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Browning X-Bolt Review

Browning X-Bolt

TGR is currently conducting a long-term field test of the Browning X-Bolt.  Specifications:

  • .25-06 caliber.
  • 24″ free-floating barrel with a 1 in 10 twist.
  • Satin finish walnut stock – very traditional look.
  • 6 lbs 14 oz.
  • Detachable magazine.
  • Browning’s adjustable Feather Trigger.
Although we frequently test Modern Sporting Rifles, we also love a traditional South Texas deer rifle and the X-Bolt in .25-06 looks right at home in any deer camp.  Very traditional appearance coupled with Browning’s latest design in a wonderful, flat-shooting caliber – a winning combination.
We have the Feather Trigger adjusted to break at just over a 3 lb pull.  The trigger breaks crisp with no sign of creep.  This is a nice feature straight from the factory.  Ideally I would like a slightly lighter pull for bench target shooting but the trigger is just about perfect for hunting conditions when your heart is racing and your chest is pounding!
The Browning X-Lock scope mounting system uses four screws rather than the traditional two screws.  This makes for one very solid base.  Of course, it also limits your options for aftermarket parts.  Fortunately, Talley Manufacturing produces an excellent, high quality set of rings in different tube diameters and heights for the X-Lock four screw system.  We installed the Talley mid-height 30mm rings to accommodate the Premier Reticles 3-15X50mm Light Tactical optics we are running on her.  This is an outstanding scope and matches up well with the flat-shooting .25-06.
The detachable rotary magazine in the Browning X-Bolt – which holds four .25-06 cartridges – sits flush with the bottom of the rifle and smoothly feeds the cartridges into the chamber.
A really neat feature that I appreciate is the new bolt unlock button found on top of the bolt lever.  This allows you to unload cartridges or check the chamber without first putting the safety into Fire position.  Frankly, this should be the new industry standard.
Performance with Black Hills Gold 100gr Barnes and Barnes 100gr Vor-Tx ammunition has averaged 1″ MOA.  This is acceptable but not outstanding accuracy – I think the rifle can do better and will be searching for that perfect load that cuts one ragged hole at 100 yards.  It may be a case of the barrel not being full broken in yet.  My goal is to get this gun shooting 1″ groups at 200 yards which should be easily attainable given the build quality of the rifle and the inherent accuracy of the .25-06 cartridge.
The X-Bolt has been my go-to gun for several months now and I will be reluctant to return her to Browning.  I have taken a boar hog (150 yards at twilight) and a very nice whitetail buck (200 yards in the rain) with this gun in the past few weeks.  Both were one-shot kills, DRT – that is the highest compliment of all.  If you are looking for a new bolt-action big-game rifle you would be hard pressed to do better than the Browning X-Bolt.
by Mike Coker
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