By Spencer Durrant | Managing Editor
I’m a bit late to this party, but the fine folks over at Winchester Repeating Arms have debuted a new rifle in the XPR series – the Strata MB.
This rifle comes to us in a new “True Timber” camo pattern that’s reminiscent of what the folks over at First Lite are doing. Along with the new camo pattern on the stock, Winchester added a radial-style muzzle brake that’s screwed into the end of the barrel. That’s a nice touch, seeing as other rifles in this price range that come with a muzzle brake often don’t give you the option to remove them (the Weatherby Vanguard First Lite comes to mind).
Winchester opted for a flat-earth Perma-Cote finish on the Strata MB, which I like quite a lot. I have a Bronze Cera-Kote finish on my Weatherby Vanguard Badlands, and it’s held up well through two elk seasons now. There’s no reason to think Winchester’s Perma-Cote won’t fare at least as long.
Finally, the Strata MB is rounded out with an M.O.A. trigger system, two-position safety, and a bolt unlock button. As with most of the other XPR rifles, the Strata MB has a full-composite stock stuffed with an Inflex Technology recoil pad.
Winchester offers the Strata MB in 14 calibers, although my preferred mule deer and antelope round – the .25-06 – isn’t an option. Instead, the folks at Winchester opted for the following chamberings:
- .223 Remington
- .243 Winchester
- 6.5 Creedmoor
- 7mm-08 Remington
- .308 Winchester
- .350 Legend
- 6.5 PRC
- 6.8 Western
- .270 Winchester Short Mag
- .300 Winchester Short Mag
- .270 Winchester
- .7mm Remington Mag
- .300 Winchester Mag
Including the .350 Legend makes sense, since it was developed specifically for some states that have detailed requirements for deer hunting with straight-walled cartridges.
I’m also not surprised to see the 6.8 Western listed here, either. After all, Winchester worked with Browning to develop this new round, and it’s looking like it could be a winner for most big game hunters, especially here in the Rockies. The 6.8 Western takes a 6.8 bullet (.270 inch diameter) and throws it into a modified .270 Winchester Short Mag case. That case has a lower shoulder, which according to Outdoor Life, allows for the use of a longer bullet in short-action rifles.
Some of the 6.8 bullets used for loading this cartridge are fairly long – .277 inches in one instance – and Winchester utilizes a 1:8 twist rate to help stabilize the bullet. The idea behind using a longer bullet in a shorter case is to maintain more energy downrange with a high-B.C. bullet, and reducing recoil. With the 6.8 Western still new on the market, its long-term viability is still up in the air, but it’s worked well enough on everything from Yukon moose to mountain goats.
Anyways, I digress. It’s fun to see Winchester debuting a new rifle with a hot new cartridge, especially when the whole package retails at $699. Lately, some of the newer cartridges I’ve had my eye on (like the 28 Nosler) are only available in rifles that cost more than my mortgage.
Chambered in .300 Win Mag, the Strata MB only weighs 7 pounds. That’s a half-pound lighter than my Weatherby Vanguard Badlands in the same caliber. Both feature a 26-inch barrel with a 1:10 twist rate.
You should be able to find the Winchester Strata MB for sale at all major gun stores and retailers.
Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer, bamboo rod builder, and guide from Utah. He’s the Lead Guide for the Utah Fly Fishing Company, the News Editor for MidCurrent, and a columnist for Hatch Magazine. Connect with him on Instagram/Twitter, @Spencer_Durrant.