Economy bolt action rifles have come leaps and bounds from decades past. Today's budget minded shooter, hunter and/or prepper has a very crowded market to choose from. Most major bolt action manufactures are offering very accurate (sub MOA a lot of the time) economy line bolt action rifles that offer a lot to those wanting a lot of features and not a lot of flash or shiny parts. You simply can't beat the durability and reliability of these two featured bolt action rifles I'm covering here today, either as a truck gun, companion to your semi auto rifle or primary hunting arm. The Savage Axis and the Thompson Center Compass have a lot to offer but also have shortcomings that you may wish to keep in mind. Lets take a look....
Thompson Center Compass
-Magazines are 5 round, belted magnum calibers are 4 round.
-Available in 11 calibers from .204 ruger up to 7mm Rem Mag and 300 Win mag!
-Barrels are factory threaded for muzzle devices of your choosing.
-Very rigid stock
-Wide flat trigger, very positive.
-Currently not available in stainless or left hand
-Comes with two peice scope base, recommend replacing with EGW one piece picatinny
-Small safety tab (Mauser style) stays out of the way but does not feel super positive.
-Bolt is not smooth, if you are use to Remington 700's and Mausers you may find you have to practice manipulating the bolt on the compass quite a bit to get so it does not bind.
-Polymer magazine, though they seem sturdy the locking tab seems thin. The newness of the compass will also make these magazines less available and more pricey for a while.
-Barrels are not as easy to change for the DIY'er as the Savage is.
-Magazines are steel construction
-Available in 9 calibers from .223 to 30/06
-Available in left hand, stainless as well as threaded muzzle versions
-Natural bolt manipulation
-Ambidextrous safety, large very easy to manipulate with a glove on.
- 4 round capacity magazines
-Stocks have significant flex but can be remedied with stiffener modifications found online
-Comes with two piece scope base, recommend replacing with EGW one piece picatinny
-Trigger not adjustable
-Threaded muzzle version little extra $30+
- I'll admit the stock flex is only a mild concern, accuracy out of the box is not bad but of course improvements can always be made. Broken Axis stocks are rare.
-4 round capacity is just annoying to me, spare magazines are a little cheaper but still ~$20+
Both are winners in my book
Its a matter of what features you are wanting in your rifle and perhaps caliber availability, The Savage Axis is not offered in any belted magnum calibers like the T/C Compass. The Axis having been on the market longer has a lot of after market upgrades that may appeal to somebody getting one then wanting to upgrade as funds allow. Laminated wood stocks from Boyds and other makers as well as custom barrels can give the rifle some improvement but these can be spendy and may defeat the initial purpose.
Both the Axis and the Compass benefit from after market support from several specialty shops. One piece scope bases in 0 MOA or 20 MOA are available from EGW (I'm not paid to advertise them, they just make great stuff) as well as extended/enlarged bolt knobs from Glades Armory can make bolt manipulation easier. After market triggers are also around for the axis, I'm not sure if any are in the works for the compass or not yet.
With rebates and scope combos these rifles are very attractive to even the most budget minded. Depending on how good the sale it is possible to catch either rifle for under $200 without the scope combo or around $300 with it. If you like to hunt with suppressors and don't mind a sort of abnormal short throw bolt or are looking for one specifically (compass is a 3 lug bolt) then I would give the nod to the Compass, it feels great in the hands and shoulders nicely. The Axis is a little lighter and action is much smoother. I've shot both rifles and though I like them both, the ease of changing the barrels on the Axis appeals to me as a hand loader who likes to experiment. Both are great choices....let your needs guide you in your quest for your rifle and enjoy your selection.
EGW one piece scope base