August 22, 2011

Browning A-Bolt II Micro Hunter 243 Win.

The A-Bolt is available in three action lengths in a spectrum of popular chamberings, materials and finishes to satisfy your needs in any hunting or shooting situation. With a short 60° lift, the bolt incorporates a non-rotating bolt sleeve that runs the full length of the bolt. When unlocked, three guide ribs on the bolt sleeve align with the three locking lugs to allow the bolt to slide smoothly. When locked, these three lugs provide massive bolt strength.

The A-Bolt feeds very smoothly because its cartridge depressor stays in position, independent of the bolt rotation, as the bolt slides over the cartridges in the magazine. The bolt face is recessed, completely surrounding the cartridge base. A cocking indicator located at the rear of the bolt offers visual and tactile firing pin status.

The barrel is free floating and glass bedded at the recoil lug and front of receiver. The recessed muzzle crown helps protect the rifling. Barrels are triple checked for interior finish, straightness and air-gauged for uniformity. A chrome-plated trigger sear is screw adjustable and pre-set at approximately 4 lbs.

The Micro was a good size matchup to the Ruger M77 Mark II Frontier Rifle, a compact rifle designed to accept a front-mounted scope.

In November 2004, Sturm Ruger introduced the Frontier, with its forward scope-mounting rib, a nod to the Scout Rifle design idea, and its lightweight, very short barrel. Of the gun, Sturm, Ruger President Stephen L. Sanetti, said, “The ability to mount a scope out front on the barrel rib allows the shooter to keep both eyes open, providing a wider field of view and instant target acquisition. The front-mounted scope also provides long eye relief, which is important in rifles chambered for powerful magnum cartridges.”


The second of three winners in this test. It showed consistent accuracy with all test ammos, looked good, felt slim, and handled fast. What's not to like?

The Ruger M77 Mark II Frontier Rifle featured a blued steel action and a 16.5-inch hammer-forged barrel bedded in a grey laminate stock. Ruger rolled the gun out in 7mm-08 Rem., .243 Win., .308 Win., and .300 WSM, and its factory specs had its weight as a trim 6.5 pounds unloaded. Naturally, we thought this was an intriguing gun in a traditional niche.

When we started looking for lightweight matchups to pit against the Ruger, we found them aplenty. One was the Browning A-Bolt II Micro Hunter No. 0350202111, a 6.25-pound gun with a 20-inch blued barrel that we bought for $684. We pitted it against the Remington 700 SPS Youth No. 27475, a less expensive synthetic-stocked gun that weighed 6.75 pounds unloaded, and the Ruger M77 Mark II Frontier Rifle.

The test ammos for this .243 showed a range of utility designed to express flaws in the barrel’s rifling. From lightest to heaviest, they were Federal Premium Vital-Shok 85-grain Sierra Gameking boattail hollow points, No. P243D; Winchester Supreme 95-grain Ballistic Silvertips, No. SBST243A; and Remington’s Express Core-Lokt 100-grain pointed soft points, No. R243W3. Also, as part of barrel break-in, they shot Remington 80-grain Express Rifle rounds, No. 243W1, but they did not collect accuracy or chronograph data with these rounds.


This three-shot group measured 0.644 inch outside edge to outside edge, and only 0.401 center to center with the inexpensive 80-grain break-in ammo from Remington.

They shot the guns at a private gun club north of Houston, with the test conditions being around 78 degrees and about 60 percent humidity. There was no wind during our accuracy session, which likely helped them achieve the surprisingly good accuracy numbers. Break-in for the guns consisted of firing the Remington 80-grain rounds in this sequence: shoot one, then brush/swab/patch; shoot two, brush/swab/patch; shoot three, brush/swab/patch; shoot four brush/swab/patch, then cool down.

The test shooter, a high-power competitor, used a one-piece Model 500 rifle rest available from www.targetshooting.com, $250, atop a concrete bench. He also wore a Past Mag Recoil Shield, $30, even though the recoil from these guns was light. He shot three-shot groups at 100 yards on EZ2C No. 6 targets, $7.50 per pad of 40 targets.

The test scope affixed to the gun was a proven older Springfield ART IV 3x9x40, and the shooter shot all the groups on the 3X setting. They used Weaver mounts purchased from Gander Mountain.

The major visual differences between the Micro and others are the longer barrel (20 inches, free-floated and glass-bedded at the recoil lug and rear of receiver) and the satin-finished walnut stock.

The Browning’s bolt has a 60-degree throw, and its bolt utilizes a non-rotating bolt sleeve that runs the entire length of the bolt. When unlocked, three guide ribs on the bolt sleeve align with the three locking lugs to allow the bolt to slide smoothly. The A-Bolt fed very smoothly, in the magazine’s view.


One of the niceties was the recessed muzzle crown. That will likely keep the rifling from getting dinged.

The chrome-plated trigger sear offered a crisp trigger pull that’s screw adjustable. The trigger broke at a range of weights from a low of 3.5 pounds to 4.75 pounds, for an average of 3.75 pounds, slightly lower than the factory’s claimed 4 pounds. The safety was a top-tang, thumb-operated unit, which was easily actuated with the thumb of the shooting hand. The hinged floorplate with detachable box magazine makes it simple and fast to load a spare magazine. The gun holds three in magazine, one in chamber. The receiver was drilled and tapped for the installation of scope mounts, and the forearm included Michaels post-type swivel studs, but no swivels.

The stock’s LOP was a near-standard 13.3 inches, with a drop at the comb of 0.6 inch. Overall, the gun measured 41.5 inches in length and weighed 6.25 pounds unloaded.

The Micro doesn’t seem long when laid alongside the Ruger’s Frontier, and it’s lighter and had better overall ballistic performance, recording the highest velocities across the board. On the accuracy side, the magazine called the Browning a half-inch gun.

Gun Tests Recommends: Buy It. Slightly more expensive than the Frontier, still an excellent shooter.

Comments (3)

Part One:

Another modern made piece of garbage. Frank DeHass who wrote the book (Bolt Action Rifles), roundly condemned the design.

Lets take a real honest look at the technical aspects of this piece of trash.

It has an un-heat treated dead soft receiver made from metal tubing. Browning gets away with this by inserting hardened inserts in the front and rear of the action. As any maintenance technician knows anything pressed into an object can eventually move which in this case would render the action inoperable or worse yet unsafe to shoot.

A cheap "hammer fudged" barrel that are known to walk shots when they heat up. Hammer fudged rifling is also very, very shallow which can be very easily damaged when cleaning and if any rust forms the shallow rifling soon just disappears.

Junk machine cut checkering that does not grip as well as old fashioned hand checkering and is not as aesthetically pleasing either. The diamonds are not as well formed and are often shallow at the edges of the checkering pattern.

A very hard 60 degree bolt throw that makes it just about impossible to rapidly work the bolt from the shoulder for fast repeat shots.

A short barrel that results in horrendous muzzle blast that in turn caused the shooter to flinch and miss shots.

Posted by: wild romanian | August 26, 2011 10:56 AM    Report this comment

Part two:

An enclosed trigger that traps dirt and moisture. Not as reliable as the old fashioned open faced triggers found on pre-64 Winchesters and old world high quality Mauser 98 rifles.

A push feed action that can result in short stroking the action resulting in a double feed that will jam the gun up so tight it may take a gunsmith to pry out the mangled cartridges.

A cheap stamped sheet metal extractor. Not the strongest extractor design.

Gas escape system is poor in the case of a ruptured cartridge. It does not compare to older designs like long powerful non rotating 98 Mauser extractor.

Breaching system (cartridge support at the rear) is not as good as the 98 Mauser.

A glossy plastic stock finish that is hard to repair and reflects light.

Buy a real rifle. Search around for an older Model 98 Mauser.

Posted by: wild romanian | August 26, 2011 10:56 AM    Report this comment

The best gun yet!

Posted by: RICHARD L | August 26, 2011 12:51 AM    Report this comment

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