Gun Of The Week: Browning X-Bolt Target Max

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posted on December 1, 2023

Thanks for joining us for another American Rifleman Gun Of The Week video. This time, we’re taking a closer look at an improved X-Bolt rifle from Browning. The Target Max is the latest iteration of the famed X-Bolt action, and it’s designed for long-range work, thanks to its Target Max customizable stock, adjustable trigger, bull barrel and more. Watch the video above to see the Browning X-Bolt Target Max is use on the range.

Right side of the Browning X-Bolt Target Max rifle.

Engineers at Browning knew they wanted an update to the beloved, and now classic, A-Bolt rifle, so the X-Bolt was developed as the next generation. It featured an improved receiver built for stiffness and precision. It could take a heavy barrel or a lightweight one. It came with an improved trigger and featured a short, 60-degree bolt-throw. It was easy to use in the field and proved to be a stable platform for long-range shooters. But that wasn’t enough for Browning. The X-Bolt evolved further. Though it had already won an American Rifleman Golden Bullseye Award for Rifle Of The Year in 2008, this latest Target Max version is a step outside the box of other X-Bolt rifles, and it comes with all-new Browning features.

Adjustable stock of the Browning X-Bolt Target Max rifle.

At the heart of the Target Max is the latest and updated receiver. Heavier than ever before, this version of the X-Bolt contains more material, and more material means a stiffer action for greater precision and operation, especially at longer ranges. It is made of steel and it features a matte-blued finish. Internally there’s a three-lug bolt, plunger ejector and sliding-plate extractor. If you’re interested in shooting some of today’s most popular short-action cartridges, then the Target Max has you covered. The sample you see here arrived chambered for 6.5 mm Creedmoor and has a 26” stainless steel barrel. It has longitudinal flutes and a threaded muzzle capped with Browning’s highly effective Recoil Hawg brake. Another Browning upgrade you’ll get with the Target Max is the company’s patent pending Target Trigger. With its factory setting at about 2.5 lbs., this latest enhanced trigger mechanism is user-adjustable at its lowest setting of 2 lbs to its heaviest at 3.3 lbs.

Silver muzzle brake at the end of the Browning X-Bolt Target Max rifle's barrel.

All that means nothing without a solid platform for the barreled action. The adjustable MAX stock allows for a customizable fit thanks to its adjustable comb, length-of-pull spacers and ergonomically sound layout. Picatinny rail and sling studs are provided for use with accessories, too. The Target Max also offers up the new Xtra Capacity Magazine System and ships with one 10-round MDT magazine. It is a polymer design that we found works great.

Long-range shooting wouldn’t be possible without a large, capable optic attached, and this is where Browning thought ahead to make things easier—included is a 20-m.o.a. canted Picatinny rail. And it is secured via four 8-40 screws to ensure its position over the long haul. Also, there’s an alignment flat machined into the receiver to help with scope alignment and leveling, which is a handy little feature.

A man shooting the Browning X-Bolt Target Max off an improvised bag rest.

At the range, our testers experienced impressive results out of the X-Bolt Target Max at ranges beyond the standard capability of the 6.5 mm Creedmoor cartridge. From obstacles and barricades to bare-field shooting, we found the Target Max to be an adaptable platform. Its three-lug bolt and extended handle made for fast follow-up shots, and its adjustable trigger allowed for ultra-precise shots at ranges out to one mile. As a hunting rifle, the X-Bolt Target Max offers stability and precision at the cost of weight. One of the defining features of the X-Bolt system is its safety and bolt-unlock mechanism, a design all of our testers particularly enjoy.

Browning X-Bolt Target Max Specifications
Importer: Browning
Action Type: bolt-action, repeating, centerfire rifle
Chambering: 6.5 mm Creedmoor
Receiver: steel; matte-blue finish
Barrel: 26" stainless steel
Magazine: 10-round detachable box
Sights: none; 20-m.o.a. Picatinny rail
Stock: black composite Target Max
Trigger: adjustable Browning Target Deluxe; 2-lb., 6.4-oz. pull
Overall Length: 46.8"
Weight: 9 lbs., 14 ozs.
MSRP: $1,730

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