In a couple of weeks our WT and elk seasons open up, so in preparation for that I picked up a new Marlin XS7 in 7mm-08 for my father (he has decided that he would like to start hunting) as his first CF rifle. We grabbed a Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 and threw it in some Burris sig. rings on top of a picatinny rail. I took it back to my house, gave the bore a thorough cleaning to get out all the metal shavings and oil from the factory, and then applied some UBC. There won't be time to develop a load for it before deer/elk season, so we also picked up a couple of boxes of Federal blue box 150gr Speer HC.
We took it out to the range yesterday and after bore-sighting it and getting on paper at 85 yards, we moved back to 200 yards. My dad is new to shooting, and I taught him the shooting technique fundamentals on his .22 during the summer. Well he shot a few groups at 200 yards with the Fed factory ammo, and toward the end of the shooting session he shot a 1.37" 3-shot group. I was impressed to say the least!
As we were getting ready to pack up, we spotted this guy 155 yards away at 9 o'clock (forgive the cell phone pic).
Can't think of a better way to end off the first range session with my father's first rifle, nor a better way to bloody the gun for the first time!
Considering that the Marlin's competitors were all double the price, there was just no way for me to justify buying anything else (in the entry-level range). All the reviews are consistent with my experience so far- the trigger is great, maybe not Tikka T3 great, but really good none-the-less. Just a hair of creep. The action is smooth and solid. No plastic in the action. Synthetic stock feels quite stiff considering the price of the rifle. The recessed crown is nice. All up, this rifle is lighter than my Tikka T3 Lam/SS by 2 ounces. The Marlin came with a pic. rail and trigger lock. When it's shooting 1.3" groups at 200 yards, and for $390, I can't complain at all!