NOTE: I have since this article come up with a much better bolt lift kit system. You can read about it here.
The opening of the bolt is an important factor mainly for the competitive shooter. He needs to cycle his bolt fast and shoot again if the conditions are good to shoot a tight group. This is called running the gun. If your bolt lift is vary hard, not because of pressure, but due to the faulty mechanics in the bolt, it will disturb the bags and make the gun run different from shot to shot. It also makes reacquiring your target harder. For the hunter its just a luxury. It is very gratifying though when your muscles are cold that you can cycle the bolt fast and with ease in case you need a fallow up shot.
There are three ways to lighten bolt lift. One is grease. Then there is lightening the firing pin and finally a bolt lift kit.
Lets talk about grease quick. Now you do not want to go over board with grease here. Especially if you hunt with this rifle. In cold conditions grease gets stiff and it can ruin the hunt of a life time. My mentor, Bill Goad told me of one time he was hunting and a monster buck was in the perfect spot for great and clean kill but his rifle just would not hit the primer hard enough to detonate it. Why? because he had to much grease in his rifle. It was cold and stiff, thus preventing the firing pin from falling hard enough to fire the rifle. So watch the grease.
Next is lightning the firing pin spring. Most factory rifles have to much spring force. Many over 35lbs. That is overkill. 25lbs is plenty and once you have your bolt bushed and firing pin head shaped correctly a 25lbs spring will produce the same hitting force on a primer as a 35lbs but without the hard bolt lift. Its another great reason to get your bolt bushed.
Now to get to the point of this article. In a savage bolt there is a slotted sleeve that goes around the rear of the firing pin. This sleeve is what the sear button preses the firing pin spring against when you open your bolt. It also rotates against the BAS. That is the bolt that holds all the guts of your bolt inside the bolt body. That rotation has a lot of surface areas and drag induced in the action of lifting the bolt causes a hard bolt lift irrespective of how hot your load was.
The bolt lift kit solves this by isolating the friction to a single point that is very small. Literally a pin point. First a new cap is made for the rear of the slotted sleeve and the sleeve is cut to match it. I do this to keep it all nice and straight. Most people just Shorten the BAS and I think this is the wrong way to do it as it does not allow you to make sure they are perfectly parallel. Sorta like when we true up an action.
Next I ream a hole through the center of the bolt and thread it. Then an Allen screw is put in with lock tight and set to the correct depth. Really very little in the way of space is added here.
Lastly we put it all together again. I use minimal grease by the way. The result is very surprising. Before a bolt lift kit is installed you must use your thumb or the edge of a table to cock the sear button again. Once this kit is installed you can cock it with your index finger.
As a final word. You can get a Bolt Lift kit from PTG for $35 and a stainless steel one for $45. If you want me to modify your existing bolt I do these for $20 regardless of weather or not its stainless or blued steel. If you have multiple bolts you want the lift kit installed in contact me and we can work out a discounted deal.