Browning AB3 .270 Winchester Bolt-Action Rifle, Part I

The Browning AB3 is Browning's version of the downgraded “value” bolt action rifle, retailing at $599 but currently with a street price of around $500, with a one hundred dollar rebate going on as this is written through December 15, 2014. First, Browning's published specifications.

Item Number 035800224
UPC 023614398240
Action Length Long Action
Caliber 270 Win
Barrel Length 22"
Overall Length 42 3/4"
Length of Pull 13 5/8"
Drop at Comb 11/16"
Drop at Heel 1/2"
Weight 6 lbs 13 oz
Magazine Capacity 4
Twist Rate 1 in 10"
Barrel Finish Matte Blued
Stock Finish Matte Black
Receiver Finish Matte Blued
Chamber Finish Polished
Barrel Material Steel
Barrel Contour Sporter
Stock Material Composite
Recoil Pad Polymer
Checkering Textured Grip Panels
Receiver Material Steel
Trigger Finish Matte Blued
Trigger Guard Finish Matte
Bolt Slide Finish Chrome
Magazine Type Detachable
Trigger Material Composite
Trigger Guard Material Composite
Drilled and Tapped for Scope Yes
MSRP $599.99

I might as well get the negatives out of the way first: there are plenty of them. They include not just the plastic stock with visible mold lines, but even a plastic trigger guard and a plastic trigger itself. The detachable box magazine rattles and protrudes obnoxiously from the bottom of the rifle. It is obviously a big jump to low quality as compared to the Browning X-Bolt.

On a more hopeful note, the matte finish of the AB3 is better than most extremely rough, unpolished attempts. The Browning “Inflex” recoil pad is excellent and the trigger is quite good, breaking at a crisp 3-3/4 lbs. Unlike some econo-rifles, the bolt won't just flop open if snagged, it is locked into place and can be easily cycled, with the safety on, by pushing a button on the right side of the receiver.

The X-Bolt Composite Stalker has a sticker price of $859.99, selling in the $750 range. The real-world difference in price between these two models is roughly $250. It all depends how important a couple of hundred of 2014-2015 dollars is to you for a product that isn't going to wear out from typical use. There is a growing glut of bolt-action rifles designed to be cheaper, not better. Browning can hardly be condemned for wanting a piece of the entry-level pie, just like most other brands. Next, it is off to the field to see what it does from a basic, functional standpoint. Much more to follow in Part Two.

©1999 - 2014 Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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