HomeGunsReview: Browning X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan SPR

Review: Browning X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan SPR

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In 2008, Browning made a significant leap forward. They introduced the X-Bolt, a new bolt-action series that surpassed their tried-and-true A-Bolt rifle line. This innovative lineup immediately resonated with the shooting community, marking a new era for Browning.

The X-Bolt developed a positive reputation for its out-of-the-box accuracy and light, crisp Feather Trigger system. The 60-degree bolt lift promised rapid cycling and ample scope clearance.

The X-Bolt, a true champion, has evolved over the years. Browning has expanded the X-Bolt lineup, offering a range of rifle styles to suit various shooting preferences. From the X-Bolt Speed to the X-Bolt Target Max to the X-Bolt Mountain Pro Tungsten, Browning has crafted an X-Bolt for every shooter and every shooting scenario.

Using a Swagger bipod, the author adjusts his CDS-ZL2 Zero Lock elevation dial and prepares to send a 500-yard shot. (Author Photo)

Browning rushes nothing. Instead, engineers spend time in the lab cooking up new recipes. Some are scratched immediately, while others go into the design and test phase. Then, occasionally, when the time is right, a product line that met and exceeded Browning’s expectations survives to be launched.


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In 2024, Browning introduced its highly anticipated X-Bolt 2 line of bolt-action rifles, a testament to its commitment to innovation and quality.

The X-Bolt 2

Browning X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan SPR Carbon Fiber
Browning X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan SPR Carbon Fiber, $4,000-$4,070. (Photos courtesy of Browning)

In late January 2024, at the annual SHOT Show, Browning unveiled its new X-Bolt rifle line, branded the X-Bolt 2. The bolt-action newbies received immediate attention. Early rumblings from the shooting crowd indicated the rifles boasted improved ergonomics with advanced stock adjustability, a refined Feather Trigger system that was crisper and smoother than its predecessor, and reduced recoil.

Since the launch, Browning continues to steer its faithful following to its new-for-the-year rifle launch, and while the X-Bolt has yet to go away, the X-Bolt 2 offers advantages over the original.


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X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan SPR Carbon Fiber 

Browning X-Bolt 2 Muzzle Brake
The innovative recoil Hawg muzzle brake works with the Pachmayer Decelerator recoil pad to negate shoulder abuse. (Author Photo)

Recently, Browning sent the X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan SPR Carbon Fiber to my FFL for pickup. Later this year, I will fly the rifle to Africa on a dream hunt. Getting the gun well before the hunt allowed me to get familiar with it, send lots of lead downrange from various shooting positions, and develop a level of shooting confidence I know will lead to many horns-down experiences on the Dark Continent.

I’ve handled many Browning X-Bolt models but never a top-tier McMillan Pro make. Browning’s McMillan Pro rifles are the top of the heap — coveted by big-game enthusiasts and long-range target shooters, alike.

Browning X-Bolt 2 Preferred Barrels
What begins as a blank is turned into a tack-driving tube. The carbon fiber wrapping ensures a stronger, stiffer, more accurate barrel. (Author Photo)

While this 2024 bolt-action has much going for it, everything starts and ends with the Game Warden 2.0 stock. Crafted from carbon fiber, the stock is light and exceptionally durable. As I removed the rifle from its cardboard home, I instantly fell in love with the Urban Carbon Ambush finish, which uses color schemes and graphics for added contrast.

The stock’s construction provides superior strength, rigidity, and durability while keeping weight down. This rifle is perfect for the mountains and the shooting bench.

Action fit is perfect via machined-in aluminum pillars and bedding at the action screws and recoil lug to free float the Preferred Barrel and ensure maximum downrange accuracy.


Browning X-Bolt 2 Pic Rail
The aluminum Picatinny rail on the bottom of the rifle’s forend is perfect for quick bi-pod attachment. (Author Photo)

As I moved the rifle from one hand to the other, I noticed the reduced weight, and the wide, flat forend felt excellent. I couldn’t wait to get the gun on a bench.

Other immediate observations included the raised comb for exact eye-to-optic alignment, a detachable rotary magazine, and the vertical grip with top thumb rest, which felt great. The 60-degree bolt lift is back but has new ergonomics. I had zero reservations about clearance issues once the rifle was topped with Leupold’s VX-6HD 3-18×44 scope. The location of the top-tang safety directly behind the bolt is ideal. I appreciate the addition of a forend-mounted aluminum Picatinny rail for quick bipod attachment. My Swagger bipod attached instantly with no hang-ups.

Browning’s bolt-release button works with the top-tang safety, adding a boosted safety measure. The new DLX Trigger felt light and crisp with zero creep, and since my Africa-bound hunting partner came chambered in .300 Win. Mag., I was thrilled to see the Recoil Hawg muzzle brake and Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad.

This rifle’s configuration is the top-end of Browing’s X-Bolt and X-Bot 2 lines. Having tested and harvested a mature Colorado bull elk in October 2024 with the X-Bolt 2 Speed chambered in 7 PRC, I could quickly tell, at a glance, that the X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan SPR Carbon Fiber enjoyed the addition of many accuracy-enhancing features.

On The Range

Browning X-Bolt 2 bolt throw
The 60-degree bolt throw makes the stroke seem short and fast, even when operating a long-action like the .300 Win. Mag. (Author Photo)

I can pen word after word about the features and technologies of Browning’s shiny new tack driver. Of course, those words are hollow without a field test. So, over the course of three weeks, I sent 60 Winchester Expedition Big Game .300 Win. Mag. 190-Grain AccuBond LR bullets downrange. The results were magnificent.

After a quick bore sight and getting the rifle on paper at 50 yards, I backed up to 100 yards, got on the bench, and punched bullseyes on Hornady’s Lock-N-Load 12×12 Targets with three rounds. The three-shot muzzle velocity average was 2,902 feet-per-second (fps); close to Winchester’s advertised muzzle velocity of 2,900 fps. The rotary magazine readily accepts three rounds and inserts and ejects flawlessly.

With the rifle touching bullets at 100 yards off the bench, I gave the wrapped carbon fiber barrel a quick cleaning and resumed shooting. It should be noted that the rifle’s barrel is 18 inches — 4 inches shorter than standard barrel length. This design allows those who shoot suppressed to add a standard-sized suppressor and still have a rifle with an overall barrel length that’s not overly long.

Moving from the bench to my BOG DeathGrip Infinite Carbon Fiber shooting tripod, I continued shooting from prone, standing, kneeling, and sitting positions. I rang steel and punched paper, never more than 100 yards away.

Why?

Browning X-Bolt 2 bolt
Still a 60-degree throw, the spiral-fluted bolt with an extended bolt handle and new-for-2024 bolt knob boost cycling time. (Author Photo)

The rifle was made to be accurate at long ranges, so I wanted to become ultra-familiar with it before testing it at a distance. Just because a rifle is created to be a long-range wringer doesn’t mean it will perform independently. Shooting mistakes are magnified at a distance. Build confidence with your rifle before stretching its legs.

Thanks to the Recoil Hawg muzzle break and Pachmayer Decelerator recoil pad, I quickly learned that recoil was minimal. The .300 Win. Mag. promises remarkable ballistics. However, the report and kick of a 190-grain .300 Win. Mag. from a rifle that does not include recoil negation features can cause even seasoned shooters to start flinching.

The DLX Trigger is adjustable but comes set at a hunting weight, and I found no reason to adjust it. However, if I plan to compete in a long-range match, I may tinker with it and lighten it up.

On the first day of testing, the outside temperature was 92 degrees Fahrenheit. I was impressed with how cool the wrapped carbon fiber Preferred Barrel remained and how quickly it cooled down. I built shooting confidence quickly with the rifle, and it felt light and maneuverable in hand.

Stretch The Legs

Browning X-Bolt 2 Accuracy
Shot after shot, regardless of the distance from the target, the X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan Carbon Fiber SPR was a tack driver. (Author Photo)

I applaud the clarity and sharpness of Leupold’s VX-6HD line. Until the McMillan, I had only topped my rifles with various VX-5HD models. Leupold scopes mount like a dream, and though the X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan SPR comes with a 20 MOA Picatinny optic rail with a bubble level, I took advantage of Browning’s X-Lock Scope Mounting System. The system uses four screws per base for solid attachment to the receiver. Appropriate torque for the Leupold rings and bases was branded on the packaging, and using Real Avid’s Master Grade Scope Mounting Combo, which includes a torque driver, the process was a breeze.

The edge-to-edge clarity of the VX-6HD is remarkable, and I love the scope’s Electronic Reticle Level, which flashes if the scope isn’t level. Still, my favorite feature, as I’ve penned numerous times before, is the CDS-ZL2 Elevation (ZeroLock 2) dial.

Before shipping the scope, Leupold did all the work for me. They shot the X-Bolt 2 Pro McMillan SPR Carbon Fiber with the exact ammo I will take to Africa, performed a speed test, etc., and shipped a customized dial. Over the years, I have found these dials to be ridiculously accurate if steps aren’t missed in the data-gathering process.

Browning X-Bolt 2 Safety
The X-Bolt 2’s top-mounted tang safety is easily accessed. (Author Photo)

My first long-range shot off the bench was from 500 yards. The wind was calm — 2 to 3 mph from the west — giving me a slight crosswind. The outside temperature was 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity was 31 percent. The shot was not cold bore. I’d sent a round from 200 yards and then 300 yards. When the trigger broke, my oldest son, Hunter, watching the impact through a Leupold spotter, said, “Cutting the top of the center diamond bullseye on the right.”

I quickly cycled another round — the 60-degree spiral-fluted bolt with an extended handle and improved bolt knob shape functioned perfectly, and reloading was quick for a long-action rifle.

I went prone using my Swagger bipod and sent another 500-yard round. The call was 1/2-inch high and 1/2-inch right. Moving from a prone position to a flat-on-butt position with the left knee up, I squeezed off on a 632-yard steel plate. The clang was all I needed to hear.

During the ensuing weeks, I’ve continued to shoot the rifle at distance. I’m impressed with Winchester’s Expedition Big Game ammo. I’m a fan of the AccuBond LR bullet and was thrilled to see Winchester go this route. The bullet is exceptionally accurate, and I love its performance in a crosswind. A heavier-grain bullet designed for long-range efficiency fired from a high-caliber tack-driving rifle reduces wind drift. I found this to be the case throughout testing.

Browning X-Bolt 2 Tripod
When hunting, you find yourself at odd, sometimes uncomfortable shooting angles. Accuracy comes easier when you practice these shots using a top-end rifle and a sturdy shooting tripod. (Author Photo)

My furthest tested distance off the bench was 925 yards. My best shot at this range was 1-3/4-inches low and 3-1/8-inches right on paper. The shot would’ve crushed the vitals of any animal. I also shot two milk jugs filled with red water at this distance. The first shot was a clean miss, which was a shooter error. The second and third shots exploded the jugs.

Off my BOG and Swagger bipod, I shot up to 750 yards, and every shot I took would’ve scored hits on the vitals of any African animal on my intended hunt list.

Typically, when I finish a gun review, I have a list of shortcomings. Aside from the rotary magazine, which I would love to see Browning make a tick more durable, I have zero could-do-better suggestions and no warnings I’d want to pass along to anyone looking to add this Long-Magnum shooter to their arsenal. After my Africa adventure, I won’t be sending this rifle back to Browning. It’s a Cadallic in the new X-Bolt 2 lineup and will accompany me on many big-game adventures out West this fall and in the future.






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