October 30, 2020
By Joseph von Benedikt
Introduced earlier this year, Winchester’s Renegade Long Range SR version of the popular XPR line is a crossover precision/practical hybrid. While built for accuracy and precision-shooting ergonomics, it’s not so heavy, bulky and complex that it’s out of place for hunting. Grayboe’s Renegade composite stock lends this XPR its name. “Long Range” speaks for itself, and the “SR” portion stands for suppressor ready.
Winchester’s XPR action features a full-diameter bolt, which makes for smooth, rattle-free bolt movement. Up front, the bolt’s got three locking lugs, which enables the bolt to find equal-bearing equilibrium when in battery. Fluting on the bolt body reduces weight.
Aft, the bolt handle wears a large, grooved, tactical-type knob that aids rapid, sure manipulation. Its shroud is made of tastefully contoured composite. A cocking indicator shows a red dot when the rifle is cocked.
An inch or so rearward of the bolt handle is a two-position safety. Forward to fire, rearward to lock the trigger. It also locks the bolt when engaged. A second, smaller, button sits between the bolt handle and safety. Pressing it unlocks the bolt and enables the shooter to clear a live round from the chamber without disengaging the safety. A long bolt release button resides on the left rear of the action.
XPR actions are fed using composite, single-stack detachable box magazines. Winchester’s M.O.A. trigger offers a nice, crisp pull, and my sample exhibited zero creep and zero overtravel. Pull weight on the sample averaged three pounds, five ounces, with four ounces of variation over a series of five measurements. It’s an excellent single-stage trigger, and I’ve become quite partial to it.
Like several similar competing actions designed to offer good performance at a minimum cost, the XPR action does not have an integral recoil lug. Rather, it’s machined with a cross-slot that interfaces with a recoil lug embedded into the stock. The entire XPR action is machined from bar stock, and the top of the radiused action is drilled and tapped for scope bases.
Barrels on the Renegade are button-rifled, chrome-moly steel. Each is thermally stress relieved and free-floated to maximize accuracy potential. Precision headspacing of the pre-chambered barrels is accomplished via a barrel nut, a system that’s worked for Savage for decades.
Barrels are threaded 5/8x24, providing compatibility with standard suppressors and muzzle brakes. Each barrel comes with a thread protector installed. Crowns are recessed to provide protection during hard use.
To protect against corrosion and provide a non-glare matte finish, the action, bolt handle and barrel are coated with Perma-Cote, which is an abrasion- and corrosion-resistant PVC coating.
I think what’s really interesting about this rifle is the Grayboe Renegade stock. The company specializes in rigid, durable, ergonomic stocks built using a proprietary process—a “solid homogeneous fiberglass epoxy matrix,” the company calls it—that allows them to be priced significantly lower than competing hand-laid precision stocks of fiberglass, carbon fiber, or the like.
The minimalist Renegade combines the best elements of a hunting and tactical stock, and the stock has aluminum bedding pillars molded into it. Because this stock is solid rather than a high-strength shell with a lightweight fill, it is not light. The Renegade tips the scale at a hefty 60 ounces. That’s too much to climb with in elk country, but it’s an asset when precision is premium.
The Renegade’s fore-end has a distinct and generous beavertail shape. It’s flat on the broad underside, enabling it to ride square and level on shooting bags. Full, generous sides fill a palm clad in a competition-shooting glove. The barrel channel is free-floated, and all that meat in the fore-end provides outstanding rigidity. You won’t bend this fore-end by leaning overly hard into a bipod.
That said, one of my few beefs with the XPR Renegade Long Range SR stems from the fore-end width. I think it’s too wide for the barrel diameter, which is just 0.77 inch at the fore-end midpoint. Although functional, the generous width of that beavertail fore-end looks as if a spaghetti noodle inhabits it. It’s subjective, but I would’ve used a larger-diameter barrel or a narrower stock.
Around the front of the receiver the beavertail starts to taper to a sleeker profile—clean and squarish with an industrial look. The grip is nearly vertical and positions the firing hand comfortably for torque-free trigger control. It’s ambidextrous, too, enabling left-handed shooters to comfortably fire the Renegade.
A thumb hook on the underside of the stock allows the shooter to position the support hand comfortably while in the prone position, and a short parallel section between the thumb hook and the toe of the stock allows it to ride a sandbag straight rearward during recoil.
There is not an adjustable comb, which some might suggest should be present on a stock that weighs nearly four pounds. An adjustable comb would add significant cost, and as is, the comb is high enough to enable a decent cheek weld as long as the scope isn’t mounted overly high.
Length of pull is adjustable from 13.25 to 13.75 inches via two included quarter-inch spacers. A soft, resilient Inflex Technology recoil pad spreads out contact surface during recoil. All things considered, it’s a comfortable stock and provides the ergonomics and rigidity necessary for precise shooting at distance.
Initially, the XPR Renegade Long Range SR is available only in short-action cartridges. On the plus side, Winchester opted to include several capable short-action magnums in the lineup. Shooters have their pick of .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .270 WSM, 7mm-08 Rem., .308 Win. and .300 WSM.
Interestingly, magazine capacity is listed as three rounds with all the various cartridges. That takes the XPR Renegade out of the realm of precision tactical rifles and puts it more into the realm of precision hunting tools. Partly because of that, I requested a test rifle chambered in .300 WSM—and also because I’ve reviewed so many 6.5 Creedmoor rifles of late that I wanted to work with something vastly different.
It’s worth noting that the bigger and more powerful a cartridge is the more obstacles it presents to precision shooting. When you start a 200-grain .30 caliber bullet, powered by a large dose of gunpowder, down a barrel, it causes significantly more action and barrel vibration, distortion, and oscillation than, say, a 140-grain 6.5mm projectile pushed by half the amount of powder.
In addition to the increased action dynamics, recoil is significantly increased. All these things combine and make a rifle less civilized, less inherently accurate and less easy for us inconsistent humans to shoot accurately.
Not that a .300 magnum can’t shoot precisely. Many provide wonderful accuracy. It’s just often harder to achieve. For proof, consider the accuracy guarantees provided by many custom precision rifle makers, which often tout one-half-m.o.a. accuracy up to .338 magnums, where it’s then typically listed as one m.o.a.
Before heading to the range, I attached a Harris bipod to one of the dual sling swivel studs on the fore-end and a set of Leupold steel cross-slot type scope bases to the action.
For a scope, I picked one of Trijicon’s new 3-18x44mm Tenmile HX scopes and mounted it in Mark 4 Leupold tactical rings. Sporting Trijicon’s front-focal-plane red/green illuminated MOA Precision Tree reticle and an excellent elevation turret with the company’s Return to Zero mechanism, the Tenmile HX is a $2,199 premium precision option for shooters who think better in minutes of angle than mils.
I figured it was an appropriate scope for a precision hybrid rifle chambered in .300 WSM, which is more likely to be fielded in the hands of beanfield- and open-country hunters than by tactical-type shooters.
A capped windage turret makes the Tenmile HX practical for real-world use, and a combination parallax focus knob/battery chamber on the left side of the turret housing allows the shooter to eliminate accuracy-robbing optical distortion at any range. A fast-focus eyepiece makes for easy diopter adjustments, and each scope comes with a throw lever for the magnification ring.
My only issue with the Tenmile is the overly large diameter of the magnification ring. Although easy to grasp and turn, it’s so big that the scope can’t be mounted in most low-height rings without contacting the scope base. It requires medium-height rings.
There was one last thing I did before heading to the range. Off came the thread protector and on went my Gemtech Tracker suppressor. I figured there’s no reason to shoot the Renegade without a good can to civilize it.
Excellent ergonomics—mostly courtesy of the Grayboe stock—made the Renegade easy to shoot. Winchester’s M.O.A. trigger was a pleasure, rivaling some of the better custom aftermarket triggers available.
Accuracy ranged from a fraction more than one m.o.a. up to nearly 1.5 m.o.a. Interestingly, most groups displayed two bullet holes touching or nearly touching, which tells me the rifle really wants to shoot. I have no doubt that testing several additional factory loads—which were difficult to come by at the time—would expose a load the Renegade would shoot into sub-m.o.a. groups. Of course, handloading also would get the best out of the rifle.
Reliability was stellar throughout testing. The Renegade fed, fired, extracted and ejected perfectly. Once in a while when I drew the bolt rearward slowly in order to more easily catch the ejected empty, I felt a slight hang-up as the rear of the lower locking lug contacted the shoulder of the fresh cartridge in the magazine below it—but nothing that a bit of a tug wouldn’t overcome. When run with zest, the bolt flowed back smoothly.
As you’ll note on the accompanying specifications box, suggested retail price is $1,070. I suspect you’ll see the XPR Renegade Long Range SR on dealers’ shelves for well under a thousand—possibly as low as $800 during a major sale.
If open-country hunting for elk or moose is on your to-do list, opt for the .300 WSM chambering I chose to test. If your hunting menu is limited to deer-size game, the non-magnum cartridges are better choices. They’ll be easier to shoot accurately, be less expensive to feed, and will recoil politely.
This is a reliable, durable, ergonomic rifle that is affordable and easy to shoot well from field positions. It will serve yeoman’s duty at the range and in the field.
Winchester XPR Renegade Long Range SR Specs
- Type: 3-lug bolt-action centerfire
- Caliber: .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .270 WSM, 7mm-08 Rem., .308 Win., .300 WSM (tested)
- Capacity: 3+1 detachable box
- Barrel: 24 in., 1:10 twist (as tested)
- Overall Length: 44 in.
- Weight: 8 lb., 8 oz.
- Stock: Composite
- Finish: Perma-Cote
- Trigger: 3 lb., 5 oz. (as tested)
- Sights: None; drilled & tapped for optic rail
- Price: $1,070
- Manufacturer: Winchester, WinchesterGuns.com
Winchester XPR Renegade Long Range SR Accuracy Results