Winchester XPR Bolt Action .270 Rifle
By Joel Ash
I am on an email list from an online retailer of sporting arms. I receive a couple of emails each day from this retailer and enjoy looking at what they have to offer. Some of the offers require quite a bit of discipline from me (not one of my strengths) to pass on the purchase button.
However, in December they had an offer that I thought was fantastic: a factory new Winchester XPR rifle for $299.00 AND, to really sweeten the deal, Winchester had a $100 rebate program going on at the time. The caliber options were .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield.
I have all the rifles I need in this caliber range, so I really struggled with my inner demons about whether to move forward with a purchase. In the end, I contacted my brother-in-law Steve, who is as cheap as I am, and told him about the deal. Steve got online and purchased an XPR in .270 Winchester caliber.
Think about this, a brand new bolt action deer/elk rifle from a major manufacturer for $200.00! What a great country!
Now we had to set the rifle up to shoot. Our goal was to keep the total rifle package sub-$500.
The XPR requires unique scope bases, not Model 70 bases. I like the idea of bases and rings machined from a solid piece of metal, so I thought we would try a set of DNZ Game Reapers. They were simple to install and cost $65.00. Now we needed a riflescope.
Another online retailer had Weaver scopes on close out. We picked up a Weaver Grand Slam 2x-8x36mm for just under $200, with shipping. I really like the scope; nice glass, decent eye relief and it looks right on the rifle. I do not like scopes with large oculars (over 40mm). Most hunting rifles do not have the correct comb height to accommodate a proper cheek weld when used with big scopes.
The Weaver sits perfectly on the rifle, allowing the shooter to keep cheek on wood. Actually, plastic in this case, as the stock, trigger, trapezoid shaped trigger guard, floor plate, magazine and pretty much everything but the barreled action and the sling swivel studs is plastic on the XPR. The entire rifle is dull black, except for a silver bolt body.
Winchester states: "Combining proven concepts from the Model 70 with more efficient manufacturing processes means that the XPR is a superb hunting rifle at a more affordable price."
Although Winchester references the famous Model 70 in their XPR advertising, this is an entirely different, push feed action with a receiver machined from bar stock, oval ejection port, fat three-lug assembled bolt, 60 degree bolt lift, tiny hook extractor mounted in the face of a bolt lug and a plunger ejector. The barrel is secured to the receiver by a Savage style lock nut. A steel plate in the stock that engages a slot in the front of the receiver serves as a recoil lug. There are almost no similarities to a Model 70, at all.
I bore-sighted the rifle in my shop, then off to the range. Steve took two shots at 50 yards; they were 2" high and 2" left. I set the crosshair on the center of the target, then adjusted the cross-wire so it lined up between the two shots. Steve's next shot was in the center of the bulls-eye.
We moved on to the 100 yard targets. Steve took three shots that grouped into 2", centered about 2" high. (The reader should know this is Steve's first centerfire rifle. It may even have been the first time he ever fired a centerfire rifle, so a 2" group is pretty good.)
I have a bit more experience, so I took a turn behind the trigger. I fired three shots that grouped 1.5" high, but the group size was easily under an inch. I can't shoot much better than that, so I put the caps back on the scope and called it good.
Steve was having so much fun with the rifle that he went through the rest of the ammo, about a box and half. I think this is a testament to two things:
1. The .270 is wonderful cartridge.
Some comments about the rifle and scope
The MOA trigger system is excellent! I am not sure what the pull weight is (I estimate about 3.5 pounds), but it breaks like glass without any creep or travel. The bolt can be disassembled for cleaning without tools.
I love the two position safety slider at the right rear of the receiver, bolt unlock button (just forward of the safety) and the bolt release at the left rear of the receiver. Very intuitive and well thought out controls.
Likewise, the single stack, polymer magazine is easy to load and easy to insert and release from the rifle, although it only holds three cartridges and still protrudes below the bottom of the stock. The magazine release tab is directly in front of the magazine. A red dot is visible just behind the bolt shroud when the action is cocked.
The external metal of the barreled action has a Perma-Cote finish. It lacks the attractiveness of a polished and blued barrel, but it provides better protection from corrosion and reduces glare. I give it a thumbs up.
The bolt was a little rough to operate when I first put it in the rifle. However, after some judicious use of Gunscrubber and CRP, it really started to get slick. I think it will only get better with time.
The barrel is free floating and the forearm of the injection molded stock can be easily twisted. This will alter the rifle's point of impact, so the shooter should strive to use proper form with this rifle and DO NOT attempt to use a shooting sling.
I have seen that at least one of the aftermarket stock manufacturers is making laminated stocks for the XPR. With an initial purchase price this low, a shooter can afford to try a different stock, if so inclined.
The 2x setting on the scope is awesome. The field of view is almost 50 feet at this magnification.
What I would do differently
I like the DNZ base/ring combination, but on this particular rifle, with this particular scope, I could not move the scope back as far as I would like. If I had it to do over again, or if it was my rifle, I would get a Picatinny rail and Warne rings, so I could move the scope exactly where I want it.
To recap this story, for about $465, we were able to put together a rifle capable of humanely harvesting any of the North America game animals, except bison and the great bears. It took only three shots to sight in and the rifle is capable of producing sub-MOA groups with an average shooter on the trigger. I think this is nothing short of astounding.
As I said at the beginning, the only reason I did not get one of these rifles for myself is I already have more rifles than I can use in this caliber range. However, after seeing the results, I wish I had been a little less disciplined. I know I would not have been able to hold off if the dealer had been offering a .223 (the Winchester XPR is offered in 12 calibers, including .223 Remington). My wife needs one of those!
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