With the Savage Axis we see yet another repackaging of Savage’s previous highly successful bolt action rifles. The Axis does have a few differences though. The first thing noticeably different is the safety, which has been moved back to the tang. Tang safeties seem to be making a comeback in rifle designs and whether the tang safety is better or worse than any other is largely a matter of preference. If you are used to a tang safety from your favorite shotgun, then this is an added convenience.
The ejection port of the Axis is something of an oddity in the Savage line. The port is enclosed on top and looks smaller overall. Naturally, the port is plenty big enough for ammunition to get through, so the change appears to be largely aesthetic. Normally ejection ports are made smaller to stiffen up receivers and add accuracy in benchrest-type rifles. The smaller port may make the Axis negligibly more accurate, but in a sporter package it’s hard to say if anyone will notice.
In our comparison, the Axis only pulled top ratings in the areas of recoil (it has a pretty decent recoil pad) and accuracy (because it shoots as well as any other Savage). All other ratings are closer to average, but the Axis is only meant to be exceptional in certain areas to save on cost.
What will make this rifle a real hit with between seven and ten percent of the population is that it is the only rifle in its price class that can be had in either a right- or left-handed version with no additional cost for the left-handed bolt. While no gun company will ever get rich off the American left-handed shooting public, making a rifle like this available will increase sales. Savage has even wisely chosen to chamber the Axis for a couple of cartridges like .22-250 Rem or .243 Win which are difficult for lefties to get their hands on without paying a bundle.