• Savage Axis Build: Barrel & Stock

    In this third installment of our Savage Axis Build series we will be focusing on the barrel and the stock. As often happens, due to availability and other factors my build was forced to deviate some from my original plan. This change resulted in a significant cost increase for this part of the project, but we should still be able to stay under our estimated total cost for the build.


    If you haven't already, be sure to catch up on the rest of this series by reading these previous installments:

    Part 1: Savage Axis Build: Introduction
    Part 2: Savage Axis Build: Action & Trigger


    My original plan for this build was to acquire a factory 7mm-08 Remington take-off sporter barrel and have it rechambered to .284 Winchester. With sporter take-off barrels typically selling for $75 or less this would save me a significant amount over buying an aftermarket pre-fit or having an aftermarket blank chambered and contoured to my needs. Unfortunately I was unable to locate one with the faster 1-9.5" twist rate and I didn't want to risk it using one of the slower 1-11.5" twist barrels that Savage offered for a number of years.

    This development forced me to start looking at aftermarket options which presented their own issues. As we all know there is presently a long waiting period for aftermarket barrels with some manufacturers being 6+ months behind on production. Having to wait that long for a pre-fit or custom ordered barrel simply wouldn't fit the timeline dictated by this project, so I had to find another solution.

    That solution came in the form of a Shilen 7mm 1-9 twist chrome-moly barrel blank with a #4 contour which I obtained from Midway USA. The blank being contoured already would save me some money on having it turned down, and it was in-stock so there was no wait time. The downside of course was the increased cost of the blank which blew my projected barrel budget by a little over $100.

    The barrel was treated to a SAAMI spec .284 Winchester chamber, cut to a length of 23" and given a standard rounded sporter crown. Diameter at the muzzle came out to approximately 0.687" which makes for a very nice medium-heavy contour that isn't pencil thin but at the same time isn't overly cumbersome or heavy. In comparison it is very similar in profile and weight to the Savage Predator barrels which I have always found to be a great compromise.

    And now for what most of you have been anxiously waiting for - the stock. Dubbed the ProHunter, this new laminate stock offering will be a savior to all those who deplore the factory synthetic stock on their Axis rifle(s). The manufacturer had planned to start taking orders for these stocks in early July, but as of today (6/28/13) an unexpected circumstance has forced them to postpone the release until this fall. Sometimes the man upstairs just puts a detour in the road and there's nothing you can do about it - this is one of those instances.

    The ProHunter stock for Axis rifles is billed as a universal design that can be used for both hunting and punching paper from the bench. The vented 2-1/4 wide low profile beavertail forearm provides a stable platform when shooting from a rest, yet will still fit most hands for offhand hunting and shooting. The grip is more vertical than the factory version for more comfort and the toe angle is significantly decreased for more stability when using a rear sand bag.

    The barrel channel and action inlet are precision machined on CNC equipment to insure 100% drop in fit. The magazine inlet is equipped with the proper hardware to insure the magazine is positioned and retained properly. The stock is inlet to accept a metal 110-style trigger guard and re-uses the factory Axis action screws. All stocks will come finish sanded and are ready for a final finish, and will include a new metal trigger guard. They will be available in both right-hand and left-hand versions for both short and long action Axis magazines. The standard recoil pad will be of the 1/2" variety, or you can upgrade to the optional 1" decelerator-type pad for those hard kicking cartridges.

    For a finish I opted to use Birchwood Casey's Tru-Oil simply because it's quick, easy and fairly painless. I started with three light coats applied with a 1" foam brush, sanding between each with 400 grit paper to seal up the pores. Next came four medium coats with no sanding between coats. After the fourth coat I wet sanded the stock with 600 grit paper. Two final light coats were applied and the stock was set aside and allowed to fully cure for several days.

    Once I was confident the finish was fully cured I went to work on polishing the finish. I started this process using 3M Fine Cut Liquid Rubbing Compound which is comparable to wet sanding with 1500 grit paper. This left the finish a little glossier than desired so next I very lightly worked the surface with 0000 steel wool. Once the desired sheen was achieved it was a simple matter of wiping the stock with a tack cloth and applying a few coats of carnauba wax to finish the job.

    So far I have found the ProHunter stock lives up to the role the designer has envisioned for it. It shoulders comfortably and naturally, and the forearm doesn't feel overly large in my supporting hand. The grip is worlds better than the one found on the factory stock with its more vertical profile and since it's substantially thicker it doesn't feel like you're holding onto a roll of quarters. Personally I tend to prefer stocks with a raised Monte Carlo comb or roll-over cheek piece, but as common and popular as the classic straight combs are these days I've been forced to learn to live with them.

    While I like the looks of the vents in the forearm, I have to admit that they're a real pain in the rear when it comes to finishing the stock as it's very difficult to get into them to sand and apply the finish to fully seal the stock. The only suitable solution I found to this problem was the use of Q-tips which is still far from an ideal solution. I also found that the palm swell for us lefties was minimal at best on my pre-production samples. I mentioned and showed this to Fred and he will be modifying the pattern accordingly.

    Summary

    I had initially allocated $325 for a factory take-off barrel, rechambering and re-bluing for this stage of the project, but having to go to an aftermarket barrel pretty much shot a $100 hole in that budget. Fortunately my gunsmith cut me a deal on the machining and the stock came in a little under budget so there's still a good chance the project total will come in under the $1,300 figure I came up with at the start.

    Regarding the ProHunter stock, it's monumentally better than the factory synthetic stock in every way imaginable. It doesn't flex, it has a grip designed for man-size hands, it will ride sandbags well, and the laminate just looks a lot nicer. At present the manufacturer plans to offer the ProHunter for $225 which includes a metal trigger guard. I feel this is extremely reasonable considering the superb fit and quality, and since I only had $30 in finishing materials I managed to come in $45 under budget on the stock.

    Product/Service
    Price
    Shilen 7mm Barrel Blank $175.00
    Barrel Machining/Chambering $125.00
    Laminate Stock Blank $40.00
    Stock Machining/Shaping 165.00
    Metal 110 Trigger Guard $20.00
    Stock Finishing Materials $30.00
    Total:
    $555.00



    Additional Photos:








    Comments 9 Comments
    1. cheapshot's Avatar
      cheapshot -
      What??? Finally an Axis stock!!
    1. SlimySquirrel's Avatar
      SlimySquirrel -
      Looks sweet! Love the bolt Shroud too.
    1. fsr402's Avatar
      fsr402 -
      any info on who is going to make the stocks and where we will someday be able to order one?
    1. J.Baker's Avatar
      J.Baker -
      Quote Originally Posted by fsr402 View Post
      any info on who is going to make the stocks and where we will someday be able to order one?
      That information will be released when the manufacturer is ready to start taking orders for the stocks. As was noted in the article, the manufacturer had planned to start taking orders starting July 1st, but an unfortunate setback has forced them to push back the release date until sometime this fall.
    1. pighunter284's Avatar
      pighunter284 -
      how does it shoot
    1. busted leg's Avatar
      busted leg -
      Use the factory axis recoil lug?
    1. LoneWolf's Avatar
      LoneWolf -
      Yes you can. I did in my build.

      Sent from my AT100 using Tapatalk 2
    1. bchunter's Avatar
      bchunter -
      Over a year later, surely the vendor has made the stocks available? Can they be unveiled? This stock is the compromise I've been looking for!
    1. daddyusmaximus's Avatar
      daddyusmaximus -
      ????? I clicked the link, said I don't have permission. Can somebody clue me in? Hate to think I'm missing out on something as a new Savage owner.


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