In response to the question of the marlin I am led to believe it is a better choice than the axis or the ruger american as an entry level rifle, as far as dollars go for what you get. However I do not own either, I have had a play with an axis and really was not impressed with it much at all, the marlin XL7 did seem a bit smoother in the action but build quality on both is exactly what the price tag tells you. I also looked at a zastava which was within a $100 of both and is basically a true mauser action and was finished much nicer than both, and would be a rifle worth looking at to build into a better rig down the track if you so desired. This said there are other good options out there that are nicely built and only a small amount more than an axis. My recommendation as has been said "rifles last a long time ..."so buy the best you can afford, if all you can truly afford is an axis or a marlin then buy one of those but if you can hold off a few more weeks and save a little more you will be better off in the long run.