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Browning XBLT CMStalker 270 WSM Black
by Heetor W Date Added: Wednesday 25 April, 2012
Well I have to say I am pretty disappointed in this rifle, but I hate when people make a comment like that without giving enough detail to decide if their feedback is valid. I am going to go a little overboard here and you can read it and decide if it is opinion or fact.

Myself I would say I am reasonably knowledgeable of guns and shooting. I do a lot of reloading, I usually get to the range about 3 times a month for an average of 50 rounds a trip, (when it is not hunting season). I have a pretty good set of tools and some experience with working on firearms, but I am a long way from being an expert. A lot of the issues I had with my Xbolt may be me being overly picky, and the average shooter may not have noticed some of these, but they really bothered me.

It all started when I retired my 30-06 Remington and bought the Xbolt in 270 WSM. Browning is a bit of a step-up for me price wise, so I had some pretty high expectations. I basically was hoping it would shoot better than my favorite rifle, which is a Tikka T3, as it cost a couple of hundred dollars more, and Browning has an excellent reputation. Unfortunately the trouble started pretty quickly after opening the box.

Problem 1: I pulled it out and tested the bolt which was barely functional, very stiff to lift and uncomfortable to cycle, I could barely use it. No problem, just needs a good cleaning, and I stripped it down and cleaned and oiled thoroughly. Not sure what it was but there was some nasty black residue in the action and barrel, maybe some kind of protectant gone wrong from the factory? Bolt was much better after some TLC, still terrible to lift but I could cycle it a little better. I would say it went from being unusable to just being lousy, honestly it is the best I can say about that bolt.

Problem 2: I went to cycle some rounds through it to see how the bolt felt, and that didn't go too well. I had loaded up a couple of boxes of Barnes 130 grain TSX to a COAL of 2.79, (recommended was 2.83 but always good to be a little conservative with a new rifle). I chambered the first round and the bolt closed very stiff. Assuming it was just more trouble with the bolt I opened it and the bullet was stuck in the rifling, the case ejected and the bullet staid, while powder was everywhere. Made a real mess in my shop! I put the Sinclair gauge on it and found out the free bore is out of spec on the barrel by by a fair bit. Probably wouldn't be an issue for those shooting factory ammo, but I was not impressed.

Problem 3: After disassembling and cleaning the powder out of the rifle, and re-seating the rounds to an even shorter length, it was time to give the feather trigger a squeeze on some snap caps. I was really hopeful this would make everything better, as I have read some good things about this trigger, but it went from bad to worse. Trigger was terribly heavy, had a lot of travel and slop, and actually had this grinding feeling to it with a bit of a pop when it broke. Without going overboard here I would say that my daughters pellet gun has a much better trigger system on it than my new rifle.

I put a trigger gauge on it and it was set to 6.49 lbs, which is a pound heavier than Brownings own max spec, and ridiculous for a factory setting. I took it apart and turned it all of the way down to the minimum with the trigger tensioner set screw, and the lowest I could get the thing down to was a heavy 3.7 lbs, instead of the specified 3 lbs. The grinding feeling was gone, but the travel and slop are still terrible, this is really unimpressive.

At this point I had to throw in the towel and take the gun to a local smith, re-reaming the barrel to add some free bore and a trigger job before I have even fired it. Spend that kind of money just to get it where it should be out of the box, and all of this just to end up with a gun that has a terrible bolt? Extremely disappointed, no doubt in my mind the most disappointing rifle I have purchased to date.

Anyway I may have gotten the proverbial "Friday Afternoon" gun, and the next 5000 they ship out of Japan may be perfect. I know a few guys, that know a lot more about guns than I do, and they really like the Xbolt, so take my experience for what it is.

If I ever get it to the range and see how it shoots, maybe it will start to grow on my, but so far I am honestly a little worried about what I will find next.

Rating: 2 of 5 Stars! [2 of 5 Stars!]
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