The Browning XBolt HS3 Chassis, which is shipped in a sturdy polymer case with foam inside, arrived with a 2.5-15x56 Kite optic, mounted on a well-made Picatinny rail and already roughly zeroed.
The thing that strikes at first glance is the stock – the HS letters in the acronym stand in fact for Hunter/Sniper.
It is made of aluminum, it’s light and skeletonized. Both its length and the height of the cheek piece can be adjusted. Adjustment is millimetric, in the sense that it takes place by means of screws with a reasonably fine thread. Although such an adjustment is inherently stable, two Allen screws allow to firmly lock the adjustment.
A height-adjustable pad is used to cushion the recoil, even if it’s unnecessary in this caliber.
The forend is well detached from the barrel, which is fluted to help dissipate heat. Both the chamber and the first part of the rifling therefore feature a constant thickness.
Browning XBolt HS3 rifle in detail
The muzzle is fine-threaded for mounting a muzzlebrake – not very useful considering the caliber. Alternatively, in countries where the law allows it, a silencer can be mounted.
The fine threaded section (M18x1) is covered by a small ribbed sleeve which can be easily unscrewed by hand and remains in place during normal operation.
The muzzle is exemplary, protected by the sleeve that slightly exceeds it in length. The muzzle chamfer is cut at about 45 degrees and the regularity of the gunfire residue – which is impossible to show in photos (black on black) – speaks volumes about the precision with which it is manufactured.
On the forend sides there are two Picatinny rails for mounting an endless series of accessories.
The box magazine is made from sturdy steel sheet and holds five .308 caliber cartridges.
Release is operated by means of a lever of such dimensions that it can be operated even with gloves. Feeding is regular and precise.
It’s a push feed action, but also the most convinced supporters of the Mauser controlled feed action will have to admit that the excellent feeding system we find on the X-Bolt rifles is beyond reproach.
The bolt has three lugs, so it unlocks with a rotation of only 60 degrees and does not interfere with the optics. The polymer ogival extension at the end of the bolt handle is smooth, but does not affect speed at all.
The trigger is simply excellent. Short and crisp, even if we have not tested it with the dynamometer it should be set around 1500 grams.
A real competition trigger, it does not require adjustments.
Browning XBolt HS3 Chassis rifle: test-fire
The test-fire took place at the Vercelli polygon with overcast skies, light gusts of wind from the west and freezing temperatures – four degrees below zero Celsius.
The best group was three shots in the bullseye with Winchester Match 168 grains cartridges.
The worst group, which however did not miss the 10 points area, was obtained with the Browning 155 grains, a load that obviously is not liked by this rifle. However, with a.53 MOA accuracy with four degrees below zero we consider ourselves satisfied, especially considering that the weapon was new and that it usually takes some 100-150 adjustment rounds.