The Forgotten 250 Savage

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box

Have you ever wondered why some cartridges are successful while others fail? I’m sure this thought has crossed the minds of CEO’s and company engineers for many years. Sometimes it’s just timing in the market or the factory offerings in various rifles.

The 250 Savage, also known as the 250-3000 is one of these calibers. First introduced way back in 1915 by Savage, it was ahead of its time. Today 3000 FPS will only draw a yawn from most reloaders, but back then it was unheard of. While the designer of the 250 Savage, Charles Newton suggested a 100 gr. bullet for this new caliber, Savage decided to drop down to an 87 gr. In order to meet the 3000 FPS velocity they was looking for. The 250 Savage enjoyed a high level of popularity for many years after its introduction but finally fell out of the lime light when the. 243 was introduced in 1955.

I’ve read many articles thru the years stating how the .243 killed the 250-3000, but did it really? Let’s take a closer look.

SAAMI established the maximum average working pressure for this cartridge at 45,000 CUP because of the 99 Savage that it was introduced in. The .243 was set at 52,000 CUP. Strike one. Early 250 Savages also had 1-14” twist marrying them to the 87 gr. or shorter bullets, while the .243 had a 1-10” twist and was well suited to handle 100 gr. bullets. Strike two. Bullets in the 87 gr. and under weight range all had varmint bullet construction and that combined with being offered in a lever gun did not give visions of pin point accuracy. Strike three. It’s easier to win a race when the other guy is pulling a boat.

Today, a modern and strong bolt rifle does not need to be limited to such low pressures. A 1-10” twist barrel will give more options in bullet weights as well.

Back some years ago, I built a 250 Savage and found it could hold its own with a .243 when they was both loaded to equal pressures. RL-15 has proven to be an outstanding powder choice in this caliber giving both good velocity and accuracy combined. Overall the 250 Savage was slightly superior because of its ability to use 117 gr. and 120 gr. bullets for larger whitetails and mulies.

pauls-riflePictured is Paul Box’s custom 250 Savage. It’s built on a Savage Model 14 and features a squared and trued action. Pillar bedding, and the barrel is a Lilja stainless no. 4 contour 3-Groove 1-10” twist and finished at 24”.

Looking into my crystal ball, I’m sure the day is not far away when this caliber will only be available thru rebarreling from your favorite gunsmith and brass will have to be made from 22-250, but I know it will always have a loyal following from those who have truly taken the time to work with it.

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9 Responses to The Forgotten 250 Savage

  1. Pingback: Sierra | The Forgotten 250 Savage |

  2. firstriverbend says:

    The cartridge and rifle I liked, which is also gone, was the .25-36 Marlin.
    Knew a couple of people that had 250 Savages, seemed like none of us had any trouble downing deer and most other up to deer sized game. 🙂
    We were careful about range and bullet placement though. In reality, none of us liked tracking a wounded animal. Were we all good at it, had great teachers, just didn’t want to wound and track if we did not have to.
    Good memories, thanks!

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  3. Dennis says:

    I have the 2506 and love it.

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  4. Richard Laffey says:

    Nice article on the 250. I was looking forward to the things you could do to help those of us looking for the best bullet for deer in a 1-14 twist?

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  5. Clay says:

    I’ve owned a 70’s era Ruger M77 in 250/3000 and used it t take many whitetails until my daughter started hunting and I passed it down. She’s taken several deer and a pronghorn at 275yds. We’ve always used 100gr. Sierra’s. Not only do they work great on deer, this standard sporter shoots sub MOA. Combine that with low recoil and who could ask for anything more. Lucky for me I’ve always handloaded and factory ammo is hard to find and expensive!

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  6. I have a model 110 in 250 Savage ( long action ), a Contender barrel in 250 Savage ( 14″ Bellm )
    and my wife has a model 14 in 250 Savage ! I had a model 99 in a 250-3000 ( 250 Savage ) that I bought as a kid and passed it to my oldest son. Of course he has it put away to pass to his son ! The 99 shoots 87gr bullets fairly well. The others are ( I hand load ) shooting 87gr, 90gr, 100gr Sierras and 115 Bergers really good ! As you can see I really love the 250 Savage.

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    • jim says:

      250-3000 is sweet gun for sure and model 99 in lever is just great …Certain models are heavy I like thin light models like series E etc ..my favorite bullet is 87 gr even tho its 1-10 twist ,deadly on deer /coyotes too.
      you are right stick with speer/sierras bullets ….

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  7. jim says:

    My dad grew up on sav model 99 , 250-3000 and 300 sav hunting deer here in pa ..I still use the sav lever 250-3000 to this day ..Favorite bullet on deer in 250-3000 was 87 gr .Dad would say it knocked the deer down better than the 100 gr ..I use 87 gr to this day ..my twist is 1-10 order guns used 1-14 twist which was better on bullets from 87 gr down ..

    here is my load for sav model 99, 250-3000 for deer and varmint hunting…I use Remington shells,Imr 3031 powder ,Speer 87 gr hot-cor bullets ,cci 200 primers ..

    Stay away from spire point bullets ..use only Speer/Sierra/nosler as they have OGIVE taper to bullet ..My favorite bullet is SPEER …Sav model 99 you have to seat bullets deeper and full length resize do to lever action…I start at 32 grs of 3031 and work my way up …

    This gun is deadly on whitetail deer do not think for minute that 87 gr bullet will not work it knocks a Buck right down with behind shoulder shot .They rec the 100 gr bullet for deer its fine but I like idea of 87 gr you can use for deer/coyotes both and I still feel dad was right the 87 gr is better on deer he should know he shot deer in gangs wayback and said the 87 gr puts them down quick vrs the heavier bullets and I am seeing that also..

    the factory shells Remingtons are best BUT they seat bullets in too deep ..

    Been loading and testing the model 99 for long time 53 years and dad used it on deer in depression and its killer with 87 gr bullet do not let anyone say it is not ..

    good luck …jim

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