The .300 Savage was developed in 1920 by Savage Arms for chambering in the popular Savage Model 99 lever-action rifle. It quickly became a popular hunting cartridge and, while it has lost some of that popularity today, it remains an effective cartridge for both hunting and defense.
The .300 Savage immediately outperformed its competitors, such as the .30-30 Winchester and the .30 Remington. Its performance can very nearly equal later competitors such as the .308 Winchester. In fact, the .300 Savage case formed the basis for the development of the .308 Winchester.
The .300 Savage case features a case capacity of 52.5 grains of water, versus 56.0 grains for the .308 Winchester. But when loaded to the same length as the .308, which is easy to do with longer bullets, its usable case capacity becomes 47.5 grains, versus 48.2 grains for the .308. That’s 98-99% of the .308’s usable case capacity.
Perhaps that’s why factory ammunition in .300 Savage is today able to push a 150-grain bullet to over 2,700 feet per second, roughly equivalent to many factory .308 Winchester loads. And while many older .300 Savage-chambered rifles need to be loaded with lighter loads in deference to their age, the standard loads of old pushing a 150-grain bullet to 2,600 feet per second aren’t giving anything up to other cartridges. With 2,250 to 2,500 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, the .300 Savage is easily capable of taking deer and black bear, and with the right bullets could even take elk at reasonable ranges.
The .300 Savage remains popular with handloaders, as well as with some collectors of military surplus rifles. Aftermarket barrels for small-ring Mauser rifles have often been available in only a handful of cartridges, and besides 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, 7x57 Mauser, and 7.62x39 Soviet, barrels chambered in .300 Savage are commonly found. Once again, handloads for those old rifles shouldn’t be loaded too hot.
Factory ammunition for .300 Savage isn’t cheap, coming in at $1.15 a round at the cheapest. That makes handloading a popular prescription for those looking for ammo, especially as the case can easily be formed by trimming the slightly longer .308 Winchester cases to length before forming. While .300 Savage ammunition may not be widely available, if you have a good supply of ammunition and reloading supplies along with your .300 Savage rifle, it could stand you in good stead throughout any survival scenario.