There are many factors that drive the popularity of game species. Perhaps the chief among these are accessibility to hunting grounds and success once there.
With these factors in mind, it’s no wonder the ranks of varmint hunters have swelled in recent years. There are coyotes coast to coast. Hogs abound from the Deep South to America’s Heartland. And nearly everywhere there are more woodchucks, prairie dogs and other rodents than you can shake a stick at.
The interest in taking these less-than-desirable beasts has had its effects on the shooting industry. More and more gun makers are producing firearms chocked full of features that help ensure a round lands on the critter it's aimed at. Browning is among them.
The Utah-based company recently expanded one of its most extensive rifle collections to include a model tailored for taking sly little beasties. And, at first blush, the X-Bolt Varmint Stalker appears to have the bells and whistles that would make it a dandy, whether calling ‘yotes or assaulting prairie dog towns.
What should catch the attention of varmint hunters right off the bat is the new X-Bolt’s barrel. It is outfitted with a heavy sporter barrel, which should aid in the gun's accuracy by providing more rigidity and better harmonics. And for those who eye a Varmint Stalker as a range gun, the heavier barrel also has the added benefit of being more resistant to heat flex from shooting long stints.
The barrel measures in at 24 inches on four of the rifle’s calibers — .204 Ruger, .223 Remington, .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester. However, the .22-250 has a 26-inch barrel. Each caliber has a different twist rate, tuned to take advantage of lighter bullets and higher velocities.
Even with more weight invested into the barrel, the overall platform is light. Browning has achieved this by outfitting the gun with a composite stock, which has the Varmint Stalker tipping the scales at a whisker under 7 pounds. As a bonus, the stock is finished with Mossy Oak’s Brush camouflage pattern, allowing it to blend into a wide variety of cover.
The Varmint Stalker has a number of features common to all X-Bolt rifles. Of these, among the most notable is the Feather Trigger, which has a pull weight that can be adjusted from 3 to 5 pounds. Other common features include: an X-Lock scope mounting system, bolt unlock button, Inflex Recoil Pad and detachable rotary magazine.
Presently, Browning lists the Varmint Stalker’s MSRP at $939.99.