Savage Arms – This Gun Maker Made Some Serious History
Savage Arms of Westfield, Massachusetts appears to be conquering a wild world, and the company is best known for its discontinued Model 99 lever rifle – a hammerless rifle that was manufactured from 1899 to 1998. The first leverage to use pointed / pointed bullets was extremely popular with big game hunters, but was even adopted by the Montreal Home Guard during World War I to highlight its reliability and stopping power.
The company was founded in 1894 by Arthur Savage, who received a patent for a bolt-action rifle with a single-column magazine in 1891. To this day, the company is a top brand among hunters. Not so well known today are the company’s close ties to the US military. During World War I, Savage Arms produced small arms, including the Lewis Gun; During World War II, the company manufactured the Thompson submachine gun, the Browning M1919 .30 and M2 .50 caliber machine guns, and the Lee Enfield rifles for the British Army.
What could have been
What is also largely forgotten is that the US Army also seriously considered the 1907 Savage Arms Model as the standard sidearm. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the U.S. Army was equipped with the Colt New Army & Navy revolver, which was manufactured in .38 caliber by Colt. It had been passed in 1892, and while it was an advance, the weapon – and the round in particular – against the Moro tribesmen in the Philippines was miserable. As a result, the Army was forced to resume the 1873 Colt Single Action Army in .45 Colt as it had more braking power.
The US Army needed a new pistol, and it needed it quickly. As The National Interest previously reported, “Before the tests began in earnest, the Army dismissed most of the participants as unsuitable and focused primarily on the Colt, Luger and Savage pistols.”
The fact that Savage Arms was even in the running was a big deal since they’ve only been around for a little over a decade.
After a few delays, however, the pistol tests began in January 1907. Colt’s entry had an advantage right from the start. The Colt Company had existed since 1848 and had supplied revolvers to the Texas Rangers, the US Army and the US Navy since the Civil War. In the end, the John Browning-designed Colt M1911 .45 pistol was selected. However, Savage still marketed a line of pistols based on the patents for its prototype of the .45 caliber – and just like the M1911 eventually made a variety of calibers, so were the 1907/1915 and 1917 models.
Get back to your roots
Over the past few decades, Savage Arms has returned to its roots as a sporting weapon and has manufactured a range of bolt action rifles. However, it has also continued to focus on the modern sporting rifle market. Savage was also unique in making specialty weapons – especially for left-handers.
While the company had been a subsidiary of the Vista Outdoor Group since 2013, it was spun off in 2019.
“Divesting our Savage brand was a key part of our transformation plan,” said Chris Metz, Vista Outdoor CEO, in a July 2019 statement.
“While it was a difficult decision to sell such an iconic brand, I remain confident that it was the right choice to help Vista Outdoor grow in those categories where we can hold leadership positions,” added Metz . “Savage is a fantastic business and it deserves to expand into other categories of firearms. However, right now we just don’t have the resources to make Savage the full-service firearms company it deserves and therefore We have found the brand to be better off with a different owner. We are delighted that Savage can reach its full potential under new ownership. ”
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear, including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.