Browning introduced its bolt-action X-Bolt series of rifles in 2008 and the reviews were glowing, both from the firearm media and enthusiasts. The line expanded fast. There are currently 30 different versions in full production with another 27 available in limited runs. There are also dozens that were made for a short period or in small numbers that are no longer offered. Those facts might lead you to incorrectly believe there are plenty of used models on your favorite FFL’s gun rack, but there are good reasons they’re scarce.
Once owners feel that legendary Browning quality and witness the performance, they rarely let one go. The rifles wisely retain all the best from Browning’s popular A-Bolt line, which was introduced in the mid-1980s, but add features modern shooters demand. The three-lug bolt, for example, has an unlock button that keeps the safety engaged when a live round needs extraction from the chamber. It also requires only a short, 60-degree lift to cycle the action. American Rifleman took an early look at the system in 2010.
There’s a lot more, though. X-Bolts ship with the company’s adjustable, three-lever Feather Trigger. Barrels, which measure 20", 22", 23", 24" or 26" depending on model, have a recessed crown and are free floated with bedding at the front and rear of the action. The approach increases stability and maintains barrel-to-stock spacing. Each gun is fed by a flush-fitting rotary magazine. Capacity varies by cartridge, and there is a total of 28 different chamberings available in the entire line.
Browning offer something for everyone in its X-Bolts, even the look. Stocks are available in wood or polymer, the latter in a variety of camouflage patterns and colors. Metalwork runs from blued, to bronze and much more. Southpaws can also rejoice, because versions are available for them as well.
One of the new models this year is the X-Bolt Hells Canyon Max Long Range (above). It’s available in 10 chamberings—running from 6.5 mm Creedmoor up to .300 Rem. Ultra Mag. Barrels are fluted, have a heavy sporter contour and measure 26". Each are threaded and ship with a Recoil Hawg muzzle brake.
Its Composite Max stock features an adjustable cheekpiece and comes with spacers to adjust length of pull. A Cerakote Burnt Bronze finish gives the barrel and receiver a striking look, one that nicely complementing the A-TACS AU Camo. MSRP runs from $1,430 to $1,560, depending on chambering. Also new this year is the Western Hunter and Western Hunter Long Range models.