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Winchester XPR Sporter in 243 Winchester Winchester's "Xtreme Performance Rifle"

Prologue… is not a city in the Czech Republic

Behind eye popping marketing catch phrases, copy hyperbole, misappropriated initialism and acronyms, and other forms of language diversity, an excellent product can be found. Which is certainly the case… in this case. Marketing departments communicate in nifty nicknames and bullet points because it is extremely difficult to get the public’s attention when the public insists on looking at the world through alternative realities.

I was following a raging comment debate on social media. I can’t remember the exact platform, maybe GoogleBook or FaceTube. In any event, a group of  people pretending to be gun owners, were professing their disdain for Browning X Bolt and Winchester XPR bolt action rifles. In their words, the rifles are made in Japan which cost American jobs and we fought the Japanese in WWII so they are our enemy. Subsequently, these folks, as a collective, would rather be dipped in grape jelly and hung up adjacent to a wasp nest than buy these products.

In reality, the rifle are made in Portugal, Japan has been an unwilling, then willing, ally since 1945 and wasps are not attracted to jelly as they are carnivorous. Perhaps social media should stretch out on a couch, relax and tell Uncle Sigmund what REALLY is bothering them. Sometimes a rifle is just a rifle, and being produced at a location known for manufacturing and trade commerce since 1258 AD may actually have an upside. Winchester XPR rifles are made by Browning Viana – Fabrica De Armas E Artigos De Desporto, S.A., a $53.3 million per year business entity that employs 408 people. They have been an incorporation since 1972, busy making quality shotguns, rifles, pistols, and military small arms.

The XPR Experience or… Xprience

 

Winchester XPR Sporter

Manufactured Viana, Portugal
Item #  535709212
Type Short Action – 60° Bolt Lift
Caliber 243 Winchester
Mag Capacity 3
Barrel   Length 22″
Rifling Button Rifled 1:10″ Twist
Weight – Actual 6 Lbs 12 Oz
Overall Length 42″
Stock Laser Checkered Turkish Walnut
Hardware Finish Perma-Cote Matte Black
Length of Pull 13 3/4″
Drop at comb 1/2″
Drop at heel 1/2“
Sights Clean
Scope Drilled and Tapped 8-40 Fastener
Trigger – M.O.A. Adjustable 3.5 Lbs Nominal
Safety Thumb – 2 Position with Bolt Release
MSRP $599.99

We’ve covered the XPR on Real Guns® a number of times, most recently in 7mm-08 Remington, 270 WSM and 300 Winchester Magnum. However, those were synthetic stock versions and I wanted to check the accuracy of the wood stocked version and work on some 243 Winchester handload combinations. So I guess we can begin with the personality traits common to all Winchester XPRs and point out those unique to the Sporter version.

From front to back…

For the sake of accuracy, the Winchester XPR is fitted with a chromemoly alloy steel barrel that is deep drilled, button rifled and stress relieved. The muzzle has a recessed target crown to shield it from damage and to insure uniform pressure acting on the base of a bullet as it exits. Button rifling, as a process, is well suited to mass production, but it also makes for a very uniform, burnished barrel interior. Button rifling is used in the majority of bench rest competition rifles. The barrel is threaded to the rifle’s receiver with headspace controlled with a barrel nut.

The Winchester XPR receiver is CNC machined from cylindrical bar stock. Recoil stress between the rifle’s action and stock is managed with a slot in the receiver that locks into a steel recoil lug glass bedded in the stock. I’d guess that is a simple system that works as something similar is used on heavy rifles chambered for the largest Rigby and Gibbs dangerous game cartridges.

The M.O.A. Trigger housing is pinned to the receiver, forming a flat bedding surface and the receiver tang, but both action screws pass through the stock and into the body of the receiver for maximum strength. The adjustable M.O.A. high mechanical advantage, low effort trigger has no take up, creep or overtravel.

 

Above, sleeved fastener holes, glass bedded, wide steel recoil lug and full floated barrel, eliminate compression movement between the barreled action and Turkish walnut stock. Sealing the stock so that it won’t absorb humidity and floating the barrel to prevent odd pressure points between stock and barrel. All contribute not only to consistent accuracy under all weather conditions.

Overall, the XPR has clean lines and a compact profile. I could have easily used a low ring set, but medium was more comfortable when shooting from a bench. Bolt lift is only 60° so there is plenty of clearance for large scope eyepieces. Scope base fasteners are large 8-40, something that is usually reserved for big caliber TAC rifles, but welcome on a sporter. Checkering is laser cut. Won’t pass for cut checkering, but it is uniform, clean and functionally excellent.

The three round, poly magazine in an inline cartridge type for center feed. Feed is smoother than a staggered magazine as the case rim is queued central to the bolt face. However, to get to a capacity of three rounds, the magazine projects down from the bottom of the rifle by approximately one-quarter inch. The trigger guard is oversize to make room for a gloved trigger finger.

Also contributing to accuracy and smooth cycling is the XPR’s full body bolt, three locking lugs and recessed bolt face. Nickel Teflon plating makes for a slick surface and it is corrosion resistant. The sliding extractor slips over case rims with minimal effort and allows single cartridge feed through the receiver’s ejection port. The ejector is spring loaded to assure full ejection regardless the force applied when withdrawing the bolt.

When the action is cocked, an indicator protrudes from under the bolt shroud and a red dot is exposed.  Rather than a three position safety, the XPR has a two position safety and a bolt unlock button that permits the bolt to be cycled to empty a loaded chamber without taking the rifle off of safe.

 

Even though the Winchester XPR Sporter weighs less than seven pounds, recoil is minimal. Still, the Inflex Technology pad sets an appropriate length of pull and non-slip contact between rifle and shooter. The pad has a great deal of lateral stability even through it absorbs recoil exceptionally well. Working with a similar set up on 270 WSM and 300 Win mag made for comfortable shooting.

Speaking of shooting…

Because the plan was to process handloads, and because we are dodging snow storms, only three types of factory ammo made it through the Winchester, as indicated below.

Ammunition Bullet
Weight
Grains
Factory
Rated
FPS
Recorded
FPS
100 Yd
3 Shot
Group
Remington HP Rifle 80 3350 3294 0.6
Remington Express 100 2960 2937 0.5
Prvi Partizan 100 2970 2955 0.7

The Winchester XPR Sporter performed admirably. The action is slick, the feed from the detachable magazine was smooth and the stock geometry was comfortable when shooting, regardless shooting position. Accuracy with even factory ammunition was very good and very repeatable. The price is competitive, it looks good and in no way shows signs of a budget priced firearm outside of the stock. Even there it isn’t quality as much as aesthetics. European stocks tend to lean toward reddish tones where classic American leans more toward neutral browns or the the color of American or black walnut. That’s all I’ve got. I enjoyed shooting the Sporter version of the XTR and it seems and excellent Winchester product.

Ruger’s Mark IV 22/45 Lite Part II Was the thesaurus carnivorous or a plant eater?

I’ve been working on some ideas for a shop project. Over the past six months I’ve advanced the ball, metaphorically speaking, to conclude the project will incorporate and electric motor… 48 volts, 1000 Amps… and a sprocket. Beyond that, blank space, dead air, niemand ist zu hause. It is tough to think of something you…

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Ruger’s Mark IV 22/45 Lite Part I A Ratchet & Clank Alternative

I’ve kept most of my old game consoles. Sometimes at the end of an… interesting day, I’ll break out a game featuring Sonic or Mario, play and relax. My PlaySation 4 has been accumulating dust. Generally, the football and basketball games require more knowledge than a pro player/coach to anticipate a successful outcome and battle games seem to either shoot me in the face or cut off my head shortly after the opening screen.But then there is always Ratchet & Clank.

The Ruger Mark IV™ 22/45™ Lite is one of those firearms that does not need to be held in anticipation of defense of home and self, or in abeyance while awaiting hunting season. It is a solid recreational firearm for shooters of all ages of reason, that can be used in competition, used for small game hunting and varmint patrol, and for my favorite – backyard family and friend make it up as you go along shooting events. If you live in urban and suburban areas, the terms “backyard” and “shooting” may be a puzzler, but if you live in Maine, the combination of words makes a lot of sense. All others can substitute “Go to a range that offers a plinking area”.

Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite

Company

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc.
Point of Manufacturer Prescott, AZ U.S.A.
Model # 43927
Description Mark IV 22/45 Lite
Type of Action Auto-loader SA
Caliber 22 Long Rifle
Magazine Capacity 10
Barrel Length 4.40″
Receiver Black Anodized Aluminum
Barrel
1/2″-28 Threaded Muzzle
Rifling Twist Rate 1:16″ RH
Receiver Material Blued Alloy Steel
Grip Frame Material Polymer
Frame Finish Matte Black
Grips Checkered Rubber
Front / Rear Sights Fixed / Adjustable W/E
Picatinny Rail
Top
Weight of Firearm 25.0 Oz.
Overall Length 8.40″
Overall Height 5.50″
Widest Point 1.10″ at Bolt Ears
Manual Safety Thumb – Ambidextrous
Magazine Disconnect Yes
Loaded Chamber Indicator No
Key Lock No
CA/MA Approved No / No
MSRP $559

The Ruger 22/45 was introduced in January of 2010, the Lite version in April 2012. The product line has since evolved into various configurations and color and finish aesthetics to suit public demand. Some versions are standard catalogue, others are at the urging of Ruger Distributors that want to present a unique version. There are currently eleven versions of the 22/45.

Mark IV 22/45 pistols differ from other Mark IV pistols in a number of ways but, in the broad strokes…

The standard Mark IV 22/45 receiver, like the Mark IV, is made of steel. The Mark IV 22/45 Lite receiver is fashioned from aircraft grade aluminum, ventilated where it shrouds the barrel. All Mark IV 22/45 versions have a polymer grip frame, all Mark IV versions have an aluminum grip frame. Comparable steel receiver model to steel receiver model only differs by a bit more than an ounce. However, the aluminum receiver 22/45 Lite versions are easily a half pound lighter than any of the steel receiver versions of the Mark IV 22/45

The Mark IV 22/45 LITE has a near 1911 angled grip frame, 110° measured back from bore centerline and through the grip screws. The Mark IV grip angle is approximately 130°, approximating a Japanese Nambu or German Luger. Arguably, the 22/45 has a more natural grip angle and it helps when used for proficiency training or in when shooting similar centerfire pistols in competition.

Have we met before?

This Mark IV 22/45 is near the size of a 1911 Government Model, but within an ounce of a Lightweight Commander. The 22/45 grip angle is essentially the same as both and the balance is about the same as the Commander. The grip is a little thinner… maybe the caliber difference, maybe thinner grip panels. Even for medium hands, everything is in thumb actuation length, even the magazine release. Held in an extended hand, the sights come up pretty much in alignment.

While the thumb safety is where it should be,it pivots from the end opposite a 1911, but that difference is minor. The right wing of the ambidextrous safety is clear when safe, but hits adjacent to the knuckle of my right hand when switched to fire from a high hold. The solution to the problem is packaged in the box with the pistol in the form of a spacer. The right wing comes off and the spacer goes in under the same fastener; no more interference.

The right side is clean with the exception of the right side thumb safety wing. The barrel material is stainless steel with the gold coloring coming from a TiN coating. The trigger is anodized aluminum. The Lite is offered in a number of anodized colors and with a variety of vent hole patterns to suit personal preferences. While my sense of colors fall within RGB and on occasion extend to ROYGBIV, Ruger has gone on to hit an interesting range from sedate to what can only be described as… zippy. I suggest you visit the Ruger site and see for yourself as slate blue next to raspberry requires a visual comprehension.

The top of the 22/45 Lite shows the best of both aiming device worlds. The adjustable metallic sights are effective at any realistic 22 Long Rifle ranges… lets say out to 50 yards, and the Picatinny rail facilitate use of a multitude of electronic/optical and optical sight systems.

Like other Mark IV pistols, a push on a button on the far aft of the grip frame releases the receiver so it can pivot down at the muzzle and lift off the frame. The bolt can then be pulled from the receiver so it can be cleaned as required and the bore can be scrubbed with total impunity.

All 22/45 Lite models have a capped muzzle, but some can be removed to provide purchase for muzzle devices, like the Silent-SR… silencer pictured, others are pressed on caps that do not cover a threaded barrel. The subject pistol is threaded, as define on Ruger spec sheets and web site product presentations.

We’ll take a break, round up some ammunition and some sight systems, and return when we have some objective performance data to report.

 

Ruger’s Hawkeye Predator in 223 Rem Part II And the deafening sound of cleaning brass

Maine winter’s freezing temperatures and constant snowfall is a bit of a mixed blessing. One one hand, shooting from a bench outdoors is not as much fun as one might assume. On the other hand, being cooped up in a nice warm shop gave me an opportunity to listen to an old Live From Sessions…

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Please either Sign inorJoin Real Guns.

Ruger’s Hawkeye Predator in 223 Rem Part I ...and rifle scopes that are old enough to vote

I want to change, I try to change, but with so many years of life’s momentum, I just keep missing the on ramps. For the sake of a brand new year, I decided I would attempt an infusion of singers/groups under the individual or average age of sixty into my music listening. This year’s adder…

Real Guns is a membership supported publication. Membership offers access to: all current and archived articles, handload data, ballistic calculators, and the Real Guns Image Gallery. Membership is available for $39.95 for twelve months.

Please either Sign inorJoin Real Guns.