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by Dan Bowers` a.k.a. Dan B. Last updated: 2009-01-09 07:55:37
When scrolling through memories of classic American big game rifles, thoughts of the commonly chambered cartridges also tag along. When I think of the Winchester Model 94, the 30-30 chambering instantly comes to find. My great-grandfathers Remington Model 14 and the formidable .35 Remington also appear as a pair. For some reason the Winchester Model 70 also comes to mind but it is always followed by the much-appreciated .270 Winchester. One that never misses a flashback moment is the Savage Model 99 and of course it is chambered in .300 Savage.
Being a die-hard handgunner, I also ponder a list of classic handguns that revolutionized the sport. Two that top my list are the Thompson/Center Contender and the Remington XP-100.
While walking the isles of a gun shop several years ago I spotted a shelf full of old reloading dies priced at eight dollars per set. They were all quality dies by RCBS, Redding, Lyman, etc but, in the clerks own words, all seemed to be cut for “dead” classic American cartridges. Among those that grabbed my interest were the .284 Winchester and.458 Winchester Magnum. The same gun shop had partial boxes of old ammunition for cheap. At the prices he was selling, I snatched up those, several other sets and even some of the ammo. I do not own guns chambered for most of what I grabbed up, but you never know what may come along and it is a good thing I did some wise buying that day.
Moving to more recent events, this fall a chain of event went into motion that I had no control over. OK, I may have had some control, but not much. An “extra” Remington XP-100, undoubtedly the ultra classic specialty handgun, which was wrapped in a H.S. Precision Silhouette stock got married up to a Remington 721 take off barrel chambered in the also ultra classic .300 Savage. The barrel was cut and crowned at 16”. In my mind this was about the perfect combination of two true American firearms icons that resulted in my coolest XP-100 set up for Pennsylvania deer hunting!! Then when digging through my stash of bargain dies and ammo I found a set of RCBS .300 Savage dies and a box of WW Super ammunition.
Now it was time for some quick range work as the PA deer opener was only two weeks away. I topped the XP-100 with a Weaver base, Burris Signature Zee Rings and, of course, a Burris 3-12x32 scope. The factory fodder I had acquired was torn down for the brass, resized in the RCBS dies and primed with CCI200 Large Rifle. Since my targeted game would be deer I had thought about using some 130gr Speer FP bullets that have been tempting me but I really wanted to stay with the staple .300 Savage projectile, a 150-grain bullet. Some research of the Sierra Fifth Edition Manual revealed that Hodgdons Varget would be a top performer; instead of using a Sierra offering I loaded 43.5gr of Varget under a 150gr Remington PSP.
I did not have super high hopes for the first range trip; after all, I had a gun rebarreled with a take off tube that was chambered in a “dead” cartridge. There were twenty rounds loaded and with that I had hoped to simply get the XP-100 zeroed then maybe shoot for some groups. After two shots at 25-yards I had the .300 Savage hitting 1” below the bull. After the first shot at 100 yards I checked the target to make sure I was on paper then fired three more rounds. A quick glance through the spotting scope had me doing a double take; all four rounds were clustered in a neat little half-inch group!! With six rounds fired, I had fourteen more to debunk this good group. Three more four shot groups did nothing to discourage my hidden enthusiasm. The last two rounds were used to assault the 200 yard steel plate; those shots impacted 2” apart and 8” below center.
That evening was spent reloading those twenty pieces of brass with the same recipe and later that week I went back to the range. This trip was just to see if the previous week success would be repeated; sure enough it was. Hardly ever had I been fortunate enough to have load development go so easily! The Sierra manual says this load will clock in at 2800fps from a 26” tube. Being a full 10” shorter than the manual, I’m going to conservatively say the 150-grain PSP’s are moving in the 2500fps range. All I know is that this load shoots well and I’m done tinkering; it’s time to hunt!
When the opening day rolled around, I ended up falling back onto my “go-to” T/C Contender .338JDJ#2 and harvested a nice seven-point buck. The XP-100 .300 Savage was carried from time to time but had not been offered a quality opportunity until midway through week two of the season. On a miserable rainy morning I was perched, more like lounging, in my heated tree house when a doe sprinted into the cut golden rod field. Having hunted this spot for over twenty years, I knew she was very near to 160-yards distant. I quickly laid the XP-100 across the same shooting table, cammed the bolt closed, planted the reticle intersection high on her shoulder and loosed the Remington bullet. In that instant, two landmark American shooting icons came together and harvested a whitetail doe.
That project gun now sets inside my safe next to four XP-100’s, each of which is dressed for various other uses. I’ve also rescoped the .300 Savage with a Burris 2-7X to better suit the guns purpose and effective range. To close, I can see that the .338JDJ#2 now has a formidable opponent for next years opening day; the classic XP-100 .300 Savage combo may just become my newest go-to gun.
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