Browning X-Bolt Review: Browning’s X-Factor

Browning’s legacy and dedication to rifle technology (especially sporting) has continued wonderfully through Browning Arms Company, and especially through the X-Bolt rifle. The X-Bolt is one of Browning’s best-selling and most famous firearms, and rightfully so. I grew up hunting with Browning’s, and the X-Bolt has found its way into my heart. Although many of Browning’s firearms are just average (see Browning’s 1911-22) and some are unfortunately even below (see the A5), the X-Bolt is truly special.

These bolt action rifles get their name from the Browning “X-Lock” Scope Mounting System. One of the most exciting things about this series is how diverse it is; there are around two dozen different models within the X-Bolt Series, most of which differing only in caliber or barrel length. I could talk about these guns all day long, so let’s get to it – Welcome to Gunivore’s breakdown of the Browning X-Bolt Series of hunting rifles.

Browning X-Bolt Specs

Model: X-Bolt Stainless Stalker
  • Action Length: Long Action.
  • Caliber: 375 HH Mag.
  • Overall Length: 44 ¾”.
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 13 oz.
  • Twist Rate: 12”.
  • Capacity: 3.
  • MSRP: $1,179.99.
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Browning X-Bolt Stainless Stalker

Model: X-Bolt Hunter
  • Action Length: SSA.
  • Barrel Length: 22”.
  • Caliber: 223 Rem.
  • Overall Length: 41 ½”.
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz.
  • Twist Rate: 8”.
  • Capacity: 5.
  • MSRP: $899.99.
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Browning X-Bolt Hunter Full Line Dealer

 

Model: X-Bolt Pro
  • Action Length: Short.
  • Barrel Length: 22”.
  • Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor.
  • Overall Length: 42”.
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 1 oz.
  • Twist Rate: 8”.
  • Capacity: 4.
  • MSRP: $1,999.99.
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Browning X-Bolt Pro

Browning X-Bolt Build

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Browning X-Bolt Build

With the X-Bolt, Browning changed the expectations for bolt-action rifles across the board. One of the biggest benefits to the new X-Lock system is the security of mounted accessories. Whereas the traditional rifles only featured two screw slots, these have four per base, ultimately improving accuracy and precision. Another great feature is the incredible recoil pad. I’m a huge fan of these pads – they effectively direct the force of the recoil downwards as opposed to into the shooter’s shoulder. Part and parcel of what makes the X-Bolt’s exceptional is their insane durability.

Everything from the smooth composite stock to the free-floating stainless steel barrel is treated with a weatherproof Dura-Touch Armor coating. All of these factors, plus the fast-cycling 〖60〗^0 bolt lift combine to create a truly reliable rifle. However important durability is, a weapon’s safety features are also vital and the X-Bolt is safer than most comparable firearms. The top tang safety works with the bolt unlock button to add an extra safety measure, not to mention the firing pin block. All in all, the Browning Arms Company delivered with these hunting rifles; they are built with durability, reliability, and accuracy as their top priorities.

Browning X-Bolt Shooting and Performance

1One of the most notable upgrades to the X-Bolt is the new adjustable 3-level Feather Trigger system. Very often, a good trigger can determine whether a gun is reliable or not, and the X-Bolt’s trigger is smooth as silk. For instance, take the Smith & Wesson SD9VE; it’s a great gun but is plagued by a godawful trigger. Fortunately, the X-Bolt’s minimal over-travel trigger is adjustable to personal preference and pulls crisply through thousands of rounds. Besides for the remarkable trigger, the X-Bolt rifle also cycles quickly and cleanly, making it an ideal hunting companion.

My experience with the X-Bolt, especially with the Stalker was that it handled brilliantly with good control and minimal recoil. In my opinion, even the average shooter should be able to get all their shots within 1.5” at 300 yards –that’s how good these are.

Browning X-Bolt Magazines

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Browning X-Bolt Magazine

One of the more unique features of the Browning rifle is its rotary style magazine. Many shooters prefer this type of feed system because there is no right/left bias. The Rotary mags date as far back as the mid 1800’s but have become less popular over the years. Besides for several Browning’s, the Rotary mags can also be found on the Ruger American rifle and the Ruger 10/22.

Browning not only hooked up the X-Bolts with a great mag system, but also with out-of-this-world durable and lightweight polymer mags. In fact, these mags may even be the most impressive part of these guns. They are designed to feed directly into the chamber, meaning you shouldn’t expect any misfiring or jams. I was also surprised by how well these rifles operated in the field; the magazine–mounted release lets the mag drop right into your hand and be replaced quickly.

When it comes to aftermarket options for your Browning X-Bolt, the first thing you have to consider buying is a good scope. I recommend the Bushnell Elite 4200 3-9×40 or the Zeiss Conquest 3-9X40. These are both great sight options with weatherproof components, which makes one less thing to worry about. I also think it’s a must to have at least two or three mags on hand, so I’d check out Amazon or maybe Midway to get a good deal.

Browning X-Bolt vs. Browning T-Bolt

The T-Bolt is quite different from the X-Bolt, and less impressive in all honestly. Nevertheless, these straight-pull action rifles are still pretty good. The classic Rimfire T-Bolt is known for its quick and accurate shooting. The X and T are alike in that they both feature incredible magazine systems. The latter comes with a 10-round rotary double helix box mag. The T-Bolt mags are as practical as they are reliable. One of the characteristics of these Rimfires which might turn some shooters away is the three-level trigger. If you don’t mind this type of trigger, then you should really consider a T-Bolt. Let’s take a closer look,

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Browning T-Bolt

Model: T-Bolt Composite Sporter
  • Caliber: 17 HMR.
  • Barrel Length: 22”.
  • Overall Length: 40 ¼”.
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 9 oz.
  • Twist Rate: 9”.
  • Capacity: 10.
  • MSRP: $779.99.

Conclusion

The T-Bolt was engineered top to bottom with durable Browning components. For starters, the resilient steel receiver serves as the anchor to the free-floating barrel and composite stock. I’ve already mentioned the impressive mag system, but I didn’t mention that the T-Bolt’s stock has a spare magazine storage compartment in the buttplate. I may have downplayed the T-Bolt compared to the X-Bolt, but in reality, the T-Bolt is a great gun in its own right. Although there are several key differences, it’s essentially an affordable variant of its more expensive cousin.

We reviewed the Browning Mark 22, Hi-Power, and M1918, too!

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