The Winchester X-150 Muzzleloading Rifle
Winchester Muzzleloading is a brand of Blackpowder Products, Inc. The Winchester X-150 is the first product released by BPI under the Winchester name. The X-150 .50 caliber bolt action muzzleloader has a lot to offer for the money. The trigger breaks cleanly and lightly, but does have some initial creep with a very small amount of grit. It is perfectly acceptable for hunting conditions. Most Spanish triggers do not rate as best of breed, and this is no exception. However, many will not notice the difference.
The synthetic stock is very good, and is solid from the pistol grip backwards. The molded-in checkering is functional. The palm swell is comfortable and the recoil pad is firm enough to do some good. The chintzy Winchester decal used as a grip-cap is already peeling away.
One peculiar feature is the double safety marks on the stock, red and green. The green should be eliminated. All drivers know that green is go. Here, green is "no go." The red dot is fine for "fire," but the green was added for no reason we can think of.
The stainless steel quick-release bolt makes it easy to disable the gun, and it is always a blessing to have one less bolt to remove for take down and cleaning. Why don't all in-lines have QR bolts? This feature was overlooked, for far too long, by companies that should know better. The bolt itself is easy to disassemble with a hex wrench.
Barrel fluting, while more cosmetic than functional, does add a bit of style and minimal weight savings. The X-150 is well balanced.
The entire gun has a solid, rock-steady feel to it, and it is a soft shooter to boot. It features a short false muzzle, and it is one of the easiest of all our test rifles to load without swabbing.
When unloaded, the ramrod fits exactly flush with the muzzle, a VERY thoughtful touch. Another plus: the breech plug can be easily replaced with an inexpensive combination #11 percussion cap / musket cap breech plug for use where regulations so require.
The X-150 was the only test gun in recent memory to be supplied with a sling. Unfortunately, the supplied sling has a huge rubber piece that snags on everything. It also has very weak plastic swivel pin attachments.
All guns have a few negatives, and the X-150 is no exception. The gun is virtually impossible to operate without a capper--don't leave home without it. A quick follow-up shot is out of the question, due to the capping constraints. The supplied capper (and other cappers) fit very tightly, as there is very little room for misalignment.
There is heavy contact between barrel and stock, but only on one side. The ramrod springs out of the stock upon firing, a nuisance. The 209 primer blowback is moderately heavy, requiring a scope protector or a wrap of black electrical tape to save your scope's finish.
The over-priced ($90) "Winchester" steel scope base and rings have serious problems. The rings are out of tolerance and had to be forced onto the scope, scratching it badly. The "Winchester" bases use a non-standard, narrow channel for the cross pin. Meaning, if you don't like the factory rings you can't use the bases for anything else. Though after market bases and rings are no reason not buy a gun, these "Winchester" examples should be avoided.
I experienced no misfires through several hundred rounds of testing with the X-150. The stainless steel quick release bolt is a dream both to remove and service, and puts many far more costly guns to shame.
If you are looking for a competent, effective, serviceable .50 caliber bolt action muzzleloader, and your budget is under $250, I don't think you can do better at the time of this writing than the X-150 Winchester. I would, however, be remiss in my duty not suggest that, until more information is forthcoming from BPI as to exactly what pressure their guns can safely withstand, discretion is the better part of valor. I am not comfortable with any powder charge greater than those specifically allowed by the Hodgdon Powder Company, and I would not fire one of these rifles with a "non Hodgdon allowed" three pellet load.
Use a maximum of 100 grains of volumetric Pyrodex or Triple 7 loose powder, or no more than 100 grains of pellet equivalents, and use 250 grain or lighter bullets if possible. If the need is there for a 300 grain bullet in a BPI product, it is prudent to drop your powder charge by at least 10%.
Note: A complete review of the Winchester X-150 rifle can be found on the Product Review Page.
Copyright 2003, 2005 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.