Author Topic: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines  (Read 17736 times)

Mike Armstrong

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219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« on: December 10, 2014, 01:19:45 PM »
Garnett, I "finished" your book--actually I'll be coming back to it as often as I run across a reference to these guns, or see one for sale, etc.  Good read: very glad you wrote it and I discovered it!

Another book that touches on the 219 is Frank de Haas' "Mr. Single Shot's Gunsmithing Idea Book," which has a (short) chapter on the 219.  I don't have a copy--returned the copy my gunsmith loaned me years ago, and am working of my 72-year old memory, never a good source.

As I remember it, de Haas recommended some of the same maintenance and upgrading that you do.  My own reaction is "ONLY do any of this stuff to a well-worn or already altered example"!   Like land, they aren't makin' any more 219s or 220s! 

They all deserve a glass reinforcement of the stock tang area, even the ones without cracks.  Some need a careful stock refinish.  I wouldn't reblue any that weren't already rusty or pitted.  Some need sights (as close to original as you can find!) and some need "extra" holes plugged with plug screws. 

Personally I went ahead and followed your advice about repainting the trigger guard on my 220 20 guage, and it looks good to my eye. Someday, once I know more about Savage stock finishes of the period, I'll refinish the stock of that shotgun, too.

De Haas mentions rechambering and "improving" of the 219.  I remember him mentioning rechambering the Hornet to K-Hornet and .218 Mashburn, and I recently saw a Mashburn Bee chambered 219 for sale on either Gunbroker or GunsAmerica. 

I think I remember him mentioning the .30-30 Ackley Improved as a possibility for the .30-30 version of the 219.  I've seen one rechambered to .30-40 Krag (done to salvage a ruined .30-30 chamber; it worked very well), but never an AI.

He also mentioned a .25-20 "Improved" called the .255 Deane, I think.  I've never seen one of those, and would rather just use a .22 Hornet if I need something "hotter" than a .25-20 WHV equivalent load.  De Haas didn't see any alternative chamber for a .32-20 219 (if you can even find one!).

Anybody else seen "wildcat" 219s?  I'd be interested to see if anyone has rechambered a Hornet to .219 Zipper or a .25-20 to .25-35, although I have reservations about both of those conversions.

My general take on these little single shots is "If you're lucky enough to have a nice one, leave it the heck alone!".  If I had a 220 in 12 guage, I'd probably add a "Four Tenner," or a "Guage Mate" in .410 or 20 guage to it.  12 guage single shots, whatever the make, really do "Back Up" on you!


Garnett

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2014, 05:14:43 PM »
Mike, I have a book by de Haas printed in 1969.  It does not have any Savage single shots in it.  I checked with Amazon and they have some used copies of the one you mention, "starting at $80.00".  I checked another site and they are even higher.  That is a little steep for me at this time.  I paid $1.88 cents for the one I have years ago. :-)  I agree with you...I would not do anything to a good rifle as far as rechambering goes.  I don't even shoot the ones I have.  However, if barrels were   plentiful, a .30-40 would be nice.  A Hornet could be rebored to the calibers you mention plus maybe the .22 Remington Jet.  A .25-20 could be changed to .25-35 and the .32-20 to .32-40.  A reader of my says he is planning on getting a shot gun barrel and lining it to a different caliber.  You could have lots of old Wincherster center fire calibers with that..... .38-55 or .40-65 or .45-70.  I have several of the "Four Tenner" sets.  I have not tried them.  I have seen at least 2 "Zipper" conversions.  I just checked the Numrich parts site.  They list lots of barrels but the only one in stock, M219, a 20" 20 Gauge with 3" chamber for $71.75.  I see lots of barrels on Gunbroker.  A .410 barrel could possibly be relined to one of the smaller calibers.  Merry Christmas!
« Last Edit: July 27, 2015, 07:37:04 PM by Garnett »

Mike Armstrong

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2014, 10:19:14 PM »
Yeah, I looked at that price for the de Haas "Gunsmithing Ideas" book and backed right off!  But apparently you can get a E-book version cheap, so I'm going to have my wife (our media genius) see if she can get me one.

I'd worry about reboring the .25-20 to .25-35 unless you handload.  The .25-20 twist is for 60-86 gr bullets and they work OK with 87 gr. as long as they aren't too long-for-caliber.   The .25-35 is for 87-117 gr. bullets.  I would consider getting a shot-out .30-30 relined to .25-35, but not sure what I'd use it for....

Once had a beat-up 220B in 12 guage relined by a friend to the wildcat .35-30, a .358 on a necked-up .30-30 case favored in the past by cast bullet shooters.  It was very accurate with both cast and jacketed bullets (even 158 gr. .357 magnum bullets) and a nice, if a bit unwieldy, rifle.

Unlike you, I'm not a gun collector....horrified my collector friends by taking an unfired 2nd model Colt "Sport Woodsman" out of the factory wrapping paper and running a couple of hundred rounds through it!  It shot as well as the factory target showed.   If I get a gun, I shoot it.

The "Four-Tenner" works great, by the way, if you like .410s.  I do.

Garnett

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2014, 07:12:32 AM »
You remind me of a very good friend.  Years ago he purchased a limited edition S&W large frame revolver in .45 Long Colt.  Took it out the next day and shot it!  But I agree with you, they are made to shoot.  I have an old Colt .22 auto in the original box with all the papers.  It has been shot, but not by me. :-)  I will start looking for the de Hass book at used book stores, garage sales, etc.  I would like to have it. 

Mike Armstrong

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2014, 10:01:01 AM »
Garnett, I found the article I mentioned earlier in one of Frank de Haas' books.  It was originally printed in the December 1962 issue of "Shooting Times" as one of a long series on single shot rifles and actions.  It is on pages 24-26, and gives a brief history and appreciation/evaluation of the 219, mechanical disassembly and assembly instructions, and the remarks on rechambering I mentioned above.  A couple of photos, too.

One thing of interest is that he regarded the 219s as strong enough to rechamber to .30-40, but advised against it because of the recoil of that cartridge in a rifle as light as a 219.  I say "Amen" to that, but note that a friend of mine in Idaho used a 219 rechambered to .30-40 for many years as his meat deer and elk rifle and never had a problem with recoil with factory 180 gr Remington ammo.  Of course he only fired 2 or 3 a year, and always at game.  If you are as good a hunter as he was, "firepower" is not a factor!

Let me know if you are interested in seeing this de Haas article.  I'll try to make copies; if that doesn't work, I'll mail you the magazine.  I'm aware that is an antique way of trading information but I guess where data transfer is concerned, I'M an antique!

Regards,

Mike Armstrong

Garnett

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2014, 10:55:52 AM »
Mike, I really would like to have a copy of the article.  Please send to:  Garnett Stancil, 340 County Road 232, Valley Grande, AL 36701.   I will return the book if you can't copy those pages.  Supposedly, two .30-40 Krag conversions were done at the R&D dept. of Savage according to one source.  However, another source, who has the R&D records, says none were never made by Savage, and any found must be after market conversions.  As to the recoil of the .30-40.....the stock on the M219 is already a major problem where it meets with the action.  It is very weak at that point, and most will have fine or major cracks.  I would think with a rifle restocked with the wood left extra thick at that point (I have one that was done that way) and glass bedded, that would cure the cracking problem.  Then a good thick recoil pad would soften the blow of the .30-40.  Merry Christmas!

Mike Armstrong

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2014, 01:13:14 PM »
Garnett, either the copied pages or the magazine will be in the snail mail by Monday.  Send the magazine back at your leisure if you get it instead of copies.

The guy in Idaho who had the .30-40 conversion was a part-time gunsmith and had glassed the back of the stock when he did the rechamber.  He would have left the rifle in ,30-30 except that somebody had tried to extract a stuck case body with a hardened tool like a chisel or screwdriver and really scored it badly so that it didn't want to eject .30-30 cases....Bubba strikes again!

Have a great holiday!

Mike Armstrong

Garnett

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2014, 03:54:03 PM »
I am leaving for Christmas with my daughter in Hershey PA next Tuesday, so I won't be able to return the magazine to you until mid January.  Thanks for sharing it with me.  Garnett

Mike Armstrong

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2015, 09:49:03 PM »
Anybody interested in seeing some rechambered/remodelled 219s might look at Gunbroker.com items #s 461794867 and 461299891.  I wouldn't buy either of these rifles, but it is interesting that 219s have been treated like other classic single shots by shooters over the years--"customized."

It's a free country and a guy can do whatever he wants to with his personal rifle....but I'm of the opinion that any good old gun that is scarce AND in good condition should be preserved in original condition.  If you find one in beat-up condition and want to convert it to something reasonable and safe, fine.  But I always try to return such guns as near to original condition as my skill and the availability of parts allows.

For my money, Savage made very reasonable choices of calibers for the 219, given the likely markets and uses for these rifles.  And the original furnishings and finish are very appropriate, especially in the Utica-made models. 

The only "improvement" that was made in the later models is the scope grooves on the .22 Hornets, IMO.  The rest was just economics, possibly false economics.

Garnett

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2015, 09:00:56 AM »
Mike,  there is a lot of truth in what you say.  I have only converted one rifle to another caliber in my many years of collecting and it was a mistake.  My wife's father brought home a matching 6.5 caliber Japanese Type 38 carbine from WWII.  Due to a shortage of that ammo, I had my gunsmith convert it to 6.5/257 Roberts.  Big mistake!  My son, who collects Japanese military, still gives me grief over the conversion!  :-)

Sentry44

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2015, 12:44:15 PM »
The only "improvement" that was made in the later models is the scope grooves on the .22 Hornets, IMO.  The rest was just economics, possibly false economics.

I agree with this sentiment, Mike.  Truth is, this mentality seems to have taken hold of most American manufacturers in the 1960's and 70's, and it's emblematic of a whole broad shift in the 'American aesthetic' starting in that time.

Back to Savage...

The Model 24 combination gun saw the very same type of cheapening, as they moved away from fully brazed barrels and into banded separate barrels (which MAY have regulated correctly and shot both barrels straight, IF you got lucky and got a cherry).

One really does have to wonder how the same company which produced (or adopted, as is the case with the model 24) innovations like hammer-less cocking, and the box magazine lever gun (Savage 99)...can also now produce the Savage model 42 (an embarrassing abomination...what on Earth were they thinking).

Truth be told, some of the genius of Savage over the years was in their acquisitions -- Stevens and Fox -- and in what those purchases brought to the company over all in terms of design and niche appeal.

All just my opinion, of course.

While I am new to owning a very sweet 219, I am a long time lover of Savages.  But in reading through Garnett's book, as well as de Haas's comments in "Potpourri," as well as other things around the internet I've read...I gather the same sort of 'backsliding' in terms of design and overall quality in the progressive variations of the 219 over time, just as I've seen personally in other models.

In fact, in finishing his explanation of the different variations over time as he narrates his illustrations, de Haas finishes by inferring he believed the 219's design went somewhat backward over time, and that the original 219 was his favorite (he only specifically indicates that he owned a 219 and 219L, but one would certainly infer that he has to have at least torn a borrowed 219B apart, given his detailed illustrations and details).  He did also give a hat tip to the 219C, which he said was a slight improvement over the 219B because of an upgrade in the way the firing pin was retained in the receiver.

Of course, as stated above, manufacturing shortcuts over time were certainly not unique to Savage!

(Personally, I like the case hardened finish of the lettered 219's, so I'm adding a 219C in .22 Hornet to my "if I can find one" list.  ;)

- Sentry44
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 02:06:33 PM by Sentry44 »

Sentry44

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2015, 01:14:19 PM »
Mike,

I should add, too, that you make a great point about the caliber choices they made with the 219.  The 30-30 could handle deer duties quite nicely, while the .22 Hornet could handle every pest from coyotes to groundhogs, in addition to small game hunting at distances .22 rimfires couldn't dream of.

I own a fantastic Savage 23D in .22 Hornet...one of the very latest ones they made at the very end (1947-48), and it's one heck of a shooter.  But price wise it was more than TWICE the price of a Model 219 in 1948!  I know because I have an original full page ad from 1948, offering the following models and prices:

Savage 99 (cal. .250-3000 or .300 Savage) -- $88.80
Stevens 325 (cal. .30-30) -- $38.25
Savage 23C (cal. .32-20) -- $57.95
Savage 23D (cal. .22 Hornet) -- $57.95
Savage 219 (cal. .30-30, .32-20, .25-20 or .22 Hornet) -- $26.20  !!!!!

To put that in perspective, using an inflation assumption of 3% a year, that equates to a NEW gun cost of $189.84 in TODAY'S dollars.  Just an incredible value.

(** BTW, that figure demonstrates one of two things.  EITHER we've had way more inflation than 3%...or the value of what we are sold today is WAY, WAY less for our dollar than it was back then.  Because even a NEW H&R today costs about 50% more than that, unless I'm mistaken.  And I doubt it ranks with an early 219.)

- Sentry44
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 01:26:01 PM by Sentry44 »

Garnett

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2015, 01:47:25 PM »
Sentry44,  Thanks for this additional information and comments.  The 219/220 design is truly a classic in my opinion.  I also love the Ruger No.1 with the Alexander Henry forearm!

Sentry44

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2015, 01:57:32 PM »
Garnett,

I don't own a #1, but I've handled one and they sure are well built.  I am not familiar with what an Alexander Henry forearm looks like, but I will beg the all-knowing Google to show me.

- Sentry44
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 01:59:33 PM by Sentry44 »

Garnett

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Re: 219 "wildcat"rechambers, rebores, and relines
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2015, 08:46:51 PM »
Mike, I had two surprises Christmas.  When I got to my son's house on the 23rd, he had found a well used copy of the DeHass book at his local library and checked it out for me to read.  Then....
Christmas morning, I opened one of my gifts from him and there was a nearly NEW copy of the book he purchased for me!  It was a great gift and he is a very thoughtful son.  As soon as I get home next week, I will return your book to you.  Best wishes, Garnett