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This Is The New Browning X-Bolt 2 Speed – Full Review

The X-Bolt name is highly regarded in rifle lore. Browning knows this and knows if they were to make a second-generation model, it would have to be something special. Spoiler alert: It is! 

This Is The New Browning X-Bolt 2 Speed – Full Review

I remember my first experience with a Browning X-Bolt well. I was a bowhunter new to the rifle game. Thankfully, a buddy helped me get my feet wet by taking me predator hunting. I had an old .223 Rem. I couldn't tell you the make or model. After three stands, I'd missed two coyotes. As each tried to flee across the sage-covered ground, my buddy burned them down. It was like watching a magician at work. He was so precise, so exact, and his rifle was remarkable.

On the last stand of the day, he handed me his Browning X-Bolt chambered in .22-250 Rem. Then he said, "I would have let you shoot this earlier. The only reason I didn't is because I didn't want your wife to kill me. You'll be buying this gun after you use it." My predator-hunting amigo was correct. I did buy a Browning X-Bolt — the exact make and model he had. That rifle sparked something in me, and over the past 12 years, I've amassed quite a collection of X-Bolt rifles. From the X-Bolt Speed to the X-Bolt Mountain Pro Tungsten to the X-Bolt Speed LR and more, I have an X-Bolt addiction.

Why? The list of reasons is long and distinguished. From the fast-cycling 60-degree bolt to the fluted, sporter contour barrel to the three-lever Feather Trigger and Inflex Recoil Pad, X-Bolt rifles are accurate, durable, and a joy to shoot.

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First Impressions

I knew the rifle was arriving at my FFL, and I was in the shop waiting an hour before the UPS driver appeared. The thought of getting my hands on Browning's newest addition to the X-Bolt Family — the X-Bolt 2 Speed — had me going like a kid at Christmas.

I would need to work fast. It was September 19, 2023, and I was leaving for my last fall elk hunt on September 28.

Cloaked in OVIX camouflage, the rifle was just what I had come to expect from Browning. I immediately took notice of the adjustable comb height of the Vari-Tech Stock, and upon further inspection, Browning added mounting points in the forend for attaching accessories/rails. The forend of the Vari-Tech Stock featured a black, rubberized material that promoted excellent hand placement. The barrel was familiar: a fluted, sporter contour, which, combined with the Vari-Tech Stock, created a balanced platform that felt great in hand and shouldered like a dream.

The 2024 X-Bolt 2 Speed arrived chambered in .300 PRC. Naturally, I was thrilled to see Browning fit the Vari-Stock with a semi-spongy, yet not at all sloppy ,cheek pad. The pad would not only reduce felt recoil, but also ensure exact cheek weld.

receiver
A new receiver design ensures a buttery-smooth bolt thanks to a more significant bolt-guidance area.

The Build

I mounted Leupold's VX-5HD 2-10x42 scope to the pre-drilled and tapped receiver. As with all my Browning/Leupold mixes, the scope setup was a dream.

Next, I took advantage of a new feature of the 2024 X-Bolt 2, adjusting the comb height to achieve perfect cheek weld and ideal alignment for the optic. The comb adjustment process does take several steps and requires the removal of the recoil pad. It’s not difficult, but also not as simple as just turning a few exterior screws like many adjustable combs on the market today.

The X-Bolt 2 Speed also features a customizable length of pull. The rifle arrives at Browning's standard, 13 5/8 inches, but after removing the recoil pad, you can easily add or subtract spacers. Pull adjustment can be from 13 1/8 inches to 14 1/8 inches. This gives the shooter a full one-inch LOP range, and, at the time of purchase, a 1-inch recoil pad is available for those who desire an even shorter LOP.

vari-tech
The Vari-Tech Stock showcases adjustable comb height and an interchangeable grip option. Also, take note of the improved ergonomics.

Trigger & Recoil

Reconfigured for 2024, the receiver increases bolt guidance to ensure smoother operation. I didn't think you could get more buttery than the original X-Bolt, but Browning engineers worked their magic, and the bolt glides effortlessly. The bolt also got a facelift — new styling boosts ergonomics and overall feel.

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After building the rifle and sending a few rounds downrange during the bore-sight process, I noted in my journal that the trigger felt ultra-consistent. There was zero creep, and the break happened at the same point in my shot cycle each time, which boosted my shooting confidence from the get-go. It should be noted that at the time of set up and initial testing, I had zero information from Browning about the specifics of this new rifle. This was neat because often, if you know something is new, a placebo effect can occur. It's instantly better because it's a new feature or technology, right?

I found out later the trigger is called the DLX trigger, and its multi-lever design optimizes sear weight and trigger movement to provide repeatable, perfect trigger pulls. The trigger is also user adjustable down three pounds.

The X-Bolt 2 Speed also showcases several ergonomic improvements. From a modular grip design that allows interchange between a sporter or vertical style grip to the padded comb to the recoil pad, this rifle is sleek and sexy.

At the shot, recoil was minimal. It was so minimal that I never came out of my scope and immediately identified the placement of my first shot. Improved ergonomics and the included muzzle break reduced recoil, even in this magnum caliber shooting Hornady's 212 gr ELD-X Precision Hunter rounds.

magazine
The magazine is removable via push-button access, loads easily, and produces a positive?click?when set back in the rifle.

Banging Steel & Punching Paper

I like to shoot. I enjoy spending time on a bench, shooting prone off a backpack, squeezing a trigger while my rifle rests in a BOG DeathGrip. You get the idea.

I had two hunts on the docket — a late-September elk hunt and a mid-October pronghorn hunt. The more I shoot a rifle, especially one like the X-Bolt 2 Speed that's a joy to shoot, the more confident I get, and I'm a big believer that supreme confidence in your weapon fills tags.

After achieving sub-MOA accuracy at ranges of 200, 300, 400 and 500 yards, the proof was in the pudding. The rifle is accurate as the day is long and sends the long, sleek, perfectly aerodynamic ELD-X bullets with HeatShield with jaw-dropping accuracy. Over nine days, I stretched the rifle's range to 826 yards — ringing steel on a 6-inch orange plate. Impressive!

The bolt throw was better than ever, quick, smooth, and fast. The padded comb mated with the ergonomic grip ensured repeatable shot-to-shot consistency, and when combined with the crisp trigger break, I'd found my new favorite rifle.

barrel
The fluted, sporter contour barrel combined with the Vari-Tech stock to provide remarkable sub-MOA accuracy.

Field Test

I do not like rifle reviews that don't include a field test. So far, I've hyped Browning's new X-Bolt creation regarding new features, the build, and on-the-range performance. But how did it do in the field?

The bull was screaming, and though we couldn't see him well, we caught glimpses of tan as the herd bull and his harem wandered through the dense cedar and pinon pine stand.

Two lesser bulls continued to tempt me. First, they strolled across an open pasture at 125 yards as they tried to keep pace with the herd. The next time we looked at them, they were 63 yards away, crashing their horns together and turning trees into toothpicks.

Finally, the herd bull appeared across a small canyon. I had the X-Bolt 2 Speed ready in BOG's DeathGrip Carbon model. The range was 363 yards, and after a quick adjustment to my CDS-ZL2 Elevation Dial, I settled my crosshairs high shoulder, took a breath and started to squeeze. I'd gotten so familiar with the DLX's trigger pull that I was almost smiling when the rifle thundered, sending the Hornady round at a blistering 2,857 feet per second. The 212-grain ELD-X, though I didn't know it at the time, hit the exact clump of hair I was aiming for. The bull's back legs buckled, and he was dead before hitting the ground. The X-Bolt 2 Speed was off to a good start with one shot and one kill.

boom
The massive body on this Colorado bull elk was no match for the X-Bolt 2 Speed and Hornaday Precision Hunter 212 gr ELD-X 300 PRC.?

My next hunt was for pronghorn in my home state of Colorado. After 23 years of applying, I pulled a premium tag and completely trusted the X-Bolt 2 to get the job done, and it did.

After finding the quality of buck I'd long dreamt of seeing in my scope, I sent the Hornady Precision Hunter 212 gr ELD-X through the middle of the speed goats' lungs. I didn't want to hit bone and damage meat on the light-boned animal, and at 226 yards, the bullet punched a pinhole going in and created a slightly larger hole on the exit. The pronghorn made a short 50-yard death sprint before collapsing.

x-bolt-2
Light and maneuverable yet ideal for long-range shooting, the author produced two one-shot kills in 2023 using Browning's all-new X-Bolt design.?

Final Thoughts

Not only do I recommend Browning's X-Bolt 2 Speed to every rifle hunter out there, but I will be adding several to my growing X-Bolt collection. The rifle will be available in several variants of the X-Bolt 2, and I have no doubt you'll find at least one you can't live without. Sometimes, the hype of a new rifle launch is just that. Not so with Browning's X-Bolt 2 Speed. This rifle met and exceeded all my expectations.

browningxbolt2



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