SHOT Show Report: Browning X-Bolt and Winchester Model 1894

A guest post by Field & Stream Deputy Editor Jay Cassell

The day before the SHOT show doors open is the fun day, the day writers and editors get to go to area ranges and shoot all the new guns being offered by firearms manufacturers from across the planet. This year, I attended the annual Browning-Winchester event, held at the Desert Rifle and Pistol Sportsman's Club 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas. Two guns in particular attracted my interest.

The first I wanted to check out was the Browning X-Bolt. The gun has won quite a few rewards in recent years, and has been touted for its incredible accuracy. I wanted to check it out for myself. Picking up a black, synthetic-stocked 300 Win Mag, I fed a cartridge in the chamber, settled down at the bench with the rifle in a Lead Sled, took aim at bowling pin hanging from a scaffold 100 yards away , and hit it dead on. My next ten shots all hit that pin, plus one at the 200-yard mark. When I picked up the gun and shot offhand, I didn't hit every one, but enough to make me happy. Recoil was mild, and the gun just felt good in hand. Retail price is $939 - practically a steal.

The second was the Winchester 94 - yes, I mean it, the Model 1894 lever action rifle that was first developed by John Browning in - well, let's see if you can guess when it came out. But, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company is bringing out the gun now because it commemorates the 200th birthday of Oliver Winchester.

The gun I shot, the High Grade, is a 30-30 (what else would you even consider for a lever action?), with delicate scroll work, featuring the early Winchester Repeating Arms crest on one side of the receiver and the words "Two Hundred Years, Oliver F. Winchester," on the other. The walnut stock has a high gloss finish and is delicately checkered.

At the range, the gun shot almost effortlessly, cycling rounds through quickly and smoothly. More than 6 million 94s have been sold since the gun first came out. With this sweet model, I'm predicting a lot more will be sold. Suggested price for the High Grade in s $1469. - Jay Cassell