Skip to main content

Testing the Winchester XPR Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Bill Gabbard


A day at the range is always a good thing but it can always get better. I was doing a little practice for an upcoming match when my phone buzzed. It was a message from my fried Joe at Trinity Outfitters letting me know that a package had arrived from Winchester. It was the intended mounting platform for the new Leupold Mark 4HD, a Winchester XPR, in Mossy Oak Country DNA.

This isn’t my first rodeo with Winchester’s XPR, and like the last time the XPR did not disappoint! In a way it is hard to categorize the XPR. Even though it is Winchester’s entry-level bolt-action centerfire model you can’t class it as a cheap rifle in any way. Starting with Winchester’s ADVANCED POLYMER STOCK™, with textured panels for an easy grip in any weather. The stock features a slightly flattened bottom which makes it easier to shoot from the bench. The Mossy Oak Country DNA stock blends perfectly with Matte Black Perma-Cote finish on the action and barrel. The Inflex Technology recoil pad combined with the excellent stock design make the rifle comfortable to shoot. All this combined with the Nickel Teflon™ coating on the bolt body make the XPR a rifle that is not just another pretty face, but a rifle that is built to withstand the elements. One of the greatest improvements in today’s new rifles is the quality of their triggers. The Winchester’s M.O.A. Trigger System is just another example. The housing and all internal components are constructed of polished and hardened steel, most have a blued finish for corrosion resistance, but the sear and actuator have the same Nickel Teflon™ coating that is on the bolt to insure reduced wear and decreased friction. The trigger has no take-up, no creep and no overtravel! It is extremely crisp and broke repeatedly at just over three pounds, pretty well perfect for a hunting rifle.

I mounted a Leupold Mark 4 HD 4.5x18x52 on the XPR and was delighted by the looks of the combination. Using nothing but the highest level of technology I set the rifle in 35-year-old Outers Rifle Rest on the hood of my 14-year-old farm truck, and with the help of my friend Tyler Price bore sighted the Leupold using a mailbox about 175 yds away. I know that sounds fancy, but hey it works. When we went to the range the next day a total of three shots had us where we needed to be at 100 yds. More to come on the Leupold in an upcoming article, but for now all I need to say is that the Leupold performed flawlessly as expected.

When testing a new rifle, I like to get my fellow shooter’s opinions on the look and feel of a rifle. Andrew Neace and his teenage son Colton along with Tyler, were at the range when I showed up to sight the rifle in and get the first set of test loads fired. All three were impressed with the XPR. Andrew commented on the high-quality feel of the stock. I was pleased to note that Colton, being quite a bit smaller than the rest of us, had no issues with the fit of the stock. Winchester has done an excellent job designing this stock. Colton showed how well he liked the XPR by firing the best group of the day.

The XPR came in one of the hottest new calibers out there, 6.5 PRC. The 6.5 PRC even though it doesn’t have “Magnum” in its name, it is in every sense a magnum caliber. I love to kid my 6.5 Creedmoor loving friends about their “Needmoor”, well the 6.5 PRC could just as easily be called the “6.5 Hasmore”. The 6.5 PRC was introduced in 2018 and has really made a hit in the sales charts. I would refer to it as a light magnum version of the 6.5 Creedmoor. The PRC comes in around a couple of hundred feet per second faster than the 6.5 Creedmoor, 260 Remington, 6.5 x55 but below the speeds of the 264 Winchester Magnum and the 26 Nosler. I just received a Redding three piece set of Premium Dies, so in the near future I should have a “Loading for the 6.5 PRC “article in the works!


Back to the fun part, lets see how the Winchester XPR does with factory ammo. Seth Swerczek from Hornady sent me a box Hornady Match ammo featuring Hornady’s 147 gr ELD-Match bullets. This ammo features a muzzle velocity of 2910 FPS and had no trouble shooting three shot groups under one inch at 100 yds. He also sent Hornady Precision Hunter featuring 143 gr ELD-X bullets. This load like its stablemate produced groups well under an inch at 100 yds. The excellent ELD-X 143 gr bullet leaving the muzzle at 2960 fps should be devastating on most game that the average hunter is going to encounter.

“The Old Turkey Slayer” JJ Reich from Federal Ammunition managed to round up a sample of Federal Fusion loads that did not disappoint. The 140 gr bonded bullets leaving the muzzle at 2925 fps, managed a 0.688-inch group with three, three shot groups averaging 0.852 inch. Pretty impressive for factory ammo in a stock rifle.

Nosler’s Zach Waterman rustled up a box of Nosler’s Trophy Grade ammo, featuring Nosler’s excellent 142 gr AccuBond Long Range bullet. The 142 ABLR load managed the 2nd best three shot group of the test shooting a group of 0.387 group at 100 yds! The sleek ABLR bullet travelling 2900 fps at the muzzle is still travelling 2324 fps at 400 yds and carrying over 1700 ft-lb of energy.

Geoff Esterline from Capstone Precision Group provided a couple of different loads from Berger. The performance of Berger’s Match Grade ammo featuring Lapua Brass and Berger’s 140 gr, and 156 gr Elite Hunter bullet is eye opening! The 140-gr load with a blistering muzzle velocity of 3109 fps, and 3005 ft-lbs of energy shot the best three shot group of the test at 0.360 inch at 100 yds. Even more impressive was the average of 0.566 for the three, three-shot groups. The heavy hitter of the group was Berger’s 156 gr load. The 156 gr Elite Hunter bullet retains 2045 ft-lb of energy at 400 yds and shot a best three-shot group of 0.748 inches at 100 yds. And averaged three, three shot groups at 0.869 inch.


The Winchester XPR is truly a great rifle at a great price. The XPR looks great in Mossy Oak Country DNA and feels great in your hands. The stock design does a wonderful job of absorbing recoil and fits a wide variety of shooters. The XPR in Mossy Oak retails for $699.99, but a quick online search found them in the $550- $625 range. We fired a minimum of three, three-shot groups through the XPR with six different factory loads from four manufacturers. After the initial break-in, thorough cleaning, and a little time to get the feel of the rifle, it proved to be extremely accurate. Every load tested managed to shoot groups under one inch. Two of the loads, Nosler 142 Trophy Grade and Berger 140 Elite Hunter, were well under one-half inch. Half of the loads tested shot three, three-shot groups averaging under one inch. As I said earlier, this XPR like the first one I tested “DID NOT DISAPOINT”!

Latest Content