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Over the last couple years, there has been a considerable push from gun companies to produce a new entry level hunting rifle to replace the quickly deteriorating Remington 700. Ruger has their American Rifle, Weatherby has their Vanguard S2, and now Winchester looks to be getting into the game with the XPR. The website for the new gun is live now, but certain details (like pricing) seem to be withheld pending SHOT Show 2015. What we do know is . . .

The gun seems to hit all the high points of accurate firearms. The molded plastic stock is free floating, the rifle sports a somewhat heavier barrel profile and a nice target crown at the business end, and the bolt is a chunky piece of metal that ain’t going nowhere. The most exciting thing might be the trigger, though, since they claim that there’s zero creep, overtravel, or take-up. Sounds perfect for a single stage trigger, but we will have to see it in person to judge for ourselves.

Besides the obviously hunting-focused ad campaign that’s being rolled out for the gun, there are a couple hunting-friendly specs on the sheet as well. For example, while the safety on the gun locks the bolt in place and keeps it from moving (which is great for moving around in the woods and not having to worry if your action just opened up). There’s also a separate bolt release button which allows the shooter to override that feature. Perfect for loading or unloading your rifle near the house without having to worry about taking the safety off first.

We’ll keep you posted as SHOT approaches.

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      • Cannot figure out how Cerberus has screwed this thing up so badly. I work for Albertson’s LLC and they handed the keys off to a bunch of old, pre-American Stores merger guys who have ran things lean and trim and decentralized. We’ll see how happens after our merger with Safeway.

        Why the hell couldn’t they have handed FG to a group of, you know, guys who know guns? Who know the biz and how to run things lean? Seriously boggles the mind

        • You need to be around MBA’s for a couple of years to see how they think.

          Here’s what MBA’s think when they look at the gun industry:

          1. There’s far too many companies doing niche products. The industry is ripe for “savings by consolidation” by buying up all these smaller companies, getting them under one roof and then folding all of their “back office” functions (accounting, inventory management, etc) together and laying off 90% of the people in the back offices.

          2. There’s far too much duplication of manufacturing tooling and machinery. See (1) above.

          3. There’s so many “brands” that the MBA sees the industry and thinks “If only we could get all of these brand names under one roof! It would be like breakfast cereals!”

          4. MBA’s and Wall St. operators don’t know jack about issues with the industries they seek to destroy with their incompetence. MBA’s would look at a farm and wonder why farmers pile up manure into one pile and keep it for years; so if MBA’s ran a farm, they’d “outsource” the handling of the manure (read it as “disposal”) to some outside company (hopefully run by illegal alien labor to keep costs down).

          Then they’d merge the first farm with a dozen other farms, sell off any and all duplicated equipment, fire all the people who actually knew anything about actual farming on those particular pieces of land, attempting to cookie-cutter the actual farming practices (which, as any actual farmer can/will tell you, won’t work), wrap them all into one big bundle of land with consolidated financials statements (to hide the farms that are starting to fail), and sell the bundle off to investors.

          The MBA’s would then slink away into the night before the investors figure out that the MBA’s have wrecked a whole bunch of actual farms and sold a wreck.

          There is no question of why/how/when Cerberus screwed up FG/Remington/etc. It was inevitable. They simply did what Wall St. operators with MBA’s do.

        • +1. Dys is correct, but is too generous. The smartest guys in the room with the MBAs know very well that consolidating and laying off back rooms and middle management, and outsourcing things that look outsourceable are very likely to disrupt the businesses, but they dont care. You dont need to know about the guns, or whatever it is that they make. Its all about the benjamins.

          Its a proven formula, and the examples are legion- GE, for one- you strip it to pump the numbers, and mislead the analysts for long enough for the investors and top execs to get their stock options and get the money, and move on to the next one, having cashed in.

          They dont give a $hit about the people. People are your highest component in overhead.
          You want to get rid of the oldest first, too. Which of course is the brain trust for how to run the remaining shell when the strippers are gone. So you didnt just strip the hard assets, the good will, and the cash, but the intellectual capital. I’m frankly surprised Remington can even make guns, now.

          And dont expect everyone in the companies that are being bought out in the first place to be pure as the snow either. They know they are going to get cashed out, too. For the younger crowd its called “the exit strategy” and it doesnt include Joe Schmuckatelli on the line, or the OCD silencer design geek either, if he wont play along. This has been going on in the tech world since before the crash.

          Next time someone b1tches about Keltec and their limited production- go look at their determination not to be part of that game, and grow organically.

  1. Are these made in Japan along with the new Model 94’s? (Cue John Wayne rolling in his grave), or still in the old New Haven CT facility.
    Ya know the gun friendly state.

    • Winchester hasen’t made guns in Connecticut in years; the New Haven, CT plant was shutdown when the old Winchester/U.S. Repeating Arms went belly up in 2006.

    • Some Winchester rifles/shotguns are made in Belgium (with some of these being assembled in Portugal), others are made in Miroku, Japan and yet others are made in FN’s plant in South Carolina.

      There’s nothing left at New Haven but memories.

      In time, I reckon that there will be nothing left of the classic gun companies in the northeast US, thanks to their political and labor environment. These states will eventually drive most non-paper businesses out of their states, and they’ll get what they richly deserve as a result.

    • I use a howa 1500 in .270 for deer, no issues with Japanesse rifles here, the howa was a gift. I try to buy American, and plan on buying a Savage 308 soon (I know Savage builds in the US and Canada)

    • Winchester Model 70’s have been made in South Carolina since they closed the New Haven plant in 2006. I think there was a year or two that they weren’t being made at all, but current M70’s are made stateside.

      • No, the M70 was made in Connecticut by Olin untill 2006. F & N took over productionand made them in South Carolina starting in 2007 and now has the M70 made in Portugal. I have shot the current M70 Sporters and the fit and finish is exceptional!

  2. “Over the last couple years, there has been a considerable push from gun companies to produce a new entry level hunting rifle to replace the quickly deteriorating Remington 700.”

    Analogies of chickens returning to roost comes to mind…

  3. I didn’t know my 1980 700 BDL was deteriorating. I’ll have to have a look in the case. (Sometimes sentences have consequences).

    • Because the context clues referring to the Ruger American and Weatherby Vanguard S2 weren’t enough to tip you off, maybe Nick should spell it out in black and white

  4. I miss the well built Rem 700’s, beautiful Wingmasters, and rock solid Marlin lever guns. All this cheap new stuff doesn’t interest me.

  5. I have one of the Ruger Americans topped with a budget Redfield 3x9x40 scope. It works and works well enough for 99% of the hunters out there.

    It would be great to have a Savage99, Winchester 94 or 70 or Remington 700 made prior to 1970. But for budget concious hunters just getting started out the new mass produced, untouched by human hands rifles will work.

    Like compressed cheez whiz Glocks, they’ll have no art or soul, but they’ll work.

    • You can also upgrade later to a nice wood stock for a more traditional look and often an accuracy upgrade too.

      • My Ruger has a metal bedding system, counter bored barrel and a very nice trigger. I think, or rather know, that as is from the factory it’s more accurate than I can exploit.

  6. At least Remington, Ruger, Browning and Savage show some (limited) love to us lefties. Winchester has been MIA.

  7. If it means getting people out shooting and hunting, fine by me. I don’t expect new or young fisherman to buy van staal reals and fish for tarpon; just a zebco and a bluegill. why should hunting be any different.

  8. Time to get on board and start selling them with threaded barrels from the factory Winchester. Ruger is already doing it. Muzzle breaks and suppressors are all the rage now. It will barely raise the cost of the rifle, but save hundreds of dollars in gunsmithing fees for the consumer.

  9. I have a MOA trigger in my Model 70. It works as advertised. No take up, no creep, no over travel. Pretty cool, and it is consistent with all the other Winchesters with MOA triggers I have played with too.

  10. The trigger on the Model 70 was one-stage, fully adjustable and was a pretty darn good trigger as single stage triggers go. It too had “zero take-up” and was adjustable for engagement, weight and over-travel.

    The safety on the Model 70’s was on the bolt’s shroud. It was a very good safety, widely preferred by experienced hunters because it could do something that many trigger-block safeties do not: lock the bolt closed. I’ve had several inquiries from non-M70 hunters about replacement bolts for their rifles that were dropped in the field, with little chance of recovery. Well folks, when you drop a bolt in the field, you might be able to get a replacement, but you should get your headspace checked before just slapping it into your rifle and using said new bolt.

    Their claims of the new trigger notwithstanding, all they can really claim IMO is that “we can make this trigger cheaper than the Model 70’s trigger.” That would be at least more honest.

    I’m happy to see that they went with button-rifled barrels over hammer forged. If they wanted to make a really durable rifle and perhaps stand out from the crowd of cheap rifles, they could have gone with a stainless barrel. As long as they’re going to cover it in a crappy black finish, justify it by saying “we shipped a stainless barrel, so we couldn’t blue it easily, so we gave it a paint-on/bake-on finish. But hey! It’s weather-resistant, won’t rust easily, etc.” That’s a for-real selling feature. But, alas, no.

    The finish and furniture are what I’ve come to expect from all the major gun companies today: cheez-whiz and paint or phosphate finishes.

    It appears that they’re using a barrel washer/recoil lug design, which means that the bolt will have a less strong extractor on it. Oh well, anything to shave another $10 out of the design… which brings to light an important point I wish to make:

    This rifle (and all others like it) solves a problem that exists only in the gun companies’ boardrooms, not in your gun rack.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with the older rifle designs (modulo the Walker Fire Control System in the Remington 700’s) other than this: They can’t sell them at the price point their marketing people believe exists, for the profit margin they want, with actual craftsmanship involved in the production of said rifles. That is the sole reason for the introduction of new rifle designs today. There was never anything nothing “wrong” with the Mauser 98 design other than “it costs us too much money to build it,” so American gun companies started taking features out of bolt action rifles from the get-go. There was never anything wrong with the Springfield 1903, either, BTW.

    Winchester found an excellent balance between the safety features and over-expensive machining of the M98 and lower costs with the Model 70. In fact, Winchester added features that were useful for the American gun owner and hunter (such as the aforementioned 3-position safety). I have yet to see a rifle as well-adapted to/for the American hunter as the M70.

    But ever since Winchester decided that they were going to follow Remington into the cost-cutting basement (at a point in American history where we gave over to the idiotic ideas of MBA’s on how to run companies into the ground and lose wars at a great material and human expense), they’ve decided to mimic Remington, with really poor results to show for the effort: Remington will not be under-sold, and Winchester is late in bringing out cheap, crappy products to match.

    As a Winchester fan from way back, my thought was always “if I wanted to buy a cheap rifle, I’d buy a Remington.” I didn’t want a cheap rifle, I wanted a nice rifle. The MBA’s have never understood this, they only see a gun as a product that has to check off a bunch of boxes on their “requirements” sheet that go like this:

    – blunt on one end, hollow tube on the other. Check.
    – Has trigger that makes our lawyers less unhappy. Check.
    – Has plastic and metal finish in black, so it “looks tacti-kewl.” Check.

    The above rifle ticks off all those check boxes, so it must be good, right? Cue the video. All we need is some really grungy guitar chords riffed into our videos to make it sound … whatever.

    and so on. There’s no way to run a company successfully to “keep up” with these types of mental pygmies; you’d have to put out the bolt action variant of a Jennings to beat Remington into the cost-cutting basement.

    • I’ll just be using an old 1943 Turkish mauser. Trigger is heavy as they come and the sights aren’t good for rapid aquisition, but it has the trigger and bolt lock safeties. It also is extremely accurate and although I haven’t hunted yet I really don’t see anything getting back up after getting hit by a 194grain soft point. The gun only cost me like 300$ too and I have no doubts about reliability or durability unlike the modern junk.

    • Excellent points. I worked at major sports retailer that pushed the cheap, relatively accurate rifles to first time buyers. The classics only appealed to a few, serious hunters so to keep the big box open the management would push the budget lines to up more items being sold per customer. All mgmt cared or spoke about was the amount of items sold per customer.

      • @Rimfire: It was interesting to hear about some manufacturing coming back here from overseas. I’m going to look into that sometime.

  11. The molded plastic stock is free floating, the rifle sports a somewhat heavier barrel profile

    Free floating the stock is primarily a matter of holding it by nothing but the butt cap?

    I’ve found the ‘new’ Model 70’s excellent, in all three action lengths, though none of mine are “assembled in Portugal.” Doubt that last makes much difference. The MOA trigger diagram on the XPR site does not seem to be identical to what is in my 70’s, though the name is the same. I was surprised they went to button rifling. The manual of arms suggests to me this new action design meets several EU safety regulations, which makes sense.

  12. I still like my 20 year old Ruger M77 mark ii in 30-06. The barrel is free floated, the action glass bedded, and the trigger adjusted to 2.5 lbs. Not stock by any means but I have absolute trust that it will do what I expect it to do. I have only missed once, yes once, in 20 years and that was a running deer.

    • Maybe Winchester could find a way to get some of that used money like auto dealers do- Certified Pre-Owned Model 70s, anyone?

      • All your gunsmith needs do to inspect a used rifle is this:

        – clean the rifle, with a detail strip of the action, the bolt, etc. Re-assemble.
        – check the crown at the muzzle. Use a magnifying glass. It should be sharp, ding-free and not snag a cotton Q-tip
        – if the muzzle needs a new crown, pull it out of the stock, put it through the headstock on a lathe and touch up the crown. This might increase the price I’ll toss out below if the muzzle is really messed up.
        – strip the bolt, put the bolt back in, check the headspace for go, no-go and field. Check internal parts, esp. the spring. Make sure there’s no bubba-mods to the safety or bolt. Check bolt lugs for engagement with some Dykem.
        – pull the bolt out of the action, put in a bore scope and look at the throat. Check for throat erosion.
        – weigh the trigger. Look at the trigger, make sure there’s no bubba-rific mods to the trigger. Make sure trigger adjustment nuts are tight, trigger should have at least minimum engagement on sear, and be set for no less than 3.5#.
        – test fire the rifle for a five-shot group.

        With the exception of the last item, all of the issues should take only an hour or so. I think I’d charge $110 + materials/parts/ammo for a package deal to slap a “gunsmith A-OK!” on a M70 and sight it in with whatever glass that the owner might want to mount on the rifle.

        That’s about all the needs to be done to qualify a rifle for safe operation and functionality. Beyond that, you might want to check the stock for proper fit to the action, cracks through the wrist, rub points (if it is supposed to be free-floated), etc.

  13. Truth – my Remington 700 (Spring 2013 mfg) barrel started rusting the minute I unpacked it.

    I’ve had other guns start showing rust, but only after a year or two in the basement safe.

    Their finishing process is crap.

    • Get a Goldenrod in your safe, and add a silica gel can as well. Rust in a safe means that your humidity is too high in the safe, and the Goldenrod will keep the safe a few degrees higher in temp to prevent condensation, and the silica can will pull moisture out of the air in your safe. If you’re in a coastal area, you need to worry about salt in your air from the ocean as well, and you need to keep your metal wiped down with oils.

      WD-40 works well at preventing corrosion for what it is. Spray down all the metal with a light film of WD-40, lightly wipe off any excess. There are better products for anti-corrosion, but none as cheap and easily available as WD-40.

  14. Glad to see that Winchester jumped into the game with this rifle. Yes, it is no M-70. Today’s market is a different animal and not everyone has the same needs, so this is a great alternative. And don’t lament the fact that New Haven is not in the picture either, although we all miss it’s storied history the political and labor issues there made continued operations impossible. After the strike in ’79 things never balanced stifled growth and Olin sold off the brand after becoming so soured on the union relationships there. Sounds like the tooling and resources were pretty much used up too, about the only tooling that made the trip to the FN plant in S.C. was the bolt jeweling machinery. Change had to come, and Winchester turns out some damn nice M-70s nowdays. I have no bitch about any of their product lineup, all good products….yes, we all want everything made here in the USA but that became so difficult. Maybe with a little more time they will follow the new trend where manufacturing work is returning here from overseas. The Miroku m-94’s are some of the best ones ever, actually. With lever gun volumes declining more each year it probably made sense to rely on the Browning connection with Miroku to fill this niche market. Have you actually laid your paws on one?? My Gawd the bluing is awesome , the wood so nice and the fit and finish so good. Just need to get rid of all the extraneous roll-marked words on the barrels. I hope that Winchester will survive in the market, after all haven’t we witnessed too much bastardizing of great old companies lately? Marlin anyone?

  15. Chris,

    I can vouch for what Dyspeptic Gunsmith says about Goldenrod, very wise investment! My bro-in-law has a newer M870 and same situation, that barrel was rusting so quickly it was as if it was still raw steel. He invested in the Goldenrod at my urging and his guns never looked better. Even the pipe on the 870 now stands a chance…and that is saying a lot!

  16. After having some experience with the XPR in 30-06 I can honestly tell people to avoid it like the plague. I really want to like this rifle but it has a glaring problem. The action in the recoil lug slot area is soft and deforms causing the action to sit in the stock with barely any contact with the recoil lug. This issue became evident after only 40 rounds. Accuracy was good for the first few rounds. I could tell something was wrong when the action would move in the stock (action screws tight). Removed the action from the stock and it was pretty clear what was happening. Sent the rifle back to Winchester with a clear description of the problems. They looked it over didn’t do anything about it and sent it back.

  17. I must say that my experience is similar to LostTrust. I purchased the XPR in 30-06 because it was the only rifle that did not have documented issues with feeding/extraction/accuracy. I was originally satisfied with accuracy and function. Then the feeding issues started. When there are 2 rounds in the magazine, when the bolt picks up the top shell it causes the bottom shell to nosedive in the magazine, and cause a jam. The issue can be reproduced at will, with every one of my 4 magazines. Then after a few hundred rounds, accuracy started to decline. Average group size doubled. I verified that it was not a scope issue or an ammo issue, with another 30-06 I own. The only possible explanation for the loss of accuracy is that the repeated recoil of hundreds of rounds has affected the mating between the action and the stock.

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