New Savage Axis 243 Winchester Bolt-Action Rifle


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

March 31st, 2010

UPDATED November 5th, 2010




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UPDATE 11/05/10

Savage originally called this rifle the Edge. After recently discovering that the name Edge had already been trademarked by another manufacturer, Savage has changed the name of this rifle to the Axis.

Just a few days ago, I learned of a new bolt action rifle that was starting production at Savage Arms. I immediately put in a call to Bill Dermody, the Marketing Manager at Savage to start the process of begging for a test gun. As soon as he heard my voice, he stated, “It is already on the way, and you should have it today.” That was easy enough. Anyway, just as Bill informed me, the rifle arrived that afternoon, and I headed into town to pick it up from Brigham Hardware in Dover, Tennessee.

The Axis is reported to be a new rifle, and not just a Savage 10/110 in a new flavor.  While it does closely resemble the classic savage 110 design, the action is a bit different. Notably missing at first sight is the wonderful Savage AccuTrigger. I have, over the past several years, been spoiled by the AccuTrigger. I absolutely love that trigger, but it is not to be found on the new Axis. That turned out to be no real problem, as the Axis does have a very crisp trigger pull, which takes just under five pounds of pressure to release on this Axis that I have here for review.  Not an AccuTrigger, but a very serviceable hunting trigger nonetheless. The bolt has the same bolt head design as the 110 series, which is a good thing. Savage has a very good bolt head design, which allows the lugs to bear evenly on both sides in their respective bolt lug recesses at the front of the action. This makes for very even pressure on the rear of the cartridge case, assuring consistent alignment of the cartridge with the bore, contributing to the Savage reputation for accuracy.  The bolt handle is a unique design, having a skeletonized look from the top side, much like the underside of some bolt handles. Anyway, it looks good on the Axis. At the rear of the bolt can be seen the tail end of the firing pin, which serves to show that the firing pin is in the cocked position. Also, at the right side of the receiver is a cocking indicator as well.

The sides of the receiver are different than that of the 110 rifles. The left side has a flat area that looks great, and would be a good place for a Savage logo. The right side has a smaller ejection port than does most 110 series rifles, which I like. Loading from a detachable box magazine allows the top of the receiver to remain solid, strengthening and stiffening the action considerably. The detachable box magazine is made of steel, with a polymer floorplate and follower. The box magazine is a good idea. It has a capacity of four rounds, and by design a box magazine allows the shooter to load the magazine, chamber a cartridge, then drop, top off, and re-insert the magazine, for a total loaded capacity of five rounds. The detachable box magazine of the Axis is well-designed, and easy to insert and remove, even while wearing gloves.

The recoil lug of the Axis action is not sandwiched between the barrel and receiver as on many designs, including the 110, but is inserted into the synthetic stock. When the stock is removed from the barreled action, the recoil lug goes with it. Very unique and unusual design, but it seems to work very well, inserting into the bottom of the receiver just aft of the barrel nut. The synthetic stock on the rifle reviewed here is a matte black, but a camouflaged pattern is also offered. The barrel and receiver are finished in a matte black as well, and the texture matches that of the stock. The trigger guard is also a polymer just like the stock, and is integral with the rear of the magazine recess in the stock. The 243 shown here is a short-action rifle, but the bolt is long enough to serve as a long-action bolt for cartridges in the 30-06 case length class. Savage is likely using the same bolt for both action lengths, with the box magazine and trigger guards being different. Good idea. Speaking of the bolt, its operation is very smooth, with no tendencies to bind at all. The lugs run in recessed areas within the receiver to align and steady the bolt as it travels both forward and rearward, making for a very quick-to-operate action. I tried to make the bolt bind, and could not. Good design. The safety button on the Axis is huge and easy to operate, located just behind the bolt for easy operation, just as God intended. The safety is a two-position unit. Very simple. Slide forward to fire. The safety does not lock the bolt handle in place, and cartridges can be cycled with the safety on safe. The trigger is also a very simple and reliable unit. It is not user-adjustable, but is easily serviceable by a good gunsmith if trigger work is desired.

The Savage Axis is built for hunting, and it shows in the stock design. The wrist area of the stock is smaller in circumference than most, which makes for a very secure grip, with or without heavy gloves. The grip and forend areas are heavily textured for a secure grip as well. The trigger guard has plenty of room for a gloved finger. The stock has sling swivel studs attached, as should all hunting rifles. The butt of the stock wears a very well-designed and effective recoil pad. It has plenty of thickness and plenty of give, making the rifle very comfortable to shoot. There are no open sights on the twenty-two inch barrel, but the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope bases. The sporter-taper barrel measures just .581 inch at the muzzle, and the barrel is free-floated into the stock.  The barrel is threaded into the receiver, and locked into place by the familiar Savage barrel nut.  As mentioned, this rifle is a hunter’s rifle. It handles and balances very well, and the 243 shown here weighed in at six and one-half pounds, just as advertised. It is light enough to carry well afield, but still has enough heft to feel like a real rifle, and not an abbreviated version of one.

For accuracy testing of the Savage Axis, I kept it pretty simple.  Knowing that this rifle will be marketed primarily to hunters, I used off the shelf hunting ammunition from Remington and Federal. I mounted a Leupold 3.5 to 10 power VXL scope in Leupold Rifleman rings and set up first at twenty-five yards to get everything hitting on paper. As expected, the rifle shot into one tight hole at that range, so I moved out to fifty, then to one hundred yards for accuracy testing. I fired from the bench using a Target Shooting, Inc. Model 1000 rifle rest, but have to admit that I was not surprised by this rifle’s accuracy. As I have come to expect from a Savage rifle, this thing shoots like a Savage. To those of you familiar with Savage rifles, you will know what I mean. For those who are new to Savage bolt guns, it means that this rifle is very accurate; a lot more accurate than a hunting rifle has to be. Several groups were fired that measured under one-half inch, but the five-eighths inch group shown was typical for the day. No groups measured in excess of the magical one-inch mark. I remember years ago when a typical hunting rifle took a lot of tuning and load development to shoot consistently under an inch at one hundred yards. Now, many rifles will do that well or better, if you are willing to spend the money for a quality rifle. This Savage Axis, with standard hunting ammo produces very good accuracy, with no special tuning nor working up tailored handloads. Right out of the box, it shoots like a Savage.

Now for the surprise. There were no surprises in the handing of the Axis; it balances and handles very well. There were no surprises in the accuracy of the Axis; it shoots where you point it. There were no surprises in the reliability of the Axis; it fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. The surprise is in the price. As of this writing, the Axis has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of only $329 US.  For only fifty bucks more, you can get the Axis with a 3 to 9 power scope already mounted and bore-sighted. That base price of $329 is seventy-five bucks less than the Stevens Model 200, which is also a very good rifle, but the Axis is better. The Axis is also $68 less than the Marlin XL-7, another good rifle.  The Axis is $95 less than the Mossberg ATR, and priced about the same as a Remington 770, but so far, I am not impressed with that rifle.  For the price, I just don’t see anything that compares to the new Savage Axis. Even without considering the low price, the Axis comes out on top when comparing features and accuracy to rifles costing several hundred dollars more.  Unless you are wanting a nice walnut stock and polished steel, or maybe a better trigger, there is really no reason to spend more on a hunting rifle. Put the money saved into a quality scope or a nice hunting trip. The fact that Savage can produce this rifle at this price makes me wonder if they have been overcharging us for all these years! They have always built rifles that sold for less than their competition, but this new Axis is really a fine entry-level hunting rifle that is not built like a typical entry-level budget gun. Currently, in addition to the 243 shown here, Savage builds the Axis chambered for the 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington, 270 Winchester, 308 Winchester, 25-06 Remington , and 30-06 Springfield cartridges. The new Savage Axis is an excellent rifle at an amazing price, and is built by American craftsmen in the USA.

Check out the new Savage Axis online at

For the location of a Savage dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Axis online, go to

For a look at the extensive line of Leupold optics, go to

Jeff Quinn

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:






Leupold VXL scope.



Federal ammo proved to be very accurate, as did all other ammo tried in the Axis.



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Click pictures for a larger version.


Savage Axis 243 Winchester bolt-action rifle.



Two-position safety is large and easy to use.



Unique synthetic stock.



Sling swivel studs.



Very effective recoil pad.



Free-floated barrel.



Four-shot detachable box magazine.



Bolt is very similar to Savage 10/110 series rifles.





Cocking indicator.



Very unique recoil lug is imbedded into the stock.



Trigger is simple and reliable.