Three Weather Resistant Hunting Rifles: Browning X-Bolt White Gold, Remington Model 700 XCR-II and Weatherby Mark V AccuMark
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Requesting samples of the three rifles mentioned in the title of this comparison for Guns and Shooting Online reviews in February, 2010 made this comparison almost inevitable. Each model is available in a variety of calibers, although we chose to review classic, all around calibers such as .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield.
The stocks of these three rifles illustrate different approaches to creating a weather resistant hunting rifle. The Browning X-Bolt White Gold mates a polished, stainless steel barreled action with a walnut stock wearing a gloss finish and appeals to those who want a classy, yet weather resistant, rifle.
The Remington Model 700 XCR-II mates an injection molded synthetic stock with overmolded, rubberized grip panels to a stainless steel barreled action that has been treated with what Remington calls their TriNyte corrosion control system to further protect the stainless steel barreled action and create a black (rather than silver) finish that will appeal to those who want the ultimate in weather resistance and prefer to hunt with a very inconspicuous rifle.
The Weatherby AccuMark comes with a blued Mark V action mated to a stainless steel, fluted, heavy contour barrel that is nestled in a Bell & Carlson composite stock with a full length, CNC machined, aluminum bedding plate. This sophisticated rifle should appeal to accuracy nuts and (particularly in Weatherby magnum calibers), long range shooters.
All three companies offer both walnut and synthetic/composite stocks mated with stainless steel barreled actions in their bolt action rifle lines, so we could have chosen more nearly identical rifles to compare, but these models illustrate three different approaches to a weather resistant hunting rifle. They also represent three different price classes (approximately $1000, $1500 and $2000) and, we feel, make an interesting comparison.
All claim exceptional accuracy (Weatherby guarantees it) and they are, indeed, typically very accurate hunting rifles. Accuracy is therefore not an issue in this comparison. Neither is functioning, for all three generally work as advertised right out of the box.
These are competent hunting rifles and each offers features that will appeal to many shooters. This comparison is an attempt to sort out the differences, not choose a "winner," as each rifle has its advantages. Here are the published specifications for all three rifles.
Browning X-Bolt White Gold
Remington Model 700 XCR-II
Weatherby Mark V AccuMark
Comparison and comments
Each of these rifles share common elements and have their own unique features. In the shared column, they are bolt action, push feed designs that employ front locking lugs and cock on opening. They have plunger ejectors mounted in the bolt face, user adjustable triggers factory set at 3.5 pounds, two position safeties, free floating stainless steel barrels, sling swivel studs and deluxe recoil pads. None of them are supplied with iron sights, but they are drilled and tapped for scope mounts. All three rifles have attractive lines. The Browning and Weatherby feature exceptionally smooth operation and short lift bolts. The Weatherby and Remington use internal, staggered row, box magazines with hinged floor plates, our favorite system for a modern hunting rifle.
Among unique features, the Browning X-Bolt has an attractive and functional walnut stock with cut checkering for a positive grip and a glossy, water-resistant, synthetic finish. It uses a detachable rotary magazine, one of the best detachable magazine systems we have encountered. This magazine feeds cartridges directly in line with the bolt and extra magazines are available for those who feel they need them. Thankfully, the magazine fits flush with the bottom of the rifle.
The bolt uses three evenly spaced front locking lugs, is machined from steel bar stock and retains the flattened bolt knob previously used on A-Bolt rifles. We regard this as the most comfortable bolt knob extant. The receiver's oval ejection port is small and makes loading a single cartridge directly into the chamber difficult. It could also make clearing a jammed case or cartridge a frustrating and time consuming process. Big ejection ports are better for big game hunting rifles. There are attractive, laser engraved panels on the receiver, a nice touch not matched by the other two rifles. The recoil lug is a separate part trapped between the barrel and receiver, a cost cutting system pioneered, as far as we know, by Remington and since adopted by many other manufacturers. The new Browning Feather Trigger is superb; crisp, clean and user adjustable for weight of pull between three and five pounds. It is set at the factory for 3.5 pounds.
The Browning X-Lock scope mounting system features integrated mount bases and rings that eliminate the usual ring to mount joint. Each X-Lock base/ring is secured to the rifle by four screws (rather than the usual two) for increased security.
The White Gold is the lightest of our three rifles. This is nice for carrying, but not so nice for shooting, as the lighter a rifle is, the harder it kicks. With an total weight in the field of about eight pounds (including a scope, mount base, rings and a full magazine), we would not want it any lighter in a caliber as powerful as .270 Winchester.
It is, by far, the most attractive of the three rifles. Gone are the Euro-trash styling elements that mar the lower grade X-Bolt rifles. The Browning is clearly a deluxe rifle and it rates high in that important intangible, pride of ownership.
The Remington's signature feature is its TriNyte metal coating that makes it substantially more corrosion resistant than untreated stainless steel. It is advertised as the most corrosion resistant rifle on the market. Like all Remington Model 700's, its round receiver is drilled from bar stock and the ejection port is smaller than the Weatherby Mark V, but more generous than the Browning X-Bolt. The recoil lug is, in effect, a thick steel washer trapped between the barrel and receiver. Extraction is effected by a circlip in the bolt face, rather than the more expensive claw used in the Browning and Weatherby actions. The bolt knob is slightly oval in shape with attractive checkered panels on the top and bottom surfaces.
Remington's new X-Mark Pro trigger has been revised to permit user adjustment of the pull weight between 2.5 and 4.5 pounds, a big improvement. The pull is set for 3.5 pounds at the factory.
The basic lines and shape of the Remington stock are excellent: crisp, slender and functional. It is the sleekest stock of the three and more attractive than the AccuMark's technically superior stock. This injection molded synthetic stock's olive green color and dark Hogue overmolded grip panels, which provide a secure grip under all conditions, set it apart from typical black plastic stocks. We would not call the XCR-II a handsome rifle (we have yet to see a synthetic stocked rifle that is), but with its shapely olive green stock and matte black barreled action, its appearance is a cut above ordinary synthetic stocked rifles. The Model 700 XCR-II is also the most affordable of our three rifles, an important factor to most hunters, and Remington Model 700 rifles are made in the USA.
Weatherby's AccuMark is the most expensive of the three rifles. This is primarily because of its proprietary Mark V action, one of the best bolt actions ever produced. Unfortunately, Weatherby has yet to produce a stainless steel Mark V action, so while the AccuMark's barrel is stainless steel and the composite stock is impervious to weather, the action is blued ferrous steel and thus less impervious to inclement weather than the stainless Browning and Remington actions.
The Weatherby bolt was designed to eliminate bolt wobble. It is machined in one-piece (including the bolt handle with its round knob) from a billet of forged steel. The fluted bolt body incorporates three gas escape vents. A streamlined bolt end cap, also machined from solid steel, protects the shooter from escaping gasses that might find their way through the firing pin raceway. There is a cocking indicator at the rear of the bolt. For standard calibers like the .270, the Mark V bolt uses six locking lugs arranged in two rows on its rebated bolt head that are the same outside diameter as the bolt body, rather like a cannon with an interrupted thread breechblock. The bolt lift is only 54-degrees. This makes the Mark V the strongest, smoothest and fastest of the three actions.
Other quality features include a forged from billet, flat-bottomed receiver with a generous ejection port and a massive, integral recoil lug. Extraction is by means of a generous claw mounted at the front of the bolt. The alloy trigger guard/bottom iron is one-piece for strength and lightweight. The #3 (heavy) contour barrel is fluted and precisely button rifled.
Unlike the other two rifles, the Mark V does not have, or need, a new trigger mechanism. This is because the Mark V trigger mechanism has been one of the best on the market for some 60 years and it has always been user adjustable for weight of pull. The factory setting is a crisp and clean 3.5 pounds.
The AccuMark is supplied with a Bell & Carlson hand laminated stock of the Weatherby Monte Carlo pattern. The flat bottomed forend tapers in three planes for a comfortable, positive grip and the shape of the stock handles recoil very well. Many, but of course not all, users will find this the most comfortable of our three rifles to shoot. The surface texture of the stock allows a positive grip in all weather conditions. This rigid, composite stock is made of Aramid, unidirectional graphite fibers and fiberglass. It incorporates a long, CNC machined, 6061-T6 aluminum alloy bedding block. This insures very precise action bedding, while the barrel is free floated. The color is charcoal black with spider web accents and a gel coat finish. It is a far more sophisticated type of synthetic stock than the common, injection molded plastic type.
Weatherby Mark V rifles are made in the USA and guaranteed to deliver 1.5" or better three shot groups at 100 yards from a cold barrel when using premium ammunition. In our limited experience, AccuMark rifles frequently deliver sub-MOA groups with ammunition they prefer and will do so consistently, if the shooter does his or her part. This is the most expensive of our three rifles, yet its high price is justified by its design, quality and precision.
Since these three rifles sell in distinctly different price classes, they can be separated on that basis. A purchaser who can afford to spend up to $1000 for his or her basic all-weather hunting rifle is a potential Remington Model 700 XCR-II customer and need not consider the Browning X-Bolt White Gold or Weatherby Mark V AccuMark. The consumer on a $1500 budget can choose between the Remington and Browning rifles. The well-heeled rifle buyer can afford to consider all three models and thus has the most difficult choice.
Before making a decision, make every effort to try all three rifles. They look, feel and handle differently and each has its own advantages and disadvantages, as described above. Rifle fit is very important to long term buyer satisfaction and dramatically influences felt (subjective) recoil. Unfortunately, no article can help you determine which rifle fits you best; you must try them and find out for yourself.
We found these to be practical hunting rifles that we would be willing to take almost anywhere on an important hunt. That said, each has worthwhile features that particularly impressed us.
In the case of the Browning X-Bolt White Gold, its most notable feature is combining the beauty of a deluxe walnut stock (no synthetic looks or feels like wood) and the corrosion resistance of a stainless steel barreled action. Despite its commendable ergonomics and smooth operation, we found pride of ownership to be its greatest asset. This rifle will stand out in deer camp, as well as deliver in the field. As Guns and Shooting Online's owner and Managing Editor, Chuck Hawks, frequently says, "You can hunt with an ugly rifle, but why would you want to?"
The Remington Model 700 XCR-II's most notable feature is its black TriNyte metal finish. This finish is both unique and extremely weather resistant. It makes the Remington a top choice for really harsh, such as saltwater, environments. Planning a coastal Alaskan hunt by boat? Consider an XCR-II.
The Weatherby Mark V AccuMark is most memorable for its overall high quality. It is a precision tool in every respect. It combines a top quality action, barrel and stock into a very functional, integrated and reasonably weather resistant package. For many years the Winchester Model 70 has been promoted as, "The Rifleman's Rifle." That sobriquet could apply equally to the Weatherby Mark V.
Note: Check the Product Reviews page for upcoming individual reviews of the rifles featured in this article.
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