Savage, who a couple decades ago was not a major player in the firearms field, was an old and recognizable brand. In the 60's, 70's and 80's, however, it was known for lower priced firearms. I owned a CIL 830 .222 Rem bolt which was manufactured for Canadian Industries Limited by Savage (the Savage model designation was 340). I bought it from the wholesaler (we had a general store) for about $130.00 in about 1968. I shot CIL Dominion .222Rem 50 gr. P.S.P., the only ammo I could buy wholesale. The Savage action required a Weaver side mount and I bought a Bushnell 3x-9x Banner rifle scope. I had a bench I built inside a shed and shot out into the field. I worked hard to shoot a 1 3/4" 3 shot group.
Enough reminiscing. Fast forward to today. Savage Axis 223Rem bolt action with a clip and 3x-9x Bushnell scope for the low price of $349.00. Out to the range and most shooters are reporting 7/8 - 1 1/2:" groups with factory ammo. The Savage Axis is about 1/2 the price of my original varmint outfit if you adjust 1968 dollars to 2012.
One thing both Savages had in common were a little too heavy trigger pull. I believe the old Bushnell Banner (Japanese optics) was a better scope than the Bushnell supplied with the current combo. The stock height and the bedding helps make the Savage Axis an easier rifle to shoot well.
We've sold over 150 Savage Axis and certainly have over 99% satisfaction. I tell everyone the price is not indicative of the quality. What you receive is definitely more than what you paid for. The only real criticism I can level at the Savage Axis is it should be made only in light calibers up to 243Win or 25/06. I feel the 270, 308, etc. are a little heavy for this chassis and the individual shooting it.
In heavier calibers, let's look at the new Weatherby S2 synthetic stock Vanguard. This firearm comes with a M.O.A. guarantee in all calibers for the low price of $550. Also available in 240Wthby, 257Wthby and 300Wthby. Go back 30 years and try to buy a rifle in 300Wthby Mag with a great trigger, a high Magnum stock and an accurized barrel. It would be the price of a used Chevy car.
The Browning Xbolt in the most popular calibers with a good clip system, synthetic or walnut stock, short throw bolt is an accurate, light weight rifle starting at ~ $700.00. Try to buy that combination even in early 1970's dollars for $700.00.
Hornady has added pressure to other ammunition manufacturers with an expanded line of higher quality ammunition at standard ammunition prices. Hornady Superformance varmint ammo in 222Rem or 223Rem with V Max bullets priced in the $20.00 range is a good example.
The bottom line is an ammunition company such as Hornady and a firearms manufacturer, such as Savage, is forcing the industry to increase its quality and hold or reduce the price of the goods it produces.