• Savage Axis Build: Introduction

    When it comes to custom rifles it seems everyone has their own idea of exactly what a custom is. Some think changing something as simple as the bolt handle or trigger on an otherwise stock gun makes it a custom. Others feel that at minimum a “custom” has to have at least an aftermarket barrel or stock to warrant the title. Still others feel that to truly be a custom everything except the action itself has to be aftermarket. And last but not least are those who feel that the true definition of a custom means building a rifle completely from scratch using a “custom” aftermarket action.

    By my definition, a custom is anything that has more aftermarket or modified stock parts than it does original/unmodified parts. Altering factory parts to improve their performance or meet your specific needs and requirements doesn’t make them any less custom than something you ordered pre-made from some aftermarket manufacturer or parts house – quite the contrary, and in today’s economy the money you save by re-purposing an existing part is money you can put towards those parts you can’t craft of fabricate on your own.

    As we all know a new crop of budget-minded entry level rifles have come on scene in the past couple of years. There’s the Marlin X7, the Mossberg ATR, the Remington 770 and forthcoming 783, the Ruger American, and of course the Savage Axis. All of these (with the exception of the Remington 770 IMO) are perfectly serviceable rifles that are more than capable of filling the roles they were designed to fill in the deer woods. However, they’re far from being a finely crafted precision rifle that would be the envy of all your buddies when you show up at the hunting lodge.

    That’s where this build project comes in as that’s exactly what we’re going to do – we’re going to transform a plain-Jane, mundane, run-of-the-mill Savage Axis into a high precision, full featured custom hunting rifle…and we’re going to do it without breaking the bank. In fact, the financial goal of the project is to keep the total build cost under $1,300 – which includes the cost for the donor rifle. I chose that figure as that’s essentially what it would cost to buy a complete Predator action from Stiller Precision (with Jewell trigger and Remington magazine/bottom metal hardware).

    With an entry price of less than $300 at the time of this writing you would be hard pressed to find a cheaper donor rifle than the Savage Axis. In stock trim the Axis is serviceable, but it leaves a lot to be desired. The stock trigger has a heavy pull and is a little gritty feeling. The synthetic stock flexes a great deal and isn't at all attractive. The action is of a good design and very robust, but the mechanical timing is way out of wack. Last but not least, the factory barrel provides great accuracy but it fouls quickly making the cleaning process a more frequent and laborious task.

    So can it be done – can one convert a budget level utilitarian bolt-action rifle into a precision rifle that looks and performs just as well as high end customs that cost upwards of three times as much? We’re about to find out so stay tuned!

    Projected Budget
    Donor Rifle $300.00
    Action Work & Trigger $325.00
    Barrel & Recoil Lug $325.00
    Stock & Trigger Guard $300.00
    Misc. Parts & Materials $ 50.00

    Total: $1300.00

    Comments 7 Comments
    1. bobfortier's Avatar
      bobfortier -
      Been there done that, excellent choice of donor rifle (Axis), I'll keep an eye on this one
    1. rattfink's Avatar
      rattfink -
      Great idea for an article. My curiosity is piqued about how you plan to spend $300 on a stock!
    1. cheapshot's Avatar
      cheapshot -
      Recoil lug... Interesting. Can't wait to see what you do with this.
    1. DangerDanJD's Avatar
      DangerDanJD -
      I'm interested in the stock for 300 as well, medalist perhaps?
    1. Itsricmo's Avatar
      Itsricmo -
      Can you replace the Axis recoil lug with a Savage 110/111 recoil lug?? (I don't own one yet to really know)
    1. travis223's Avatar
      travis223 -
      You guys don't count optics in your build?
    1. J.Baker's Avatar
      J.Baker -
      Quote Originally Posted by travis223 View Post
      You guys don't count optics in your build?
      No, because everyone's idea of what is considered "good optics" is all over the place. Some folks think Barska and BSA scopes are great, I think they're crap. Some would never imagine spending $600+ on a rifle scope while others would consider that to still be a "cheap" scope. It's just too subjective to personal preference and with the prices varying by as much as they do it just doesn't make sense to include the scope in the build price.