Last year, I got my first experience with the Browning X-Bolt, using a Hell’s Canyon model in 6.5 Creedmore. I came away very impressed, my respect for the Browning name rekindled. They got a lot right with this model, from the trigger to the muzzle brake. So when the chance popped up to take a look at the X-bolt Pro in 300 Winchester Magnum, I hopped on it.
300 WM might not be the sexiest new round on the block, but it is hard to argue with it’s 55 year proven track record. It will kill anything in North America, and probably dinosaurs if you find yourself in that position. I also like it because no other cartridge, to me at least, personifies America more. We could make a more aerodynamic bullet, but that is for nerds. We will just make our 30 caliber bullet go faster! Ballisticians- fit more powder behind this. Go!
As much as I like 300 WM, I was a little concerned about sparking it off in a 6 pound, 9 ounce gun. I have shot well over 100 rounds in this caliber in a day, but that was behind a not light AI chassis on a MK13. Sub 7 pounds is great for carrying around the mountains, but it can make for a very long day of testing. I am very happy to report that the Browning muzzle brake works OUTSTANDING for this caliber. I was so amazed, I actually wondered for a minute if Hornady sent me powder puff loads.
The gun itself is a thing of beauty, something sorely missing in hunting rifles today. The stock is carbon fiber, which gives it a snakeskin-like appearance. It is also responsible for some of the weight cut from the rifle. The stock is slightly darker bronze than the action and barrel, which gives a nice two-tone look. The barrel is a light profile, but accuracy didn’t suffer on this rifle, much like it’s smaller 6.5 Creedmore sister. Using Hornady 200 grain ELD-X, the X-bolt turned in groups at just over 1 MOA at 100 meters. While that is not as good as the Creedmore, it is still P for plenty on a hunting rifle.
Many of the features that I liked on the original are shared with the X-Bolt Pro. The magazine is still a detachable rotary, with a capacity of 3+1 in this caliber. The trigger is fantastic, named the Feather Trigger by Browning. It is on par with the best I have seen in this class of rifle and is user adjustable. Mine came out of the box at 3.75 pounds but is adjustable between 3 and 5. The same 60-degree throw makes a follow-up shot a snap, with some added aesthetics. The bolt on the pro model is fluted, which if nothing else adds to the visual appeal.
When I talked about the original X-bolt, one thing I was sure to point out is don’t leave the store without rings. The X-bolt requires a unique ring set, which severely limits your scope choices. This is one of the only things I would put in the negative column. This time I had enough advanced notice to test the optimal fix for this.
EGW is one of my favorite accessory companies. I have used them for years, primarily for the Picatinny or weaver scope bases they make. From 10/22’s to, well, Browning X-bolts, they make a Picatinny top rail section for almost everything. This allowed me to use a grown-up scope with a Picatinny base, which is much more to my liking. EGW makes the base in short or long action and with a 0 or 20 MOA cant. If you are possibly taking the X-bolt long range hunting, you are going to need one of these. Out of the box, the rail section bolted right on with a perfect fit.
The Browning X-bolt Pro has an MSRP of $2099, which certainly isn’t cheap. But as soon as you pick one up, you know where the extra money went. As hunting rifles go, this is one of the best I have seen to date. If you are in the market for the fall season, the X-bolt family should be on your radar.
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