By Lewis Potter
Monday, 22 October 2012
Savage Axis rifle .22-250: Is Savage’s new .22-250 the all-in-one rifle that shooters desire?
Savage Axis rifle .22-250.
Shooters have always desired an all-in-one rifle that shoots well yet won’t break the bank.
After testing the Savage Axis rifle package, I think that Edgar Brothers may have found the rifle to satisfy shooters’ demands.
Complete with scope and mounts, it all comes in at less than £750 — a remarkable price.
The new Savage Axis rifle, which is available in popular vermin and deer calibres, is for shooters who require good performance but do not need any extra frills.
The Weaver scope that Edgar Brothers supplies is in a form that most UK shooters would appreciate (3-12x50mm), and it comes complete with Weaver mounts.
The rifle on test was the Savage Axis with synthetic stock in .22-250 — a calibre suited to crows, foxes, certain small species of English deer as well as Scottish roe.
ACTION, TRIGGER AND SAFETY
The large action is circular in build and holds the bolt with Savage’s trademark twin floating-head construction and large opposed locking lugs.
There is good contact between the lugs and the action face, and the plunger ejector and extractor claw ensure reliable cartridge manipulation.
The bolt handle, which is cast, is straight with semi-vented sides, while the handle is oval-shaped.
The safety sits behind the bolt shroud on a separate tang, which is set into the stock.
With the safety forward, a red dot is exposed, and the rifle is ready to fire. Pressing the large, dished and tactile button backwards makes the rifle safe.
The trigger is not the typical AccuTrigger that is usually used by Savage, but a cheaper, nonadjustable type.
This is perhaps to be expected on a budget rifle and, though the slim triggerblade gives good feel to the single-stage pull, it is heavy at 4.65lb, so care is needed to avoid pulling your shots.
The magazine is a detachable unit made from plastic with metal sides.
It has staggered loading and, in .22-250, holds four cartridges. To release it, there is a catch attached to the magazine front.
I encountered a few problems with feeding, as some of the cartridges “nosedived” when fed, but altering the lips of the magazine by bending them slightly helped to cure this problem.
BARREL AND SIGHTS
The rifle does not have open sights, but it comes with a Weaver Kaspa 3-12x50mm scope and Weaver Grand Slam mounts.
These attach to a 7.1⁄4in one-piece Weaver rail on top of the action. The mounting is good, and it allows for a nightvision kit to be attached, too.
The Kaspa is a good-quality scope, and it ensures precise shot placement and adjustment, with more than sufficient clarity and light gathering — though it isn’t on a par with a Zeiss scope, say.
From a practical point of view, the barrel length is 22in and is button-rifled.
The profile is the typical Sporter type — 0.615in at the muzzle with a 1⁄2in fine (UNF) thread and a matt finish. Its finish is similar to the Parker style.
The barrel is tightened to the action using Savage’s classic barrel nut, which allows barrel removal and headspace adjustments, if necessary.
ACCURACY AND TARGETS
Despite the heavy trigger and flexible stock design, when the Axis was shot and its idiosyncrasies established, it proved to be a fairly accurate rifle.
Four different factory loads were used, at 100 yards. The Hornady V-Maxes all shot three-shot groups at 1.1⁄4in, which is what I expected.
With the 22in barrel, velocities were a little low, but accuracy is more important.
The Axis thrived with the Norma 55-gr Oryx load at 3,576fps and these would make a good small species and Scottish roe round, shooting 1in groups.
The Remingtons and Winchesters shot 1.1⁄2in groups. Reloads spiced things up a little, and I tried some lighter 40-gr bullets.
Both the Ballistic Tips from Nosler and the V-Maxes from Hornady shot fast, at 3,851fps and 3,838fps respectively, which is a good flat-shooting crow or fox load.
Accuracy was around the 1in mark, but you need to get used to the trigger in order not to pull your shots.
Simple and practical, the stock has a Sporter profile and is a lightweight polymer moulding.
This means that all the bedding, internal stress bars and trigger/magazine wells are one unit.
Matt-black in colour (with an optional camouflage version), it has a crinkle finish with moulded finger grooves to the fore-end and pistol grip, and a stippled finish to the grip.
There is no cheekpiece, but the comb is raised and the 1in recoil pad is “squishy”.
The length of pull is good, at 14.1⁄4in.
The action bed has two metal pillars to stop the stock compressing on tightening, and the recoil lug for the action is sited in the stock, so it sits in the action bottom when mated together.
Despite the three bracing bars in the fore-end, it is essentially a hollow stock, so it is quite flexible.
Even with the floated barrel, this can be problematic when a bipod or sound moderator is fitted, as it alters the tension, which can affect accuracy.
It’s easy to get swayed in your choice of rifle by a nice piece of walnut or a match-grade barrel, but sometimes good value can be had in an inexpensive package.
Barring the odd feeding problem, the Axis shot well, and when £750 gets you a rifle, scope, mounts, threaded barrel, toolkit and 20 Firebird targets — and it shoots 1in to 1.1⁄2in groups with most loads — who could complain?
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