Browning X-Bolt Hunter

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posted on June 4, 2009
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"As the Cynergy is to the Citori, the X-Bolt is to the A-Bolt,"opined Editor-in-Chief Mark Keefe in his May 2008 American Rifleman article "A Radical In the Family." This is a great analogy for describing Browning's new X-Bolt rifle, but in order to understand it you must have knowledge of the Cynergy. Basically, Browning's Cynergy, which debuted in 2004, is an over/under shotgun that was designed, internally and externally, to offer a modern option to the firm's traditional flagship, the Citori. It was a gamble, considering the Citori is one of America's most popular guns, but it paid off; the Cynergy's Corvette-esque styling appealed to many shooters, and after a few years of use it proved it had the guts to back up its facelift. Word spread, new models were subsequently released, and it is selling as well as any over/under shotgun. No doubt Browning hopes for similar results with its freshly designed X-Bolt rifle.

Keefe boldly suggests that the "radically styled" offspring of the Citori and A-Bolt will turn these flagships into classics. I quote Keefe because he knows his stuff and was most impressed with the X-Bolt--American Rifleman just awarded it an NRA Golden Bullseye for 2008 Rifle of the Year--but I digress. Semantically, I reserve the word "radical" to describe PETA's entire philosophy or perhaps the Styer AUG rifle-not so much the modern lines of the X-Bolt. Racy, defined as "having the distinctive quality of something in its original form; risque; built for racing; long-bodied and lean," is overused in gun and car writing, but it nails the X-Bolt.

At any rate, relegating the venerable A-Bolt to classic status has less to do with the X-Bolt's aesthestics than its performance. Frankly, I wouldn't give a hoot about the X-Bolt's styling or engineering if it didn't shoot well. Fresh looks are dandy in a hunting rifle, but accuracy is paramount, and only after accuracy has met my standards can I be wooed by looks. But you be the judge of the X-Bolt's looks; I'll tell you how it works...

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