So I'm trying to wrap my head around a proper build for Axton

I’ve been using this DDD cookie cutter Axton guide by Blutfal in order to get a feel for which of Axton’s skills are good and what aren’t. He also kind of leaves the player alone at the beginning of TVHM, which is where I always struggle.

I’m currently using my Axton with my brother (we play together often, makes it more fun and whatnot). Never really been my character because I’ve seen him as kinda weak due to how his action skill functions. It dies so quickly. You can’t recall it remotely (like you can with Wolf & Saint from BL:TPS) and it runs into issues very quickly with elevation and obstacles blocking the bullets or rocket pods. Anyways, been trying him out.

Currently level 38. The guide mentioned to do 5/5 Preparation, Sentry and Impact. Which I did. Then it mentioned Reload (which I love), so I did that too. So that’s level 25. Then Scorched Earth for level 26. Then Metal Storm 5/5 to put me at level 31.

From there, I did this build which was picking up Longbow Turret and then getting 4/5 Able and 2/5 Grenadier. This is stll in NVHM (doing DLCs because I find them fun).

The issue I always found with Axton is that he begins to run into some serious survivability issues in TVHM. Notably, his turret becomes really hard to keep alive, even with the doubled health boost from Longbow. Other characters don’t really suffer from that, so he kind of gets the short stick since he can be without his turret a lot and doesn’t really have any tools to help him with FFYL unless you pick up Do Or Die.

Anyways, I was thinking about moreso going with this build which involves removing Able & Grenadier entirely and instead doing 5/5 Last Ditch Effort and Phalanx. The massive boosts to gun damage & movement speed in FFYL seems pretty great. Especially considering that I tend to go down somewhat frequently in TVHM.

However, from there, I’m not where where to go. I’m thinking of continuining down the Survival tree for 5/5 Quick Charge -> Mag Lock -> 4/5 Resourceful at level 48. This would put me at the end of TVHM pretty much.

Not sure where to go from there. I know Axton is all about exploiting his grenade damage skills with splash damage and explosive weaponry, but I very much like the idea of instead eventually picking up Gemini since it was mentioned in the guide that Gemini tends to be considerably better than Double Up.

Any help or advice or correcting me on my probably false assumptions about Axton or his skills?

Edit: I also have doubts about how useful Grit can be. 20% chance to survive death doesn’t seem good, at all, for a 5 point investment.


I’m a little unconventional in my build approach while levelling. As an example, I will rarely go 5/5 in a skill unless the other option to get to the next tier sucks immensely. I also tend to spread points across all three trees from the get-go, just to pick up things that help in early NVHM then TVHM. (Remember that you can always respec!)

I usually throw some points in Healthy early on, just to increase the pool - I typically don’t max out preparation until later, since (1) I usually have found a COM to boost it by the end of NVHM and (2) the bonus only kicks in when your shields are full. Similarly, I don’t max Ready since I only need 1 point in it to get the boost from a COM, and I can then put points in Willing. I personally like Longbow, (not everyone does) but as you’ve found out it can make things a bit tricky. I’d skip it for early TVHM and switch into Battlefront.

My version at level 38 with a Axton’s base legendary COM would probably look something like this: And I’d look to add Phalanx before longbow. Depending on what I want, I might go this for level 48.

Regarding your turret: positioning is everything. Learn to drop it close where it won’t have an obstructed view, and then work with it by picking off the biggest enemies attacking it. Working with your turret in this way will keep your kill skills (like Metal Storm) up longer. In TVHM, more DPS will get you out of trouble faster, meaning that you don’t need to worry so much about maximising health and shields. (Plus, if your health is low downed enemies have more chances to drop health!) In some ways, Axton likes to play on the edge all the time (Forbearance, Grit, Pressure) which may not be in your comfort zone, but he can easily hold his own in NVHM and TVHM when handled right.


When I first started playing, Axton was the first character I committed to, and my logic was to build the turret up as much as possible, and boost health and gun damage whenever I could for Axton because I was afraid I would struggle to get kills. That was largely because I hadn’t grasped the concept of getting on level weapons and farming. I eventually started actually learning about the game after I’d played through Borderlands 1 with Roland. That taught me to avoid relying on the turret and focus on the damage and healing I could do on my own with the turret as a distraction. With that in mind, on a fresh Axton, I would work down Gunpowder tree first to get Impact, Metal Storm, and Battlefront. then work down to Onslaught and Able on the Guerilla tree by the time I got to 38

My final build for Axton is usually Gemini Turrets
(Survival Capstone) and Double Up (Guerilla Capstone) for UVHM with Longbow and Mag Lock to maximize slagging and damage avoidance, but at the stage of the game you’re at I would be focused on general damage boosts rather than ones specific to specific weapon types since you’re not going to be using the gear you come by for long. Spending a whole lot of time farming isn’t worthwhile unless you’re building a mule save to trade weapons out to other characters you plan on leveling up. I would just get weapons on my level and work your way to level 50, and at that point have this build.

By 72 my Tree looks like this though I might vary the skills I pick up &/ or max out midway through to get Scorched Earth or Pressure.

Even with this load out, I play Axton the way people might play sniper Zer0 in terms of proceeding with some caution and strategy relative to the terrain and enemy types.


Before i edit this to have more info and what not. The 1st thing I’ll say is if you’re having trouble surviving take able. His turret and your guns both activate it.

As for a proper build? Umm he can use just about any weapon, so just have fun with it. The 26/15/26 build is for standard guns, the torguemando is for guns with splash damage that gets boosted by grenade damage. But i have hybird builds, an all jakobs build, and there are plenty of other posted builds. He’s tied with maya for gear flexibility

Here are two guides you could use

The better option is not going into FFYL, he has great shield skills and a few other survival skills. Unless you’re a very experienced player i highly recommend NEVER going without able.

Don’t expect this to be a big life saver, but if you’re focusing on your turret/s it’s a decent 1 pointer


I forgot to add that if you’re not farming for specific class mods sometimes it’s just best to customize your build to the gear your have, so if you have a class mod with a particularly useful boost, you might want to work towards that skill combo if it’s convenient.

If you are on the community patch Axton gets a number of upgrades in his skills that are very advantageous. The skill descriptions contain the enhancements (like Phalanx also boosting Axton’s shield in addition to giving the turret one for example).


Just going to do the mention thing since it’s easier to tackle the longer posts that way.

@Isthiswill Is there some reason you avoid Scorched Earth? Except on fast moving targets (namely aerial ones), it basically always hits and has amazing DPS and sometimes stuns enemies. Why would you not get it?

@Piemanlee Thanks for those guides. I had already seen the skill one, but I hadn’t noticed the Beginner’s Guide one. Very informative and nice, thanks. ^^ I have two questions:

Am I willingly gimping my Axton by not being a fan of Torgue weaponry? The only torgue weapons I like are the assault rifles, since they tend to have pretty decent mag size, fire rate and usually okay reload speed. The weird travel pattern of the gyrojets can make hitting some enemies a major pain. Mainly aerial enemies and stuff. I know his grenade damage skills will still amp his grenades. Speaking of, question. Does grenade damage affect only the explosion part? Does this mean his grenade skills are bad for AoE grenades (tesla, fire burst, corrosive cloud)?

Second question: Able. I’ve always had a weird view of HP regen skills. I think Sal’s are great because you can stack them. But will 2% HP per second really keep you alive? Health regen is health regen, I know. But seeing as things typically do 20%~35% of your health in a single hit (bullets less so, but you can get hit by them in rapid succession), it doesn’t seem worth it as opposed to the skills that just let you kill things faster.

Edit: whoops. I meant to reply to those two things at the end of your post.

As far as not going into FFYL, that’s a lot easier said than done. Axton does have some great survival tools, and admittedly Last Ditch Effort is only active when you enter FFYL. But I tend to enter it often, since I’m kinda bad at the game. So it seems like a worthwhile skill. I don’t try to enter it, and do my best to avoid it. Just kinda happens often.

As for Phalanx, is there something wrong with the skill? It says it blocks bullets. That seems like a pretty great thing in areas with lots of gun based enemies. And one point for that and the other bonuses mentioned in your guides seems to make it very worth the investment.


Not at all. Axton can make great use of many weapons, also arguably the best weapon in the game is a torgue pistol(unkempt Harold). Experiment and find what works good for you☺

It alone won’t save you, but it plus his shield skills and some practice with positioning during battle will. Or just get a decent moxxie weapon. Grenade damage boosts various different weapons, I’ll add a link to the list

Understandable, nothing wrong with using it until you get better at the game. When you improve you’ll notice the skill is a waste tho. Don’t be afraid to respec at anytime

Sorry about that, my response came from an op8 stand point where it doesn’t last more than a few seconds generally. In the lower difficulties it’s good and i like it even at op8, but it’s really a personal preference based on the player


@Piemanlee broaches this a bit, but Axton is a jack of all trades, your prototypical FPS character. If I’m building towards making his turret a source of significant damage (more useful in normal mode) I get scorched Earth, but it’s a skill point taken from later skills if my goal is different.

The approach I’m suggesting is first building towards general damage boosts so surviving isn’t such a hastle, nor is farming for specific gear. By UVHM slag will be absolutely necessary & the turret will get destroyed by enemies very fast without Maglock & Longbow allowing for placements that make it safe from melee & grenade attacks, while limiting the effectiveness of shotguns and other low accuracy weapons. So phase two of the build is getting slag and those features. Gemini helps in one way many don’t immediately release. You can recall the turret from far off like Wilhelm does his surveyors by Longbowing one turret & not deploying the second. You can then deploy the second at your feet and recall both at will. If you want Battlefront to last you can deploy the turret on a cieling far off and go to town while another is closer flanking enemies so you no longer draw aggro.

Scorched Earth fairs much better in the community patch. But the build I shared is all about Axton himself doing the dirty work.


Makes sense, but even still. One point for a considerable damage boost on your turret seems like a no brainer to me


Only of you are using the turret as an offensive tool. If I put a point there in the build I shared
I would have to remove a point from Onslaught, Able, or Crisis Management in the Guerilla Tree or Battlefront in the Gunpowder Tree. Since this build is centered around making it so Axton doesn’t struggle to take down enemies and lives to tell about it, those skills are essential. In the case of the Guerilla tree and Survival trees, since I am working my way down to the capstone I need every point I have allotted. For the Gunpowder tree in this build Battlefront is my relative Capstone until I get Maglock, and at that point Longbow becomes the relative Capstone, so one point in Scorched Earth is one less point in in the 4 skills I mentioned: Onslaught, Able, Crisis Management, or Battlefront. For this build, it’s not as easy a choice as it seems when you consider the utility of those four skills.

Also, for the record, in the UCP version of his Skill Tree, where they move Crisis Management to Survival, I initially put in Scorched Earth

I probably need to go back and respec that Axton. It’s been a good long while (better part of a year).

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Here is the build I used all the way up to lvl 72:
I used the Legendary Terra COM with this. It gave me a little of everything and I liked it.

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I also have a question about Axton’s grenade boosting abilities. Do these apply to vladof grenades beyond the initial explosion? Or are vladof grenades simply not worth it for him, despite being strong grenades naturally?


The pandemic and fire bee are also fun to use. Non red text Vladof grenades are good to


I looked at that. Along with the splash & grenade damage threads. It didn’t say anything about the damage over time effect on vladof grenades. Apologies if I missed something/am stupid.


Oh i understand what you mean. I’m not 100% sure but next time i play borderlands i can test it.

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Can I just say : this is extremely good question!

( and no, I don’t have the answer )


I haven’t had many issues with my Axton so far in TVHM (about to do Opportunity), hit level 51 last night while playing through Lynchwood, my skill tree for now:
Gonna finish filling in Quick Charge and then Metal Storm next (remaining points will all go in Gunpowder from then on too). I started off filling in the stuff I took in the left tree first, grabbing 1 pt in each tier 1 skill from the other trees when I found a Leg. Soldier com for him in Caustic Caverns in NVHM (long time ago now).
Final build will be this:
The 1/5 skills are to take advantage of com bonuses of certain coms. This build can realistically run quite a few different coms without a respec and get full value out of them.

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@Jefe @Piemanlee

Not that it’s super conclusive or anything. But I took a bit of a break to play some BLTPS and Jack’s skill that gives him grenade damage bonus (and magazine size but that’s irrelevant) worked on vladof grenade’s AoE dps effect. I tested it against several enemies. Using one grenade and recording the damage and then doing so with one less grenade and the damage went up. Kept going up all the way to the cap (zero grenades). So I would assume it does affect BL2’s Axton’s grenade damage bonus as well.

Of course, might be wrong about that as I haven’t tested it here and the fact that grenades, weirdly, in BL2 damage the user (the AoE dps bit) on corrosive and fire grenades, but not shock ones (meaning tesla is fine, but cloud & fire burst hurt you). So idk. Grenades might be weird or something.


Telsa’s can definitely hurt you. As a melee Zer0 player , I’m well acquainted with them.

I’ll try to test them with Axton tonight and see what happens.

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I walk inside the tesla AoE all the time and never take damage, other than from the initial explosion. Fire burst and corrosive cloud, however, rip me a new one.

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