Savage NRA Match Rifle – Repair & Refinish

This rifle was brought to me to repair. It looks like someone stepped on it and broke the stock. I didn’t see any serious dings or bruises or scratches/bruises on the metal, so pretty hard to tell how this happened.

This rifle also came without a magazine. I thought I could probably pick one up at the gun show, but that was not to happen, and my hunt not only revealed a lot of information about the rifle, I also found out that finding a magazine for this rifle might be an iffy proposition at best, and that, if I found one, it would be expensive. All that turned out to be true, and I ended up finding one on Ebay for $110.00. Pretty expensive for a .22, I think.

So this turns out to be a Savage/NRA Match Rifle Model 23A, in .22 caliber with a Mahogany stock. Not sure, but a lot of folks think this is a 1919.  I think that’s just the version and not the actual model.  There seems to be a lot of discussion as to whether the model number is correct (A or AA), but either way, that info was good enough for me to find a magazine, because there are several others that look right, but would not work. I am still not totally clued in to the magazine configuration and why it has a dial on the bottom. It doesn’t seem to do anything, but it has good spring tension, so it should feed. It is a 5 round capacity clip. It slides in on tracks and removes by pushing the base forward, which disengages the magazine and allows it to pop out. I’m told these mags are easy to lose and I can see why. This one fits fairly tightly and the rifle, except for the stock, seems to be in pretty nice shape, though it needs a thorough cleaning. The bolt has varnish on it and I’m sure the barrel needs a good cleaning, but it seems to be in great condition.

Here are some pics of the magazine. You can see the slots in the sides and how they turn from vertical to a 45º angle. That’s how they lock in and also what allows them to release. There is no real mechanical lock/release mechanism like most rifles.

So, I’m going to use epoxy to glue this stock back together. It should go back together just fine, outside of some missing splinters, which I will fill in with some mahogany or walnut wood dust mixed with the epoxy. No doubt that the artists brush will be employed after the gluing and stripping. I’m confident it will be a nice rifle and look almost new when done. I’ll be cleaning up all the metal as well and rejuvenating the bluing as necessary, but not much of that will be required. I’ll post some pics here when I get done.

All finished.  Glue up came out fine.  One spot is obvious, but you can’t see where the cracks were.  I polished the bolt, but I wasn’t in the frame of mind for a full tear down on this bolt.  It looks rather treacherous anyway.  Lots of parts to line up on reassembly before a pin can be inserted to hold it all together.  It was in good shape and cleaned up well.  I polished the hand lever and other parts of the bolt, and re blued a few things.  I cleaned the barrel and all the rest of the parts.  The butt plate, strap hoops and brackets, and front cap all needed attention because of some very light surface rust that was evident.  It didn’t really pit much at all.  Very light.

An interesting and nicely crafted firearm.

Nothing is ever simple when collecting Savage.  Here’s some of the data I collected when searching.

Serial Number : 35997, 22 Long Rifle, 44” Long

1)the 23A changed to the 23AA in 1933 at around 127,000.
2)in 1933 the magazine was changed to the new style.
3)in 1934 the speed bolt was added.
4)the 23AA was not checkered as a standard, though a few years after introduction checkering was offered as an option.
5)around 1936 an extra rear sight hole was added for use of the new #15.
6)around 1936 they were D&T’ed for the Weaver “S” (later “T”) side mount. (Edit: this is two holes, only. If it has four holes it is for the Weaver “N” and added after WWII).
7)I don’t think any were D&T’ed as a standard for a receiver sight (Lyman 42 or 56).

made until 1933 and the serial numbers fall between 25,000 and 45,000 – the serial numbers were re-started at 25,000 and again at 45,000 for the Model 19-33.



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