The X-Bolt Pro hit the market in 2017 and took the production rifle to an entirely different level. We had one of the first available units in hand and utilized the Fall hunting season to really put it to the test.
After a full season of shooting this rifle, I would say that Browning has eliminated the need to spend $5,000-plus dollars to get a lightweight custom rifle which shoots sub-MOA accuracy and has me putting a “for sale” sign on most of my custom rifles. In 2018, they took this high-quality rifle to the next level and introduced the X-Bolt Pro Long Range. The new ‘Long Range’ rifle looks identical except for the addition to the fluted heavy contour barrel. This replaced the lightweight sporter on the X-Bolt Pro. On the 6.5 Creedmoor caliber, it ads about 1-pound 2-ounces in total weight as well as 4-inches onto the barrel, making this rifle an even more amazing long-range weapon.
These semi-custom rifles are from the top tier X-Bolt family of hunting rifles. Browning has reduced the weight of this rifle significantly by utilizing a full carbon wrapped stock with a compressed foam core. The receiver is made from stainless-steel and is glass bedded and drilled and tapped for the X-Bolt scope mounts. As mentioned before, the barrel is a fluted heavy type, which adds weight and inches to its’ little brother the X-Bolt Pro. However, this is a great addition if you spend more time at the range than hauling it around the field, as the barrel doesn’t heat up as fast. Browning does a proprietary lapping process which eliminates the need for a long break-in period, getting you out of the range and ready for the field quicker. It comes with a threaded muzzle-break as well as a thread protector to shoot with or without the break. It has a spiral fluted bolt and knob. All metal surfaces are covered with an extremely durable Burnt Bronze Cerakote finish.
Currently this rifle is available in eight of the most popular calibers which include, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 WSM, .300 WSM, .26 Nosler, 7mm Rem Mag, .28 Nosler and .300 Win Mag. All the barrels on these eight rifles are 26” and weigh in at 7-pounds 3-ounces up to 7-pounds 8-ounces.
After having the X-Bolt Pro in our possession for nearly a year now and seeing what it was capable of, we were pretty excited to get our X-Bolt Pro Long Range in .300 Win Mag out for some testing. We have a .300 Win Mag and a 6.5 Creedmoor at our disposal in the X-Bolt Pro versions, so it was going to be good to see a side-by-side comparison on two identical calibers.
Browning X-Bolt rifles have proven to be extremely accurate since we started shooting them five years ago. Neither of these rifles proved to be any different. We topped them with top of the line optics and started shooting for groups. Premium ammunition is always the way to go when you are looking to get the most out of your high-end rifles. Although point of impact varied with each different bullet we put through these rifles, one thing was certain; they are extremely accurate. Sub ½” MOA was attained with both rifles. Regardless of what bullets we shot, we could achieve Sub 1” MOA accuracy. A clean barrel would throw your first two shots off of the bullseye and is common with most rifles. Each rifle maintained solid accuracy for 40 consecutive shots without cleaning.
About the only place we could find a difference is getting the rifle barrel heated up. If you sat down at the range with time being important, you could actually see a deviation in the groups on the X-Bolt Pro after fourteen rounds. This created an extremely hot barrel and touching it with the bare hand would not be recommended. We ran a whole box through the X-Bolt Pro Long Range and didn’t see any deviation in groups due to the barrel being hot. We were comparing like for like calibers and barrel lengths with this setup and the only real difference is the contour of the barrel. When you looked at some of the smaller calibers like the 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Creedmoor, you would be picking up an extra four inches on each barrel, which is going to give more muzzle velocity and downrange energy. The 6.5 Creedmoor in this caliber is a very sought-after rifle for many long-range shooters. This caliber is fairly inexpensive to shoot and the minimal recoil allows you to call your own shots. Although we didn’t have this caliber in this test rifle, we do in the standard X-Bolt Pro and can still call our own shots. The additional pound of weight on the front-end and longer barrel can only be a bigger asset.
Overall, these rifles are unbelievably accurate, dependable and durable. If you spend more time at the range than you do in the field, I would highly recommend the Browning X-Bolt Pro Long Range. If you don’t get too far from the truck on your hunts or you are just a beast and the added pounds don’t bother you, this is a great investment as well. However, if you are a backcountry hunter and every ounce counts, you can go with the standard X-Bolt Pro with the lighter barrel and overall weight and achieve identical results.
As mentioned, for the first 14 shots, we didn’t see a difference. Either way you go, these are great rifles and worth every penny. I don’t see the need to spend the additional $3,500 it would take to get a custom rifle, which likely won’t deliver better results than these Browning X-Bolt Pro’s. Save the money and spend it on high quality ammunition and practice, practice, practice!
My name is Dan Kidder, I am Managing Editor of Sportsman's News Magazine. I am a former Marine who served with the Fleet Anti Terrorism Security Team Company during Operation Desert Storm. Prior to moving to Utah, I served as communications director for Georgia Congressman Mac Collins in his Washington, DC office. I am the President and CEO of On Target Defensive Training, offering firearms and unarmed combat courses to civilians and law enforcement. My students have included federal agents of the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Border Patrol, ICE, local and state law enforcement, national celebrities, and the general public. My beat at Sportsman's News includes tactical firearms, personal protection, survival, first aid, camping, and hiking.