Rifle quiz

Pure fun for scholars of guns and readers of travel and adventure tales: how many things can you find in common on these little carbines? Oh, I will add one invisible addition for the bolt:

The first question is for tecchies; the second for readers and travelers: how many books and writers and scientists and… whatever– can you list that mention or who used either?


  1. Well … one thing they have in common is that I covet them both! Obviously they both have tang peeps. They are both take downs. They both have rotary magazines. I'd bet they are about the same weight and they were made within a few years of one another. Roy Chapman Andrews used the Savage 99 in Mongolia and and wrote about it in a favorite book of mine "Across Mongolian Plains". Hemingway shot the 6.5×54 MS and so did Bell and many others. Both the 22 Hi-Power (I'm guessing that's the chambering for that beautiful straight stocked Savage) and the 6.5 MS were used for far larger and more dangerous game than might be expected … the 22 Hi-Power was touted as a tiger cartridge and the 6.5 MS was used on elephants.

  2. T.E. Lawrence, Karen Blixen, Charles Sheldon and the aforementioned Andrews used the Mannlicher (plus Peter Lawford in "The Longest Day" and if I remember right Clint Eastwood in "White Hunter, Black Heart"). TR had a Savage, maybe?

  3. More good ones– didn't know Lawford! Non- exhaustive additions: Finch Hatton had a MS, sold a few years ago for five figures; so did "Pop" Percival; Harry Caldwell killed man eating tigers with the Hi- Power; Salim Ali had a M-S (and what other cool gun, in common with another M-S shooter already noted?)

    Andrews had both, plus a Savage bolt action in ".250 -3000".

  4. People keep asking the manufacturers of both rifles to bring them back, and in both cases they're told that it would be impossible to do cost-competitively.

  5. Not sure how to comment on that forum but absolutely fascinating. I like those longdogs about 5 (?) down– any way to ask where they were? And is that an ocelot above the one with the eagle? Am I correct that the next set despite 99's is in the Balkans?!

  6. Nate, no, usual rather oval port– it was made in 1920 I think.

    Both would be cost- prohibitive to make today. I think the best- finished guns in the house are the M-S and the Sauer, followed VERY closely by that one if not all 99's.

  7. Thanks to modern manufacturing methods and labor laws, it's virtually impossible to make quality products at affordable prices like it was yesteryear.

    During WWII and prior, the standard method of making firearms was to have many, many mills and lathes set up to do each process individually, resulting in the finely crafted firearms you can see that make you wonder how on earth they made such a firearm cost-competitively.

    The reason we don't use methods like this today is that such a manufacturing chain requires having a lot of cheap unskilled labor (someone to remove the piece from the jig, wash it off, and fix it into the next jig), and with modern labor laws and unions, that simply isn't cost-competitive.

    Instead, today, we use the much less efficient method of doing most or all operations on one CNC machine with multiple axes, which may not be better, but definitely uses fewer unionized workers.

    You can still find weapons made in the old way for sale new today. Modern production FN Hi Powers are still made by this older process. Compare the price of a new Hi Power with that of a SIG 220, a comparable handgun made by the modern CNC method, and you can see that you really aren't saving much by using the modern process (except maybe ducking under Austrian labor laws).

    As to which I would rather have… I think the one with a bit of soul.

  8. Thought of something else after hitting the publish button last night – and I think it is the thing that makes these rifles most alike and is perhaps their most appealing feature. Both rifles handle like well balanced shotguns. The stocks suggest it, the Mannlicher has a Prince of Wales grip and the Savage is straight stocked – both commonly featured on British game guns.

  9. Steve,regarding the forum with photos of 99s, I believe Gary was calling on someone else to post photos of 99s in the Balkins (sp). Yes, the photos speak for themselves and it appears the minimum requirement necessary to shoot something in those days was that it had to be a self-propelled carbon based life form. How about the photo showing a croc or alligator skull, a sawfish bill, a swordfish bill and an array of sperm whale teeth? You could pm Gary at the site for any other questions. Gil

  10. Hi Steve,

    I'll give it a stab. I see commonality in the following areas:

    Background: both are adventurer's rifles, the 99 was Chapman's rifle, the M-S was pretty much every other adventurer's rifle. Both are scout precursors, the blessed Colonel mentioned both numerous times in his writing.

    Mechanical: both are optimized for iron sight use, witness the similar drop at comb and heel. Each has tang sights and folding notch sights Both have a similar LOP, and barrel length. One has a straight grip, the other a very open and laid back Prince of Wales, functionally the same, they'll put your hands in line, and point like a fine, lightweight shotgun. Neither carries any more wood than it should, they're both very sleek, and meant to be a constant companion. My guess is they both hover around the 7 lb mark.

    Ballistic: both are chambered for very useful, but sadly semi-obsolete cartridges. Both are hard to feed, but your efforts will be well rewarded as they provide mild recoil and blast, but loaded with heavy for caliber, roundnosed bullets punch way above their weight.

    James Sandoval

  11. EXCELLENT, James! Everybody else missed the Colonel Cooper/ Scout connection! Also the fact that, for the reasons you point out, they point and hit so well with their peep sights even for my aging eyes that a scope would be superfluous.

    They are both under 7 pounds, the bolt slightly lighter. Both rounds have all the virtues you point out; the 6.5 with a bit of theoretical advantage though i suspect at the "deer end" it doesn't matter much.

    Both rounds can be found in factory loads online at Graf and Sons for no more than the cost of, say, .270; the Mannlicher round, a classic 160 grain, is from Serbia!

    The 99 isn't mine but on loan- we'll see…

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