October 13, 2020
Let me cut right to the chase. Winchester has a new member in its XP Rifle family that has a set of unique features all its own. In fact, Winchester proudly states that the new XPR Renegade Long Range SR “…goes 10 steps further with all the accuracy features you need for long-range shooting….”
I had the pleasure of reviewing the initial XPR (2015) and the XPC (2017) rifles, so when I heard about the new XPR Renegade Long Range model, I wasted no time placing an order for one. I was pleased when it arrived at my dealer’s door.
As with the other XP Rifles, the Renegade is built at the Browning factory in Viana do Castelo, Portugal, and imported by BACO (Browning Arms Co.). The Renegade is available chambered for seven of today’s most popular cartridges: .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 7mm-08 Remington, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, and .300 WSM. Barrel length is 22 inches for all but the WSM and the PRC, which have 24-inch barrels. Twists vary as appropriate by caliber.
When I ordered my Renegade, the caliber I could get the quickest was the .243 Win., so I grabbed it. Not only is the .243 Win. fine for deer and large varmints, but also, in my experience, .243 rifles are usually great shooters.
The Renegade has a bunch of high-tech features that really enhance its shootability. It has a synthetic stock that Winchester calls a Grayboe Renegade Long Range stock. It is well proportioned for shooting prone or from the bench. It has an upright-profile pistol grip; a wide, flattened fore-end; and, to improve stability from the bench, an undercut buttstock. There are two 0.25-inch spacers for adjusting the length of pull. Three sling-swivel studs are provided: two up front, so a sling and a bipod can be affixed simultaneously, and one at the rear of the buttstock.
The stock rides the bags on a benchrest just fine and makes the rifle easy to control. Best of all, this synthetic stock is plenty stiff and strong, so there are none of the foibles of the flimsy plastic stocks you find on rifles of lesser quality. The buttstock has Winchester’s Inflex Technology recoil pad that redirects recoil energy and moves the comb down, away from the shooter’s face.
The Renegade Long Range SR is built on a short action, and the 22-inch barrel of my .243 rifle has a 1:10 twist. Winchester calls the barrel contour a “sporter,” and even though the barrel mikes a robust 0.750 inch at the muzzle, it looks plumb skinny in the fat stock. The barrel is threaded 5/8-24, a thread protector is provided, and the muzzle has a slightly recessed crown.
The barreled action is secured to the stock by two hefty hex screws. The stout action has a fat, 0.870-inch-diameter bolt with three locking lugs that are about the same diameter. This, of course, gives a 60-degree bolt lift, but unlike some three-lug bolts, the bolt lift is smooth and easy.
The bolt body is coated with Nickel Teflon for smooth operation and corrosion resistance. A tiny sliding extractor is in the lug on the same side as the bolt handle, and a plunger-type ejector sits opposite the extractor. Withdrawing the bolt flips cases out with alacrity.
The bolt has a cocking indicator with a red dot that protrudes under the bolt shroud when the rifle is cocked.
The rifle also has a two-position safety that is positioned at the right rear of the bolt. It locks the bolt closed when engaged; however, a “bolt release” button is located just ahead of the safety. Pushing it allows the bolt to be opened and the chamber unloaded with the safety “On.” It’s a great feature.
The bolt handle itself is a bit longer than on most actions, and the bolt knob is enlarged for enhanced leverage and a positive grip. The knob screws on the threaded end of the bolt handle, so no doubt there are aftermarket bolt handles available for the consummate tinkerer.
The bolt body has a groove in which the bolt release rides, also serving as a bolt guide. There are four flutes in the bolt body that reduce weight and, as Winchester says, “promote cooling.” (I must say I don’t recall ever worrying about a “hot bolt.”)
The receiver is machined from solid bar stock and heat-treated for strength. A steel recoil lug is inletted into the stock to enhance accuracy, and the barrel is completely free-floated in the stock. The barrel is button-rifled, stress-relieved, and headspaced via a barrel nut. Looking at the bore with my Hawkeye borescope revealed the barrel looks smooth and clean, without a lot of extraneous tool marks.
The single-stack detachable box magazine is made of polymer, and it holds three rounds, regardless of caliber. It slips into and out of the action with ease and feeds cartridges flawlessly.
The Renegade has Winchester’s M.O.A. trigger system that provides a crisp, lightweight pull. It’s also user adjustable.
Winchester says the slick trigger pull on the Renegade is related to the unique geometry that gives it a two-times mechanical advantage and to the polished and hardened parts of the trigger and its housing. The pull weight on my rifle averages 3 pounds, 5.8 ounces, is very crisp, and varied by only a couple ounces between pulls.
The Renegade doesn’t come with scope mounts, but it is drilled and tapped for bases. These holes are threaded 8-40, so the shooter needs mounts specific for this action. Winchester kindly included a set of Talley 30mm rings with the rifle (1-inch rings are also available), and I used them to install a Bushnell Engage 4-16X 44mm scope for my range tests. While this particular scope has been discontinued, it is an excellent optic and has survived many hundreds of test rounds on several rifles. The fine crosshairs in the Engage are great for full-light shooting, although they are a bit hard to see in dark woods. They proved to be perfect for testing the Renegade. With scope and mount, my Renegade weighs 10 pounds, 11 ounces, so recoil, at about 6.5 ft-lbs, is hardly noticeable.
I have two other .243 rifles and have tested several others, so I had a good idea of what to expect. I was not disappointed with the Renegade’s performance. But I wanted to explore VihtaVuori’s new N555 powder, developed specifically for 6.5mm and 6mm cartridges, so I paired it with several “deer bullets” and threw in one of my pet .243 loads with Alliant’s Reloder 19 that I had used in the past.
I’ll get to the particulars in a minute, but overall, the Renegade shot like a champ. Just about every load registered a group average of about an inch, and many were less than that. And this is important: They were nice, tight groups, many with all shots touching, with none of that “two here and three there” stuff that indicates a bedding problem somewhere. The free-floated barrel and the stiff stock obviously contributed to the good groups produced by the Renegade.
I ended up testing 13 factory loads and seven handloads. As the saying goes, bullet holes in paper don’t lie. The overall group average for all loads was 0.71 inch. The factory fodder registered a 0.73-inch average, with only one load averaging over an inch. The handloads averaged 0.67 inch. The Renegade wasn’t picky, as it shot the flyweight 55- and 58-grain bullets just as well as the middle-weight 75- and 80-grain bullets and the 90- to 100-grain deer bullets.
The best of the prairie dog loads was Winchester’s Varmint-X 58-grain Polymer Tip that averaged 0.58 inch at 3,551 fps. A close second place was Hornady’s Superformance load with the 58-grain V-Max. It registered 3,712 fps and averaged 0.59 inch. Coyotes should quake if a hunter loads up with the Superformance with the 75-grain V-Max, which shot into 0.65 inch.
I have taken a few deer with other rifles chambered to .243 Winchester, and it was quite adequate to the task. Out of the Renegade, the Hornady factory loads with the 95-grain SST and 100-grain InterLock had energies of 1,923 and 1,735 ft-lbs respectively, so they would ably fill the freezer.
Tailor-made handloads add even more versatility to the .243 Win. Some folks scoff at handloading the .243, but I’ve had good success with it, and the Renegade shot my homebrewed ammo quite well. As noted, I tried VihtaVuori’s new N555 powder for many loads, concentrating on bullets weighing from 80 to 100 grains. I am delighted to report that everyone would plug a deer within range.
Throughout all that shooting, the Renegade was 100 percent reliable. There was not a single malfunction of any kind over the course of shooting many test rounds.
At 10 pounds, 11 ounces with scope, I wouldn’t want to tote the Renegade very far over hill and dale, but from a bench whacking distant targets, off a bipod on a coyote-calling set, or in a prairie dog field, it would be pure death and destruction.
The Winchester Renegade XPR Long Range SR is a unique, feature-packed addition to the XPR family.
I’m not exactly sure to which segments of the shooting market the Renegade is intended. Long-range shooters, hunters in a Texas deer stand, varmint hunters, coyote callers, informal benchrest shooters? Maybe all of them, as it would work for any of these groups. Maybe it’ll be like an SUV, and we can call it a “crossover.”
In any event, the rifle’s features, the choice of available cartridges, and darn fine accuracy offer a lot of potential to many types of shooters. I don’t have to go out on a limb here to predict that the new Winchester XPR Renegade Long Range SR is going to be a hit.
Winchester XPR Renegade Long Range SR Specs
- Manufacturer: Winchester Repeating Arms Co.; winchesterguns.com
- Type: Bolt-action repeater
- Caliber: .243 Winchester
- Magazine Capacity: 3 rounds
- Barrel: 22 in.
- Overall Length: 42 in.
- Weight, Empty: 8.6 lbs.
- Stock: Synthetic Grayboe Renegade Long Range
- Length of Pull: 13.25 in.
- Finish: Perma-Cote matte black barrel, receiver, and bolt handle
- Sights: None; receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts
- Trigger: 3.34-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Two position
- MSRP: $1,069.99
Winchester XPR Renegade Long Range SR Accuracy & Velocity