Savage Arms Co. Company History
The Savage Arms Company was organized in 1894 by Arthur Savage in Utica, New York. A native of Jamaica, Arthur led a romantic life, having been schooled in England and the United States. In his thirties, he explored the interior of Australia and was held captive for a year by Aborigines. Later, he became the owner of the largest cattle ranch in Australia.
After moving to Utica, New York, he developed the Savage Halpine torpedo, became the Superintendent of the Utica Belt Line Railroad, and invented the first “hammerless” lever action rifle with the entire mechanism enclosed in a steel receiver. This remarkable rifle featured a rotary magazine with a unique counter that visually displayed the number of bullets remaining in the receiver. The Model 99, as it became known, advanced firearm technology, offered the average person an affordable rifle, and started a business that has stood the test of time. In 1919, Chief Lame Deer (right) approached Arthur to purchase lever-action rifles for the Indian reservation and the two men struck a deal. The tribe would get discounted rifles and Savage would get their support and endorsement. It was at this time in the company’s history, that Arthur Savage added the Indian head logo–a direct gift from the Chief–to the company name. By 1919, Savage Arms was manufacturing high power rifles, 22 caliber rifles, pistols and ammunition.
During World War I, Savage merged with Driggs-Seabury Ordnance Company, and made Lewis machine guns. In 1920, Savage purchased J. Stevens Arms, a company which was associated with the famous barrel maker, Harry Pope. Later, Savage acquired the assets of Page Lewis Company, Davis-Warner Arms, Crescent Firearms, and A.H. Fox, thereby becoming the largest firearm company in the free world.
During World War II, Savage contributed literally millions of firearms to the campaign, converting its factories to accommodate heavy munitions. After the war, Savage had excess capacity and adopted some of its manufacturing processes to alternate consumer products, including the world’s first motorized lawnmower.
Between the early 1960’s and late 1980’s, numerous public and private corporations owned and sold Savage Arms, culminating in a reorganization of the business and a filing for bankruptcy protection in early 1988. Ronald Coburn was named president/CEO and redefined the future of the business. The company downsized and produced only the model 110 bolt-action rifle until mid 1989.
By early 1990, the company was once again on a secure footing, having developed a strategy to build superior products at a reasonable price, something the competition could not match. Savage continued to redefine value during the 1990’s, developing new products, improving materials and adding features that were only available in much higher-priced rifles.
Savage became a “consumer sensitive” company, adopting many of the ideas and suggestions offered by firearm users. Management spent time in the field, listening to hunters, talking with guides and comparing notes with industry writers, many of which have since become good friends and confidants over the years. And, since there is no substitute for hands-on experience, management took all new products into the field themselves to learn and appreciate the features and benefits of any new offerings, and fine-tune as needed.
In 1992, Savage designed and patented the SNAIL, an environmentally friendly shooting range system that has since been adopted by all major firearms manufacturers, police, military and private shooting clubs in America and 14 other countries. The NRA, FBI and numerous special forces currently use the SNAIL Savage system.
By 1995, Savage was now financially strong enough to attract potential buyers and the owners showed interest in selling. In order to keep the company focused and under the control of local management, Ronald Coburn raised the money to purchase the company and took it private.
Since then, Savage has acquired a factory in Canada to produce rimfire rifles. A hunting handgun called the “Striker” was introduced in 1998. In late 2000, Savage developed the worlds’ first smokeless muzzleloader and introduced a number of short magnums to complement its centerfire rifle series.
Savage Arms is proud of its’ reputation for product improvements and has become the standard for accuracy in the industry. In 2003, the company introduced the new AccuTrigger™, a trigger design so revolutionary it will forever change the way shooters expect triggers to function. This user-adjustable trigger allows a crisp, light trigger pull that still protects against accidental discharge when jarred or dropped. The fact that so many other rifle manufacturers have developed me-too versions of this system is a testament to Savage’s innovation and leadership setting new standards for the industry.
In 2009, as it’s competitors were busy knocking off the AccuTrigger, Savage launched the AccuStock, which provides similar performance gains to custom glass-bedding in an inexpensive, mass-produced synthetic stock. This new system consists of a rigid aluminum rail system that is molded into the stock. Rather than securing the action at one or two points, the AccuStock engages the action three-dimensionally along its entire length.
At Savage Arms, the entrepreneurial spirit that originally defined the company is still evident in its innovations of today, and its history is rewritten every day.