Quick Performance Review of a Marlin XL7 (.30-06)


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ojibweindian
December 12, 2008, 09:18 PM
A month ago, I'd bought a Marlin XL7 in .30-06 for my son to use when we go deer hunting. I'd wanted something somewhat inexpensive (under $350), yet not cheap, and in a common, respected caliber. With those few requirements in mind, I went to the local gun store to browse.

The only two rifles that really met the requirements were the Marlin XL7 and the Savage Stevens 200 (there were no Mossberg ATR's that day). The Marlin appeared to be way better than the Stevens 200. The blueing was better, the stock appeared to be more rigid, the blueing seemed richer and not as cheap, and it was smooth, not rough like the Stevens 200. The final detail that really sealed the deal on the Marlin was the trigger. Much, much better than the Stevens; very comparable to Savage's "Accutrigger", though I do understand that there are differences in the engineering between the two.

Anyway, I was finally able to take the XL7 to the range today with several loads I worked up. Components were 165 grain Hornady Interlock BTSP, Hodgdon H-380, Winchester cases, and Federal 210 primers. COAL for all was 3.298"

My starting load was 52.0 grains of H-380; 5-shot group was 2.098". Second load was 52.5 grains of H-380; 5-shot group was 1.994". Third load was 53.0 grains of H-380; 5-shot group was 3.105". Fourth load was 53.5 grains of H-380; 5-shot group was 1.686". Fifth (and final) load was 54.0 grains of H-380; 5-shot group was 1.667".

I'm going to stick with the fifth load for right now (we're going hunting tomorrow), but am going to continue load development. I think that I'll either find the "sweet spot" charge weight somewhere between 53.5 grains and 54.0 grains, or just above 54.0 grains.

Anyway, I'm pleasantly surprised with this rifle. Cases were always easy to extract. No problems were encountered in feeding from the magazine (it's blind). The trigger is just great; much more than what I'd expect from a budget bolt action. The gun is a bit light, but not terribly so. Recoil was quite tolerable, and I'm sure that the comfortably soft butt pad had a lot to do with this. The stock didn't have any noticeably sharp molding lines (unlike the Stevens), and the gun pretty much flies to the shoulder.

If anyone is looking for a simple, no-frills hunting rifle, I think you'd do well in choosing a Marlin XL7.

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rocinante
December 12, 2008, 09:30 PM
thanks for the review. good info.

351 WINCHESTER
December 12, 2008, 09:49 PM
I got the mossberg for my son and we are disappointed in it.

Thanks for sharing your marlin with us.

ojibweindian
December 12, 2008, 11:09 PM
What don't you and your son like about the Mossberg?

kb2zya
December 12, 2008, 11:59 PM
i love my atr-100 mossberg 30-06
Tom

ojibweindian
October 9, 2009, 12:45 PM
Thought I'd give an update on my load development efforts on my son's XL7. I've found that 54.3 grains of H380, a 165 grain Hornady Interlock BTSP, and a Federal 210 primer will print 0.563" for 3 round, 100 yard groups. 5 round, 100 yards groups open things up to 1.237", on average, according to my records. Not bad for a $300 rifle.

natman
October 9, 2009, 12:49 PM
What don't you and your son like about the Mossberg?
The Mossberg is not as well made as the Stevens, which is not quite as well made as the Marlin. Fit and finish is decidedly cruder on the Mossberg than the Marlin.

gondorian
October 9, 2009, 04:17 PM
Ojibweindian, were your groups shot with a cold or hot barrel?

Marlin 45 carbine
October 9, 2009, 08:54 PM
good review and load write-up.

ojibweindian
October 10, 2009, 12:10 AM
gondorian

I start from a cold barrel, and shoot 5 in about 5 minutes, then let the barrel cool. Same with the 3-shot groups. The last two shots from the 5-shot groups usually open things up about 0.75".

porchguy
November 5, 2009, 11:26 AM
I also have an XL7 and bought a 3-9x50 scope off ebay. What scope mounting rings did you use on your XL7? Did you stay with the factory mount (one piece) or go with something different?

glockmon
November 5, 2009, 12:32 PM
I just picked one up this morning at Cabela's for 279.00 . I've read good things about it so I said what the hay. It's been a while since I bought a Rifle. I'm sure it will shoot just fine seems how accuracy depends on what's behind the trigger, not what's in front of it.

Deut6:5
November 29, 2009, 02:10 AM
I just picked up an XL7 too. I got a deal at Bi-Mart for $248 on Black Friday. It seems like a solid choice and best in its price class. The trigger is quite nice.

Rancho Relaxo
November 29, 2009, 02:19 AM
It's nice to see a review that includes some handload testing. I've been curious about the three new budget bolt actions that have come out recently.

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