Pushing the Limits with the Savage Arms Axis II Precision

The Axis II Precision was designed for the shooter who wants to try precision shooting competitions or hunting at longer distances without breaking the bank. It’s a very handy rifle that exceeds all expectations.

The Atlas bipod was easily mounted on the MLOK forend.

Savage Arms collaborated with Modular Driven Technologies (MDT), one of the better-known chassis manufacturers for competition rifles, to build a chassis exclusively for the Axis II. The chassis has many of the features top competitors require for matches but are also great to have for recreational shooting and hunting.

The chassis is made primarily of aluminum and has injection molded polymer skins, providing solid bedding for the action and barrel. Upon hearing that initial description, it reminded me of an Accuracy International (AI) rifle I owned and how solid a design that was.  

Large ejection port ensures positive ejection of empty cases as well as loaded rounds.


Action              Axis

Caliber             6.5 Creedmoor (tested),  23 Rem, 243 Win, 308 Win, 30-06, 270 Win

Barrel              22 inch heavy, button rifled, 1-8 twist

Stock               Adjustable, black anodized aluminum Axis Precision Chassis, olive drab skins

Magazine        10 round AICS pattern

Length             ~43 inches (adjustable)

Weight            9.8 lbs

Multiple spacers allow adjustment for shooters big or small.

The Axis II Precision has an adjustable length of pull that is set by adding or removing the spacers at the rear of the stock. This system is simple, rugged, and reliable. The soft rubber recoil pad provided a non-slip anchor point for the rifle and did a good job of soaking up the recoil of the Federal 6.5 Creedmoor rounds.

The comb height is also adjustable allowing a tailored cheek weld to ensure proper eye relief to the rifle’s optic. I tested the rifle with a Leupold 3.6-18x MARK HD mounted on the Axis’s 20 MOA sloped base. The scope has mil-based turrets and a reticle that was perfect for reaching out to the longer distances available at the lodge.

With the 20 MOA base and 30+ mils of adjustment in the 3 turn Leupold, everything was in range.

The ergonomic grip on the Axis II Precision provided a comfortable and relatively vertical grip for the firing hand. That position promotes a straight, smooth, rearward trigger press. The trigger guard is enlarged for easy access to the AccuTrigger, even if you happen to be wearing gloves. The Axis’s AccuTrigger is user adjustable from 2.5-6 lbs., but required no adjustment in this case as it was breaking cleanly at about 3.5 lbs.

Symmetrical grip accommodates right and left handed firing.

The MLOK forearm on the Axis is very slender and rigid. It is also a bit shorter than what is used on full blown competition rifles but it’s more than what is needed for mounting a bipod and providing a solid shooting platform. Its slimness and light weight helped keep the balance of the rifle around the receiver rather than being muzzle heavy.

Regardless of all the features and advantages of the Axis MDT chassis, the heart and soul of any great rifle is still the barrel and action. Savage Arms definitely has this figured out since the Axis and 110 rifles were shooting sub-moa.

The forearm cradles the Axis II’s heavyweight 22” free-floated, button-rifled barrel. The barrel is threaded to accept a muzzle brake or a suppressor. A threaded cap is provided to protect the muzzle and threads when no accessory is installed. 

Axis II Precision and Leupold MARK 5HD made a serious long-range combination.

I fired the Axis II Precision with and without a muzzle brake and it was comfortable to fire either way, but the muzzle device made it easy to stay on target with the scope and see impacts on the steel targets or the splash of misses in the dusty Utah soil.

Range Performance

Castle Valley Outdoors is all about shooting and hunting, and they are set up to make it easy and enjoyable. They have shooting benches and clay throwers just off the back porch of the lodge and steel targets of various sizes and shapes from 100 to 1470 yards.

The first stop was checking zero on paper at 100 yards, where the Axis II quickly shot less than a one-inch group with the first of the three Federal 6.5 CM loads I would be shooting.

Then using an experienced-based guess, I got the instant gratification of the sound of the bullet hitting steel at 300, then 500 yards. Yep, out of a good rifle the 6.5 CM is a very consistent, predictable, and accurate cartridge.

This Savage was right at home in the wide open spaces of the west.

The steel targets spaced out across the acreage just behind the lodge go out to 600 yards, then the fun starts. Up on the ridgeline to the left of the lodge they have steel targets in the shape of various game animals spaced all down the lower ridges and on the tops of small hills ranging from 675 to 1470 yards.

Plugging the stated velocity off of the ammo box into the ballistic app on my phone I started working down the ridge. After a few corrections due to bad wind calls the Axis was ringing the steel deer and antelope targets like an old landline telephone.

The farthest targets couldn’t be seen with the naked eye but showed up clearly in the Leupold scope and spotters. I was able to get reliable hits on the targets, all the way out to the moose at 1470 yards.

A shooters perspectives of the coyote target the Axis II was able to hit at will.

To me, the most impressive target I was able to hit and keep hitting was the coyote silhouette that was on a crest at 1025 yards. It was much smaller than the elk, bear, and moose targets that were further out, but for the target size and distance, it was the biggest challenge.

The Axis II Precision shot extremely well. (Part of that credit has to go to the Federal ammunition that I was feeding it). I shot three different loads and was able to score hits on the distance targets with all three. I never went back and shot groups at 100 or 300 to see which the rifle preferred as the long range performance was not showing any weakness.

My favorite load during the testing of the Axis II Precision; fast, flat trajectory.

The loads I shot ranged from 130 gr. Berger AR Hybrid OTM to 140 gr. Tipped Match Kings. That’s something I really admire about Federal ammunition, they load a variety of manufacturers’ bullets in their ammunition to give shooters the best options possible, Berger’s, Sierra’s, whatever it takes to get the best performance and meet shooters’ needs.

The Axis II Precision isn’t a heavyweight tactical competition rig. It weighs in closer to most hunting rifles than it does to the full tactical competition rigs, and the Leupold MARK 5HD is also one of the lightest scopes in its class. 

The rifle and scope combo tip the scales at about 11 ½ lbs., which is pretty light for a rifle capable of consistent hits at 1470 yards. With its 22” barrel and manageable weight it would be handy in the shooting house looking for a trophy buck as well as on the open range.

Final Thoughts

Savage Arms knocked it out of the park with the Axis II Precision. The MDT chassis collaboration, accurate barrel, crisp trigger, AICS mag compatibility, threaded muzzle, adjustable stock, and 20 moa base, I don’t know what else you could ask for.

Sleek looking, great shooting and great price.

One of the best things about the Axis II Precision is something I haven’t even mentioned yet — the price. The MSRP is only $949, with a street price currently around $840, if you can find one. These rifles are selling like hot cakes, especially in the more popular calibers, and I understand why.

After shooting the Axis II Precision for several days and a couple of hundred rounds, I have to say it’s impressive and shoots fantastic. It delivers features and performance well above its weight class and price. It handles as good as it looks and will hit targets far beyond most shooter’s expectations; give one a try.

For more information visit Savage Arms website.

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About the author: Jeff Cramblit is a world-class competitive shooter having won medals at both the 2012 IPSC World Shotgun Championship in Hungary and more recently the 2017 IPSC World Rifle Championship in Russia. He is passionate about shooting sports and the outdoors. He has followed that passion for over 30 years, hunting and competing in practical pistol, 3gun, precision rifle and sporting clays matches. Jeff is intimately familiar with the shooting industry – competitor, instructor, RO, range master, match director. Among his training credits include NRA Instructor, AR-15 armorer, FBI Rifle Instructor, and Officer Low Light Survival Instructor. As a sponsored shooter, Jeff has represented notable industry names such as: Benelli, 5.11 Tactical, Bushnell, Blackhawk, DoubleStar, and Hornady. He has been featured on several of Outdoor Channel’s Shooting Gallery episodes and on a Downrange TV series. Jeff’s current endeavors cover a broad spectrum and he can be found anywhere from local matches helping and encouraging new shooters as they develop their own love of the sport, to the dove field with his friends, a charity sporting clays shoot, backpack hunting public land in Montana, or the winners podium of a major championship.

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  • Marty chumley December 1, 2022, 8:59 pm

    I bought one and the ejector won’t even kick out a shell pretty disappointed 🥵‼️

  • Bruce May 8, 2022, 5:04 pm

    Got mine 2 weeks ago. As others stated it was threaded to far down and had difficulty chambering some rounds. I have been rebarreling savages for 10 years now. Simply went home adjust the barrel to my liking. Next week out at indoor range she did one hole at 100 meters. If your wondering it was 37.9 H4350, 147 Grain Hornady and GM210m primers set to 2.80. Very happy with rifle. Make 13 Savages now

  • Pat January 15, 2022, 8:34 pm

    How would you compare the this to the 10fcp McMillan?

  • M. R. July 6, 2021, 11:09 pm

    Going to second the other buyer beware comment.

    My most accurate rifle is built on a Savage action, figured I would give the 223 Axis a go.

    The first rifle had muzzle damage. One spot was a badly rolled edge, almost as if the barrel took a tumble onto the ground after leaving the lathe. The second mark was a 0.5mm deep gash. More troubling, the finish applied to the rifle covered this damage which tells me it could have been found in QC before going out. Certainly not the worst thing, but for me no good on a brand new rifle.

    Thankfully, I bought the rifle from an awesome retailer who exchanged it for a new one.

    Rifle #2 had deep gouges on the front of the bolt lugs. It also looks like it may have been test fired more than the other looking at the bolt face. The two of these things together made more sense and became more frustrating, when I realized the front of the lugs were rubbing against the chamber whilst locking and unlocking the action. This led to a severely marred bolt face and chamber, just from inserting the bolt and function cycling the action.

    Savage rifles are designed to have a bit of clearance between the front of the lugs, and the breech face. This issue is the likely result of the barrel being set too far into the action. Best case, this means a tight chamber. Maybe some types of ammunition don’t chamber reliably. Worst case, it can mean the rifle will be completely unable to chamber anything. Either way, you are gambling your money on an issue that should not exist given the ease of barrel installations on these rifles.

    I know Savage would have made this right should I have opted to send this unit back to them. I know the Axis is marketed as the Savage budget bolt gun, and the QC isn’t going to be perfect. However, having a rifle that became damaged (and likely unable to reliably chamber factory ammunition) due to incorrect assembly, that COULD have been caught during the QC process is unacceptable in a $300 bolt gun, not to mention one marketed as a ‘Precision’ rifle.

    As a Savage fan, this experience has left me severely disappointed.

  • Jason T May 12, 2021, 6:35 pm

    Buyer beware
    I purchase this Rifle the day this posted 05/03/21 I felt luck to find one in my neck of the wood after cleaning bore and lubing it up I headed to range with 3-4 different of ammo and manufacture boy was I this a appointed not one round would camber not even ammo use in this review would not let bolt close A Friend said savage known for tight Chambers I’m very disappointed right now
    I always wanted a bolt rifle
    In 6.5 Creedmoor according to salvage I have to pay shipping back to have this fixed I feel this is not my fault at this point I will never buy another Savage again
    This my third Savage

  • Allen Elliott May 3, 2021, 2:27 pm

    I already did.

  • Michael Christensen May 3, 2021, 2:17 pm

    Did the 11.5# weight include the bipod, or just rifle and scope?

  • Allen Elliott May 3, 2021, 2:09 pm

    Savage has really made heads and tails out of the long range

    game here as of late. They got a winner in this weeks drawing

    of a long range rifle. Whoever or whomever wins it will have a

    rifle. signed Allen J. Elliott

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