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Savage Axis Review

September 2011

September 13, 2011
By Bill Waugaman

Savage Arms had built a reputation on out-of-the-box accuracy in an affordable rifle. They led the innovation curve with the Accu-Trigger and Accu-Stock in factory built rifles. While these enhancements are desired by most seasoned hunters and shooting enthusiasts, they do add to the up front production cost of a rifle. For the novice or occasional shooter, sometimes it makes more sense to purchase an entry level rifle at a lower price. Savage Arms fills this specific need with their Axis model. The Savage Axis is not a brand new model; it is just a rename of the Savage Edge that was initially released in 2010.

The Savage Axis received for this review is a .243 Winchester with black matte barrel/receiver and black synthetic stock. In talking with the staff at Savage, their goal with the Axis was to keep the price point down through production efficiencies and not lowering quality.

THE BARREL

Article Photos

Savage Axis

The screw in barrel with a locking nut is the same design used in the Models 10/110 and Models 11/111. This barrel-receiver can be assembled to zero head space clearance and is very rigid, both of which effect accuracy.

The free-floating barrel is another accuracy enhancement for the Axis that does not increase production cost. On the rifle sent for evaluation, I noticed the forearm did touch the barrel on the right edge for about 3 inches near the end of the forearm. There was enough flex in the forearm to allowed a piece of paper to slide between it and the barrel and did not appear to affect the accuracy.

THE STOCK

Fact Box

Worth Noting The test rifle's barrel and receiver have a very nice bead-blasted matte finish. A Bushnell Sharpshooter 3-9x40 is mounted to two-piece weaver style mounts and bore sighted at the factory. The optics quality are what would be expected from a scope typically selling for under $50. Surprisingly, the scope has a limited lifetime warranty. With scope, the Savage Axis received for evaluation weighed in at only 7.47 pounds. Having a light rifle makes a big difference at the end of a long day no matter what your age. The Savage Axis is available in eight different calibers, the most choices of all four rifles in the review. They are: short action ,243, 7mm-08, .308; long action .25-06, .270, .30-06; varmint calibers .22-250 and .223.

The synthetic stock on the Savage Axis is different from the other rifles in the review since it does not have a raised cheek piece. The hand grip on the stock has 3 textured indentations on the bottom side. The forearm is contoured with slight texturing so a shooter can get a firm grip with the thumb and fingers.

The recoil pad has a pronounced crescent shape, is about " thick in the middle and made of a soft rubber to absorb the recoil. There are five cavities on both sides of the recoil pad that further allow the rubber to absorb recoil. Savage made some assemby efficiencies with the recoil pad design.

The sling mounts are screw-in metal studs. I prefer these over the sling mounts where the holes in the incorporated into the stock. The rear sling mount also serves to secure the recoil pad.

Dual pillar bedding keeps the stock firmly in contact with the receiver. Finding this in a relatively inexpensive rifle is a surprise since it improves accuracy.

THE ACTION/RECEIVER

The trigger is not the Accu-Trigger and is not user adjustable. There is no travel in the trigger and just very slight creep. Once you feel the creep, the sear releases. A target is included with the rifle from the factory had a note showing the trigger sear breaking at 5 lb., 2 oz. My RCBS scale confirmed the sear breaking as stated.

The bolt is engineered differently from the typical 2 lug configuraton used in many rifles. Savage refers to it as a 'floating bolt head' design. The bolt head is actually two pieces. The front half of the lugs rotate when the handle is pulled down and gives 100% engagement of the lug heads in the receiver. The back half of the bolt head stay in the raceway to seal any gasses that could leak if a primer ruptures.

Another cost saving efficiency in the production process is the use of one receiver size for all calibers. The Axis utilizes a different trigger guard to change the size of the magazine opening in order to accommodate short or long action magazines.

The magazine is a removable clip with a retaining latch on the front side of the clip. When installed, you can hear it click and it is firmly in place.

The bolt release is on the right rear side of the action between the ejection port and the bolt handle notch in the stock. To remove the bolt, the safety has to be in the fire position, the bolt release has to be pressed and the trigger pulled. The same applies to installing the bolt.

The safety is located on top of the stock directly behind the bolt. It slides forward and backwards in the bolt channel with a small red dot to indicate when it is off safe.

WORTH NOTING

The test rifle's barrel and receiver have a very nice bead-blasted matte finish.

A Bushnell Sharpshooter 3-9x40 is mounted to two-piece weaver style mounts and bore sighted at the factory. The optics quality are what would be expected from a scope typically selling for under $50. Surprisingly, the scope has a limited lifetime warranty.

With scope, the Savage Axis received for evaluation weighed in at only 7.47 pounds. Having a light rifle makes a big difference at the end of a long day no matter what your age.

The Savage Axis is available in eight different calibers, the most choices of all four rifles in the review. They are: short action ,243, 7mm-08, .308; long action .25-06, .270, .30-06; varmint calibers .22-250 and .223,

At the Range: As with the other rifles being evaluated, the Bushnell Professional Bore Sighter showed the factory bore sighting to be close enough to start zeroing in at 75 yards. After minor windage and elevation adjustments at 75 yards and trying different cartridges, it was time to move to 100 yards. With every Savage firearm I have evaluated or purchased, a test target has been included with it. The target included with the Axis was a 3-shot group measuring .6" using Federal 70gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip. Just to be different, one of my assistants shot a group using Black Hills Gold 85 gr. Barnes TSX; his 3-shot group measured .7" at 100 yards. Two different cartridge manufacturers, two different bullet weights and designs, one common observationthis rifle shoots good.

CONCLUSION: The Savage Axis is designed as an entry level rifle primarily for first timers, the sporatic hunter and the occasional shooters. While it doesn't have an Accu-Trigger or an Accu-Stock, it still is representative of Savage's 'out of the box' accuracy philosophy, It also has the lowest price point of all four rifles in this review.

 
 

 

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