The Browning X-Bolt Western Hunter 28 Nosler is not your grandpa’s huntin’ rifle. There’s no wood anywhere. Rather, it’s a sleek, smooth, and lightweight magnum that is capable of the longest shots. That’s not to say it’s not attractive. It is.
28 Nosler is best described as a shorter version of the 7mm Ultra Mag but it’s basically a 7mm on steroids. With either factory ammo or handloads, the 28 Nosler will stay supersonic to a over a mile. Heavy 7mm bullets with G1 B.C.’s in the 7’s going 3100 + fps make this one of the flattest shooting, wind buckinest calibers in existence.
Looking at some specifics of the rifle; it is a long action with a barrel length of 26” with the overall length being 46 ¾”. It has a steel barrel with a sporter barrel contour and while Browning does make 28 Nosler’s with chromed barrels this one isn’t chrome lined. It does feature a 1:9 fast twist barrel that will handle heavy bullets.
The muzzle is threaded and it comes with a radial muzzle brake. Take note that the thread size is metric 13 x 1.25 and didn’t fit any muzzle devices I had.
The length of pull is 13 ⅝”. The drop at the comb and the heel are both adjustable.
Being able to adjust the cheek piece is a huge advantage. It allows for perfect eye alignment and the same cheek position every time you pull the gun up.
The trigger is short, crisp, and supposed to be adjustable. Mine came from the factory at about 5 lbs. I pulled it off and tried for over an hour to get it adjusted but it wouldn’t adjust below 4.5 lbs. It’s still a nice feeling trigger just heavier than I would have liked.
It features a detachable magazine that holds three rounds.
Weight is always a hot topic in a hunting rifle. Browning listed this gun as 6lbs 13 ounces. I weighed the gun and it showed 7.28 lbs with the bolt in.
With a scope mounted and the factory muzzle brake the rifle weighed just under 9 lbs. That’s light enough to carry and still heavy enough to shoot.
I’ll be honest. I really struggled for ammo for this review. Right now finding ammo or components of any kind is kind of ridiculous. I used Nosler brass and, luckily, a buddy had dies and powder and so I was able to load up a few rounds of ammo and get the gun shot.
I bore sighted took a couple shots at 100 yards and it dialed right into the orange. I then shot a three-shot group at 100 yards with a handload of 81 grains of Retumbo powder (bummed it off my buddy) and 180 grain Hornady ELD-M bullets which have a G1 b.c. of 0.796, which is incredible.
Shooting a 180gr bullet at 3,146fps is awesome. That is some serious energy and velocity carried downrange.
I also shot some 168 gr Nosler Accubonds that were factory loaded and they shot a similar groups of just under an inch. Velocity was 3217. I only had a limited amount of this ammo.
I’m still working on the load I’ll use and will update this article when I get that dialed in.
I want to point out that the OAL of the magazine box is way longer than SAAMI spec and so loading the rounds long for less pressure and more velocity should be very doable.
Recoil was not as bad as I was expecting. In fact, it was downright mild. The soft rubber butt plate with Browning’s Inflex technology was very comfortable and the Browning radial brake worked pretty well. I actually hate radial brakes as they blast everything around them, kick up dust, snow, etc. I’d love to see Browning send this with a good side port muzzle brake instead.
The trigger was really the only disappointing part of this rifle. I’m almost sure that with a lighter trigger we’d see groups shrink almost immediately. The good news is that Timney makes a drop in trigger for the X-Bolt and I just might try one.
I like the rifle well enough that I’m buying it and using it as my personal hunting rifle this year. It’s honestly one the most economical ways to get into a 28 Nosler rifle, especially when you consider the features.
MSRP $1179.99Visit Browning for more information on the X-Bolt Western Hunter
I used Nosler Brass for my handloads. Learn more about Nosler’s prepped brass, ammo, bullets, load data, and everything 28 Nosler by by clicking Here.
|Action LengthLong Action||Caliber28 Nosler|
|Barrel Length26″||Overall Length46 3/4″|
|Length of Pull13 5/8″||Drop at CombAdj|
|Drop at HeelAdj||Weight6 lbs 13 oz|
|Magazine Capacity3||Twist Rate9″|
|Barrel FinishMatte Blued||Stock FinishA-TACS AU|
|Receiver FinishMatte Blued||Chamber FinishPolished|
|Barrel MaterialSteel||Barrel ContourSporter|
|Stock MaterialComposite||Recoil PadInflex 1, Small|
|Pistol Grip CapNone||CheckeringTextured Grip Panels|
|Sling Swivel StudsMatte Blued||Receiver MaterialSteel|
|Trigger FinishGold Plated||Bolt Slide FinishA-TACS AU|
|Magazine TypeDetachable||Trigger MaterialAlloy|
|Trigger Guard MaterialAlloy||Trigger Guard EngravingBuck Mark in Gold|
|Floor Plate MaterialComposite||Drilled and Tapped for ScopeYes|