Savage Axis II XP .223 Rifle w/Weaver Kaspa 3-9x40mm Riflescope
Back in 2010, I reviewed the then-new Savage Arms Edge in .223 Remington caliber. It did extremely well, shooting 5/8 inch groups at 100 yards right out of the box with Federal American Eagle 62 grain FMJ ammo. With Barnes 55 grain Triple Shock loads it shot consistently inside 1/2 inch. Later, the Edge (renamed the Axis) was tested in .308 Winchester and that rifle had no problem shooting inside 5/8 inch at 100 yards, either.
Since them, the Axis has gone on to set all kinds of sales records and gained a reputation as the most accurate entry-level centerfire rifle available to the consumer. The rest of the bolt-action rifle industry has been playing catch-up ever since. At the time, I wrote:
"All in all, it is a very clean design that shoots beyond its diminutive price tag. Too often, rifles targeted as entry-level guns have displayed lousy safeties, rough actions, fussy magazines and lackluster accuracy. The Edge has none of these propensities, comes with metal sling swivel studs and a better than expected recoil pad. For all of these reasons, I think Savage Arms is going to sell a ton of these rifles. There is nothing out there that remotely competes with it, much less a centerfire rifle built in Westfield, Massachusetts, USA."
I seriously under estimated the rifle's popularity, because Savage has since sold many tons of them. It is now over 650,000 rifles later. The Axis has been so successful the Company's previous low end line, the Stevens bolt-action centerfire rifle, has been discontinued.
Axis II XP Features and Specifications
The XP designation means an OEM-level scope is included with the rifle. In the case of the test rifle, it was shipped with a Weaver Kaspa 3-9x40mm riflescope already mounted and bore sighted.
By now, the Axis line includes over twelve different models, but only the Axis II XP versions have the AccuTrigger, itself an industry game-changer. As received, the Axis II XP's AccuTrigger released at a crisp four pounds on the nose and you can adjust it from there. For that reason, the Axis II XP is the most desirable of the Axis models, even if you decide to upgrade the budget optics.
Like all Savage bolt action rifles, the Axis II XP is a push feed design. The assembled, multi-piece bolt is exceedingly smooth, like the previously tested Axis models. Extraction is by means of a small Savage type slider in the bolt face and there is a plunger ejector. The magazine does not rattle and there are no feeding or ejection issues.
All Axis models use the same "universal" (one size/length only) receiver, with the detachable box magazine blocked off as necessary for the particular cartridge length. Using essentially the same universal (.30-06 length) receiver for all calibers and blocking off the magazine to suit the cartridge makes the Axis is cheaper to manufacture than rifles that have actions properly sized to fit the cartridge for which they are chambered.
In the Axis II XP, you have your caliber choice of .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .25-06, .270 Winchester, .30-06, .308 Winchester and 7mm-08. Given the same receiver is used for all calibers, there is no advantage in buying a short action caliber; .25-06, .270 Win. and .30-06 are the obvious caliber choices.
The test rifle was exceedingly accurate. With Hornady Superformance 53 grain V-Max rounds, it was at least on the paper at 100 yards right out of the box, shooting just under 3/4 MOA at 100 yards. The accuracy does not appear to be a fluke for, as mentioned, the first .223 Savage Edge tested back in 2010 had no problem shooting groups around half an inch at 100 yards with factory ammo.
The Savage Axis is not a thing of beauty, by any means. However, to get the production cost out of a rifle, it has to come from somewhere. In the case of the Axis II XP, that somewhere most obviously includes the budget riflescope, "one size fits all" action, assembled bolt, rough matte metal finish and the cheap plastic stock. (Pride of ownership is NOT included with this rifle. -Editor)
The Axis line has been the most prolific center-fire rifle introduced in the last decade. If you are looking for no frills reliability, functionality and accuracy at a bottom dollar price, among bolt action rifles the Savage Axis II XP is one of the obvious choices.
Copyright 2015 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.