September 23, 2010
By Joel J Hutchcroft
With just the flip of the takedown lever located under the action, the barrel is removed by pulling it straight out.
By Joel J. Hutchcroft
This cool takedown version of Browning's innovative Model 81 comes in a number of barrel lengths and is available in a wide variety of popular rifle calibers, ranging from .223 to .450 Marlin and including .270 WSM, 7mm WSM, .300 WSM, and .325 WSM.
Features of the rifle include satin nickel finish receiver, stainless barrel (20-, 22-, and 24-inch lengths depending on chambering), crowned muzzle, checkered gray laminate buttstock (straight grip) and forearm, detachable box magazine (four- or five-round capacity depending on caliber), and TruGlo front sight. The receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts and so is the barrel. An optional scout-style scope-mount base is available from Browning, and it requires the removal of the adjustable rear sight.
The most interesting feature, in my opinion, is the takedown system. With just the flip of the takedown lever located under the action, the barrel is removed by pulling it straight out. No twisting is required. In case anyone is wondering about the lockup after the barrel is installed, well, no need to worry. According to Browning, it locks up tight by virtue of a stout locking lug that engages a recess in the bottom of the receiver and cannot come loose during firing.
I've been shooting one in .223 with a 20-inch barrel (1:12-inch twist), and it has given me pause to reconsider my usual disinterest in lever-actions. I've never really been interested in lever-guns, probably because I grew up shooting other types of rifles, but I have to say that I really have enjoyed working with this one. It handles well, feels good against my shoulder, and shoots darn well. It put three shots with Black Hills 55-grain Match HP factory loads into a group measuring 0.50 inches at 100 yards with an old Burris 7X intermediate eye relief scope mounted on the barrel. That's very good for any type of rifle in my book. And when I took it down and then put it back together, it shot almost to exactly the same point of impact. I may just have to add this one to my personal firearms battery.