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Axton General Overview and Skill Guide

Table of Contents

Basic Information

This document contains important and reliable information about skill trees, general builds, and useful information for Axton. This list was compiled and put together by the members of the BL2 chat in the Borderlands community discord. While not all of the builds listed will tackle all of the content in the game (looking at you, Voracidous), they will work for general play and be useful throughout all levels of the game. All of the gear and general information listed in this guide is up-to-date with the Fight For Sanctuary DLC, and is fine tuned to show the best gear and data for Axton.


Axton is the Commando class of Borderlands 2. He has a very versatile kit and a simple playstyle, making him very beginner friendly. Axton, along with Maya (see guide on her if interested), are the 2 most beginner friendly playable classes in the game. His action skill is the Sabre Turret, a useful sentry that shoots and distracts enemies. While he has a flexible “jack of all trades” kit, he truly excels at survivability, shield usage, and especially grenade and Tediore reload usage.

Skill Overview and Guide

Sabre Turret: For his action skill, Axton deploys a handy turret that can shoot and distract enemies. Turret’s base duration is 20 seconds and has a cooldown of 42 seconds. Early on in the game, the turret is used as a free source of damage and as a distraction. However later on in UVHM, the turret drops off for damage and becomes much stronger for utility, being able to distract enemies better and even slag enemies.

Values on skills are not mentioned unless they are crucial to explaining how impactful a certain skill is. Feel free to look at the values in-game or by visiting Lootlemon.com

Guerrilla Tree

This is the left-most tree, focused on boosting his turret’s ability and improving almost every aspect of Axton.

Sentry: Increases the duration of your Sabre Turret and increases the length of each of its bursts. This skill pairs well with others that would require your Turret to be active, and makes the turret simply better at what it was already good at.

Ready: A rather large passive reload speed buff at Tier 1. This skill is one of Axton’s best skills for every build.

Laser Sight: Increases the accuracy of your Sabre Turret and actually gives it a visible laser sight. While the laser sight itself can be cool, the value of this skill is pretty much inconsequential. Only spend 1 point if you want the laser.

Willing: Gives a very sizable boost to your shield’s Recharge Rate and Recharge Delay. Alongside Quick Charge (explained later in this document), you can have your shields up very often. This pairs well with the Preparation skill.

Onslaught: A kill skill that grants you a high amount of increased gun damage and movement speed. This skill has the highest per-point value for movement speed skills in the game, and is just overall good for any build.

Scorched Earth: Scorched Earth is a single point, Tier 3 skill that adds rockets to your turret. It makes the turret incredibly potent early on (Pre-UVHM) for quick and easy damage, but drops off a bit later on. Note may cause visual pollution which obstructs vision.

Able: Able is a Tier 3 survivability skill which lets Axton heal for just playing the game. He heals some health per second per point for 3 seconds after damaging an enemy. It synergizes very well with Healthy and Preparation for health stacking, or just as a general survival boost.

Grenadier: This Tier 4 skill simply increases the size of Axton’s pockets by letting him shove 1 more grenade in there per point. Simple yet deadly, it synergizes very well with his grenade boosts.

Crisis Management: Grants you a bonus to your Gun Damage and Melee Damage while your shields are broken. Much like Laser Sight, this skill is very often seen as not worth it in any way. Axton has many ways of keeping his shield up, and the skill generally does not give you enough benefit for opting to ignore his powerful shield boosts.

Double Up: The game changing capstone of the left tree. It puts an extra gun to the turret and makes both guns slag enemies. Extremely recommended for making UVHM lazy and synergizes strongly with all of his turret boosts.

Gunpowder Tree

Axton’s middle tree, this tree focuses on generally boosting his damage through a variety of ways, especially grenades. A very versatile tree that is also rather simple. 

Impact: Impact is a very simple, passive Tier 1 skill. It boosts some Gun and Melee damage. Not much reason to pass it up. Note: Melee boost is negligible, Axton is not a melee character

Expertise: Another simple passive Tier 1 skill that is quite handy for utility. It has a lot of swap speed, Aim Speed, and Aim Movement speed. Useful for slag-and-swap in UVHM.

Overload: Grants a fairly large boost to the magazine size of assault rifles. As it is specific to that category of weapons, it can very often be useless to you. But if you are using them (and you should, there are some great assault rifles), there is little reason to not put points in it, as Axton has almost no other ways of increasing his magazine size. This especially applies if you are using a class mod that boosts it, at which point you can simply put 1 point in.

Metal Storm: A Tier 2 Kill Skill, Metal Storm is a massive DPS boost for a wide majority of guns. It boosts fire rate and recoil reduction by quite a bit. It synergizes well with his gun damage boosts to put the pain downrange fast. 

Steady: Steady is a very handy Tier 3 skill because it is one of Axton’s strong grenade damage skills. It also boosts recoil reduction on top of gun damage for rocket launchers (Does not boost sources of rocket damage that aren’t actual rocket launchers. Stacks additively with other sources of “Gun Damage”). Synergizes very well with Do or Die, Battlefront, and Grenadier.

Longbow Turret: This is a very important Tier 3 game changer. It not only lets Axton deploy his turret from long range, but also increases its health by 110%. It synergizes with all of Axton’s turret skills, especially Mag-Lock, giving Turret extreme amounts of flexibility in placement and aggro-relief.

Battlefront: Battlefront is a Tier 3 Turret related skill. It is incredibly important for Axton due to its boosts and extreme synergy with all of the turret skills. (Boost Melee, Gun, and Grenade damage by +6% per point). Synergizes well with just about everything.

Duty Calls: While holding a Non-Elemental weapon, you gain an increase to your Gun Damage and Fire Rate. Pretty much all of the “good” Non-Elemental weapons are Jakobs, so the fire rate buff is irrelevant in most cases. And the gun damage buff is additive with every other source of “Gun Damage” (unlike elemental relics, which is a fresh multiplier), so the damage buff isn’t enough to justify spending points in the skill either because he gets a lot of it already.

Do or Die: Do or Die is a one point Tier 4 game changer. It allows Axton to throw grenades in Fight for Your Life, as well as boosting grenade and rocket launcher damage by +10%. Often regarded as the true capstone of Gunpowder, Do or Die is nearly mandatory since Axton has other ways of boosting grenades, so they become a really good way of getting you out of FFYL

Ranger: Grants you a small buff to a variety of stats (we will not list all of them here, go to Lootlemon to see skill details). The value per-point, especially considering that the skill in Tier 5, is very low. It is not worth it to spend points in this skill.

Nuke: The capstone skill for Gunpowder that gives your Turret the ability to cause a large nuclear blast around it when you deploy it, dealing damage and knocking away enemies. While the crowd-control from knocking them back can be nice, the damage is lackluster. It is pretty much never worth it to go this far down the tree and sacrifice skills from the other branches. Unless you are doing it for fun.

Survival Tree 

Axton’s right tree focuses mainly on increasing his survivability, as its name suggests. This tree plays a big role in keeping him up and kicking in combat. Axton is well known for his great survivability even in late game, being able to tank even without the use of Moxxi weapons.

Healthy: Healthy is a great skill for increasing Axton’s health up high, better known as health stacking. It synergizes greatly with Able and Preparation because of their percent based regen which allows Axton to heal through bullets and DoT (damage over time), especially combined with Adaptive shields and Forbearance. Not mandatory, but very handy even at OP10 for health stacking.

Preparation: Preparation is an exceptional Tier 1 skill with little to no reason to ignore. It boosts Shield Capacity, but also regenerates some of your maximum health per second if your shields are full. It synergizes perfectly with Able and Healthy for regen, but also on the shield side with Willing, Quick Charge, Pressure, and Turret’s aggro relief to keep your shields topped off. (Note: Not good for Tediore Raid Boss kills)

Pressure: Pressure is a very handy Tier 2 skill that can replace Healthy to move down the tree. It can boost up to +14% Reload Speed and -12% Recharge Delay (depending on how low your health is. You will get half the benefit when you are at 50% HP, etc) per point. Those are big numbers and useful boosts that can come quite in handy. The biggest use however, is for using the Hoplite to lower your health in order to kill raid bosses quickly via Tediore Chucks.

Last Ditch Effort: Gives you a large boost to your gun damage and movement speed while you are in Fight For Your Life. This is generally seen as not a great skill, as it also breaks completely if you deal any damage of any kind while you have a Moxxi weapon in your hand. If it doesn’t break, the movement speed can be nice to reposition yourself while in FFYL, but the damage buff is not enough to justify speccing into this skill. As mentioned earlier, combining Do or Die with axton’s grenade damage boosts and a high damage grenade is a much better way of getting out of FFYL.

Forbearance: Forbearance is a simple Tier 3 skill, but not really always preferred. It lowers status effect time and slightly increases your health. DoT effects on the player can be deadly in the endgame, so reducing the duration of them can help a lot. However, this skill still isn’t that mandatory to spec into, so pick it if you are feeling like it.

Phalanx Shield: Phalanx Shield is single point Tier 3 that gives the Turret a dome shield, giving both the turret and you an extra line of defense. It is useful to buy yourself time in combat, but also for blocking attacks like novas, thresher black holes, and so on. It also seems to make enemies focus more on the Turret and not you. 

Quick Charge: This Tier 3 kill skill is a massive boost to Axton’s shield usage as a whole. Its shield regen per second ensures Axton has an active shield and can even push through damage over time or bullets depending on size. It is nearly mandatory due to how good this skill is, and is heavily recommended.

Resourceful: Resourceful is a passive Tier 4 cooldown skill. More useful to move down the tree as compared to Forbearance. Due to Axton’s fairly long cooldown, you may want to consider tossing points into this skill. Indirectly synergizes with his Turret boosts

Mag-Lock: Mag lock is a single point, Tier 4 game changer. It lets Turret to stick to surfaces when being deployed. This skill synergizes well with his other Turret skills, especially Longbow Turret. The insane amounts of flexibility sticky gives cannot be described. Heavily recommended.

Grit: A passive Tier 5 skill that greatly increases Axton’s survivability, sometimes to ridiculous levels. It gives him a +4% chance to ignore fatal damage per point, and instantly regenerates 50% of his health. It can proc many times in a row if you get lucky. Whether to get instantly above healthgate or for 50% of your stacked health, Grit truly becomes a life saver. Note: Since Grit is based on chance, it is not entirely reliable every time, but rather a “dumb luck” skill.

Gemini: Gemini is the game changing capstone of Survival tree, and lets you deploy two turrets. This obviously synergies incredibly well with everything Sabre Turret already did and the skills associated with it, but now even better! As well as the second turret being respawnable if it dies as long as the first turret is still active. And also the second turret can be killed using a trick (look in Extra Information) to proc Kill Skills. The importance of this skill cannot be understated.

Gear Guide

As a quick note stated previously, Axton is very flexible with his ability to use gear. He can make do with many items. However these items are considered to shine on Axton especially. 

The highlighted colors match the rarities of the items in-game. Effervescent/rainbow rarity is highlighted with this color, and non-uniques with this color.


Assault Rifles: Bekah, Ogre, Peak Opener, Hail
Honorable Mentions: Lead Storm, Seraphim, Sawbar, Hammerbuster/Thumpson, Kerblaster, Kitten, Dahl Minigun, Torgue Spitter, Vladof Rifle/Spinigun, Jakobs Gatling Gun

Shotguns: Torgue Ravager, Swordsplosion/Unicornsplosion, Flakker, Omen, Twister
Honorable Mentions: Interfacer, Butcher, Carnage, Conference Call, Slowhand, Blockhead, Heartbreaker, Orphan Maker

Pistols: Unkempt Harold, Hornet, Lady Fist
Honorable Mentions: Gunerang, Tediore E-Tech, Teapot, Vladof AnarchistHyperion Synergy, Rubi 

SMGs: Avenger, Baby Maker, Hyperion/Tediore Plasma Casters
Honorable Mentions: Tattler, Florentine, Bitch, Hellfire, Sand Hawk, Infection Cleaner, Nirvana

Sniper Rifles: Pimpernel, Lyuda, Amigo Sincero
Honorable Mentions: Skullmasher, Volcano, Maliwan Snider (with a maliwan barrel, not dahl), Vladof Droog, Jakobs Diaub/Muckamuck

Launchers: Norfleet, Badaboom, Vladof Topneaa, Creamer
Honorable Mentions: Mongol, Maliwan PBFG, 12 Pounder, Hive, World Burn 


Grenades: Meteor Shower/Bonus package, Quasar, Fastball, Electric Chair
Honorable Mentions: Crossfire/Bouncing Bonny, Storm Front, Firestorm, Chain Lightning, Contraband Skyrocket, Transfusions

Shields: Antagonist, Blockade, Big Boom Blaster, Evolution/Neogenator, The Bee
Honorable Mentions: Tediore Shields, Pangolin Turtle Shields, Anshin Adaptive Shields

Class Mods: Legendary Soldier, Grenadier, Veteran
Honorable Mentions: Legendary Engineer, Rifleman, Gunner

Relics: Bone of the Ancients, Elemental Relic (Explosive)
Honorable Mentions: Elemental Relic (Fire/Corrosive/Shock), Stockpile Relic, Cooldown Relic


These are items that can be very useful in gameplay, but should be treated as things that support your build rather than something you will be using at all times.

Slagga (SMG)
The Sham (Shield) + Logan’s Gun (Pistol) (Rocket Ammo regeneration)
Trespasser (Sniper Rifle) (hitting Pyro Pete’s mask off of his face)
Grog Nozzle (Pistol) (Healing)

Gameplay Guide

Playstyle: Axton has a very simple and beginner friendly playstyle that generally boils down to throwing Turret, and enemies shooting it and not you. His flexibility with gear means he can play in numerous ways, usually fitting the style of gun he uses. With his high survivability and highly rewarding kill skills, Axton likes to play in a fast paced, shoot to kill way that keeps up the momentum. Combined with the aggro-relief that his turret provides, Axton can rush into combat and control the battlefield to his own liking. 

Action Skill: In earlier playthroughs you may use the Turret as a great way to deal damage to enemies. Then enemies who are not getting shot, you can finish off yourself. However in later levels, Turret becomes a tool rather than a weapon. Consider using it to distract enemies (especially with Mag-Lock) and to apply slag with Double-Up. You want to put the turret in a spot where it will be safe and has line of sight to enemies. It has to be able to shoot and slag enemies, and have enemies shooting at it. This way, you can easily breeze through enemies without them doing much of anything.

Basic Mobbing: When it comes to mobbing, the general basis of Axton is “shoot the gun”. Just about every gun has a big reason to hit crits with. However some guns do rely less on crits then others (some may not even be able to crit at all). Most guns that do this end up having great crowd killing power. The gear you use on Axton pretty much decides your playstyle. Especially when it comes down to grenade and class mod. Different items have some synergies with other items, similar to how some skills work together. 

Raiding: Raid bosses however, are not as subjective as mobbing. Most of Axton’s raid boss setups are set in stone. When it comes down to it, Axton takes down nearly every raid boss with Tediore chucking kills (see build below). If the chucking does not kill the raid boss outright, it will at least do massive damage so he can finish them off. (Look below in extra information)

Leveling Guide

Simple Leveling Info: Axton is well known for his easy, lenient, and straightforward leveling experience. He starts off with a great early game, and is very consistent all the way to max level. There are many leveling paths which makes Axton not linear at all, but these are some personal recommendations. His action skill alone is a great early start. Note: Take these guides with a grain of salt. They are only recommendations and templates for leveling and are completely subject to change depending on your own preferences. 

Gunpowder Start: Lvl 5-31 (Normal Mode)

Lootlemon Skill Tree Link

Axton’s Gunpowder tree is his main source of DPS, and is basically available right away for early game damage. It also has Longbow Turret, which synergizes well with Battlefront right next to it.

The basis of this style of leveling is to dump points into DPS right away to make killing enemies easier. The Route you may want to consider is taking Impact and Ready first, then working down to Longbow Turret and Do or Die. Preparation can be used for quick and early survivability if you need it. Then you can finish off the rest of the build by speccing into other skills

Guerilla Start: Lvl 5-31 (Normal Mode)

Lootlemon Skill Tree Link

Note: The link above is set up for level 48. These are the core skills, with an extra remainder of two to be placed to your liking. In TVHM Axton starts to combine the two pre-mentioned builds into one. You start gaining points to place into both Gunpowder and Guerilla. His Survival tree is more incorporated into UVHM where the game picks up a challenge. This or some variation of this general purpose build is all you really need for TVHM. It is built on combining the strengths of two builds.

Start of UVHM: (UVHM 50 to ~64)

Lootlemon Skill Tree Link

When it comes to UVHM, Double Up is a necessity. Turret becomes more of a tool than a weapon in this mode. At the start of UVHM (Level 50), respec so it resembles something along the lines of how Guerilla and Gunpowder look, down to Double Up, Longbow Turret, and Do or Die (Not necessarily exactly as shown, but resembling it. Feel free to move some points around). Then throughout UVHM you work your way down to Mag-Lock and some extra survivability. You should be able to reach Mag-lock by around level 65 depending on how you distributed your points. After you reach Mag-Lock, you can start touching up your build and start working to your max level build (Variety of builds listed below if you want examples).


Note: There is no true single best build, every build has its strengths, weaknesses and role. Builds are fairly subjective and boil down to how you want to play. That being said, these are some Axton builds to try out. Feel free to change these builds around to your liking. (All of these builds are level 80).

Funko’s™ Generalist Axton Spec

Lootlemon Skill Tree Link

Level 80 Axton spec that I (Funko) personally use for its versatility. However, it is not particularly specialized for one strength.

Tediore/Grenade Axton Build

Lootlemon Skill Tree Link

This is a specialized build for grenade damage that maximizes potential. However the build sacrifices some survivability to achieve this, so it is recommended to use Moxxi guns. Note: To raid with this build, swap Preparation to Healthy.

LazyData’s Axton build

Lootlemon Skill Tree Link

Chaotic Evil Ranger

By: osetor74
Lootlemon Skill Tree Link

This build is centered around using Grit as your source of survivability. The survivability is outclassed by some builds, but this build also deals higher damage than with Legendary Pointman, which would be the alternative when focusing on Grit.

Like the name implies, Chaotic Evil Ranger is the best variant of the class mod as it gives you the highest DPS boost. With the skill tree shown below you want a purple rarity Ranger with +5 Grit. However, you can also use a blue rarity Ranger with +6 Grit and +5 Impact. If you’re using the latter, it’s better to take the point from Ranger and move it elsewhere. Using the setup below with a purple rarity Ranger is my preferred way of using the build.

If you are playing with the UCP, this build is directly buffed as Ranger(skill) is buffed from 1% per point for each stat to 2%. That means the +5 Grit +4 Impact +4 Ranger variant of the class mod is way more valuable.

Tl;Dr: Very niche build, not the most viable, but it can be fun

Temmmmy’s General Axton Build

Lootlemon Skill Tree Link

This is the build I (Temmmmy) personally use when playing Axton. It is 95% of the same as Funko’s build, however, instead of taking 5/5 points into sentry- I opt for getting ⅘ grenadier. This allows further grenade upkeep, for not only utility, but damage in this build. With using a legendary soldier COM, you still are able to have 6/5 points in sentry for increased turret uptime.

Legendary Pointman Jakobs Deputy Axton (we haven’t collectively decided on a shorter name)

By: osetor74 , original idea by FlavoredFox#8439 (Delilah)
Lootlemon Skill Tree Link

This is a sub-par build that is meant more for lower difficulties and generally screwing around. It has been tested to decent results on OP0 by FlavoredFox, but to lesser results at OP10 with testing by Funko.

The main idea of this build is using Legendary Pointman, Rough Rider and the Orphan Maker together. Legendary Pointman and Rough Rider (especially its damage reduction) help greatly in negating the self-damage of the Orphan Maker, which allows you to use its high damage potential. Rough Rider also gives us the ability to have Crisis Management up at all times, which gives us a little bit of the damage that this build would otherwise lose.

Relic can be more flexible, though I (osetor) found that a Heart of the Ancients with shotgun damage is the most comfortable one. If you want more reload speed and don’t think you need the FFYL stats, you can opt into a deputy’s badge instead. Or you can use a Vitality Relic/Blood of the Ancients, or Blood of the Seraphs if you want more up-front health.

Grenade is nothing special; transfusions, singularities and fastball are always great, or whatever grenade you prefer.

Extra Information

Demonite’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/XxDemonitexX

-Derchlands’ Axton Skill and Gear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzrC7QdZb2w

-Axton Top Gear Forum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzrC7QdZb2w

-Lazydata’s Axton Build Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfo49WgfKhM

-Axton Gemini Turret Kill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=884sMmJYnJo

-Demonite Levelling Guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYmA6F2o6cs

Managed by Funkotron 9000#2804 (Funko)
Contributions by FlavoredFox#8439

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