• Savage Axis Build: Action & Trigger

    The heart and soul of any rifle is the action, and the Savage Axis action is an ideal candidate to base a custom rifle upon. The $300 entry price for an Axis rifle gives you an action that is suggestively more rigid than a standard Savage 110-series action, and its more than a hundred dollars less than the cheapest new 110-based donor rifle.

    While an excellent basis for a build, the Axis action is not without its faults. Fortunately for us though these faults are fairly easy and inexpensive to address and consist of the following issues:

    • Bolt Timing
    • Recoil Lug
    • Trigger
    • Bolt Handle

    Bolt Timing

    To address the bolt timing the Axis action was treated to a true & time job from Sharp Shooter Supply. This process has been discussed ad-nauseam on the forum and there's a FAQ article discussing it here on the site, but for those who are new to Savage rifles I offer up the following simplified explanation.

    The truing side of the equation is fairly straight forward and ensures that all of the critical and mating surfaces of the action are machined square. This includes machining the face of the bolt head to remove the slight dish it has from the factory, squaring up the corner where the tail of the bolt head meets the main body (lugs) of the bolt head, and squaring the face of the receiver and the mating face of the barrel nut to ensure 100% contact.

    Explaining the bolt timing is a bit more difficult as it pertains to how the different components and functions of the bolt interact with one another. To start with, there are three different ramps that need to be in synch with one another: the primary extraction ramp, the cocking ramp, and the locking lug ramp. If these ramps are not in synch with one another then it causes the bolt to bind which results in a harder bolt lift.

    The other aspect of the bolt timing is the distance the firing pin is cocked. This distance is dictated by the cocking ramp in the bolt body, and in most cases the firing pin is being over-cocked from the factory. What this means is that when one lifts the bolt to cock the firing pin, the cocking ramp is retracting the firing pin more than is necessary further than what it will be held at once you close the bolt into the ready to fire position. This over-cocking also contributes to the heavy bolt lift as it requires the firing pin spring to be compressed further.

    The end result is an action that has a much lighter bolt lift/cocking effort, and if the trued surfaces were way out of spec. in the beginning you might even see a slight improvement in accuracy and consistency from shot-to-shot. And since there is less work involved in truing and timing an Axis action (no firing pin tuning and no bolt lift kit), it ends up being a bit cheaper than what you'd pay to true and time a 110 action.

    Recoil Lug

    The Savage Axis uses a partial recoil lug that fits snugly into the stock and slips into a notch machined into the face of the action. While this setup is sufficient, I prefer the more robust 110-style lug that encircles the barrel shank and is sandwiched between the face of the action and the barrel nut.

    To use a 110-style recoil lug on an Axis action one needs to machine the face of the action. The notch for the Axis recoil lug is 3/16 deep, so to use the 110-style lug one needs to machine 3/16 off the rest of the face of the action so it is flush around the entire circumference. The removal of this material from the face of the action is included in the above referenced True & Time job for the Axis action.

    Given the metal refinishing that we will be doing to this rifle (to be covered in a later installment) a typical stainless steel aftermarket recoil lug wouldn't fit the bill on this particular build. Instead we took a factory 110-style recoil lug and used a surface grinder to ensure a uniform thickness from top to bottom. This surface-ground factory lug is the lug that is included in the standard service price listed at the end of this article, though you may upgrade to the thicker stainless steel recoil lug if you so choose.

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