There are some opportunities you can’t pass up, especially when it comes to shouldering a firearm that has just been introduced. A year ago this past spring my friend, Mike Capps, from Howard Communications introduced me to a new Browning Rifle — the Browning Hells Canyon Speed.
After investing time on the range and shooting a box of ammo, all I could say was — Wow.
Over time I was able to obtain one of these rifles, and subsequently here’s what I learned about this newly introduced rifle.
Of the family of the Hells Canyon X-bolt rifles, there are two models, the Speed and the Smoke, which exhibits varying degrees of blue hues. The Speed color scheme is printed in shades of light brown and green. Both are printed in an exclusive A-TACUS camouflage of micro and macro patterns. Both are printed on a DuraTouch Armor Coating that provides a sure grip on all types of weather conditions.
The Speed model was my choice. The barrel and other metal parts on either model comes with a Cerakote finish. Cerakote has become a popular finish applied to today’s firearms because it is corrosion-resistant and non-reflective.
The barrel is fluted. This helps increase heat dispersal, keeping the barrel cooler between shots. The groves in the metal also serve to reduce the rifle’s overall weight. Weights begin at 6 lbs. 5 ounces and top out at 6 lbs. 13 oz., depending on the caliber.
Calibers to choose from include: .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win., 7mm-08, .270 Win., .30-06 Springfield with a 22 inch barrel.
Models with a 23 inch barrel length area available in .270 WSM, .300 WSM come in the 23: barrel length. Calibers in the twenty-six inch barrel models include the 26 Nosler, 7 mm Rem Mag, 6MM Creedmoor.
The barrel on all models are threaded and includes a muzzle break to reduce recoil. A threaded cap is also provided to protect the threads on the end of the barrel when the muzzle break is not being used. To further help reduce felt recoil, an Inflex Recoil Pad was installed.
The rifle’s exterior is functional and looks great. But it’s what is found within the rifle that is even more impressive.
The receiver of the rifle is glass bedded. This process allows the receiver to be custom fitted completely to the stock allowing the barrel to be free floating. The barrel is also hand fitted to the receiver. Without getting too technical, the process helps to insure the rifle’s accuracy.
The first time I cycled a round from the magazine into the chamber of the rifle it was obvious “something” was different. That was because the bolt requires a 60 degree lift to operate the bolt. Cycling is fast, with a bolt machined from solid steel bar stock that provides extra strength and an added margin of safety.
The safety is a push type located in the center of the stock and situated just behind the receiver. As an added bonus and additional safety feature is the bolt unlock button.
The (RIFLES) bolt unlock button works in conjunction with the rifle’s safety allowing the bolt to be unlocked and opened with the rifle’s safety in the ON position. The safety blocks the trigger sear and firing pin block providing added safety.
Triggers can be a bone of contention when it comes to off-the-shelf firearms. To improve the triggers of many of today’s firearms, some will have a gunsmith install one of a variety of aftermarket triggers. In the case of this rifle, in my opinion here is a case of what you get is pretty darn good.
The X-Bolt’s “Feather Trigger” provides a clean, crisp pull with no take-up or creep and minimal over travel. The trigger is adjustable from 3 to 5 lbs. and is factory pre-set at approximately 3 1/2 lbs. The rifle does not come with iron sights. For this consider purchasing the best scope you can afford. The next step is mounting the optics to the rifle.
The rifle is drilled and tapped, with a four screws per base mounting system. This design allows for the scope bases to be secured on each corner of the bases. Browning calls it the “X” Lock system. For those who are do it yourselfers, keep in mind the bases are marked forward and rearward. The good thing is that with the “X” Lock System you can be assured the scope will be in line with the center of the bore.
The caliber of rifle selected was the 6.5 Creedmoor. Just like the Browning’s Hells Canyon which is new to the marketplace, the same holds true for the 6.5 Creedmoor.
The 6.5 bullet dates back to 1891 when the 6.5x55 bullet was developed for use by the Swedish Military.
The bullet was also used by Winchester to develop the .263 Winchester Magnum.
Today’s 6.5 Creedmoor was developed by Horandy in 2007 using a .308 case, then was introduced to the marketplace in 2008.
Since then a growing number of firearms manufacturers are providing arms chambered for the cartridge. The same holds true for ammunition.
Companies that include Hornady, Noler, Winchester, and Federal, along with a number of smaller ammunition companies, all produce 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition.
At the muzzle a 140 gr. commercial round leaves the barrel at 2,710 fps. Those figures match that of a .260 Remington shooting the same weight bullet.
At first the 6.5 Creedmoor got off to a slow start. However once long range shooters recognized its potential, the cartridge took off from there.
From my personal experience on the range shooting this rifle, I can’t wait for deer season. Sub one inch (MOA) minute of angle groups shot at 100 yards has made me a believer.
Recoil can be a deterrent. Hard hitting calibers will often stress young shooters. In my case, even with the mild recoil of the 6.5 Creedmore round, I used the muzzle break. After all, shooting is fun and the “break” contributes to the enjoyment of shooting this rifle.
What interests me has been that the Browning Hells Canyon combined with the 6.5 Creedmoor is comfortable to shoot, all day long. To do so the rifle then combines it’s two recoil damping systems that allows me to shoot as much as I want or need to. And that’s what I call fun.
But don’t take my word for it. If you see someone on the rifle range shooting a 6.5 Creedmoor, strike up a conversation and listen to what someone else has to say. Chances are they will confirm what you’ve read.
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Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, an active member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net