Related topics

Feel the need for a new deer rifle?

October 19, 2018 GMT

It is my time of year! You can tell fall is in the air! I walked outside this morning and could see my breath and I watched long lines of blackbirds weaving their way south. A few ducks and geese could be heard in the distance. Yep…it’s fall!

If you are a deer hunter, look at the calendar. We are three weeks away from the opening of the Nebraska firearms season. Is your rifle ready? Are you feeling the need for a new deer rifle?

One of the really fun parts of being an outdoor writer and “gun guy” is occasionally get an opportunity to test new rifles out coming out on the market. The improved Savage Axis II XP is a case in point.

Those of you who are students of the gun may remember that the Axis was originally introduced as the Edge, but a lawsuit ensued. A razor manufacturer already had the name EDGE trademarked, so the name of the rifle was changed to Axis. The rifle has been continually updated and refined.

Savage sent me one of their new Axis II XP with AccuTrigger models back in February, right after the S.H.O.T. show. I recently pulled it out of the vault to give it a test on the range. OK…for those people that know me…you can get up off the floor now. I know, for me to have a rifle and not get around to shooting it for six months is almost indefensible. I can only offer the excuse that I had other rifles, pistols and shotguns to test, too. It just took me a while to work my way to the Axis rifle.

I think Savage Arms is on a mission to lead the rifle industry in quality, affordable bolt action center fire rifles. I believe Savage rifles are outstanding “out-of-the-box” performers and they are built in the United States.

About 10 years ago I got a chance to test a Savage 110 in .243. I had it ready to go for deer season and dropped a whitetail at 335 yards. Two years ago, I made a 569 yard shot on a doe during the late antlerless season. I’ve had a serious fondness for Savage rifles ever since.

The new Axis model is not simply a “remake” of the venerable Model 10/110 action rifles, it is actually an entirely new action and stock design. The most appealing thing about this new rifle is that it comes equipped with a scope as a package deal for about $300. It is a great value!

When the Axis first showed up on the shooting scene, it was offered in .223 and .308. Now it is also made in .22-250, .243, 7mm-08, .25-06, .270, and .30-06. Since then, the 6.5 Creedmoor have been added. The rifle line covers the hunting spectrum very well. Prairie dog to elk and black bear, Savage has it covered with this rifle.

My new Savage Axis II XP .243 weighs in at a bit over six pounds, has a 22-inch barrel, 5-shot detachable box magazine, parkerized finish, and a black synthetic stock fitted with a nice recoil pad. Nothing fancy…just what I refer to as a basic work rifle.

The rifle has no iron sights, but it did come with a 3x9 Bushnell scope mounted on Weaver style bases. Again, a very simple and functional design.

The bolt action is smooth and there was no trouble with rounds feeding from magazine, which is sometimes a problem with detachable magazines if they don’t get seated back in the action correctly. The magazine locked into place perfectly every time and I had no problems. After shooting a box of ammo, the action was breaking in and becoming very smooth and operated with very little effort.

My first shots were taken without doing a thing to the rifle or scope. My group was about 1-inch right and 1 ½-inches low of the bull’s eye. I dialed in my scope and fired a 5-shot group that you could almost cover with a nickel almost dead center of the bullseye. It is a keeper!

As far as this rifle goes in its class, in my opinion there is nothing to compare it to. There are other rifle packages out there in the same price range, but I haven’t shot one that shot as well. Nothing on the market compares with what you get for the price. A rifle that shoots MOA or less right out of the box, for around $300…outstanding! They even offer the rifle in left-handed and youth models for the same price. Savage has a marketing tag line in the ads that says, “Better comes standard”, believe it!

If you are contemplating getting a new deer rifle, give a serious look to what Savage has to offer.