I’m a firm believer in giving good products the props they deserve. Why skirt around the facts? Your money and more importantly, your time is extremely valuable. Making more money can surely be challenging…but you for sure can’t produce more time, so there are some things that just need to be said. We often give “ok” products a thumbs up and qualify them with “for the price”, or other accommodating disclaimers. But what if the product is far from a bargain? Is it any less deserving of praise? Must we add disclaimers about its cost? Moreover is it actually expensive? Maybe it’s just a matter of “this is what it costs”. What if the product is just so good that you can’t find anything wrong with it? Is that possible? It may be. All of the above has been true to form with Accuracy International, and its AX and AT precision rifles.
Like you, before I make a purchase, I look to trusted resources—if The Brasstacs hasn’t been one for you in the past, I hope it will be going forward. I often ask close colleagues their opinions on certain firearms, “off the record”, of course. That’s how I got to Accuracy International products. A trusted colleague and friend laid it out to me. Forever a pessimist, I was reluctant to accept his recommendation. I didn’t want to believe it and it’s likely I had many of the same reservations about Accuracy International as you might have.
Upfront, this going to sound like I’m a fanboy, and well… I am—now. Not out of blind brand loyalty, and not because I’ve historically been one. Not because Accuracy International is British born, and “exotic” in nature. Accuracy International converted this reluctant consumer by delivering what few products can at a level that even fewer will try too. The AX brings far-reaching, all-encompassing results that every shooter wants from any firearm. It’s more than just accuracy, it’s more than just quality, it’s more than any prestige. It’s something greater.
You might notice a lack of hard technical numbers in this piece. That’s because you can go to the AI website http://www.accuracyinternational.us and read its tech data for yourself. My goal is to accurately convey how such a rifle can affect you as a shooter, regardless of your experience. Tech specs only tell a small portion of the story. For this rifle, the proof is in the shooter/rifle interaction.
the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
In essence, synergy is when things come together and that union produces better outcomes than each of those things can on its own. The AI AX makes you better and gives more than it takes. It never steps beyond its boundaries or exhausts the operator, and never causes embarrassment. It’s more like a reliable, helpful friend than a rifle.
I’ve often said that bolt action rifles have souls, because a shooting experience with a good rifle is something on a higher level, and the resulting successes for the shooter can lift one’s spirits and make their day and perhaps their week. The AX is no different. It does it all without fanfare. While that may sound a bit dramatic it’s challenging to convey what isn’t tangible to shooters because we relish numerical data and visual proof. I remember telling the AI team during SHOT show, “this gun makes me a better husband”. They laughed. I didn’t. The word “therapeutic” comes to mind. It may sound odd, but when I finish a shooting session on the AX, everything is right. I’m not obsessing about parts that came loose, bent or fell off. There are no odd annoying developments in the gun causing me to question what my next steps will be to fix it, and how much time and money it will take. I don’t labor over what I need to add to make it better. The enjoyment is not diluted. I am satisfied. Content. That satisfaction follows me when I leave the range.
Accuracy International builds sniper rifles, not precision rifles. These are not finicky, high maintenance, fair-weather rifles, although they are high speed and low drag
One look at it and you can tell it’s all business, if not intimidating. Adorned with rails, holes, corners, slots, and gizmos, the AX has a lot going on. It’s cool looking although you can find unattractive angles on it too. I hear guys say “it’s ugly though”, a subjective observation, but they still want one. Nonetheless, in its entirety, it’s mesmerizing. It looks like it has a purpose and that purpose must be realized.
The core of AI is accuracy, and it’s achieved by their use of a solid block, aluminum chassis that the receiver is permanently affixed too. The receiver has an integral recoil lug that spans the width of the chassis. It’s basically one sturdy piece that all other components are attached to—the forend, skins, buttstock, and of course barrel.
The AX is hard—built for work, day in, and day out. Close inspection of any AI reveals their understanding of quality and the importance of every detail. Accuracy Internationals’ AT rifle is sleek with fewer frills, while the AX is more involved, with a slew of features. Even with all of this “stuff”, it’s in no way overdone and it’s completely functional whether you plan to use it for duty, competition, or as your go-to rifle for all things precision. Be warned, it’s a bit heavy for hunting.
AX features include a 13-inch handguard with AI’s patented KeySlot attachment design. Users can place rail sections where necessary. A Picatinny rail runs along the entire top of the rifle, so NV and thermal units have a home. The buttstock folds to decrease the rifle’s overall profile and ease its transport. It’s full of adjustability and I’m confident you’ll find a way to make it perfect for your body. The trigger is a two-stage adjustable version from 3.3 lbs to 4.4 lbs. Some will want it lighter and although I run lighter triggers, I don’t mind the AX’s because it’s so smooth, not to mention it’s safe, a trait often overlooked in bolt actions. But the AI is meant for hard work in the field so there can be no compromise here. A three position safety compliments this fact.
There are faster, slicker actions out there, but AI actions are absolute dependability, consistency, and repeatability, in physical form. Each stroke of the action is purposeful, and void of hiccups. It’s almost boring, save for the 60-degree throw and addictive, deeply mechanical sound. Audible snicks and clacks barrage your senses and reverberate throughout your body as you circulate round after round from its ridiculously easy-to-load, double stack magazine. AI actions feel like AI actions, and nothing else.
We live in a world of countless options and the AX accommodates you with multi-caliber capability, although this technical designation is saved for its long-action sibling. A supplied 4mm hex wrench, conveniently stored in the buttstock under the cheek piece is all you need to change barrels. Go ahead and love both .260 Remington and 6.5 Creedmoor— it’s ok. Just keep the barrels on hand and change them when you feel like it. Opt for the low recoil 6mm Creedmoor or the endless barrel life of the tried and true .308 Winchester. AI-supplied barrels are available and appropriately priced in the $700-ish range. Quality is guaranteed and proper head spacing is achieved—hand tighten the new barrel and cinch down with the hex wrench…done.
Lay down behind the AX and its ergos tuck you in. Relax and take note of its stability. The AX’s complex design affords functional ease. There is no intimidation at the helm of the AX, only confidence, and you haven’t even pulled the trigger yet. When you do, the consistent break leaves you with one less distraction and a solid, quick, impulse of linear recoil comes and goes, with you barely noticing it.
Grab the eight-ball bolt knob that you assumed was less than adequate when you first looked at it—you’ll be apologizing later because it’s right too. Unlock the six lugs with all their significant resistance, then marvel as it gives way to utter smoothness. Run it as hard or as slow as you want. Regardless, the outcome will be the same.
I resisted most urges to shoot repetitious, self-competitive groups with the AX because I knew I’d be selling the rifle short. I can regularly punch sub-half MOA groups but this falls short of the AX’s true glory, for it was built for something greater. Still, I feel like a million bucks because it’s so easy to do. Friends, this is how it should be.
Three separate barrels each of a different chambering were used with the AX and all shot well under MOA. The only group larger than 1/2 MOA came out of the 6.5 Creedmoor barrel. A .65″ group with horizontal stringing was most likely my doing.
Additionally, due to time constraints, I only tested one brand of ammo. In any case, the 6mm Creedmoor barrel loved Hornady’s 105 gr. ELD-M, while the .308 liked a whole lot of stuff including Primes 175 gr BTHP and Hornady’s Superformance 178 gr. BTHPs, the latter of which had a blazing 2816 fps velocity from the 24”.30 caliber barrel. It printed 9 rounds into .62”. Want some cheaper ammo? Buy some Privi 175 gr. BTHP Match and shoot minute of angle from the AX. Bang steel for the fun of it and save the good stuff for another day. It’ll shoot 168’s just as well.
I shot the AX out to 500 and 700 yards in .308 trim and it was equally impressive—little effort, excellent results. I shook my head and giggled a lot if that means anything. I was having fun and lots of it. I wasn’t worried about misses, or mags malfunctioning, nor quirks in the rifle. Everything at that moment was ideal. From the first shot to the last, it was utterly predictable.
What Value Is
Spending $7500 on a bolt action rifle might sound crazy but I would counter that it’s not. If I had bought this rifle (had it been available back then) years ago I’d have saved $20,000 in rifles easily by this point. Consider buying one rifle. Consider buying the best, once-in-a-lifetime rifle that you could ever afford or ever need. Few guns make that list, but this is indeed one. It’s timeless in its looks, and top-tier performance never goes out of style. Plus it will always be better than you. You can then grow as a shooter with the AX, getting to know it inside and out and learn to extract all that it has to offer.
My advice— take your time. Save up for a little longer. Sell any of your pistols, rifles or otherwise that aren’t absolutely stellar, so you’ll have more money for the AX. You won’t miss them. Once you buy the AX you’ll have no regrets other than the valuable shooting time you’ve wasted on lesser guns.
Relax, I’m not saying the Accuracy International AX is the only rifle to own. I’m not saying that it’s the only good rifle out there either. I also don’t know that every AI is free of issues. I’m simply saying that this is one of the unquestionable and undoubted greats. After experiencing it, I believe it’s worth it.
Accuracy International AI AX 308
Type: Bolt action, RH/LH
Action: 6-lug 60 degree throw
Barrel: 20”, 24”, 26”
Caliber: .308 Win, .260 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, .243 Win, 6mm Creedmoor, 6×47 Lapua
Weight: 13.7 lb
Length: 45.5 inches
Trigger: Two-stage adjustable 3.3-4.4 lb
Capacity: 10 round double stack, AIAW style
Finish: Dark Earth, Green, Pale Brown, Elite Sand, Elite Midnight