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Review: Savage Axis Stainless XP

by Stan Trzoniec   |  April 27th, 2012 19
Savage Axis

A true lightweight, the Savage Axis weighs just 6.5 pounds (bare) but won't be heavy on your wallet at $485 with scope.

Lightweight rifles are popular with hunters. Problem is, they tend to be expensive. With this in mind, Savage came up with a better mousetrap. Called the Axis (formerly the Edge), it comes out of the box at a weight-saving 6½ pounds, is chambered for seven different cartridges from.223 Remington up to .30-06 Springfield and is available in six full-size and two youth models. The line includes stainless and blued guns, as well as those sold as a package with scope aboard, which is what I received for testing. In this guise it is the Savage Axis Stainless XP.

Savage Axis Stainless XP bolt

The Savage Axis Stainless XP features a enlarged two position sliding safety, and the bolt handle features cutouts to shave weight.

To save weight Savage started with a synthetic stock with a radical design that may give some veteran hunters pause. From the muzzle end there is a graceful taper toward the magazine with a “checkering” pattern that includes textured boxes. A finger groove runs the length of the fore-end for a comfortable hold.

The pistol grip has a natural sweep to it and has the same checkering pattern as the fore-end. There is a pistol grip cap of sorts emblazoned with the Savage Indian logo.

Savage has enlarged the two-position tang safety for ease of operation. The four-round magazine is detachable and is secured inside the stock via an integral latch.

The stock of the Savage Axis Stainless XP has a longer-than-usual 14-inch length of pull. It’s capped with a contoured, soft rubber recoil pad with fairly large holes on each side. Years ago, this so-called “ventilated” pad style was in fashion, but hunters soon discovered that dirt and debris could easily work into the recesses, making it not only unsightly but reducing the effectiveness of the pad.

Savage Axis Stainless XP

The rifle’s fore-end has a finger groove along its length and panels of checkering

Savage uses the trusted “fat bolt” design, which requires less machining. It measures 0.7 inch, is finished in the white and features the Savage logo. Operation of the bolt is very smooth, thanks to its final finishing and the fact that it does not ride on the follower or the lip of the magazine.

Up front, the twin locking lugs contain a recessed bolt face and, combined with a floating bolt head, allow precise engagement with the lugs inside the breech. There is a plunger-type ejector within the bolt face and a spring-loaded extractor for flawless ejection.

The bolt handle on the Savage Axis Stainless XP is cast, and to save weight it has been hollowed out in two places; the oval-shaped bolt knob is uncheckered. To remove the bolt from the gun, check to be sure the gun is unloaded, place the safety on Fire and push down on the bolt release located on the right side of the receiver while at the same time pulling back on the trigger. Over the years, that large sear extension/bolt release has been a point of contention, and Savage has addressed concerns by making it less obtrusive.

The receiver contains a gas relief hole that works with the rear bolt baffles to prevent gases from reaching the shooter in event of a case rupture. On the left side of the receiver, an area has been relieved to reduce weight and mirrors the contours of the ejection port.

Savage Axis Stainless XP magazine

The Savage Axis Stainless XP magazine holds four rounds in all its chamberings and has an integral release at the front. The author found it difficult to load the first round.

The  Savage Axis Stainless XP uses the old-style, grooved barrel nut and not the smooth one now found on the firm’s higher-end guns. The barrel is free floated and 22 inches in length; youth models have 20-inch barrels.

As I mentioned, my test sample was a package gun and came equipped with a 3-9X Bushnell scope complete with Weaver type bases and rings. On my sample the scope was neither tightened down or sighted in, so if you buy one of these package guns, be sure to check the mounting system and bore-sight the scope before firing that first shot.

It’s hard to find fault with a gun that sells for less than $500, but I did have a few other criticisms. First is the trigger pull, which is not adjustable. From the bench it broke at seven pounds with a little takeup before the sear let go. I also found the magazine hard to load. It could’ve been the way I was loading the magazine, but I had a hard time getting that first cartridge into the top of the lips. After that, the rest seemed to slide in a little better, but not much.

When it came to accuracy, the gun proved its mettle. With Hornady’s 35-grain NTX my average was around one inch. the mean went to around 1¼ inches with the heavier Hornady Varmint Express and Remington’s Power Lokt hollowpoint rounds.

Criticisms aside, I wouldn’t have a problem taking the .223 Axis to the field, especially when the weather turned against me. The gun looks like it can take the punishment, and if chambered for the larger 7mm and .30 caliber rounds it might just be the rifle to partner with in your pickup for larger game.

Fast Specs

  • Type: bolt-action centerfire
  • Caliber: .223 Rem. (tested), .22-250, .25-06, 7mm-08, .308 Win., .30-06
  • Capacity: 4
  • Barrel length: 22 in.
  • Overall length: 44 in.
  • Weight: 6.5 lb.
  • Stock: black (tested), camo synthetic
  • Finish: stainless (tested), blue
  • Trigger: non-adjustable; 7 lb. pull as tested
  • Sights: none; drilled and tapped; available as package with Bushnell 3-9X scope (tested)
  • Price: $485 (as tested)
  • Manufacturer: Savage Arms

 Accuracy Results

  • Smallest avg. group: 35 gr. Hornady Super Varmint—1.00 in.
  • Largest avg. group (tie): 55 gr. Hornady Varmint Express, 55 gr. Remington Power Lokt—1.25 in.
  • Avg. of all ammo tested (3 types)—1.17 in.
  • Notes: Accuracy results are averages of three three-shot groups at 100 yards from a sandbag rest.
  • Ed Fehr

    Very nice rifle!

  • jim

    When you own 3 rifles that have the accu trigger you can get spoiled…. the AXIS is full featured and priced right, but a 7 pound trigger pull from the factory is unacceptable. Savage can and must do better on this rifles trigger.

  • Dwayne Risley

    I have one in.308 and it is a very accurate light weight rifle I like the factory direct trigger and the first round is a little awkward for the price it is unbeatable.

  • Bill Martin

    I have an Edge in 22-250 and Jim is right. The trigger needs to be better. I put a Rifle Basix trigger in mine and with handloads will shoot well under an inch.Dwayne do you really like the trigger? The trigger on mine was horrible.

  • William Jasper

    I have an Axis in .243. It is an extremely accurate rifle. Using Hornady 75 gr rounds its the best rifle I've shot at targets at least 100 yards to 300. The .243 was not listed here but is an extrememly good option if you are looking for longe range rifle that is both affordable and accurate. The recoil is light. The rifle is well desinged. The factory trigger is crisp, and would be better if less than 7lbs. I have a bipod on mine that accounts for accuracy with the trigger pull. Overall, Savage created a great light weight, accurate, and affordable gun in my opinion.

  • G.W.

    I've researched a ton of rifles, trying to figure out which one I want, and the Savage Axis seems to be the one I always come back to. I've found the basic Axis XP topped with a nice scope for under $300! I intend to use the rifle for target shooting and deer/ coyote hunting. So for target shooting, I want it in a caliber thats abundant and available at pretty much every ammo retailer, and also relatively cheap. This is when one would immediately say .223. But then deer hunting is outta the question. So now you would think .243. But I've come to find out that .243 is NOT cheap…for just basic target loads, it's typically over a dollar a round. So… I've now been looking into .308 and it seems like it is fairly inexpensive, easy to find, powerful enough (and legal) to hunt big game, let alone deer and coyotes, and it's accurate and flat-shooting. So can anyone give me advice or their opinion on my conclusion about this?

    • Cmeplay13

      22-250 will work just fine.

  • TLS

    if you trim 1 coil on the trigger spring it will go to 3-4 pounds

  • Calgary Guy

    G.W i bought a axis in .308 and i would have to say you wont regret it chambered in .308

    • Cadet

      Just got my axis .308 & couldn't be happier! First shot after sight in was 313 yards & the result was meat I the freezer.

  • Barrett/FL

    What about the 7mm-08? Being originally from Alaska, my gun of preference was the 7mm Mag for just about any game from seal, mountain goat to moose and bear.

    I've never had experience with the 7mm-08 but am considering buying one now that I live in Florida for deer and hog.

    Is there a difference between 7mm-08 and 7mm-08 Remington?

    Is the 7mm-08 ammo readily available or costly?

    What grain would be recommended for deer and hog? Does anyone have opinions in this regard?

    Thank you!

    • Ronnie

      Im from panama city florida and now live in Ky i grew up shooting deer and hogs. I also grew up shooting a 30.06 in my opinion the best all around gun in the state of florida.

  • Merle

    I have a new Axis in 7mm-08. The lugs on the end of the bolt spin 360. They both have different depths and it would seem they would need to seat in the chamber to lock the shell in place before firing. What would happen if you had the lug rotated 180? Will the rifle fire with the lugs in both positions? Misfire? The manual says to position the stepped lug, narrower of the two over the ejector. What if you make a mistake?

  • finstr

    Savage needs to chamber these rifles in a 260 Rem and a 338 Federal also.

  • Eric

    I have the Savage Axis 30-06, Great Gun for the money…I can hit a 3 in clay disk at 200 yes all day, you don't need to spend a lot of money unless you like the fancy stock etc…paid $320 @ Turners.

  • Tex Irvin

    looking for replacement trigger or a trigger assembly for a Remington model 710 30-06 cal. rifle

  • Guest

    the savage axis stainless model. does it really help with the heat from firing many round through it. or is it just for looks. looking at buying one but unsure about the color.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lori.regan Lori Regan

    looking to buy a savage axis either the black on black or the stainless. just wondering if anyone knows about if the stainless actually acts more as a heat shield when u fire more rounds through the gun. not sure if that alone is worth spending 60$ more then the reg. axis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.turcotte.33 Jeremy Turcotte

    looking to buy a savage axis either the black on black or the stainless. just wondering if anyone knows about if the stainless actually acts more as a heat shield when u fire more rounds through the gun. not sure if that alone is worth spending 60$ more then the reg. axis.

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