December 30, 2009

Browning X-Bolt Medallion No. 035200227 7mm Rem. Mag.

Gun Tests Magazine has named the Browning X-Bolt Medallion as the publication’s “Best in Class” Rifle for 2009.

The bolt action joins a Taurus wheelgun, a 9mm pistol from S&W, and a 12-gauge shotgun from Benelli as the magazine’s “Best in Class” 2009 honorees.

Gun Tests Editor Todd Woodard said, “Every December, I survey the work of the testing staff to select the best guns of the year. These ‘best of’ choices are a mixture of the original Gun Tests evaluation and other information the staff compiles during long-term testing.”

The “Best in Class” Rifle for 2009 was the Browning X-Bolt Medallion No. 035200227 7mm Rem. Mag., $1019. It was originally reviewed in the November 2009 issue of Gun Tests.

“All the Best guns are A or A+ choices,” said Woodard, referring to the magazine’s Report Card scoring system, which ranks guns from A+ down to a failing grade of F. Only about 20% of all guns tested by the magazine get a “buy it” grade of A or B.

Contributing Editor Roger Eckstine wrote and photographed the evalution, which is based on data collected from a team of testers. The team summed up: “The Medallion was a beautiful rifle that inspired confidence with each shot.”

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Given the Browning’s penchant for heavier bullets, we couldn’t help but wonder what kind of accuracy would have been delivered by 175-grain rounds. Nevertheless, the Medallion was a beautiful rifle that inspired confidence with each shot. From the standpoint of looks and performance, we can’t imagine anyone being unhappy with an X-Bolt Medallion.

The review continued, “Lockup was accomplished by three visible lugs forming an A-pattern, which had us wondering why this rifle was referred to as an X-Bolt. According to Browning the term X-bolt does not refer to a physical attribute such as the shape of the bolt or a pattern formed by its lugs. It was more a matter of marketing a rifle with a collection of extra features, including the new X-Lock Scope Mounting System.

“The X-Lock was a two-piece mounting system consisting of CNC-machined scope rings with an integral base that bolted directly to the drilled and tapped receiver of the X-Bolt rifle. Made for Browning by Talley, a widely respected name, each mount connected to the receivers with four Torx screws. The X-Lock mounts proved to be an excellent fit.”

Other comments included:

“The X-Bolt Hunter Medallion cut a slender profile with tapered barrel and a glass-like finish upon its stock. We learned throughout our tests that the sleek finish was as durable as it was refined.”

“Currently there are no left-handed X-Bolt rifles, but the safety was easily accessible to both right- and left-handed shooters.”

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Currently there are no left-handed X-Bolt rifles, but the safety was easily accessible to both right- and left-handed shooters.

“A cushy rubber buttstock measuring about 0.8 inch thick at its center was in place. This was Browning’s Inflex Technology butt pad. The Inflex recoil pad did a good job of moderating recoil.”

“The action was accented by a gold-colored trigger. This was Browning’s adjustable Feather Trigger. We left it at its factory setting of about 4.75 pounds.”

“At the range we learned that the X-Bolt Medallion was consistent when firing the Winchester 150-grain rounds, but much more accurate firing the heavier 160-grain bullets found atop the Federal ammunition. The Federal Vital Shok ammunition fired a 0.8-inch group on the way to a computed 1.1-inch average. The Federal Classic ammunition kept all groups within the 1.1-inch to 1.3-inch range. We think the free-floated barrel on the X-Bolt helped it maintain accuracy throughout the extreme heat.”

“We don’t accept advertising,” said Gun Tests Publisher Timothy H. Cole, “so consumers have confidence that our Best in Class picks are the results of head-to-head evaluations by our teams, and that the results aren’t influenced by anything else.”

Comments (6)

I have a Tikka T-3 in .243 Win that will shoot 3/8" groups all day. 100 yards, ten shots with either 70 gr or 100 gr bullets and either Winchester or Remington. The groups stay 3/8" or less no matter what I shoot. Of course point of impact changes. Best rifle I have ever owned other than custom made bench rest with hand loads.

Posted by: nimrod666 | January 5, 2010 10:39 AM    Report this comment

Obviously Wild Romanian is an old-timer. Hand lapping, for instance, might be necessary when barrels were hand-cut, but certainly aren't necessary when they are hammer forged. Forged receivers and heat treatment were unnecessary and over-engineered, but over-engineered also means over-weight. Now with CAD-CAM manufacturers know exactly how strong each part needs to be to perform within design specifications. Plunger ejectors always throw cases the same distance, unlike the fixed blade extractors which can drop an empty case in the ejection port if the bolt were stroked lightly or slowly. But we're just splitting hairs because I've never seen anyone short-stroke a bolt action. Short extractors interfere less with the alignment of the bolt and therefore accuracy.

The point is that every engineering decision has its pluses and its minuses--the primary one being cost. I don't like the possible surprises in buying an used rifle, and can't afford one manufactured the way they did in the 1930's. I'm fine with the decisions that Browning made, and I'm happy that Gun Test can do their best to objectively test and compare many brands of firearms, so that I don't need to rely on the boasts and puffery of my hunting buddies.

Posted by: ANDREW S | January 3, 2010 12:28 AM    Report this comment

Forgot to mention that the multi-lug bolt of the x-bolt makes bolt lift heavier which prevents one from operating the bolt quickly when the gun is at the shoulder.

The x-bolt is also a push feed which can and often does result in a neat jam when you double feed a round out of the magazine due to short stroking the bolt. This was impossible with the controlled feed of the original FN 98 Mauser.

The extractor is of the short modern short el-cheapo type on the x-bolt. not the super strong claw extractor found on the FN98 which was far more rugged and reliable.

The ejector on the x-bolt is of the plunger type which again is less reliable than the fixed blade type ejector found on the original FN 98 bolt gun. Modern plunger plunger type ejectors are way cheaper to make but can freeze up due to rust and or debris.

Posted by: wild romanian | January 2, 2010 6:04 PM    Report this comment

Frank Dehass in his book "Bolt Action Rifles" gave a scathing review of the Japanese Browning when it was first introduced. He stated it was a far cry from the "quality FN 98" sporter rifle.

The receiver was made of soft drawn tubing. Browning was able to use this "mass produced" receiver by using hardened inserts that were "pressed into the soft receiver". As anyone knows, who has used "pressed in inserts" in any machinery, the pressed in inserts can move, especially with some of today's hot magnum calibers that the inexperienced, once a year hunter, so often demands.

The barrel is a massed produced one that is a far cry from the "hand cut" and "hand lapped" original FN Barrels which were know as the most consistently accurate barrels in the world.

The trigger on the Japanese Browning is of the enclosed type that traps dirt and moisture, unlike the open faced trigger found on many of the early FN98 sporters that allowed the dirt and debris to fall away from the mechanism.

The checkering on the Japanese Browning is machine made, not the quality "hand checkering" found on the early FN 98 rifles.

The finish on the Japanese Browning is usually of the Plastic Poly-Urethane type which is about impossible to touch up when it is scratched as compared to the "hand rubbed and elegant oil finish found on the original FN 98 rifles.

Today the consumer cannot expect much from todays modern made rifles as the quality rifle of the past will never be made again. The "old foxes" who are most knowledgeable about rifles and demand only the best quality often go to great lengths to purchase the older quality firearms even it means spending some money on restoration as they are far more reliable and escalate far more quickly in value than today's plastic, cast steel and stamped sheet metal junkers.

Posted by: wild romanian | January 1, 2010 6:06 AM    Report this comment

browning x bolt

Posted by: wild romanian | January 1, 2010 5:53 AM    Report this comment

I have an x-bolt in .308 that, when using Hornady 168gr. BTSP keeps groups of 0.5. inch. I also have an x-bolt in 7mm08 that does not like the heavier loads, but when using Wincheser Ballistic Silvertips in the 140 grain will maintain a 0.5 inch group and with 6 3-shot groups averages 0.8 inch. Both weapons have Carl Zeiss scopes 3X9 by 50MC. The X-Bolts are great weapons and the Zeiss scopes are the best for light gathering (IMO).

Posted by: 7mag | December 31, 2009 12:58 PM    Report this comment

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