Browning M1000 Eclipse
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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
The Browning A-Bolt is a funny rifle, as you either like its rather quirky layout, or you hate it! Not overly popular in the UK, I have to say that I fall into the first group and see it as a competent and well priced modern design that has something to offer. I say this as I ran an A-Bolt Medallion in 223 WSSM for a year and although not wholly convinced by the calibre - though it did have its moments - I got used to and liked the way the gun handled. The short lift, 3-lug bolt with its rather oddly shaped handle does offer a fast action stroke and the tang-mounted safety catch is yet another practical feature.
However, the magazine system is a little odd, using a detachable box (useful) but not in the traditional manner. Instead of popping out of the bottom of the action at the press of a button, it’s attached to the floor plate and if you want to remove it you must unlatch the plate to do so. To its credit it can fill through the top unlike most other DM guns and I suppose it gives an en-bloc unload without fear of losing the clip.
Though available in most modern calibres including the WSMs and WSSMs, the A-Bolt is what I would term as a sporter, in that in general it’s light and that includes the barrel. So whereas other manufacturers such as Remington, Savage and Ruger have dedicated, heavy barrelled and stocked Varmint/precision guns Browning does not.
That changed this year with the introduction of the Browning Eclipse M1000, which is very much in the stamp of the Ruger M77 VT (Varmint Target) and the Remington Varmint Laminate range. As in long, medium/heavy barrel, and big, rigid furniture in this case a black/grey laminate.
Looking at the data indicates that this rifle is intended to shoot as it offers a hand-chambered, 26” heavy barrel with a deep target crown. It’s also free-floated and synthetically bedded and the trigger is adjustable. Drop this lot into a thumbhole stock of a slightly different design and you have what it appears to be. However, there’s no disguising that A-Bolt look… My test rifle came in 22-250 Remington, other options include 308 Win, 270, 7mm and 300 WSM. Most surprising is the lack of inclusion of 223 Remington or 204 Ruger, as the other makes do. The final option is a B.O.S.S. (Ballistic Optimizing Shooting System) should you feel the need, my example came without this recoil reducing and accurising device. Here you have a choice of two versions; the original, as described and the CR that only offers the adjustable muzzle weight system. B.O.S.S. does work and is worth consideration, but I wonder it’s really needed on a heavy 26” tube chambered in 22-250?
The stock is striking with a wide, flat beavertail-style forend, which is great for resting on a vehicle’s door frame or high seats shooting rail. The barrel is floating right up to the action but there’s not a lot of clearance between the tube and the channel. Pity really as there’s enough material there to remove at least 1/8”+ all round with no loss of integrity. Moving back we have the thumbhole layout, which is a bit different as it looks more like a Monte Carlo design with its big, roll-over cheek piece and just a short strap of laminate connecting the tip of the comb to the pistol grip. This has been done to accommodate the A-Bolt’s tang-mounted safety so making this layout mandatory.
To its credit the actual thumbhole is nice and big, with a comfortable scallop at the rear and a large and upright pistol grip. This dictatorial build at the tang does offer an easy thumb up/over hold, depending on your preferences… At the rear is a rubber recoil pad and the length of pull is good at 14”. QD sling studs are fitted front and back and oddly the forend is chequered, which is unusual on a laminate build.
Kahles on Top
Browning say the Eclipse is synthetically bedded. In the past they also said this but inspection of an early A-Bolt Medallion showed a squirt of a semi-rigid, mastic-like material around the recoil lug. This time they have used a solid compound, so yes the front of the action/recoil lug is bedded, but there’s nothing at the rear. Frankly, with the slab-sided build of the receiver and the way the tang is set up, there’s not much more you can do in terms of this job.
As luck would have it Kahles had sent me one of their new Helia CL 4-12 x 52 multizero scopes with Mil-Dot reticule, so that went on the Browning in a set of Millets mounts. Ammo went to Winchester Supreme, 50-grain Ballistic Silver Tip, which is capable of around 3800 fps/1600 ft/lbs, which makes the old 22-250 Rem still the one to beat for those looking for a hard-hitting and flat-shooting 22 centrefire.
With a Harris BRS bipod up front and a Holland field bag under the butt I set out to see what the Eclipse could do. Though not light with its 26” barrel the rifle weighs a shade under 10 lbs un-scoped and in truth is not that arduous to carry. But by the same token it’s really a prone supported machine, be it on the ground, from the window of a 4 x 4 or a high seat.
2 lbs Lighter
Browning state that the trigger pull is 4 lbs and I would no disagree with that. Crisp and short it comes through and breaks well enough, but I would have liked it about 2 lbs lighter, though it did work. Accuracy was good with the rifle shooting ½-3/4” from the box and over the chrono the 50-grain Supremes were averaging 3723 fps and 1544 ft/lbs. Zeroed at 200 yards the gun shoots inside an inch of drop out to 225 yards, so to all intents and purposes it’s point and shoot at the normal distances you are likely to encounter most foxes. Out at 300 yards it only drops 5” too. This calibre is going to be good for longer range shots on muntjac and CWD when the law changes for England and Wales this year…
Generally feel was good with the TH stock offering a comfortable head position and upright firing hand hold. The tang-mounted safety is fast and easy to operate and if you take a thumb-up hold there’s no disturbance to the firing grip as you operate it. Likewise the 60° bolt lift is an easy movement and the reasonably short action stroke means no disturbance of the head/scope alignment when a fast, back-up shot is required.
Burning as it does around 40-grains of powder to achieve the quoted speed and energy figures makes the 22-250 Rem a noisy cartridge and a bit jumpy too. The urge to fit a moderator is obvious, but that’s when the weight and length starts to pile up and many will feel that they have to take something off the barrel to compensate, which to a degree defeats the object of this fast, 22 centrefire.
The Eclipse performs about as well as a comparable Ruger, Remington or Savage design and is in a very similar bracket, in that it offers a heavy barrelled varminter and also range/target gun. The 22-250 Rem is a good choice for the fox and small deer shooter, but for range work I’d opt for the 270 or 7mm WSM, as either is going to offer some serious reach and ability, perhaps better than either 308 or 300 WSM.
The A-Bolt Eclipse is different enough to stand out and give the shooter considering a varminter etc., a good looking and capable alternative to what Ruger, Savage and Remington has to offer…