Wildcatting the Savage 110/10
(Or, Look Ma! No Lathe!)

The Savage line of bolt action rifles not only lend themselves to easy barrel swaps, but provide the opportunity for the careful hobbyist to modify the barrels they have, or to install barrels that they have cut chambers for themselves. These "wildcat" barrels are typically special purpose and can serve to expand the flexibility of the Savage bolt action rifle. (Note that in order to take advantage of wildcats you have to reload!) The most common wildcats are "Improved" versions of existing cartridges, followed by standard cartridges necked up or down to hold a different caliber bullet. An exampled of an "Improved" wildcat was built on the authors rifle using only a chamber reamers, gages and common tools.

Why wildcats?
Wildcats are modified versions of existing "standard" cartridges. Many (probably most?) of the existing "standard" cartridges started out as wildcats. The 25-06, 270 Win, and 35 Whelen were all wildcats based on the 30-06 case. The 223 and 222 magnum were based on the 222 Remington case. The reason for wildcatting a cartridge is to fill some niche not filled by off the shelf cartridges. Right now, wildcats for 6mm (.243) and 6.5mm (.260) are all the rage for long range (600 and 1000yd.) shooting. Standard offerings (243, 6mm Rem, and .260 Rem) in these calibers are lacking in case capacities for keeping heavy bullets supersonic at extreme range. (In order to take advantage of the extra case capacities of these wildcats they use long barrels. The extra powder goes towards keeping the pressure up as the bullet travels down the barrel - not increasing peak pressure.) Wildcatting also provides cartridges in different calibers based on the same case that will therefore feed in the same rifle. There are several wildcats of the .223 case (6mm and 30 cal are the most common) that were developed to provide larger caliber cartridges that feed properly in AR style rifles.

Standard "Improved" Wildcats
Since I am assuming that the reader doesn't have access to a machine shop or unlimited funds for manufacturing completely custom reamers, gages and reloading dies this discussion is limited towards "common" wildcats for which reamers and reloading dies are readily available. The most common of the wildcats are the "improved" cartridges. These are cartridges that have the same base and near the same length as their parent cartridge but are fatter and have steeper necks so that they hold more powder. You will often see these as "AI" cartridges such as 6mmAI. The AI stands for "Ackley Improved". Ackley was a gun writer from way back that experimented and found that cases with 40 degree necks and very fat body tapers could be reloaded more times than the standard cases they were based on, even with hot loads.

The AI wildcats also have the advantage that cases can be formed (carefully!) from factory loaded ammunition or standard sized cases by fireforming. The downside of course, is that the straight tapered cases don't feed properly from the magazine. (This is especially true of push feed rifles like the Savage. ) Long range target shooters generally don't care as they carefully single load each round anyway. Another big advantage is that AI chambers can be formed by running the proper reamer into an existing standard chambered barrel. This is exactly what will be shown below to create a 22/250AI wildcat that equals the performance of the 220 Swift.

Part 2- Building a 22/250 AI