The Savage Model 1895 and 1899 Lever Action Rifle,
First designed in 1892 by Arthur Savage, the Savage Model 1895 was a unique design in the world of lever action rifles. Unlike all other lever action designs before it, the 1895 used a hammerless design, allowing for less of a delay between the time the trigger is pulled and the discharge of the rifle. This greatly improved accuracy. Another interesting feature was its use of an eight round rotary magazine instead of the traditional tube magazine. The new rotary magazine allowed the rifle to use spitzer (pointed) bullets, at the time the only lever action with the exception of the Winchester Model 1895 that could do so.
Originally the Model 1895 was a military design, and as such had features of a military rifle of the age (top photo). This included a long barrel with a forearm that extends to the muzzle and a bayonet attachment. In 1892 prototypes of the rifle were entered into military trials for consideration as a replacement for the dated single shot Model 1873 Trapdoor Springfield. Originally chambered in .30-40 Krag, the Savage rifle lost out to the Krag-Jorgensen as Army Ordnance desired a bolt action design. Overall, military contracts for the Model 1895 were few. Some were sold on the civilian market, with 2,500 sold to arm the Montreal Home Guard.
Fortunately, the failure of the Model 1895’s ability to secure military contracts led to a big gain for hunters and sportsmen. In 1899 the newly created Savage Arms Company redesigned the Model 1895 into a magnificent sporting rifle. The barrel of the rifle was shortened and magazine capacity was reduced from 8 rounds to 5. Due to both modifications the rifle was made lighter and less bulky. New sights were also added as well as a more ergonomic stock. Renamed the Model 1899 (middle photo), the new rifle was the perfect lever action hunting rifle. Today it is considered one of the most comfortable handling lever actions ever made, even making Field and Stream’s top 50 firearms ever made. From 1899 to 1998 over one million were produced. They were chambered in a wide variety of calibers including; .303 Savage, .30-30 Winchester, .300 Savage, .25-35 Winchester, .250 Savage, .22 Hi Power, .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .358 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, .284 Winchester, .38-55 Winchester, .32-40 Ballard, .375 Winchester and, by special order with a replacement barrel, .410 bore shotshell as a single-shot.