Sporter Threading, Bedding, and Boyds Facelift – Ultimate Reloader

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Want a rifle ready-to-go, but with a personal touch? Hate having to search for and mount an optic? The budget-friendly Savage AXIS XP comes with a Weaver 3-9 x 40mm scope installed. We decided to upgrade the package with Boyds Gunstocks and got to work! 

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About the Savage AXIS XP

Building on the Savage AXIS base platform, the Savage AXIS XP comes with a scope installed and bore-sighted, making it ready for use right out of the box.

This long action rifle comes in a variety of calibers including .22-250 REM, .223 REM, .243 WIN, .25-06 REM, .270 WIN, .30-06 Springfield, .308 WIN, .350 Legend, .400 Legend, 6.5 Creedmoor and 7mm-08 REM. 

I chose 7mm-08 REM as I don’t have experience with this cartridge. I didn’t have a 7mm-O8 REM rifle (until now), hadn’t shot one, and hadn’t reloaded for one. 

From Savage Arms:

It’s the fastest way to go from the store to the stand. The AXIS XP comes with a factory-mounted and boresighted 3-9x40mm scope that extracts maximum accuracy from the rifle’s 22-inch button-rifled barrel. It features a tough synthetic stock and detachable box magazine.

FEATURES:

    • Factory-mounted and boresighted 3-9x40mm scope
    • Detachable box magazine
    • Tough synthetic stock
    • Button-rifled barrel
    • Smooth bolt action
    • Thread-in barrel headspacing

This rifle weighs 7.365  lbs. with the optic and has a 1:9.5 twist button-rifled barrel. It also has a four-round detachable box magazine. It has an MSRP of $479, but I’ve seen it available retail for as little as $400! 

What’s in the Box

The rifle comes with the optic mounted and the bolt wrapped separately. It also includes a magazine, gun lock, empty chamber indicator, lens cloth, instruction manuals for the gun and optic, decal, promotional materials, and foam earplugs. The optic comes with clear bikini caps, allowing you to see through them to take a shot if needed. 

About the Boyds Spike Camp Buttstock

I want this rifle to be a compact, backcountry tool and the Spike Camp’s minimalism is perfect for this application.

From Boyds Gunstocks:

Spike camps in the backcountry are a strategic necessity to tipping the odds into your favor and allowing you to do more with less. When we started developing this new stock, we set out to produce a high quality, extremely comfortable, lightweight, essentials only stock. Performance of a free-floated barrel, standard sling studs, and thumbhole grip give you everything needed to achieve success while keeping size and weight down to 29 ¾ inches and approximately 2.5 pounds.

    1. SHORT MONTE CARLO – ALLOWS FOR PROPER CHEEK WELD
    2. FREE FLOATED BARREL – FOR IMPROVED ACCURACY
    3. 13.5″ LENGTH OF PULL
    4. COMFORTABLE AND ERGONOMIC THUMBHOLE
    5. FOREND LENGTH 8.5″-11″ – DEPENDING ON THE RIFLE
    6. SWIVEL STUDS FOR USE WITH YOUR FAVORITE SLING

The Spike Camp™ is available in all of Boyds™ color combinations.

Installation and Upgrades

The very first step was test-fitting the stock. 

The best technique I’ve found is to get the front recoil lug area seated first, then rock the rest of the action into place.

All went together smoothly. I torqued the action screws to 35 inch-lbs. with a F.A.T. wrench from Wheeler Tools. The thumbhole Spike Camp gave the rifle an immediately different, more agile feel. 

Savage AXIS Barrel before Sporter Threading

I decided to truly make this rifle fit my needs, starting with cutting down the barrel to 18” and adding my special sporter barrel threading.

Finished Sporter Threading

For this I add a shoulder to the barrel so there is enough contact for whatever muzzle device I may want to add. (This is a service we offer to the public if you are interested!)

Parting off the Savage AXIS Barrel

I parted off four inches on the Precision Matthews PM-1440GT, turned it back to 0.625” at 1.2” total length, made the thread relief on both ends, threaded it, and added red loctite before screwing the taper nut on.

Turning Back the Barrel
Cutting the Thread Relief
Threading the Barrel

I have a special clamp I made to tighten this nut onto the barrel.

Tightening the Taper Nut

When all this is complete, it is very important to reface the front where the muzzle device goes so it sits perfectly perpendicular to the bore axis.

Re-Facing the Front of the Taper Nut

This is a chrome-moly barrel, so I cold-blued the threads and taper nut to match. I particularly enjoy machining and gunsmithing work. If you are interested in learning more yourself, consider the Colorado School of Trades. They offer hands-on training with great equipment, including a full bluing tank! 

The next upgrade was to bed the stock. This was a different experience than bedding a traditional Remington 700 action. The recoil lug sits down in the stock and a small channel between the barrel nut and front of the action translates the recoil forces to the stock.

Mixing the Devcon Bedding Compound

I added Devcon steel putty behind the recoil lug and ahead of the trigger where the action screws come up from the bottom.

It’s important to note that this Boyds stock comes with a small, plastic piece that serves as a foundation for the front action screw.

Hornady one shot case lube served as the mold release. I did neglect to add some wax to the recoil lug.

Once the material set, I cleaned up the result on my Precision Matthews mill. 

Cleaning Up the Bedding with the Precision Matthews Mill
Bedded Stock After Mill Work

Savage’s trigger was a bit heavy for my liking, so I also took some time to try to lighten it.

Trimming the Trigger Spring

I was able to get it from 5.5 lbs. to 5 lbs. 2 ounces — not much of a change. I also swapped the included Weaver optic for an Athlon Ares ETR 3-18×50 for greater magnification.

Shooting

With the rifle complete, I headed out to the 100 yard range. I bore-sighted the rifle and was on paper with the first shot.

SilencerCo Omega 300

I tried three different types of Hornady ammunition as well as several different muzzle devices: a Silencer Central BANISH Backcountry, a SilencerCo Omega 300, and an Ultradyne Apollo Max brake. All performed well.

The best-performing ammunition was Hornady’s 150 gr. ELD-X Precision Hunter ammunition, which had a velocity of 2,662 fps in my 18” barrel. Hornady’s data indicated a 2,770 fps muzzle velocity with presumably a 24” barrel! We were only 110 fps shy with a six-inch shorter barrel! 

I had a few 100-yard groups measuring 1.25” with this ammunition. I suspect that some of this is due to how lightweight the rifle is — it bounced considerably on the bench. I imagine that I could get better groups with a heavier-duty bipod on the ground. A lighter trigger would also help as I am not used to a five-pound trigger pull. It is predictable, but heavy.

I also shot Hornady’s 139 grain InterLock American Whitetail ammunition and their CUSTOMLite 120 grain SST reduced recoil ammunition.

After ringing steel in the industrial yard, I engaged D-M Targets rock chucks from the tank trap on the Ultimate Reloader ridgeline.

Conclusion

As much as I may think in target rifle expectations, I have to remember this purpose-built rifle is ideal for hunting large game afield at close range.

The Boyds Spike Camp gives it a scout rifle form factor and cutting down the barrel allowed for the addition of a suppressor without compromising mobility. I did swap the included scope for greater magnification and if I were to add one more thing to this rifle it would be a lighter Timney Trigger. 

Get the Gear

Boyds Spike Camp Gunstock

Savage AXIS XP

Precision Rifle Concepts/Ultimate Reloader Rifles 

Colorado School of Trades

SilencerCo Omega 300

Silencer Central BANISH Backcountry

Ultradyne Apollo Max Brake

Athlon Ares ETR 3-18×50

Athlon Precision Rings

Hornady One Shot Case Lube at Creedmoor Sports and Midsouth Shooters Supply

Wheeler Tools 100 Piece Professional FAT Wrench Screwdriver Set

Wheeler Tools 65 Piece Hex/Torx Screwdriver Set

Hornady Precision Hunter 7mm-08 REM 150 Grain ELD-X Ammunition at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Hornady CUSTOMLite 7mm-08 REM 120 Grain SST Reduced Recoil Ammunition at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Hornady 7mm-08 REM 139 Grain InterLock American Whitetail Ammunition at Midsouth Shooters Supply

D-M Targets (Get your Rock Chuck Targets HERE)

Ultradyne UD Carbon Tripod

Ultradyne Ballhead

Garmin Xero C1 Pro at Creedmoor Sports and Midsouth Shooters Supply

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Thanks,
Gavin Gear

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