Both Brendan and I have had a hankering to find ourselves a current manufacture bolt action rifle suitable for big game. he has specifically suggested something in .308 caliber. he must take after me somewhat because I think the .308 is a great all around caliber and besides that for a large rifle caliber the ammo can be had at a decent price. Most decent rifles in .308 probably start at around $450 to $500 in price. But there may be a less expensive offering out there that while costing less gives as much value as the more expensive rifles. That would be the Marlin XS7.
The Marlin XS7 received a great write up in a recent issue of Outdoor Life magazine. They compared about 10 or so newly available rifles on the US market. The XS7 received note as the best value. It received something like a C+ for workmanship a B for accuracy and a B+ for value. Not bad marks. While I am somewhat concerned about the C+ for workmanship, I am not that concerned because they gave a marlin lever action rifle the same grade for that. I have owned three marlin lever action rifles and I always thought the craftsmanship was at least a B+ to A. I would risk this rifle being close to that in my estimation.
As far as accuracy was concerned they said that out of the best eight groupings this rifle achieved, the average group was about 1.4 inches. They did not mention at what distance they tested the rifles, but my guess would be it had to have been at 100 yards. That is none too shabby. Not as good as some others they tested maybe, but ones with much better accuracy seemed to have had a much higher price tag by about double the price of this rifle.
So what is the price that I keep mentioning. Well, it is an amazing one at that. It has a MSRP of about $340. At that price I may buy two of them. Well one first to check it out and if a good shooter, and if well made, and if it fits me and Brendan - I may have to buy another. If not then just think of all the ammo I can buy for this rifle with the money I would save by buying it over one of its more expensive competitors.
Here are the specs from the Marlin website:
Calibers: 7mm-.08, 243 Win. and 308 Win.
Action: Centerfire bolt action, Pro-FireTM adjustable trigger system; fluted bolt; two-position safety; red cocking indicator
Stock: Pillar-bedded black synthetic with raised cheek piece and Soft-Tech™ recoil pad
Barrel: 22” precision button rifled, target crown (6 grooves)
Twist Rate: 7mm-08 - 1:9.5” r.h., 243 Win. - 1:10” r.h., 308 Win. - 1:12” r.h.
Sights/Scope: No sights provided. One-piece scope base included
Overall Length: 42 1/2"
Weight: 6¼ - 6¾ lbs
I kind of wish this came with a wood stock as does the Marlin XL7, but it is not yet available in wood. I just like the heft of the wood stock especially since it usually helps cut back the impact of recoil. Then again, unlike a couple of my military-surplus rifles this one comes with a rubber recoil pad.
I am off to the gun show at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Middletown, NY tomorrow and may just have to shop around for one of these. I have already seen it at The Little Store in Roscoe, NY for $325 (or was that an XL7?), so I am hopeful to get it for a bit below MSRP. If I don't see one there I can always order one at my local gun shop or check with Dick's Sporting Goods to see if they stock it. (I have a love hate thing with Dick's Sporting Goods if you have not realized it yet; lately they have been pretty good as compared to other times when I could not stand their service.)
All the best,