand tight barrel make up but I personally don't like that type of
    fit on a hunting rifle.

    You can build the two rifles as close to the same as possible but in different calibers so they feel
    the same but can be used in different roles

    This is just my opinion, but something to think about.

  3. csam

    csam New Member

    Nov 24, 2010
    Personally, I think switch barrel is overrated. The Savage is a great platform, and is easy enough to change, but it is not that easy, you need the tools. If you were going to go through the trouble, I agree with the other poster that you could build two or three similar or identical guns with the different calibres/barrel lengths.

    Not that I am a fountain of knowledge or experience, so my opinion is worth what you pay for it, but I was thinking about going with a switch barrel on my 300wm, but it just shoots so well, why mess with it. You have to worry about torque on at least the barrel nut, and the action screws. If you use a quick detach mount system you would be good to set up three different scopes, but maintaining a zero on three cartridges with one scope rig would introduce addl variables.

    Last but not least, if you get the rifle sorted out, then you are tasked with getting dope on all three chamberings. The Marines no doubt left you with an abundance of shooting skill, but that is a lot of variables to be able to shoot all three accurately at range.
  4. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    interesting that all your choices are 30 caliber stuff, but not knocking you for that idea. I personally would rather have the .308 Norma mag for those really long VLD bullets, or even a .300 Weatherby (or a .300 Ackley & .300 Jarrette). The .308 starts to fall off fast with bullets heavier than 180 grains, so I think I'd limit it to the Sierra 175's when I throat the barrel. The .308 Norma actually handles the 220 grain and heavier bullets better than a .300 Win mag, so no matter what you do; I'd throat it for something in the 220 grain range. The Weatherby will handle just about anything you throw at it with ease (same for the other two as they are very similar)

    If I were doing it on a Savage long action, I think I'd build a 6.5-06AI or a .280 Remington improved. Add in there a .308 National match chambered barrel, and a big .300 mag (the Ackley or .308 Norma would be my choices here). Then later opt for an additional 30-06 barrel. You might also want to consider the .300WSM.

    You can buy additional bolt heads from Sharp Shooter Supply, and he makes a really nice trigger for them (much better than anything else I've seen). He also sells a very nice tactical stock. The 20MOA base is a good idea. I like the one Farrel sells, and the cheapest place to buy one that I've seen is Sharp Shooter. Get the one piece rail mount, and have it dowl pined to the action (seems to stiffen up the reciever a bit). That rail mount will take most any good quality tactical style rings. The Savage long action does seem to benifit from changing out the firing pin spring and maybe the firing pin in some cases. I did both, and would have kept the same firing pin if I'd to do it over. Also buy the Holland recoil lug! Never been a fan of the savage muzzel brakes, but if you gotta have one, then look at the one from Vias for those big magnums.
  5. hammertyme

    hammertyme Well-Known Member

    Oct 2, 2008
    SInce I have been doing what you are asking about for a long time now I agree 100% with the concept. I am not in the business so have have nothing to gain telling you to build several guns.
    1. No expensive tools required to switch barrels or bolt heads.
    2. No time to wait for a gunsmith to work your gun in.
    3. No gunsmithing expense to change barrels or making your whatever a switch barrel gun.
    4. Takes minutes to change a barrel and a few more minutes to change the bolthead.
    5. Super accurate pre-made ready to shoot barrels nearly everywhere.
    6. Savage factory barrels nearly without exception are super accurate so one can purchase these factory barrels for nothing to whatever you are willing to pay. I usually pay $45. and one of my most accurate factory barrels shoots(300RUM) right in the class with my custom 6BR barrel.

    The only down side to a Savage switch barrel setup is," you are taking money out of a smiths hand". I have a number of actions that will never have their barrels removed because they are super shooters and are designated for a specific purpose. I have other actions I switch from 375 RUM during bear season to 17-22 calibers for the upcoming winter fox season. I own no Savage that shoots over .5 regardless of setup or how many times I switch barrels.

    7. Using one scope I simply write in my notebook how many clicks for elevation and windage each barrel takes when putting on different barrels. Sure having been hitting close to the mark for many years.

    8. I modified stocks so that I can change barrels without removing the action from a stock.


  6. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2010
    I agree with the gunsmith who wasn't after your money anyways.

    And, I can also see having some specialty cartridges that you don't use year round.

    If you want a real switch barrel rifle, save up for a Blaser.

    But, if you want to change barrels/cartridges every now and then for special applications or just to keep life interesting, then go for it.

    I'd recommend building the first one and shooting it a while, and then buy your next barrel when you're ready. I've done that with my 700's and have some extra barrels around. I may or may not shoot 'em ever again. But, they're worth more to me than the resale value because I know how they shot when I got bored and swapped for a new one.

    For the setup you describe, you might check out this stock... XLR Industries | Tactical Innovation Redefined

    Good luck!
    -- richard
  7. codyjoe1128

    codyjoe1128 Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2011
    I'm starting to consider doing my model 10 as a .223/6.5x47 lapua switch barrel now . Granted ill have to switch the mag and bolt head out every time but it'll take what ten maybe 15 minutes to do...
  8. CentreHit

    CentreHit Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2008
    How about the Desert Tactical Arms (DTA) switch barrel set-up???

  9. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    There have been some interesting comments on this subject and some should be addressed
    so the original poster can weigh all of the pros and cons of such a build.

    First; A smith that tells you build two rifles because he can make more money does not have
    your best interest in mind , Most GOOD smiths will make recommendations based on the accuracy
    required and the total cost to the customer and then build what the customer wants.

    For all out accuracy it is best to assemble a rifle (No matter what brand and type) and work up
    loads, fine tune the bedding,trigger,loading process and all of the other things that go into a
    accurate rifle including shooter skill.

    Pre chambered barrels have allways been a sore subject with me because they are just a
    production barrel with a name and there is no guarantee of the quality of the workmanship.
    and it is just a mater of luck if you get a good one (Just like factory rifles).

    I also agree that if you build a switch barrel setup and find that the one rifle shoots really
    well it is a hard thing to unscrew the barrel and place another on in and risk never finding
    that accuracy again.

    It sounds attractive to have two or three rifles for the price of one, but in reality they are not
    that much if any cheaper in the long run, Just different.

    In my opinion. if a person needs a rifle for different uses he has two ways to go, build one
    that will fill both needs or build two different rifles that will fit the need better. There are many
    duel role rifle/cartrige combinations that will do this unless you want to hunt P-Dogs and Bear.

    Again, this is just for discussion and this is just my opinion based of my experance with both

    In the end you should build what you want and live with the outcome, Good or Bad.

  10. eddybo

    eddybo Well-Known Member

    Jan 5, 2007
    JE Custom is correct. But, if you are going to do a switch barrel on even a savage I would say to hell with the barrel nut and have all the barrels done remington style with a shoulder, and have a recoil lug pinned to the action. So long as you are not using the barrels on another action it is the quickest easiest way to switch barrels, and you do not have to haul your go gauges around with you. The barrel nut only facilitates using the same barrel on multiple actions, nothing more.

    I would also suggest using a stock that has a wide enough barrel channel to allow you to remove the barrels without removing the action from the stock. Use a rear entry action wrench and a barrel vise to swap barrels without ever removing the action from the stock. I have never done a savage on this configuration but have done several with custom actions and it works great being able to swap barrels at a match.

    Maybe even a better way to do it would be as a glue in sans a recoil lug.
  11. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2010
    Exactly. Blaser... DTA... Other???

    Those are shooting systems that are designed to retain a fairly steady zero across barrel changes and they do only take a few minutes to switch out.

    I'm guessing Blaser is better at retaining zero than DTA in that the scope is attached to the barrel. But, that means more scopes and more $$$.

    My brother has a couple of Blasers and has good results. But, I still wouldn't swap the barrel and shoot at a deer without checking it on paper. I went the exact opposite direction and bought a lathe so that I can rebarrel any of my rifles. I can and do swap barrels. But, when I get one setup just right, I leave it alone until there's a real good reason to change.

    I'm not suggesting you can't or shouldn't do it with a Savage or 700.

    You may be well satisfied with the results and the effort required. Just don't kid yourself thinking that you get instant precision like you should expect from systems costing 5 or ten times as much.

    In the end, every guy that owns a Savage can claim that he owns a switch barrel rifle even though he hasn't decided which barrel to purchase next. Then again, so can Rem, Win, Sako, owners, etc. It's merely a function of the amount of time and effort to switch the barrel and restore your zero and your precision.

    -- richard