L.P. Brezny reviews the Winchester XPR Rifle and why it is not the tried and true bolt action Model 70 Winchester.
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Without question the modern firearms industry has been greatly uplifted by the sheer fact that manufacturing methods and systems have pushed the advancement of the modern rifle well beyond what was ever thought possible several decades ago.
The short form here is that today the gun buyer can get one pile of fire stick for his or her hard earned dollar.
Enter Winchester firearms and the new turn bolt XPR design. What stands out first and foremost is that the new Winchester bolt action rifle has moved well away from any other previous standard regarding component design.
While some would call this the advancement of the tried and true Model 70 Winchester, I say, being a proud owner of several 70's, that nothing could be further from the truth. The XPR rifle is not a Model 70, but in its own right a very different product unto itself.
As a way to get through college back in the 1960's, I turned to building deer rifles from military surplus product. Because of that extensive and labor intensive experience I can say that I totally respect what went into a fine accurate rifle back then, and even today. Winchesters XPR while not being a Model 70 is without question a product of the current advancements in both materials and CNC manufacturing capabilities.
Starting with the APR rifles' stock we have an injection molded polymer material that retains its own recoil lug system cast into the stock behind the receiver ring. Using a poly trigger guard and what would be normal bottom metal the stock is spot on re dimensions, each and every time one comes out of the manufacturing process. That was not always the case with wood stocked or early polymer constructed stocks.
The receiver of the bolt action XPR is machined chromoly steel with a soft blue or almost parkerized finish. The receiver and free floating barrel are coated to fight weather and rough use without question. Mounting an over size bolt with three primary locking lugs the whole receiver unit is built strong. Now add the chromoly button rifled 22” barrel to the mix and you have the basic operating system attached to the new center fire rifle design.
Making use of the short extractor and push feed system the rifle is as simple as field dirt, and therefor dependable afield. With a slide right side safety with indicator, a generous bolt handle, and a fighting weight loaded with scope and sling of 8.40 pounds, the rifle handles like a typical light weight working deer or light walking varmint gunning system. Even the poly three round magazine slides like quick silver into place, and loads with total ease versus trying to fight sharp metal edges when load some other magazine designs. In the event you want to open your XPR bolt handle and not set the safety to fire this rifle retains a very unique bolt release button directly in front of the safety slide latch. Depress this button and open your bolt with safety in the on position. Nice feature and handy when changing out a live round, or completing other necessary functions.
In terms of field handling you can send a single round down the pipe in a pinch, or slip the mag into place quietly with total ease. The whole receiver system works very smoothly. As chambered, my test rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor, the recoil level of this rifle based ion both the round selected for testing and the rifles very functional recoil pad makes recoil minimal at best. The recoil pad is designed to push the rifle down and away from the shooters face upon firing. Therefor an outstanding setup for ladies , youth, or anyone that is not at all interested in being beaten to death by recoil.( This observation is based on light caliber rounds 243, 308, 6mm Creedmoor.)
The scope mounted on my rifle was the new Leupold LRP, with a VX3i 6.5X20X50 , long range turret with m.o.a settings installed. This optic makes use of a full 28 m.o.a elevation post right through the reticle and an additional 58 clicks in elevation on the open turret knob.
Along with the heavy weight, factory offered Winchester XPR one piece rings and mounts, the rifle did pick up an extra pound and one half from what a light weight ring system would weigh in at, but the rifle was being set up for western hunting situations. As such even with a very light weight pencil pipe .641 inch at the muzzle tapered barrel, the total package would be pushed to an average of 300 yard, with some additional work down range at the 400 yard mark.
This would be based on the new for 2017 Winchester Expedition Long Range, AccuBond 142 grain 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges supplied with the test rifle. While this is a push in range extension for a very light rifle, some general zero shooting and 100 yard work against our nasty Dakota cross winds of over 20 mph, returned groups that met my standard re hunting both coyotes, badger, and deer here in my Black Hills of western South Dakota.
Measured groups at 100 yards, less the cross wind and shot in a protected heavy wooded area at about 4,500 feet above sea level, returned some impressive m.o.a. groups by way of Winchester 140 grain match ammo, and Federals American Eagle budget loads of .930 – 1.241. Moving to open country and again 100 yards, the little XPR broke a Timney Scale tested trigger of 3 ¾ pounds on the money. With consistent 18 mph cross winds that gusted to over 20 mph re a full value right to left, the rifle set in a single soft bag in a light High / Low Case-Gard bench rests drilled five shot groups that measured as tight as 1.539 inches.
Are you wondering why I didn't hold off for a better dead air day and shoot dime size holes in paper out in the open country? The rifle is designed to shoot warm targets, and as such I almost never get the gift of a dead air day in the field.
Train Like You Hunt, And Hunt Like You Train
That statement comes from gun fighting, but in this case the bullet fits the chamber. Also of major note is the fact that the Winchester XPR Bolt Action Rifle makes use of the Savage designed locking nut installed barrel to receiver ring system. Savage held this barrel lock design close to the nest for years, and like the Savage rifles it contributed to outstanding accuracy as applied to the Winchester XPR.
As a final function and performance down range test I did press the rifle on steel targets to 400 yards by way of the reticle etched graduations from a 200 yard dead on zero. Running the provided Winchester Long Range 142 grain loads through my I-Phone on site ballistic computer indicated the correct hold over, and with that information it was game on to 400 yards. Pulling to the 4 m.o.a. mark in the scope reticle, and sighting ½ m.o.a. into a 30% crossing 7 mph wind from the left, the sound of steel rang out with ease across the 400 yard extended range limit down range. The short form was that this rifle was ready to go hunting this coming fall in western South Dakota.
XPR RIFLES in Current Production
- XPR Hunter – Mossy Oak Break-Up Country
- XPR Hunter Compact – Mossy Oak Break-Up Country
- XPR Hunter Mountain Country Range
- XPR Compact
About the Author L.P. Brezny:
With more than 50 years experience in the field and the testing lab, author L.P. Brezny is one of today's most recognized shotgun experts and authors. He is a contributor to dozens of firearms publications, such as Wildfowl, Shotgun Sports, and Varmint Hunters, and he is a regular columnist in the Gun Digest annual. Be sure and check out his newest book: Long Range Shooting, Second Edition