With the X Bolt rifle, which appeared on the market for the first time in 2014, Browning is the world leader in the manufacturing of hunting bolt action rifles. The range of models offered is very wide, and it also includes stainless steel and left-handed versions.
The tested gun is the Pro Hunter G5 model, featuring a wood stock and Cerakote finish on metal components, a rifle suitable for rough hunting use but at the same time very elegant in terms of aesthetics.
The intended use for the X Bolt Pro Hunter G5 is long range shooting, as shown by the lack of iron sights,which means that a riflescope is needed. The scope mounted is the Kite KSP HD2 2-12x50, characterized by good qualities of image brightness and sharpness and a relatively affordable retail price – 990 euros, lower than that of other high-end European brands. Kite Optics, it should be stressed, is a Browning-owned brand.
The action of the X Bolt Pro Hunter G5
The cold-hammered barrel with hand lapped chamber is 22”/56 cm long (24”/61 cm in the .300 Winchester Magnum version) and fluted, which also help to increase the surface area so as to help barrel heat dissipation. Muzzle is threaded for the mounting of muzzle brakes (useless in my opinion, at least in the .308 Win. caliber version) or sound suppressors in the countries where the law allows them. Muzzle crown is exemplary – as on all Browning rifles: it is cut at about 45°, and the thread cap protrudes past the muzzle tip protecting it from any damage.
To increase accuracy, the barrel is fully floating along its entire length. A very important detail, the X Bolt is factory bedded: the barrel/breech block assembly is positioned at two points with respect to the forearm, at the front and at the rear. This double bedding provides a great rigidity of metal parts (the X Bolt is all-steel) with respect to the stock, for a better accuracy.
The bolt in this version is fluted.This version of the X Bolt has no sights and comes standard with UTG-type steel mounts, inexpensive and rock-solid.
Let's talk now about the magazine, another unique feature of the X Bolt: made of polymeric material and with a capacity of four cartridges (three in .300 Winchester Magnum), it is very rugged – practically indestructible. A rotary type similar to the legendary Mannlicher-Schoenauer 1903's, the magazine has the peculiarity of presenting the cartridges horizontally, already aligned with the chamber. It seems a little detail, but this eradicates any feeding trouble, whatever the bullet profile. The magazine can be removed and the release lever is very well protected in a recess, which almost totally prevents accidental releases. The magazine is flush with the stock, so as not to protrude from the profile of the rifle, that shows a harmonious streamlined design.
A very crisp trigger and a smart safety
The trigger is another special feature of the X Bolt, which uses the Super Feather Trigger system, with a pull weight of 42.3 oz/1.2 kg. It is a short-travel trigger, very quick and with no overtravel. This allows to make full use of the intrinsic accuracy of this interesting rifle.
Bolt is the fluted type (typical of this version), with three head locking lugs and a 60 degree throw. The bolt's face has a ring that almost completely surrounds it, with the exception of the slot for the very sturdy extractor. It fully supports the case head. Inside the ring there is a hole for the ejector, which is spring-loaded.
The safety system is excellent, with a button in a central ambidextrous position, behind the bolt shroud. In the cocked position, a red-colored flat pin protrudes from the bolt shroud, warning the shooter that the rifle is ready to fire. When the rifle has the safety on, by pressing the button at the top of the bolt handle you can open the bolt with the firing pin cocked and locked, so that a cartridge can be safely taken out of the chamber. It is an effective and cleverly designed system, characteristic of the X Bolt, which demonstrates that it incorporates solutions designed by people who know what hunters really need.
The "America Grade 4", oil-finished wood stock, is equipped with the special recoil-absorbing Inflex 2 pad, present on all Browning-made rifles. This recoil pad promotes a downward deviation of the direction of the recoil forces, thus pulling the butt stock slightly away from the shooter's face in order to reduce the recoil and upward flip of the gun.
In this particular version, the finish of metal parts and of the Kite scope is the very durable Cerakote in a pleasant gray shade that not only protects against corrosion and wear, but contributes to a pleasant contrast with the woods, making the X Bolt Pro Hunter G5 very elegant from an aesthetic viewpoint.
Our conclusions about the X Bolt Pro Hunter G5
We tested the rifle on the shooting range at 100 meters, with a support. Accuracy, as expected, is excellent. The best grouping measured only 0.62x0.74 in (16x19 mm) and was achieved with Winchester Extreme Point cartridges with 150-grain bullet.
We found that the Kite KSP HD2 2-12x50 scope that equipped the test rifle offered excellent brightness and high sharpness, qualities that are appreciated especially in poor visibility conditions, such as at dawn and dusk. Considering the not-too-expensive price for a high quality optics like this (990 euro) we can only express a positive opinion on this scope. Its Cerakote finish – of the same shade as the receiver/barrel assembly and the mounts – gives it a really pleasant appearance, which is not bad at all even on a rifle purely intended for hunting use.
The X Bolt is a modern firearm that incorporates many mechanical solutions from Browning's experience in hunting rifles. The manufacturing processes allow for significant savings in economic terms, without sacrificing quality, reliability and accuracy.
Particularly noteworthy is the fact that it is possible to use this rifle in combination with Winchester ammo and Kite optics, i.e. brands belonging to the same industrial group. Not all rifles can boast the distinction of using all accessory components such as ammunition and optics from in-house brands: this shows that the Browning-Winchester-Kite Group is one of the most important industrial realities in the world.
Finally, price is relatively affordable: the rifle complete with scope mounts has a recommended retail price of 2099 euros.
Browning X Bolt Pro Hunter G5 specs
|Browning SA, Herstal, Liegi - Belgio
|X Bolt Pro Hunter G5
|.308 Winchester (other calibers available: .243
Winchester, .30-06, .300 WM)
|22”/56 cm, fluted
|Polymer, rotary type. Capacity: 4 cartridges (3 in
|America grade 4 oil-finished wood. Inflex 2 recoil pad
|KSP HD2 2-12x50
|Weight (w/out scope):
|6.4 lb/2.9 kg approx.
|Price (w/out scope):
|2099 euro. Scope price: 990 euro. (Prices may vary in