Browning A-Bolt III Review
Toby Worthington reviews the super affordable Browning A-bolt Mk3 AB3 rifle.
The majority of sporting rifle shooters that I have met, have not been overly concerned with the snob value of their rifle. Neither have they been overly concerned with appearance. Instead what usually concerns the vast majority of rifle shooters is sheer practicality.
I suspect, that this is in part, due to the solitary nature of hunting deer, which effectively means that when out in the field, there are few people to witness and appreciate the fine lines and high grade stock that comes with an expensively crafted rifle.
For this reason many rifle manufacturers have been riding the wave of desire for cheaper and cheaper rifles, Savage, Ruger, Remington, Bergara and Howa amongst them. And now Browning have thrown their hat into the ring, with the introduction of their latest offering, the Browning A-Bolt Mk III, or AB3 as it is also known.
With a ridiculously affordable, recommended retail price of £499-00, it is ‘gobsmackingly’ cheap and aggressively positioned to capture the attention of even the most price sensitive rifle shooter. That however is all well and good, but at £500-00 can it actually be worth considering?
Most shooters will be aware of Browning’s previous offerings, namely the X-Bolt and of course the original A-Bolt which was around for 20 years before being discontinued.
Originally designed as Browning’s top-end model, the original A-Bolt stood out in many people’s mind as distinctive for its crazy magazine set up, which attempted to consolidate a drop plate and box magazine design that, put simply, was bizarre and never really caught the attention of the British market.
Is the AB3 any different? Well crucially, I am delighted to report that the new AB3 has a staggered stacking box magazine that will take 4 rounds or 3 magnum cartridges. What’s more there are other features of the rifle that allay its price. First of which, is a bolt release lever which allows the user to extract a round without taking off the safety, well done Browning for squeezing this into the budget!
I further applaud Browning for their use of what is a very simply designed and effective tang-mounted safety catch, which will be familiar and intuitive to most shotgun users in its operation and allows the shooter to disengage the safety with the smallest of movement.
The AB3 stock is, for the price also...surprise...actually not at all bad looking! A synthetic, injection-moulded, straight comb design, with a palm swell and textured panel from pistol grip to forend that does exactly what it says on the tin, in fact it does a little bit more, as the stock is enhanced by a inflex recoil pad, which Browning claim reduces felt recoil by as much as 25% by directing movement down and away from the users face.
As for the trigger, well at this price it was never going to be adjustable and comes factory set at 3.5 lbs, which in my view is sensible. What is more the trigger guard has been designed a little larger to allow for those with big hands.
The rifle comes screw cut for a moderator and is available in many of the traditional deer stalking calibres, including .243, .270, .308, & 30-06. The barrel itself is button rifled and free floating, and the bolt, owing to its three locking lugs has a short 60 degree throw, the bolt shaft is blah and the extractor blah, blah, blah.....By now you have probably switched off, what you simply want to know is, ‘is it worth a look?’ And the answer is a big fat ‘yes’.
Budget rifle or not, pretty much all rifles these days are safe and reliable and will all produce a sub 1 MOA group. So if for whatever reason you are in the market for an affordable, practical rifle and do not require the snob value that more expensive rifles might afford you, then this is, for my money, arguably the best out there.
To read more from Toby Worthington in which he looks at the origins of the word 'Sniper' follow this link: what-are-the-origins-of-the-term-sniper
Or to read more rifle reviews click here for our Rifle Reviews page: rifle-reviews