A great hunting rifle is an asset and there are few better than the Browning X-Bolt Long Range, or its sibling, the X-Bolt Max Varmint. It’s the latest line to come from the Browning stable, and is marketed in Australia by Winchester.
The X-Bolt is not a new rifle. It dates back to 2008, but the 2019 model has a new matte-black adjustable stock and other features that add to the rifle’s inherit accuracy. The custom-featured composite max stock offers easy dial-in eye-to-scope alignment, an attribute that is more recently finding favour with hunters and target shooters.
The Winchester X-Bolt Max Varmint.
The stock is manufactured from rigid, thick, but lightweight composite material, which is unlike some thin injection-moulded plastic stocks that lack support and rigidity to keep the barrel and action from moving under recoil from high-powered rounds. The Browning long-range model weighs a little over 3.62kg, just about ideal for a hunting rifle.
The length of pull can be adjusted via two spacers that come with the rifle. The flat-bottomed fore end is engineered for long range hunting or target shooting, and is suitable for shooting off sandbags. It is fitted with two quick-release sling swivel studs and a bipod stud. A lightweight bipod is easily fitted and carried afield when fitted on the front stud.
The new modern stock has an adjustable comb and length of pull. Both are important assets, some say critical, for long range shooting, especially the cheek position on the comb because it allows you to obtain a constant solid head and firm cheek position when using a scope. No matter how high or low the scope is mounted, you can adjust the stock to the position that best suits your requirements. Maintaining a firm, consistent cheek weld also provides a full field of view through the scope when the rifle kicks back under recoil.
The stock is fully bedded to fit the action, thus no expensive gunsmith work is needed to make it shoot tighter groups. It’s refreshing to see this done in the factory. The action is bedded about the tenon, recoil lug and both the front and rear action screws. The recessed, muzzle-crowned barrel is free floating.
You can fit any scope of choice to the rifle but check out the 30mm tube Meopta scope distributed by Winchester.
You can fit any scope of choice to the rifle but check out the 30mm tube Meopta scopes distributed by Winchester. Scopes are easily mounted on an optional Browning Picatinny accessory rail that has several mounting positions.
A short throw, three-lug bolt is the key to the rifle as it maintains ample clearance of the bolt knob when cycled and reduces the chance of an over enthusiastic hand coming into contact of the scopes ocular lens housing. Improvements include a three-lever feather trigger that has a clean, crisp pull with no evidence of creep or overtravel. The all-stainless-steel brushed satin-grey-coloured action supports a matching, fluted sporter barrel for long range accuracy. It’s fitted with a 5/8inch-24 TPI suppressor thread. A thread protector screw-on cap is included.
The Varmint model is basically the same apart from having a heavy stainless-steel bull barrel for long range shooting. It adds considerable weight to the rifle, making it unsuitable for all-day carry when hunting.
Both models are available in a series of popular calibres. The .308 Winchester round has a 1:10-inch barrel twist, but the long-range .300 Winchester Magnum has a 1:8-inch twist; needed to stabilise the new 230-grain and heavier bullets. Other calibres are the 6mm and 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm Remington Magnum, .28 Nosler, .300 Remington UM, 6.5 PRC, .30 Nosler and the .300 PRC. All have 26-inch barrels. An all new detachable rotary polymer magazine holds four rounds.
Both models are amazing long-range rifles.