This is just to placehold, still needs to edit it.
This is meant to be a finished work started by @piemanlee, so the credits for the idea are his. Also, I want it to be a community guide, so any and all Axton players that have an input, please go on. I’m trying to cover the basics for Axton, giving paths on what to pick and spec through the game. Looking foward to some of Axton veterans input, like @DemoniteBL, @johnrr6, @Triad_Thunder and @Afro_Samurai as I’m going to try to add as Quotes the input I find good for this guide.
#Skills: synergy and specs
- Early skills synergy
Axton has skills that synergyze pretty well across his trees so it is wise to get some key skills instead of going straight to the capstones.
The first skills to look for are Impact, Metal Storm and Ready. With them, Axton can make any gun work as they got their basic aspects boosted: damage, fire rate and reload speed. Also, the recoil reduction can make the handle of some manufacturers easier.
The second step is to make your Action Skill, the Sabre Turret 2.0, a trait. The early skills that allow the Turret to shine are Sentry, Scorched Earth and, as an option, Longbow. Sentry and especially Scorched Earth increase your Turret DPS by adding more shots to the burst, more up time to the Turret and the ability to shot rocket pods in every burst. With them, your AS is going to kill enemies by its own, granting you kill skills and occasionally second winds. As an option we got Longbow, which allows you to deploy your Turret further away from you and give more health to it. With Longbow, you can let your Turret clear camps alone while you progress through the map or even place it where you couldn’t before.
Note that going straight to the capstone makes you miss most of Axton skills synergy, so spec into these first basic skills before choosing where you are going to spend your next points. This is going to make the game a lot easier, keep it in mind.
By the end of the main storyline, your spec should look like this: http://bl2skills.com/commando.html#55000100005005010000000000000000.
Note that we usually end the main storyline at level 30 and this spec stops at level 27. The last few points can be spent in Preparation, which is going to help with health regen between engages - you can even spec one or two points in it before starting to spec the skills listed above. Keep it in mind, as new players can really benefit from it and get an easier play through.
Able is also an option for in battle healing.
Now it is time to start the True Vault Hunter Mode and build your spec further.
As a tip, do all the sidequests to get extra XP and unique gear that will help you play through the game.
- Mid game synergy and specs
Reaching True Vault Hunter Mode is the time to choose our patch between a Turret focused Engineer, an Explosive Master or a Balanced Soldier. Let’ talk about them!
As a note, I’m note going to break down specs like Tediore, Kill Skill or Rifleman as they require more specific gear to be played.
This spec is focused in putting your Turret out faster and keeping it alive longer. Battlefront is an amazing skill and one of Axton best boosts, so having it up as often as possible is the Engineer main point - especially if it get boosted by a COM.
Also, this setup provides good survivability capabilities with Preparation, Pressure and Quick Charge.
Note that Quick Charge is situational, as low capacity shields won’t benefit this much from it. Feel free to swap it for Healthy, if you want to stack health with an Adaptive shield or Forbearance if you want that DoT to wash off fast when wearing Tediore fast shields. Also, Last Ditch Effort is a good tool to get out of Fight for your Life easier.
The next skill to look at in this specific setup is the capstone Gemini, as it doubles your Turret DPS and synergizes with all the others Turret focused skills you already spec’d. Also, Mag-Lock is a good utility tool for your Turret if you can deploy it correctly.
The main drawback in this setup is the lack of damage when Battlefront and your Turret are down.
This spec is focused in one of Axton specialities: explosive damage. Be it with grenades, Torgue weaponry or Tediore reloads, Axton can take splash damage to the next level of power and efficiency.
This is mainly due to his Gunpowder tree, with skills boosting grenade damage - what affects some guns splash damage too. Steady, Battlefront and Do or Die can add together up to 65% grenade damage bonus without being boosted, on top of the gun damage skills that also boost the splash damage. This is especially effective with Torgue guns, that can have up to 85% damage added as splash.
On top of it, Grenadier adds up to 5 grenades to Axton pool, making spam it easier and more effective.
The next skill to look for is Double Up, which is already knocking your door. Allowing your Turret to slag for you is amazing, turning it in a great utility tool - especially in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, where the slag debuff has a higher multiplier.
The main drawback in this setup is the lack of survivability. Without points in Survival, you won’t be able to hold your ground if being hit hard. You can make up for it specing Able or Willing, but probably won’t be enough. Do or Die is an amazing skill to help you get second winds, though.
The soldier is Axton well rounded setup. It gives you survivability through Willing, Preparation and Pressure and, at the same time, increases your damage output with Onslaught. Also, Battlefront is a nice boost while the Turret is up.
Quick Charge is also a nice option instead of Willing, depending on your itens.
This is a solid spec with no really drawback but being a little away from his capstones.
Your next step should be getting to Double Up, as it is the nearest capstone and its utility is going to be unvaluable in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode.
- End game specs
There are basically two basic specs when you reach the level cap, one about explosions and the other being solid for every aspect of the game. In sum, they are the previous specs merging together.
This is Axton all around spec for the end game. With no real speciality, it can perform well in mobbing or raiding scenarios, solo or co-op play.
This spec is solid with basically every one of the gazillion guns this game has to offer. The shield skills allow you to use any kind of shield too, from nova to turtle.
Also, the Turret is fully upgraded with both capstones, supporting you with both utility and damage output, being Phalanx Shield and Mag-Lock both optional utility tools.
Note that, if you feel going down often, Crisis Management and Last Ditch Effort can be good options instead of Quick Charge and Grenadier.
In fact, Grenadier isn’t really necessary if your grenade slot is used for utility, like as a slag tool or singularity/transfusions grenades. That being said, Able is an excellent option to go down the tree, granting you even more survivability and chance to proc Grit.
This spec focus in dealing damage with explosives and, different from the mid game spec, doesn’t suffer for the lack of survivability.
Preparation, Willing and Pressure help with keeping your shield fully charged while you wreck the battlefield with explosions.
Also, Resourceful helps with keeping Battlefront up more often, increasing your damage output.
The only drawback, in my opinion, is the lack of Grit. But, again, Do or Die is an amazing get out of Fight for your Life tool.
Gear: gimmicks and how they work
Borderlands 2 guns are built around gimmicks - different effects each manufacturer have. Let’s talk about how they synergize with Axton skillset and when they are best used.
Dahl weapons are stable, accurate, fast and effective. Their burst fire gimmick is useful to hit crit spots quickly, saving some ammo. Even without any specific synergy with Axton skillset they can be effectively used from normal to Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode. Just remember that their sniper rifles are best used as long range assault rifles, what is good as Axton has no one shot potential.
Dahl is also responsible for Booster type shields and Bouncing Betty grenades. Both of them are solid picks before you get top tier gear: Booster shields can spawn with elemental immunities and Bouncing Betties are good AoE grenades, especially against slow moving targets like bots. Also, the boosts provide great utility for teamplay.
I GOT ONE QUESTION, AND ONE QUESTION ONLY: EXPLOSIONS?
Torgue guns fire slow moving Explosive gyrojets with up to 85% extra damage added as splash. They hit hard and are effective against all types of health bars - not counting shields, but you won’t notice the difference.
The downside of Torgue guns is their sluggish reload speed and fire rate, both covered by Axton skillset due to Ready and Metal Storm. But what make they shine brighter in Axton hands is the splash, boosted by grenade damage. With Battlefront, Do or Die and Steady we get 65% extra damage added in the splash. Also, the splash is based in the gun damage so skills like Impact and Onslaught boosts your damage twice - up to 80% gun damage that also boosts the splash.
On top of it, Torgue MIRV grenades are among the best in the game. They can cover a large area with high damaging child grenades, cleaning groups easily.
Torgue also makes explosive nova and spike shields, good choices while leveling. Axton shield skills allow him to recharge fast the nova shield or keep the spike shield recharging even through damage, optimizing their special effect.
One more thing: DID YOU KNOW OVER 97% OF ALL CREATURES ON PANDORA AREN’T EXPLODING RIGHT NOW? THAT’S BULLSH*T! BUY TORGUE!
Vladof guns pack the highest fire rate of all Manufacturers, alongside a higher than normal mag size and recoil. Metal Storm is the skill you need to optimize the use of Vladof guns, as it helps you handle the recoil and boosts the fire rate even further - reaching the caps in some cases. Also, Axton gun damage boosting skills can cover the lower damage that Vladof guns have. While Vladof assault rifles are kinda lackluster when compared to the other manufacturers their pistols and sniper rifles are among the best in the game. Look for Droogs and Anarchists!
Vladof AoE grenades are the best of their type in the game, alongside Torgue MIRVs. They can come in all elements, last a long time and cover a great area.
Also, Vladof is the manufacturer of absorb shields, valuable in bullet heavy areas like the Bloodshot Stronghold and Hyperion areas in general. The bullets, when absorbed, are added to your pool - good with Vladof itself, as the guns can fire a lot of bullets in a blink of an eye. Axton skillset is able to overcome the shield overall weak defensive properties with skills like Preparation, Willing and Pressure.
Hyperion reverse recoil gimmick is really good to keep the aim in the critical spot. They get more accurate if you are holding the trigger, but the first bullets are wasted - especially bad for their sniper rifles.
Hyperion guns are generally good, especially their shotguns, pistols and SMG - E-Tech ones get grenade damage bonus - but have no special synergy with Axton skillset, like Dahl. Even so, they are worth keeping and using through the game.
Hyperion also makes Singularity grenades. They are an amazing tool to control the Field, pulling enemies away from you or closer to your turret to maximize your DPS. Their drawback is that they aren’t reliable to spread elemental effects, especially slag.
Hyperion is also the manufacturer of AMP shields, adding damage to your first shot and draining it from the shield itself. While Axton has the tools to recharge the shield fast, he lacks one shot potential so AMP shields end up being lackluster. The only exception is the Bee, the Legendary AMP shield that do not drain itself to add damage.
The western themed, non-elemental and hard hitting manufacturer. Jakobs makes no grenade mod nor shield - outside of the Rough Rider, if you own the Hammerlock DLC pack.
But all of their guns come with an innate critical hit multiplier, making that much easier to get that one shot kill. They also fire as fast as you can pull the trigger, very useful with the high fire rate of their pistols and assault rifles.
Even without skill synergy with Axton outside of the subpar Duty Calls, there is no wrong with Jakobs: from pistols to shotguns, just aim for the critical spot and get the kill.
A little tip: the Jakobs allegiance relic greatly helps with the recoil. Fan that Hammer, cowboy!
Bandit guns have a large mag size and that is it. The large mag comes along with overall weak stats, especially reload speed and accuracy. While Axton can cover most of their flaws, their bad accuracy is something that really annoys me.
But, while Bandit common gear is pretty meh, their red text guns are among the best - from blue to Pearl.
Bandit also has the largest grenade pool: their grenades can spawn as common grenades, like Tediore ones, as Bouncing Betties and even MIRVs - coming in all elements.
Their Roid shields give bonus damage to melee hits when depleted, not so useful for VH that are not Zer0 or Krieg.
Tediore is responsible for the cheap, plastic designed, disposable guns. Reload speed aside, their stats are poor but their gimmick is like Christmas for Axton: when reloaded, they are thrown like grenades. And, as grenades, they get all bonuses Axton has.
Their reload gimmick is so strong with Axton that there are builds made around it: be it Raiding by maximizing your magazine size for tons of damage or taking advantage of Axton’s grenade damage skills to mob being very ammo efficient.
Tediore shields are known as Fast Shields, having a recharge rate that is almost the capacity and recharge delay as near Zer0 as possible. Coming with elemental immunities, they are a very solid choice as they can recharge in the heat of gunfire, raising your survivability. Axton skillset can take them to the next level with Pressure, Willing and Preparation.
Maliwan focus is in elemental damage. They do not manufacture non-elemental weapons, and their guns have higher elemental effect chance and damage when compared to the others. They also have added damage as splash.
The main problem with Maliwan is that their power is shifted towards their damage over time, what isn’t good for Axton as he has no means to boost it. Also, their splash damage isn’t boosted by grenade damage bonuses, so it can not be increased. This way, Axton gets more from straight foward guns, like the ones above. Through normal mode you can still use Sniders and SMGs to great effect, but their effectiveness decays with the scaling.
Maliwan shields are like Torgue ones, Spike and Nova. They are good options while leveling, but are by no means end game content. They can come in all elements, being usually more effective than Torgue due to element matching.
Maliwan also manufacture Transfusions grenades, what is awesome. They are really good to slag and health regen in battle, being viable from normal to the OP levels.
- White: thrift shop
In the early maps of the game, almost all of the guns you can get are non-elemental and White tier. That being said, Jakobs becomes a no brainer priority - they hit harder and faster than the others non elemental guns. Maliwan and Torgue are the only exceptions, coming in fire and explosive respectively. But, unfortunately, the elemental multiplier doesn’t really have Impact early in the game and the additional DoT doesn’t make up for the sluggish fire rate and the extra ammo per shot. Ammo is kinda a issue early in the game.
If you are having trouble to find a good Jakobs gun, Dahl is a good replacement. Vladof and Bandit mostly waste ammo in this stage of the game.
- Green: elemental multiplier
It won’t take long to green loot start popping from chests. The main difference between them and White rarity guns are their elements. They can come in all elements: fire, corrosive, shock and slag - each of good against one kind of health bar. They are essentially better than your regular white gear, but be careful as they got penalties if not used against the right health bar - do not try to put fire in a robot or corrode a Bandit.
Also, shock is better used to strip shields and slag is a debuff used to increase the other guns damage output - once the enemy is painted in purple, swap your gun!
- Blue: red text effect
Blue rarity guns are the upgrade from green ones. While they are just better in stats overall, there are few things to look out: Jakobs blue sniper rifles are bolt action again, like the white ones - what means that their fire rate and reload speed drop drastically. It may not be a problem early on as you should be one shooting all Pandora with your Muckamuck, but you can feel the difference when hitting True Vault Hunter Mode.
But the main difference between green and blue rarity guns is that some of them have unique red text effects. I’m not going in details over all these effects, as a lot of them are in the Top Gear thread but what I can say is: use them all. The majority of unique guns are quest rewards, what means that you are going to get them while progressing through the game. Get the feel of them and see which one is worth to save for the late True/Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode. If you want to skip the testing, @DeputyChuck has a thread about this subject so you can check it here.
- Purple: end game gear
Above the blue comes the purple rarity, the top tier guns made by each brand. There isn’t a lot to say, as they are above the blue ones stat wise and have no red text effect in most of cases. So, instead of talking about them and what they bring to the table, I’m going to list some of them that can help you progress through the game even not making into the Top Gear for Axton.
- Hyperion SMGs, Hyperion barreled Shotguns and Pistols.
- Dahl guns in general, especially Sniper Rifles as you won’t use this ammo pool for anything else.
- Jakobs Assault Rifles, especially Gatling Guns, Coach Gun, Quad, Iron.
- Tediore SMGs and Pistols for reload-throw.
- Torgue in general.
- Vladof Anarchists. The Droog can be used the same way as Dahl Sniper Rifles.
- Maliwan guns are best used as slagging tool due to their high elemental effect chance and splash damage. @DemoniteBL found the Umbrage to be very effective, so keep it in mind.
Note that the list isn’t in order of efficiency. I just wrote the guns in the order they came to my mind.
- Orange: Legendary effect
Each manufacturer is responsible for one legendary item of every type they manufacture. It is kinda hard to talk about them, as some have really unique effects and pattern while some are just better versions of their purple counterpart. This way, I highly recommend a visit to the top gear thread to see which one is worth the time spent farming.
- E-tech: mixing eridium
After the opening of the Vault, eridium started to flow through Pandora. Did Not take longer for the big manufacturers start to mixing it to their guns, creating E-Tech guns. They are really different from normal guns, shooting energy balls, laser beams and etc. All manufacturers, except Jakobs, have E-Tech guns in their arsenal, but you can forget Bandit ones already as they really fall apart when you compare to the others.
Between SMG, sniper rifles, assault rifles, pistols and shotguns, the ones you are going to find use are the SMG - especially because their splash is boosted by grenade damage bonus. Sniper and Assault rifles are ok early, but get pushed back later because they suffer from a damage penalty when hit a critical strike.
Pistols won’t crit at all, both Dart and Spiker, but the Tediore ones are really good for chucking.
- Seraph: Raid time!
When the DLCs came out, they brought with them a new type of weaponry: the Seraphs. They need Seraph crystals to be purchased from the vendor, and the only way to get those crystals is to defeat the new Raid bosses. Some of them are also dropped by said bosses.
While powerful, only a few are worth farming for Axton. Most of the cases, you are going to be farming the crystals to buy Shields and Grenades mods from the vendors. Either way, look in the top gear thread to find the ones that better synergize with Axton skillset.
- Pearl: specific synergy
Pearlescent guns were added in the last DLCs, and can be dropped from anywhere. Really.
They totally modify the behavior of the gun, adding new gimmicks and effects. Some of them seems to be made for specific Vault Hunters. Again, I highly recommend the Top Gear thread to search for the ones made for Axton, like the Avenger for example.
Class Mods or COMs(short for Class Optimization Modules) are upgrade accessories in Borderlands 2. As the others itens in the game, they can come from white to purple and boost none to three skills. They also boost specific stats on the card.
There are also Legendary COMs, boosting five to six skills across Axton skillset.
The COMs are mainly used to give effectiveness to specific playstyles or to just make Axton overall better.
As I did with the manufacturers section, I’m going to do a little breakdown of each COM, pointing the scenarios where they are put to good use, nothing too deep.
+ Cooldown Reduction Rate>
+ Battlefront, Sentry & Resourceful
This COM is the reason why we call the Turret-focused spec Engineer. It simply gives everything you need: CDR on the card and Resourceful, Turret uptime with Sentry plus Battlefront, Axton best boosting skill. This is the best COM to equip if you are going down the Engineer road.
A green Sentry Engineer can help you while progressing through normal mode if you haven’t found anything with boosts to Impact or Metal Storm. Reaching TVHM, your goal must be a blue Front Line Engineer because Battlefront is the next skill to level up as Engineer, and one of the best you can get as Axton.
The ideal version is a purple Front Line Engineer, but you can wait until the end of TVHM/start of UVHM because Resourceful is the last skill you reach to spec.
+ Grenade Damage
+ Explosive Damage Resist
+ Steady, Grenadier & Impact
This is the best COM to use for grenade focusing setups, as the name implies. If you want your AoE grenades to kill mobs - be it MIRVs or elemental ones - equip this already. There is not much to say, it is pretty straightforward: forget about the curveball, give them the heater.
The ideal version is a blue Expert Grenadier, boosting Steady and Grenadier.
If your arsenal has a lot of guns with splash, like Torgue ones, a purple Expert Grenadier is also viable.
Don’t waste your time farming or your cash buying a blue Impact Grenadier. If you want to focus in gun damage, there are better options as the one below.
+ Team Fire Rate
+ Steady, Metal Storm & Overload.
Being honest, I don’t know why this COM is so overlooked. Fire rate directly affects your DPS, and this COM gives you a whole lot of it. Not to mention the Team utility.
I know that there are options that gives you both damage and fire rate but, even so, this COM can still outperform them in some scenarios.
The best use of this COM is when wielding Torgue guns. They are very potent but sluggish, so being able to boost their fire rate to almost 150% adds a lot more than a minor boost to both gun damage and fire rate. Steady boosting their splash damage is just the icing on the cake. But don’t feel restricted to Torgue guns: there are some guns from the others manufacturers that also benefit more from fire rate than damage, most of them being red-text gear.
The ideal version is a blue Expert Gunner with Metal Storm as the secondary skill boosted. Overload, while not bad, has better use in a spec dedicated to assault rifles.
+ Health Regen
+ Max Health
+ Grit, Pressure & Last Ditch Effort
This COM requires heavy investment in the Survival skilltree early on, what makes you miss all of Axton skills related to damage output. While this COM tries to make up for it giving a lot of survivability, you are going to miss your damage boosting skills - especially in solo play.
It ends up having niche uses, like Health Gate abuse or in coop if you want to be your team last man standing.
As a note, @Troubled has figured out a really cool way to build around this COM and Jakobs guns. Check his leatherneck build for more info.
The skills boosted helps the survival theme: Grit is the best defensive skill in the game and both Pressure and Last Ditch Effort help a lot in coming back from Fight for your Life when you get down.
With the high defensive spec the Pointman demands, you end up having to use hard hitting guns. Look for Torgue barreled guns, as it is the barrel that adds more raw damage - Especially Quad barreled shotguns.
The best version is a purple Unstoppable Pointman, but get one without Grit until you can spec into it.
+ Accuracy, Fire Rate or Magazine Size
+ Critical Hit Damage, Magazine Size or Reload Speed.
+ Ranger, Grit & Impact
This COM is simply amazing. People thought that there was no choice after the Legendary Soldier and this COM alone proved them wrong. The Ranger COM shifts Turret power to Axton, turning him more powerful.
The Critical Hit bonus is more valuable than the common gun damage the other COMs offer by far, and all the other bonus are really sizeable for passive ones. Talking about critical, this is the only one COM that gives it to Axton.
Also, all boosts are passive so you won’t rely on kill skills - really good for mobbing.
The skills are also nice: Impact is a good passive boost, Grit is the ultimate defensive skill in the whole game and Ranger, while not this good in terms of %, boosts 7 stats. Like, seven. You can get at least a 5% boost to seven stats by spending 1 point. It is a lot more than one point in Battlefront, Onslaught, Impact or any other skill you can think. Too bad that Ranger doesn’t boost grenade damage too.
Anyway, get a blue one with the two skills you have in your spec or get a purple one if you invest at least one point into Grit and Ranger. It is worth for Hybrid builds.
Talking about the prefix, there are basically two most desired: the Chaotic Evil (Fire Rate, Critical Hit Damage) for general gunplay and the Chaotic Neutral (Fire Rate, Magazine Size) for Hybrid builds, mainly the ones involving Tediore Chucking.
+ Assault Rifle Damage
+ Assault Rifle Magazine Size
+ Battlefront, Onslaught & Impact
Not long ago, there was a misconception about assault rifles and their performance in the late stages of the game. But it is well known by now that most of them perform really well, not only the ones with red-text effects. This COM takes them to the next level.
Rifleman is more about a way of playing than a COM itself as, when paired with some of best assault rifles the game can offer, the damage output you get is insane.
The COM gives about 200% gun damage when we put together Onslaught, Impact, Battlefront and the card plus the magazine size. There is also a 60% grenade damage, helping even more assault rifles with splash damage. The only drawback is the lack of fire rate but it doesn’t affects the playstyle this much as the best assault rifles usually have already a good fire rate, burst fire or fire as fast as you can pull the trigger.
The best version is a purple Front Line Rifleman, but don’t bother with farming it until late game as you won’t have the good assault rifles until them. If you come across this COM and have a decent assault rifle it is ok to use it, as you are going to push your gun to the max.
+ Electrocute Damage
+ Shock Damage Resist
+ Onslaught, Metal Storm & Quick Charge
This COM is a good one if you are going down the soldier path, as it is the only setup where you can get all three kill skills.
Onslaught, Metal Storm and Quick Charge spike both your damage output and survivability to a good level, and you must have them up to keep your momentum. Once you stop chaining kills, this COM turns pretty lackluster.
The card bonuses have two uses: strip shields if you use shock grenades and help Quick Charge to maintain itself through shock DoT, as it is stronger against shields. Won’t work well once you reach UVHM, thou.
The best version is either a purple Assault or Heavy Shock Trooper. While leveling up, get a blue one with the two skills you have speced.
+ SMG Accuracy
+ Duty Calls, Ready and Forbearance.
This COM is the ugly son. This has so much potential, but the SMG accuracy on the card kills it. And the fact that Duty Calls is pretty subpar. If the boosts from Duty Calls were something like multiplicative gun damage for non-elemental ones plus type B critical hit damage and the card gave something useful we could use it with Jakobs guns properly, creating a whole new playstyle for Axton.
Ready would be the icing on the cake.
Anyway, just don’t use this COM. Purple, blue, green or white ones: sell them for the cash.
+ Team Shield Recharge Delay
+ Team Shield Recharge Rate
+ Battlefront, Resourceful & Preparation.
If you are playing coop and going down the Engineer path, I could say this COM is the best one you can get. It boosts your main damage source, Battlefront, and gives you cooldown through Resourceful. While you lose Turret uptime due the lack of Sentry, Preparation allows you to take a little more punishment. Not to mention the amazing team utility though the card.
In fact, you won’t need Turret uptime so badly as you are playing with coop budies, and they can share the aggro. And you are the one helping them take some bullets with your + shield recharge rate and - delay.
Also, with Resourceful, you are going to have the damage boost and aggro from the Turret whenever you need.
The best version can be either a blue or purple Front Line Tactician, acording with your necessity for Preparation.
+ Magazine Size
+ Reload Speed
+ Steady, Pressure & Last Ditch Effort.
The Boss Basher. The Speed Killer. The Bane of the Invencibles. This is the COM you want if the thing in front of you needs to be killed fast.
Couple it with a Tediore gun and Allegiance relic and forget your ammo pool, as it is going to vanish. Together with whatever it hits.
Being honest, this COM spikes Axton damage to an incredible level. It gives just everything that Tediore reloads need: Magazine Size, the most important factor; grenade damage with Steady, as it affects the explosion and reload speed, as it is like fire rate for reloading.
Just get already a blue Expert Veteran, as Last Ditch Effort adds little to nothing to the formula.
@Afro_Samurai has a really good and informative thread detailing the gimmick and how it works. Go check it out!
+ Cooldown Reduction Rate
+ Battlefront, Resourceful, Sentry, Impact & Able
This COM came out as a wet dream to engineers but ended up being the go-to COM for Gunpowder specs late in the game. And the main reason behind it is the boost to Battlefront.
Battlefront is the best damage boosting skill for Axton, giving him both gun and grenade damage bonus - twice as effective in guns with grenade-boosted splash, the go-to for Gunpowder builds. Your grenades are also going to do a lot of damage due to your spec.
Another reason for this COM be better overall when compared to both Grenadier and Gunner is that, at endgame, Axton has enough points to get to Resourceful. This way, he can shorten the Turret cooldown to the point where it is always available when needed. Resourceful is also boosted by the COM, so you are getting even more cooldown reduction.
Sentry is responsible to keep Battlefront up through all the engage, so your damage output is always at max.
Impact is a good tier 1 passive boost, while Able helps with keeping you healthy. With the +5 from the COM, only 1 point is enough to make difference so you end up saving some points.
There is no mistake: when Battlefront is up, this COM grants you the most damage per shot for any gun with grenade-boosted splash. Also, your grenades can still be used offensively. Best of two worlds!
+ Health Regen
+ Max Health
+ Grit, Pressure, Last Ditch Effort, Healthy & Able.
This COM is the Legendary counterpart of the Pointman, giving two more skills to boost your survivability. Unfortunately, it suffers from the same problem: the lack of damage, especially in the later levels.
So, it end up having the same niche uses as the regular one, the most well known being Health Gate abuse.
Again, I’m going to redirect you towards @Troubled Leatherneck build, as it is by far the best use of this COM I’ve ever seen around this forum. But, the addition of Healthy and Able could make Adaptive shields a good choice for this setup, especially the red-text ones.
+ Shield Recharge Rate
+ Shield Recharge Delay
+ Impact, Onslaught, Metal Storm, Quick Charge & Ranger
This COM can give you the most damage per second out of all Legendaries ones if you can keep your momentum by chaining kill skills.
It also adds a good amount of survivability with all shield boosting stats and Quick Charge, that can regenerate up to 10% of your shield per second in every kill. Not to mention the team utility.
Also, Impact is a good passive tier 1 boost.
The main drawback this COM has is the fact that Ranger is so down in the Gunpowder tree that can not be reached by a Double Up/Gemini spec, leaving this COM to compete with the Legendary Engineer for Gunpowder builds. While this COM does not boost grenade damage in any way, the damage per second is still higher for guns when compared to the Engineer so it end up being preference between gun focused or grenade hybrid builds.
This COM can still be used with the Double Up/Gemini and have the most DPS, but you end up wasting the Ranger boost.
As a sidenote, this COM is really great for arena runs, where you can keep your momentum properly. Solo or co-op!
+ Cooldown Reduction Rate
+ Fire Rate
+ Gun Damage
+ Sentry, Ready, Impact, Expertise, Healthy & Preparation
This COM was the go to end game for Axton from release to Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode upgrade pack, only dethroned when the second level cap brought the new legendaries and more skill points.
The reason is simple: this COM is really good, with no major drawback.
All the boosts are passive, so you won’t need kill stuff nor get you Turret out all the time to get the most of it. The simple fact of equipping the COM already grants you all it has.
The fire rate and gun damage from the card alone are already good, plus Impact makes it even better.
The Cooldown reduction and Sentry allow you to get your Turret out faster and longer, giving you aggro relief and slag utility if you have Double Up specced.
Healthy and Preparation together are a good durability boost from health and shield bars, raising your survivability.
Also, do not forget to put at least 1 point into Expertise so you can benefit from it. The swap and aim speed are really useful.
The only drawback of this COM is that, in the right setup, it is outclassed by the others. But it is still outstanding and, once you find one, it is going to be a lot hard to unequip it.
It is like christmas!
I hope this guide can be of help for new players that want to start with Axton or for players that already know of the game but need some extra info about the Commando. Enjoy!
Here goes some useful links for reference other than the ones already mentioned, if you want more in depth information after reading this guide:
The Top Gear for Axton thread, where you can find the itens refered as best ones in their role.
The Grenade Damage Resource thread can help you to know what can benefit from Axtons Gunpowder boosts to grenade damage or not.
The Skill Guide has more in depth info about his skills across the trees.