The Browning X-Bolt Rifle Review
“This is my rifle the Browning X-bolt in 325 WSM, and no you can’t have it!”
I was tired and decided to hunt easy and comfortable for a change. So I drove the 6 miles from town out to the EMT Hunting Lease where I’m the El Presidente and Dictator for life. By the tracks it appeared no other members were hunting that day so I set up my Ameristep ground blind on the logging road. Since it’s legal to bait deer on private land here, I had plenty of corn lined on the side of the road.
It was a 200 yard shot all the way to the top of the hill, while most of the corn had been placed for an easy 100 yard shot. I sat back in my lawn chair and chambered a 220 grain Power Point in the 325 Winchester Short Magnum. The rifle was the elegant Browning X Bolt, and of course I had the Flagship of the line, the Medallion.
My thoughts wandered a bit to yesterday. “Yes it’s pretty and it’s my gun and you can’t have it, I told 15 year old Caleb Dickerson the new Rent-a-Kid. But you can whack a deer with it if one should show up. Well no deer showed up so we went to the club range and I let him shoot some of the guns. He didn’t like the 45-70 Buffalo Classic, but when he got his hands on the X-bolt things were different. I didn’t tell him it was a 325 WSM I just said hold it tight.
His first shot was dead on the money, and I asked him if he wanted to shoot the 243 again, of course and he laid another shot dead center, and then another. I then told him I was a bald face liar that was no 243. Caleb said, all 130 pounds of him, “I have got to get me one of these.” Well get the stainless model and it is a 325 WSM, but you can get it in 243 or anything else for that matter. Oh no I want a 325 WSM, said the kid completely unafraid of the powerful little rifle. There was no doubt he could handle the 325 and I didn’t say a word against it.
As 4:30 PM rolled around I felt a distinct drop in temperature, and something unseen, perhaps the “Little People” told me to get ready. Moments later a really big Nanny walked out at 168 yards and started up the hill ignoring the corn. I had the Leupold Vari XII on 4 power enough for that kind of shooting. I took my time, with no intention of shooting a good meat deer in the rear end.
In a few steps she turned perfect broadside, and I gently squeezed the gold plated feather light trigger. I was bench rest solid and at the shot I did not lose sight of the deer in the scope. The gun really just doesn’t kick I don’t care what you say.
Only thing was the deer didn’t drop either. To a competitive shooter this is the most worry some part about hunting. I called that shot perfect, what happened? Well I didn’t need to worry the old doe was just one tuff deer and actually made it all the way across the logging road and into the trees about ten feet. It was a perfect shot as called.
That was my Ace shot with the Browning X-bolt, 5 shots for five deer. Is it the rifle or the cartridge? I think both. The new Browning X-Bolt rifle has got to be the most ergonomic rifle I ever picked up. To me it is a perfect fit, while everyone else that picks up the rifle seems to say the same thing. This is the first thing you notice when hefting a rifle for the first time, the sweet feel in your hands.
I’m going to skip some of the little technical items because who ever designed this new rifle must have had the ultimate “Gun Computer” to figure out everything a hunter wants in a rifle. It has the straight lines of an American Style rifle, with the “Wundenhamer” palm swell in the pistol grip being pure European. The “feather touch” trigger is the best stock trigger I have ever had on any rifle. Funny thing about the X-Bolt Rifle, it doesn’t need anything, its perfect right out of the box.
It has a very handy button on the bolt itself allowing you to remove the chambered cartridge without releasing the safety, I like that. The safety itself is perfectly situated under the thumb, and silent.
When you look at the full line of X-Bolt models you can see that you can get one in any popular caliber and in any special finish you can imagine. I did notice one thing, you need to know. There are a few high class models that only come in 325 WSM. This is for good reason. A 325 WSM will honestly do anything, obviously the flagship caliber.
The 325 Winchester Short Magnum: Ok let’s compare guns and gun writers. Jack O’Conner and the 270 Winchester…The 325 WSM shoots a 180 grain bullet as fast as a 270 shoots a 130 grain bullet. Elmer Keith and the 338 Winchester Magnum…The 325 WSM beats the 338 Winchester magnum and the 8mm Remington magnum in speed and energy. Craig Boddington uses everything like me, and sold me on the 325 WSM when he dropped a Grizzly in its tracks with a 325 WSM. Ted Nugent and the 243 Winchester, well Ted likes to follow blood trails so he will get a lot of them with a 243, I think his bow and arrow has more knock down power.
That brings me up to me and the 325 WSM, I guess that will be this outdoor writers favorite cartridge because I’ve used everything else and this to me is the elusive all around cartridge and rifle combination. You can hunt just about anything with a 30-06 a standard by which all other cartridges are compared. Now when I tell you this believe me, the 325 WSM feels like a 30-06 when you fire it, in the Browning X-Bolt rifle. Everybody that fires it agrees with me. I exclusively shoot the 220 grain Winchester Power point, and that should kick, but it doesn’t. I traded my beautiful 300 Weatherby Magnum for this rifle; simply because the 300 was kicking me to death so much in fact I never used it much. I use the Browning every chance I get.
Perfect 5 shot group: First of all the rifle has had two scopes. It started with a Redfield 2.5X12 and now it has a Leupold Vari XII 3X9X50 which is what I need for my style of deer hunting out to say the rare shot at 300 yards. As far as paper punching it does the same thing as all my other rifles, extremely accurate or it gets tossed.
Field results on deer are 1st deer at 30 yards, dropped in its tracks. 2nd deer at 20 yards dropped in its tracks. 3rd deer running at 50 yards, took a nose dive for dirt knap. 4th deer 216 yards, staggered across the logging road while painting the greenery red. Then the last one at 168 yards, stumbled across the logging road and lay still. This is a Dead Right There rifle (DRT). Doesn’t it mess up a lot of meat? Naw, about like a 270 with a 130 grain bullet.
The 220 grain Power Point seems perfect for deer although rated CPX-3 for heavy game. You must understand that in Louisiana there is a chance of a wild boar encounter and they are huge. If I wanted to penetrate more I would go to the Swift A-frame bullet in 220 grain and that would be about right for elk, moose, grizzly, and African game.
Is this the perfect rifle, perfect cartridge, well at least for me. Remember you can get the Browning X-bolt Rifle any way you want it. When Browning says “The Best There Is,” they are not kidding….Pass it on.