The .303 Savage

By Chuck Hawks

The .303 Savage was introduced in the Savage 1895 rifle, predecessor of the famous Model 1899, in which the .303 was also the first cartridge offered. Ballistically, the .303 Savage was about the same as the .30-30 Winchester, which was also introduced in 1895.

The .303 Savage became a commercial success and remained reasonably popular into the 1930's. As far as I know, the .303 Savage is now obsolete, as neither rifles nor ammunition are commercially available.

Back in the day, .303 Savage fans considered it superior to the .30-30, as its 190 grain bullet was heavier than the 170 grain .30-30 bullet. This assertion is pretty hard to substantiate, as the 170 grain .30-30 load has been used to take all North American big game. In any case, the .303 Savage was a fine deer and general Class 2 game cartridge and, at moderate range, adequate for Class 3 animals.

Standard American factory loads for the .303 Savage drove a round nose 190 grain, .311" diameter bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 1980 fps and muzzle energy of 1650 ft. lbs. The 200 yard figures were 1440 fps and 875 ft. lbs. The midrange trajectory (maximum rise) of this load was 1.3" over 100 yards, 6.2" over 200 yards and 15.5" over 300 yards.

Reloads can equal, but not significantly surpass, the traditional factory offerings if they are kept within the SAAMI limit. However, the reloader has more bullet weights and styles from which to choose.

The 43rd edition of the Lyman Reloading Handbook shows that with a 150 grain jacketed bullet, 31.0 grains of IMR 4064 powder will give a MV of 2175 fps and 34.0 grains of 4064 will give a MV of 2325 fps. Behind a 190 grain bullet, 30.0 grains of IMR 4064 will give a MV of 1855 fps and 32.0 grains of 4064 will give a MV of 2025 fps.

Note: The complete article about the .303 Savage can be found in its entirety on the Rifle Cartridges page.

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Copyright 2004, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.