Savage smooth barrel nut removal

The Savage 10/110 design is quite popular with the do-it-yourself gunsmithing crowd. For the most part, with simple tools and no lathe, someone with basic mechanical ability can swap barrels on most of the rifles due to it’s barrel nut system. While most Savage 10/110 rifles have a notched barrel nut that can be engaged with a special wrench or spanner, some have a smooth barrel nut, which can be a little more difficult to remove (for more information on the design attributes of the Savage 10/110 series of rifles, see Remington 700 versus Savage 10/110: Comparative design notes).

The barrel on this 6.5-284 stainless steel Savage Model 116 needs to be removed, but it had a smooth barrel nut. What to do now?

A quick internet search of “Savage smooth barrel nut removal” turns up many ideas, most of them bad. While a pipe wrench and/or a Sawzall may seem like go-to tools, they have no place in gunsmithing.

For this project I ordered the following tool from Brownells:

Before we get to work, please read the following disclaimer:

The contents of are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.

Any modifications made to a firearm should be made by a licensed gunsmith. Failure to do so may void warranties and result in an unsafe firearm and may cause injury or death.

Modifications to a firearm may result in personal injury or death, cause the firearm to not function properly, or malfunction, and cause the firearm to become unsafe.

If you’ve been around a lot of rifles, you may have noticed that a Remington 700 and a Savage 10/110 action both have an outside diameter of 1.350″. This is good news, it means a Remington 700 action wrench will fit it. In fact, since they both have separate recoil lugs with similar profiles, the Brownells wrench shown here is capable of holding the Savage action so well, it looks like it was designed to fit it!

Before I tighten the action wrench in place, I wrap the action with some painter’s tape to protect the finish. Since I’m dealing with stainless steel parts that are tightened against each other, I make sure I pour some Kroil on the areas that will be moving against each other.

Next, I head over to the barrel vise. For barrels like this I prefer a Farrell Barrel Vise (available from Brownells). I leave mine in a hydraulic press that is powdered by a pneumatic jack since I use it daily.

A little bit of pressure on the end of the wrench and the action unscrews right off of the barrel!

The action is now ready for a new tube!

A close up of the factory tenon, lug and barrel nut. All parts of the barrel were removed in pristine condition. No marks, no pipe wrench, and no Sawzall! This shank had a major diameter of 1.048″ with 20 threads per inch.

Other than the way shown above, if you didn’t have access to a lot of tools, you could fabricate a tool like the one shown above. If the center hole was slightly larger than the barrel nut, in theory a tool like this could grab the nut and back it off.

If you encounter a smooth Savage barrel nut, whatever you do, don’t grab it with a pipe wrench!