Browning A-Bolt Rifle Reviews

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Browning A-Bolt Rifle Shot Show Review
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:16 pm
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Rifle Review: .30-06 Browning A-Bolt II Hunter FLD

February 28, 2009 8:54 PM
Ben Christensen

The .30-06 Springfield bullet is the gold standard of rifle shooting - an extremely versatile benchmark bullet that has earned respect and reverence in the world of shooting sports.

It is therefore fitting that the tool for launching the ought-six be as well-designed and versatile. Hence, I spotlight Browning's A-Bolt rifle in this review, a bolt-action rifle that is available in nearly limitless calibers and configurations.

For this review I shot and researched Browning's A-Bolt II Hunter FLD, in .30-06 Springfield. Compare them with whatever rifle you wish, but Browning was arguably the first to put this much quality and thinking into a production rifle, even if others have since followed suit.

Specifications
The rifle holds four rounds in its magazine, as do all the standard caliber A-Bolt rifles. The barrel length of the Hunter FLD is 23 inches, with an overall length of 42 3/4 inches. With its wooden Monte-Carlo stock and middleweight barrel - not a pencil barrel, but not a heavy bull barrel either - its weight of 6 lbs., 9 oz. is solid without being cumbersome.

One feature I really thought worthwhile about the A-Bolt that I had not seen in other bolt-action rifles is its peculiar and well-thought-out magazine: a hinged floor plate pops open, but instead of the zigzagging metal-strap spring that usually kicks the rounds out of the rifle haphazardly, a detachable four-round box magazine fits into the magazine well, allowing for quick re-loading with an extra magazine.

The bolt works like a dream, particularly due to its short action and its tight 60-degree lift on the bolt. Bolt lift is the extent the shooter must lift the bolt handle up in order to unlock the bolt face before pulling the spent round backwards for ejecting. This 60-degree lift is just a little past perpendicular to the barrel, which keeps a shooter from knocking a thumb knuckle against the riflescope when re-chambering.

The A-Bolt, loaded with great specs, also features an adjustable trigger that can be adjusted without removing the stock. Simply moving the trigger guard out of the way reveals a trigger-adjusting screw near the back of the trigger assembly, allowing a shooter to set trigger pull where he or she wants it - counterclockwise decreases trigger pull and clockwise increases it. You have to be dainty with this screw or you'll mess it up.

Lastly, the glass bedded recoil lug and a free-floating barrel do not seem to do much for the accuracy, nor the somewhat punishing recoil of the A-Bolt's .30-06 Springfield (which does come standard with a rubber recoil pad). Groups of a quarter-inch are typical, but this is where the versatility of the ought-six Springfield round comes in: unlimited bullets are available, from 125-grain to massive 180-grain, Nosler-tips, boat tails, bear claws - the choices and combinations are staggering and just begging to be experimented with, particularly for do-it-yourself bullet re-loaders.

History
Most bolt-action rifles have aspired at one time or another to be Mausers, and much of my research belies that before 1964 it was expected of shooters that these stock Mauser platforms be custom-tailored every which way by craftsmen immediately after purchase. The Browning A-Bolt, production rifle that it is, seems to make a lot of the to-do over custom options obsolete.
Developed in 1985 by former Winchester engineer Joe Badali, the Browning A-Bolt is manufactured today in Miroku, Japan, and no less beautiful for that.

Reliability
The Browning A-Bolt is one of the best production rifles available on the market. When you have one nestled into your shoulder pocket you will know it.

Knockdown
I shall say what I have said before: a rifle bullet impacts roughly with the same force as a solid human punch, so knockdown is a misleading and poorly chosen term for lethality. It's not the bullet that counts, but the placement thereof. The .30-06's lethality when punched through vital organs is indisputable and the Springfield will drop big game like nilgai without being too hard on smaller game like deer. Happy shooting.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:19 pm
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Gun Product Review - Browning A-Bolt in 25 WSSM

I have owned this rifle for about a year now and had not even taken it out of the box. I won the rifle at a conservation banquet and since the majority of my hunts were chasing elk over the past several years, the 25 WSSM caliber was really not going to get it done. This year all of that is going to change and I am using the rifle for hunting deer in Virginia. In the last 4 months the rifle has been brought out of the box and handed over to my trusty gunsmith who set a Leupold VX-III onto the top of it, bore sighted it, and sent it back to me.

Three weeks ago I had the opportunity to take it up to the Poconos to the Timber Ridge Deer Camp and sight it in and see what it was capable of. I shot Winchester ammunition through it because I could not find 25 WSSM in the Federal Premium Barnes Triple Shock loads that I normally shoot. After sighting in the rifle we shot some bowling pins from 110 yards and this gun is light and sweet to use. It does not have the punishing effects of my big 300 win mag while target shooting and it is light and quick to shoulder.

If you are looking for a quick rising, light action rifle for Whitetail Deer and Pronghorn this might just be the rifle and the caliber you are looking for. I know that I am now looking for another one of these in 270 win for an all around rifle and this one will be handed down to Brandon when gets out of college.

PROS
Light Rifle
Quick to Shoulder/Great Fit
Clean Lines
Quick Action

CONS
Ammo hard to find.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:22 pm
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Field Review of the Browning A-Bolt

The Browning A-Bolt has been around for a few decades now and has taken its place alongside the elite of the bolt action rifles designed for hunting. A tinkered friend of mine decided that his

30 some year old bolt action rifle had probably seen better days. Though the old gun still could put meat on the table, a new rifle was sought. After a lot of discussion, handling, and shooting he decided that the gun for the next 30 years would be the Browning A-Bolt Medallion chambered for the .270 Winchester Short Magnum.

After getting the Browning A-Bolt scoped and a few boxes of ammunition it was time to go shooting. My friend is a reloading nut who seems to enjoy trying new loads about as much as shooting and hunting. Thus I was lucky enough to be invited along for the task of shooting up the factory ammunition so that he could get to work on the hand loads. My impression of the Browning A-Bolt was that it felt a bit 'chunky' in the hands. I'm not sure what it was but the Browning A-Bolt just felt bulky in some way that I couldn't identify. Oddly, the guy who owned the gun is about 4 inches shorter than me with smaller hands but he stated that the gun felt better in his hands than the other choices. The Browning A-Bolt did point well and did not feel heavy either in the hand on when over the shoulder in an Uncle Mike's sling. The A-Bolt's recoil was less with the .270 Winchester Short Magnum than many .270 Winchesters that I have shot over the years.

Accuracy with a handful of factory loads in the Browning A-Bolt Medallion ranged from marginally acceptable to quite accurate. The star of the show in the Browning A-Bolt was the Winchester Supreme firing a 140 grain AccuBond bullet. Groups (from each of us) were in the ½ of an inch to ¾ of an inch size when fired from sandbags at 100 yards. The Browning A-Bolt Medallion features a free floated barrel and the action is glass bedded.

There were no functioning problems at all with the Browning A-Bolt Medallion. The bolt worked very smoothly, especially for a new gun. The trigger was very good out of the box. Fit and finish were quite attractive.

While I have mixed feelings about such a glossy stock for hunting purposes, the A-Bolt's walnut stock certainly looks good!

The Browning A-Bolt Medallion is a fine rifle for those looking for a great looking and great shooting gun to accompany them on their next hunting trip.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:27 pm
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Browning A-Bolt Mountain Ti
Titanium is just one element of this impressive hunting design.
By Layne Simpson

This A-bolt Mountin Ti is shown full-length with a Zeiss 3-9X scope.
The first rifle I took to Africa during the early 1970s was a Safari Grade Browning in .375 Holland & Holland Magnum. Among other things, I bumped off my very first Cape buffalo with that rifle. In those days Browning bolt guns were built in Belgium by Fabrique Nationale, and two basic actions were used: the FN Mauser for long cartridges and the Sako action for cartridges of medium and short lengths. Those early High Powers, as Browning called them, were fine rifles. But they were quite expensive to manufacture, and it showed in their prices. When I acquired my .375 I could have bought a Winchester Model 70 in the same caliber for $65 less.

In 1977 Browning replaced its series of High Power rifles with a rifle designed by Joe Badali. The design of the new BBR (short for Browning Bolt Rifle), along with the fact that it was manufactured in Japan, where production labor rates were lower, allowed Browning to introduce it at a price more in line with those of bolt guns built by Winchester and Remington. With a 60-degree bolt rotation, unique swing-down magazine, decent trigger and a bolt shroud that did a great job of protecting the shooter in the event of a ruptured case or blown primer, the BBR was not a bad rifle, but it was a bit overweight, and its action lacked the trimness of the old High Power actions.

Realizing this, Browning management made the decision to lighten up and scale down the BBR action and reintroduce it in 1984 as the A-Bolt. The new rifle weighed about a pound less. Among other changes, its bolt had three large locking lugs rather than nine smaller ones. Eventually, it would also be offered with a left-hand action.

Of the design features inherited by the A-Bolt from the BBR, the swing-down magazine box has to be considered the very best of them. I say this because it offers all the advantages of a detachable magazine without the disadvantage of possibly dropping out and becoming lost in the field.

The magazine of the rifle can be loaded with cartridges in four ways: through the ejection port, as Paul Mauser preferred; with the magazine box swung down but still attached to the hinged floorplate; or with it completely detached from the floorplate; or remove the empty magazine box from the floorplate, and quickly snap in a loaded one. The latter two methods allow the magazine to be recharged while the bolt is closed and locked on a cartridge in the chamber--not a bad option to have on a rifle to be used for hunting dangerous game.

Another nifty idea the A-Bolt borrows from the BBR is scissors-style follower struts (in lieu of the more common leaf-spring-powered follower), which discourage the nose of a cartridge from tipping downward in the magazine box as the bolt pushes it toward the chamber. This is why the A-Bolt feeds Winchester's fat and stubby WSM family of cartridges like grease on glass.


The design of the magazine makes the A-Bolt just as quick and easy to unload. Simply remove the cartridge from its chamber, drop the hinged floorplate, remove the magazine, and the rifle is safe to go. The magazine assembly is also easily taken apart for cleaning: Slide off its bottom retention plate, remove the follower and its spring, and the job is done. Magazine capacities depend on the case diameters of various cartridges: five for the .223 Remington, four for the .30-06 and three for the various magnums.

The A-Bolt action is made in three lengths: long for cartridges in lengths up to .375 H&H Magnum, short for cartridges such as the .308 Winchester and .300 WSM and super-short for Winchester's .223 and .243 WSSM cartridges. (The latter action is a half-inch shorter than the short action.)

As I write this, 23 model variations with stocks made of natural wood, laminated wood and synthetics, along with barreled actions of blued steel and stainless steel, are available. In fact, if you bought one each of every variant in every caliber available, you would be the proud owner of more than 200 A-Bolt rifles (you'd also need a really big gun safe). Optional stock styles include Monte Carlo, Classic and thumbhole, the latter available only in laminated wood on four variations of the M1000 Eclipse. The Medallion and the Micro-Hunter are available with right- or left-hand actions.






The latest variant is the Mountain Ti, and it just happens to be my favorite A-Bolt for hunting big game where the mountains are tall and steep and the weather often turns nasty. As the name implies, its receiver is carved from titanium, a metal that is about 40 percent lighter than steel. That trims away four ounces when compared to the steel A-Bolt receiver, and the utilization of a bolt-body sleeve made of synthetic composite sheds another three ounces.


Due mainly to its scissors-style follower spring, the A-bolt feeds the fat and stubby .300 WSM like grease on glass.
The stock, according to Browning, is 10 ounces lighter than the synthetic stocks of other A-Bolt rifles. Lose an ounce or two here and another there, and before you know it you've got an extremely light rifle. The Mountain Ti in .300 WSM I used to take a very nice New Mexico elk during the 2005 season is a perfect example. Fully outfitted for the field with a Zeiss 3-9X Diavari MC scope in a Browning two-piece lightweight mount, a Weatherby nylon sling and three .300 WSM cartridges resting in its magazine, it weighs precisely 7 1/2 pounds. I didn't weigh the rifle alone, but the scope, mount, sling and cartridges total 27 ounces, meaning the Mountain Ti is around 5 3/4 pounds--just a bit more than Browning's advertised 5 1/2 pounds.

BROWNING A-BOLT MOUNTAIN Ti .300 WSM ACCURACY
FACTORY LOAD FPS INCHES
Winchester 180-gr. XP3 2,879 1.43
Winchester 180-gr. InterBond 2,931 1.91
Winchester 180-gr. Fail Safe 2,927 1.36
Winchester 180-gr. Power-Point 2,921 1.51
Winchester 180-gr. Ballistic Silvertip 2,916 1.38

NOTES: Accuracy listed for each load represents an average of five three-shot groups fired at 100 yards. Velocity is an average of 15 rounds clocked 12 feet from the muzzle of the Browning 23-inch barrel.
I remember a time when sheep hunters would have traded their souls for such a rifle. By the way, this same rifle with its shorter action in .223, .243 and .25 WSSM is rated at four ounces lighter. In addition to those three and the .300 WSM I've already mentioned, other chambering options are .243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, .308 Winchester, .270 WSM, 7mm WSM and .325 WSM.

Moving on to other Mountain Ti features, a sliding tab atop the receiver tang operates the two-position safety. A spring-loaded detent discourages inadvertent movement of the safety tab from the desired position when in use, and yet it is easily pushed and pulled to its two positions by the thumb. Just as important to those of us who hunt big game, the safety can be operated as quietly as the proverbial mouse.

When a red-colored tab is in view at the rear of the bolt shroud, the firing pin is cocked. In the event of a blown primer or ruptured case, the bolt shroud protects the shooter from propellant gas and debris by completely blocking off the rear of the bolt, as well as the bolt raceway in the receiver. The combination bolt stop/bolt release consists of a grooved tap located on the left-hand side of the receiver bridge. Though seemingly larger than it needs to be, it nonetheless operates quite smoothly. Protruding from the front of the triggerguard, the latch of the hinged floorplate is easy to operate, and yet its spring is strong enough to resist accidental opening in the field.


The trigger has overtravel but is quite crisp and light enough on a hunting rifle.
The 23-inch stainless steel barrel of the Mountain Ti screws directly into a hardened-steel sleeve inside the titanium receiver, and sandwiched between the two is the recoil lug. The barrel measures 1.170 inches in diameter at the receiver and rapidly tapers to a rather slim .555 inch at the muzzle. A deep crown protects the rifling at the muzzle from dings in the field.

The bolt contains three evenly spaced locking lugs; a spring-loaded, plunger-style ejector; and an extractor that's much stronger than it appears to be. Except for the small extractor cut, the wall of the recessed bolt face encloses the head of a cartridge in a solid ring of steel. Pulling an average of 32 ounces, with a pull-to-pull variation of only two ounces, the trigger is of the ideal weight for a hunting rifle, especially one to be used with fingers made insensitive by extremely cold weather. Lack of detectable creep and a crisp break more than make up for quite a bit of overtravel in the trigger. Or at least that's how I look at it.






Of the many synthetic stock finishes I have tried, I like the Dura Touch armor coating on the stock of the Mountain Ti best of all. In addition to being warm and friendly to the touch, its velvety texture offers a no-slip gripping surface for cold, wet hands. On top of that, the dull finish won't spook game into the next county like a shiny finish will. You can get any color you want, as long as the color you want is Mossy Oak BreakUp.

The Mountain Ti had a few surprises in store for me, one being its ability to shoot all five of Winchester's .300 WSM loads inside two inches at 100 yards. This alone is not bad for so light a rifle, but even more impressive is the fact that it averaged 11?2 inches or less with three of the loads. As should be done when testing any lightweight rifle, I allowed the barrel to cool completely between each three-shot string. I was also surprised by how comfortable the rifle is to shoot. No doubt the excellent shape of the stock and the recoil-absorbing Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad had a lot to do with that. The texture of the stock finish is kind to the cheek, and that, too, adds to shooter comfort.

The front of the XP3 is a solid-copper alloy with a deep cavity, while a lead core in its rear section is bonded in place. During expansion the midsection of the bullet swells out to about twice its original caliber for maximum frontal-diameter retention, even if the bullet sheds its front petals. Weight retention after expansion can be expected to run 90 percent and higher. A Lubalox coating worn by the bullet cuts down on bore fouling. Options slated for availability in 2006 are 150 grain only in .308 Winchester; 150 and 180 grain in .30-06, .300 WSM and .300 Winchester Magnum; 160 grain only in 7mm Remington Magnum and 7mm WSM; and 150 grain in .270 Winchester and .270 WSM. Ballistic coefficients are quite high, with an example being the .30-caliber 180-grain XP3 at .527 compared to .391 for the Fail Safe of the same weight. That's also a bit higher than the .507 listed by Nosler for its 180-grain Ballistic Tip. The .30-caliber 150-grain bullet has a ballistic coefficient of .437, while the .270- and .280-caliber bullets are rated at .496 and .500, respectively.

I used a Browning A-Bolt Mountain Ti in .300 WSM and the 180-grain XP3 load to take a very nice elk in New Mexico while hunting with Elite Outfitters (505/937-7767) and got complete penetration on a shoulder shot at about 95 yards. Impact velocity had to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,800 fps, so that was rather a demanding test. As I proved then and while punching paper prior to the hunt, accuracy of the new load was plenty good for big-game hunting. I was also pleasantly surprised to see my chronograph indicate only minor differences in the velocities of Winchester's five 180-grain loadings of the .300 WSM. As you can see in the accuracy-results chart, the maximum spread was 60 fps, with a mere 15 fps difference between four of the five loads. Regardless of whether the box of ammo you buy is Super-X, Supreme or the new Supreme Elite, you can bet the outcome of your hunt on the fact that Winchester takes the precision, power and performance of its ammunition quite seriously.
My wife, Phyllis, says I can pick nits with the best of them, but I'll just be darned if I can come up with any major criticism of Browning's feathery rifle. It is plenty light for toting in the high country, accurate enough for shooting game as far away as game should be shot and durable enough to keep on ticking after taking quite a licking. If (heaven forbid) I had to do all the rest of my big-game hunting in North America with just one rifle, the Mountain Ti in .300 WSM would most certainly be a strong candidate.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:29 pm
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Browning Eclipse A-Bolt rifle review

The Eclipse is a touch heavy, especially with a scope attached, but the weight gives it a sturdy feel and a very stable shooting platform.

By Bruce Potts

Thursday, 03 January 2008

Browning Eclipse A-Bolt rifle review: The Browning Eclipse A-Bolt rifle is a well-designed and accurate varmint rifle.

Browning Eclipse A-Bolt rifle review.
The Eclipse offers the sportsperson a well-made rifle with several very nice features at a competitive price.

Sporting a satin-black finish, laminated thumbhole and 26in barrel, the Eclipse is aimed squarely at the varmint and fox shooter in particular, but is also just as suited for a spot of stalking in the correct calibre.

However, it will involve hefting a rifle of 9lb 14oz, less scope, for your efforts.

Versatile stock
The rugged laminated midnight-black colour is not only hunter-friendly in terms of low-reflective qualities but the laminated layers of bonded wood and resin ensure a weatherproof handle from which to appreciate the A-Bolt's good performance.

Laminated wood stocks may not be everybody's choice, but the stable, unshifting metal-to-wood fit these stocks provide ensures that once a rifle and scope combination are zeroed they stay that way.

The Eclipse embodies all these features, but still provides the user with an attractive and functional stock design, in my view.

The fore-end is very broad and the heavy varmint-profile barrel looks a little dwarfed, though it allows a good firm hold for the supporting hand. Towards the action area the laminate becomes square and boxy, mirroring the faceted action design.

I love thumbholes and the Eclipse offers a great capacity to allow control and comfort to a shooter in any stature and position.

The pistol-grip arrangement is very upright, which I like, allowing the controlling hand and firing index finger to sit naturally in the correct position on the trigger-blade.

The roll-over cheekpiece to the right side is high enough to allow correct scope alignment to the eye, which is critical, especially with a higher powered scope, but the overall length of pull is not bad at 14in.

A solid-black recoil pad with black plastic spacer finishes off what is actually a dual-purpose fox or stalking stock.

Action stations
I have reviewed the A-bolt design previously with the new (then) .243 WSSM cartridges. Little has changed - paramount to the A-bolt design is the low-profile three-lug locking bolt system.

The shallow 60 degrees elevation bolt angle on lift and execution of line is seriously beneficial to any sports person, in that minimal effort and maximum control is achieved from the slightest of hand movements.

The small diameter bolt with three large front located locking lugs are thus arranged to form an A shape, hence the A-Bolt name, which cam into the recesses of the receiver ring on lock-up.

The lozenge-shaped bolt stop is located on the rear left side of the receiver. Depress the front portion of the lug and the bolt can be removed from the action ready for cleaning.

The bolt cocks on the up-stroke and thus there is little effort in loading and cycling the Eclipse. The receiver has flat faceted sides, which I like, and is coated in a tough matt-satin black finish with the top drilled and tapped for scope bases that Browning make, but do not include with the purchase.

Trigger and safety
The trigger on the A-Bolt is adjustable by turning the adjuster screw clockwise, which lightens the pull weight. Set at the factory, it has a 4-5lb pull, which is a touch heavy, but crisp with little over-travel.

The safety on the A-Bolt is located on the rear receiver tang, which is more convenient than one may first think. There is some small noise in operation, but a minimum of effort in operation.

Magazine design
The magazine housing sits attached to the bottom of the floor-plate and, to remove or insert the magazine, the hinged foot-plate must be opened by pushing on the release button located in the upper surface of the trigger-guard.

This allows the floor-plate to drop down, revealing the magazine that can be loaded with four rounds in .22-250, or if you wish to remove the whole thing, a quick tug at the magazine body will release it from the tensioned spring.

This enables a spare magazine to be carried or stored for safety reasons. If a shooter wants, they can refill the magazine at any time by simply adding cartridges from the top through the receiver.

Barrel and finish
This Eclipse model is designed from the roots up as, primarily, a varmint rifle. It has a weight of 9lb 14oz unscoped, which is great from a static shooting position but does become noticeable after a jaunt around the fields.

This is largely due to the heavier varmint profile barrel the Eclipse wears, having a 1.18in girth at the chamber end with a shallow, almost straight, taper to a muzzle diameter of 0.755in. Not only does this dampen barrel vibrations on firing but in theory it takes longer to heat up and thus keep shooting accurately for longer.

The barrel is free-floated along its entire length, which is good, and the fore-end is very wide at 2.32in. The muzzle has a flat crown with the rifling edge countersunk slightly and unfortunately is not threaded, which would be nice considering the moderator boom of recent years.

Field trials
I wanted to test how both the light race-tuned varmint bullets and the heavier bullet weights performed. I fitted a new BSA Panther scope which, for the respectable price, offered good optics and internal adjustment accuracy to warrant praise.

First up were the factory loads, I had a selection of the major brands, all of which shot below the 1in mark at 100 yards. Of note were the Federal bullet weights of 40 grain and 55 grain, respectively yielding 3,997fps and 3,724fps, and 1,419ft/lb and 1,694ft/lb energy from the 26in barrel.

Reloads allow you to make the most out of the long barrel and tune a specific load for a particular task.

In fact, only a 75fps increase from the lighter 40-grain bullets was noted, while the 55-grain projectile gained on average an extra 55fps.

Best load was 35.5 grains of Reloder RL 15 powder and a 55-grain Sierra BlitzKing bullet travelling at 3,702fps and producing 1,674 ft/lb energy, a good stiff load - but the fragile nature of the Blitzking is best suited to vermin or foxes rather than larger species.

Conclusions
As always, the A-Bolt design delights. It still baffles me why this Browning is not as popular in this country as the Remington or Ruger equivalents.

It wants for nothing. In fact, the stock design, quirky magazine design and inherent accuracy will make you a very happy shooter indeed.

True it is a touch heavy, especially with a scope attached, but the weight gives it a sturdy feel and a very stable shooting platform.

I like it but I wish it came threaded for a sound moderator as most owners would probably fit one.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:33 pm
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Browning A-Bolt Stainless Stalker

Description
The Browning A-Bolt Stainless Stalker, Left-Hand is a bolt-action hunting rifle chambered in six calibers. The A-Bolt Stainless Stalker, Left-Hand is identical to the Stainless Stalker except, of course, the bolt handle is on the left side of the rifle. It also offers the availability of Browning's Ballistic Optimizing Shooting System barrels on select calibers. BOSS is a threaded barrel attachment that promises to completely tame barrel vibrations (harmonics). It'll improve accuracy because when a round is fired the initial explosion sends violent vibrations throughout the gun and can throw off the projectiles trajectory.

Otherwise common features on A-Bolt models include a free-floated barrel, where the stock won’t interfere with the steel barrel’s action. It uses Browning’s Top Tang Safety, which places the safety on the back of the pistol grip or where the action-hand’s thumb naturally falls. The feature also locks and unlocks the bolt. The bolt itself requires a short 60-degree lift instead of 90. And, it has an adjustable 4-pound trigger.

Browning recommends the A-Bolt Stainless Stalker for hunting deer and varmints.

As a company, Browning has a long and consistent history of making firearms that are both original and mechanically wonderful. The company was originally founded to produce the designs of John Moses Browning, who can be considered the Thomas Edison of the gun world. While the A-Bolt rifle wasn’t developed and introduced until 59 years after Browning’s death, it is still very much in the spirit of the sort of thing that he would have come up with.

The A-Bolt is a bolt action rifle that manages to look more or less like most modern bolt actions while having a number of improvements. The safety has been placed in the center of the tang, like that of most shotguns. Its bolt has a handle that only needs to lift about 60 degrees. All sorts of clever engineering was required to make this happen, but all you need to know about it is that this allows you to mount a scope lower and closer to the bore than on many other rifles, which will make it easier for you to shoot accurately at a variety of distances.

All A-Bolt models come standard with a detachable magazine. The fact that the rifle was designed to use such magazines in the first place makes it more reliable than those made by some other manufacturers, who sometimes jury-rig a rifle action that was really made for blind magazines in order to create a detachable magazine option. You don’t need to worry about this magazine suddenly dropping out when you shoot the rifle.

In order to say anything bad about the A-Bolt, one has to get pretty fussy. The magazine sits a bit proud of the stock, which tends to irk some people. It has a gold-toned trigger that is not everyone’s cup of tea.

The A-Bolt is a very good rifle that will appeal to people who tend to have certain pet peeves about other rifles. Bolt handles that don’t quite clear every scope, safeties that the thumb has to reach too far for, or detachable magazines that drop out or fail to fully engage with total reliability. If any of these issues have annoyed you with past rifles then the A-Bolt could be a good solution at a surprisingly reasonable price.

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