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Marlin XT-17 VSL

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Workmanship: B-
Performance: B+
Accuracy: A
Price / Value: A-

Marlin has introduced a slew of new rimfire rifles this year, including this bull-barreled model in .17 HMR. It’s built on a tried-and-true action that isn’t flashy or particularly innovative, but with each flick of the bolt—the base of which also doubles as the action’s locking lug—you can be certain it will kick out the empty brass and guide the next round off the single-stack magazine into battery. 

While this old-school action and the mismatched finishes on the rifle’s metalwork didn’t excite the test team, the accuracy the gun exhibited with bullets from 15.5 to 20 grains did. 

At 50 yards, it had no trouble clustering 5-shot groups within a half-inch. Couple this with the rifle’s heavy barrel and beefy, laminated stock, which has a broad surface area for riding on shooting bags, and you can understand why we agreed that it would make an excellent 150-yard varmint gun.

The accuracy of the gun is no doubt enhanced by the fine 2-pound 12-ounce trigger, which has a crisp and consistent break, making it easy to call shots. This trigger, the “Pro-Fire,” is user-adjustable as well, though the system for doing so isn’t nearly as elegant as some of the others on the market, since it requires removing the action from the stock.

For $395, Marlin has made a capable varmint gun, though a close inspection revealed a few rough edges, which is not surprising, given its price point. Nonetheless, it performed with aplomb and earned high marks.

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