Browning AB3 Rifle

The new Browning AB3.

The new Browning AB3.

Browning has introduced the AB3 to their rifle at the 2014 SHOT Show.  The AB3 is described by Browning as a “value-packaged” rifle.  Despite its lower price point the AB3 is designed to be a contender for accuracy, features, style, and comfort.  This is not what I would consider a “bargain” rifle in the meaning of lower quality parts and materials for the entry level shooter.  Instead, I would place the AB3 in the category of many competitors‘ mid-range rifle selections; such as the Remington 783, the Savage Model 111, or the Mossberg ATR line.

The AB3 will be available in four calibers initially:

  • .270 Win.
  • .30-06 Sprg.
  • 7mm Rem. Mag.
  • .300 Win. Mag.

The AB3 barrel is designed with the same methods as the more famous Browning rifles.  Affordability is the result of innovative new technologies that simplify production without sacrificing the top performance expected of Browning.  Using precision button-rifling that is triple checked for finish, straightness and uniformity, the chamber is hand-reamed.  A  free-floating barrel allows the best opportunity for accuracy, and a recessed muzzle crown protects the muzzle from accidental contact.

The free-floating AB3 barrel and receiver.

The free-floating AB3 barrel and receiver.

The recessed Browning AB3 muzzle crown.

The recessed Browning AB3 muzzle crown.

The AB3 trigger is pre-set at the factory to break between 3.5 to 4.5 pounds.  The model on the Show floor was definitely closer to the lower end.  The trigger had no creep at all, was very smooth, and had a crisp break.  Trigger control is a primary downfall of many shooters, but the Browning AB3 trigger does a good job in providing the best possibility for success.

The Browning AB3 trigger is factory set to break between 3.5-4.5 pounds.

The Browning AB3 trigger is factory set to break between 3.5-4.5 pounds.

The AB3 bolt is oversized to provide additional rigidity, but is machined inside and out to keep the weight low.  Designed with three locking lugs for extra strength, the bolt is covered in a chrome coating providing a very smooth and quiet action.  The bolt uses a short 60-degree lift to run the action, leaving plenty of space for clearance between the shooter’s hand and the scope.  The bolt release is an easily manipulated lever on the left side of the receiver where the receiver and barrel meet.

The enlarged AB3 bolt.

The enlarged AB3 bolt.

The enlarged AB3 bolt is chrome coated for protection and smooth operation.

The enlarged AB3 bolt is chrome coated for protection and smooth operation.

A close-up of the AB3 enlarged bolt designed for rigidity.  The chrome coating should provide long term protection as well.

A close-up of the AB3 enlarged bolt designed for rigidity. The chrome coating should provide long term protection as well.

Browning uses an Inflex Technology recoil pad to soften recoil, particularly for the larger calibers, and allow the shooter to regain their sight picture more quickly for follow-up shots.  The internal design of the recoil pad pulls the rifle down and away from the shooter’s face to assist in reducing felt recoil.

The Inflex recoil pad is designed to redirect recoil to assist with accuracy and follow-up shots.

The Inflex recoil pad is designed to redirect recoil to assist with accuracy and follow-up shots.

The AB3 uses a tang safety lever, which blocks the trigger when engaged.  There is a firing pin safety for added security, and a unique bolt lock override button to the right and behind the bolt lever.  When the override button is depressed it allows the shooter to safely open the bolt for inspection or unloading, while the tang safety is still engaged.

The AB3 tang safety is easily manipulated, and observed for firing status.

The AB3 tang safety is easily manipulated, and observed for firing status.

Another great feature of the Browning AB3 is the detachable magazine.  In my opinion detachable magazine rifles are by far the easier rifles to load and shoot, and safer when trouble-shooting problems.  Ammunition can be stored easily and safely, but still be readily available.

The detachable magazine inserts with a tactile and audible click, and the release lever is located in front of the magazine.

The detachable magazine inserts with a tactile and audible click, and the release lever is located in front of the magazine.

The detachable magazine is solidly built and a beneficial feature.

The detachable magazine is solidly built and a beneficial feature.

A composite stock assists with cost reduction, however, instead of a simple composite design the AB3 has gone a step further by adding a tight grip with a slightly sharper palm angle and enhanced texture.  The grip is designed to optimize trigger reach, making the critical trigger pull much easier to accomplish in the proper squeeze method.

The texture of the grip is not aggressive, but still assists the hand in grasping the rifle securely.  The fore-end tapers down in sleek lines, and incorporates the same texture as the grip to provide additional control from the support hand.

The Browning AB3 specifications:

  • Overall Length (.270 and .30-06 – 42.75 inches)
  • Barrel Length – 22 inches
  • Weight – 6 pounds 13 ounces
  • Capacity – 5
  • Overall Length (7mm Rem Mag and 300 Win Mag) – 46.75 inches
  • Barrel Length – 26 inches
  • Weight – 7 pounds 3 ounces
  • Capacity – 4
  • Action – Long, with oversized bolt
  • Length of pull – 13 5/8 inches
  • Twist Rate – 1:10  (7mm Rem Mag = 9.5 inches)
  • MSRP – $599.99


Aaron is a life-long firearm enthusiast and hunter. He has been a police officer for nearly 19 years, and currently is a Sergeant in Special Operations. He has served on the department’s SWAT Team for 14 years, with 8 years as the Sniper Team Leader. When not fussing over fractions of inches, and gut-less wonders, he can usually be found sipping from a ridiculously large coffee mug. Aaron is also the editor and main writer at BlueSheepDog.com.


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  • Nick

    That’s a lot of rifle for $599.

    • SD3

      B-Jebus, that’s a lot of BARREL for $599. What is it, 42″ long?

      • FourString

        Do want as first rifle ever. Looks really nice.

      • maodeedee

        26 on the magnums as it should be so that you get maximum velocity which is the reason for going to a magnum in the first place.

  • Ben

    Nice gun. But with those cartridges at that weight newbies might find the recoil a little more than they are ready for.

    A lot of people seem to like the idea of magazines, but from a hand loading perspective the magazine typically forces a shorter OAL than would otherwise be possible/desirable. I don’t accept the idea that it is meaningfully safer and, unless you are in the habit of swapping loads in the field, having a magazine ends up being one of those theoretical benefits that doesn’t do a whole lot in practice… except piss off hand loaders.

    But, gotta agree with Nick, that’s a lot of rifle for 600 bucks.

    • iksnilol

      Can’t you just single load? Maybe put a spacer in the magazine so it doesn’t get in the way?

      • Aaron E

        You can do that without a spacer. It’s a “combat” loading for the bolt-action rifle. Simply opening the bolt and dropping in one round at a time will get the job done, but for situations in which a rapid follow-up shot may be necessary – such as on large game animals, having a loaded magazine is beneficial.

    • Duray

      All bolt action repeaters have magazines.

      • RocketScientist

        I’m pretty sure he was referring to detachable box magazines, as opposed to fixed non-removable magazines that many bolt guns feature.

        • Duray

          Yup, I know.

      • maodeedee

        Until you lose the mag and then it becomes a single shot.

    • maodeedee

      I’m with you on detachable mags on hunting rifles and I don’t understand the phobia of running loaded rounds through the action when in the field with the firearm pointed at soft ground.

      The proper attitude is than no firearm is ever really “Safe” and should always be handled accordingly

      Additionally, if you are not somewhere outdoors you have no business loading the gun with live ammo in the first place. At the range, you have no reason to cycle rounds through the action when the loaded rounds can simply be fired down range.
      .

      • Aaron E

        If you have a malfunction or ammo failure of some kind you can’t continue to fire down range, so a detachable magazine is a great way of rendering the rifle safe for inspection and maintenance.

    • Aaron E

      The benefit of a detachable magazine comes with loading and unloading. The entire load can be unloaded with one movement, with the cartridges remaining secure and easily packable.

      An internal hidden box magazine requires manipulating the bolt, and hinge plates dump the cartridges out loose. In addition, the hinge plate system can bound up when returning the spring and follower causing feed problems.

  • jamezb

    I’m impressed, Browning..I might let you send me one of these!

  • FourString

    Colour me interested. I do like these newer bolt action rifles that are coming out (Ruger American, Mauser M12, etc.). It’s nice that the technology is being developed even further, with subtle enhancements over the years.

    Does anyone know if Browning will offer the AB3 in the ubiquitous .308?

    • Julio

      There’s only one action size at present (long), so I guess they’ll wait and see how well the AB3 sells before they offer other action sizes.

      • FourString

        for sure man. thanks for pointing that out.

    • Aaron E

      Although not a current offering, I would be VERY surprised if the .308 does not make it into the AB3 line.

      • FourString

        yeh doode i totally agree. i’d snap up a .308 model as a first rifle fasho, within a heartbeat

  • Julio

    Deja vu. Didn’t Browning release this as the “A-Bolt III” at SHOT 2013? As far as I can see, the only thing they’ve changed in the interim is the name. Which is fine: the new name is better and the rifle was the most appealing in its class to start with (though I don’t like that bolt “knob”). The only thing that doesn’t convince is pretending we haven’t seen it before!

  • BA47

    It does appear to be a fine rifle; but to be honest, I can’t justify the price point for me. I’m sure Browning fans will get a kick out of it, but I think that’s all it will do.

    • Aaron E

      Although Browning is suggesting $599.99 I’m sure that several of the big chain stores like Cabela’s, Bass Pro, etc. will bring the price down to about $450-500.

  • maodeedee

    The one thing that I REALLY like is that the magnums come with a 26 inch barrel.

  • hacedeca

    Is there a reason why the triggers of American precision rifles are situated so far back? They always look like the triggers of shotguns.

    • Aaron E

      I didn’t realize this until you mentioned it, the trigger position in my pictures was after I dry-fired the AB3 to get a feel for the trigger pull. So that position is the fired position, where the ready position is about 1/2″ or so in front of the position in the pictures.

      • hacedeca

        I see. Thank you for the explanation!

  • gunslinger

    can someone explain the purpose of a muzzle crown? i haven’t seen may of them and i’m curious as to what it actually does.

    thanks

    • Aaron E

      Sure gunslinger! The muzzle is arguably the most important part of the barrel for the shooter. The chamber and internal barrel rifling are generally protected by surrounding metal so generally will not interfere with accurate shooting of the bullet.
      However, the muzzle is at the end of the barrel, and the very last part of the rifle to engage the bullet before flight. In most cases the barrel length is designed to accommodate the best spin of that particular caliber bullet for optimum trajectory.
      Being at the end of the barrel, and furthest from the shooter, the muzzle has the greatest potential of damage by bumping into something, hitting the ground, etc. Should a knick or burr occur at an uprotected muzzle, the last contact the rifle has with the bullet could cause a catostrophic misdirection of flight. Not to mention the disruption of the bullet’s spin.
      As such, most modern rifles incorporate a muzzle crown that recesses the true muzzle end slightly behind the protection of the crown. The crown is tapered, depending on manufacturer, away from the muzzle face to the edge of the crown. In the Browning AB3 the crown is cut straight back, but in other designs it is a gradual tapering.
      As designed, if inadvertent contact is made with the barrel’s end, the damage would occur on the crown, and the muzzle would remain intact for proper bullet flight.
      Hope that helps.

      • gunslinger

        thanks. i figured it was something like this. but i also remember when buying C&R guns (think sks or 91/30s) that having the muzzle bored out like that was a bad thing.

  • Ron Ryder

    Shot my Browning AB3 for the first time today. Had a rest but no vice. I tried out two different rounds: Winchester Ballistic Silver Tip and Hornady Whitetail both in the 130 gr. Rifle is fitted with a Leopold 3X9X40 VX2 on Browning one piece mounts/rings. Now for the results. Had no trouble at all zeroing the rifle. Both brands of ammo preformed almost identically. And, now for the really good news, for the first time in my life I shot a real .75 inch 3 shot group with the Winchester ammo. I was actually laughing at the range I was so thrilled when those rounds kept hitting so close together…I am really impressed by this setup and love my new gun. Lets go hunting….This is a real report from a real hunter who is not that great a shot..no hype…good luck guys.

  • ram84

    the hole pattern for the scope mounting bases is different than other browning rifles. any ideas on where I can get them

  • rfw56

    has anyone had any experience adjusting the trigger pull on the AB 3?