The MRC X2: A Righteous Lefty From Montana Rifle Company

Robert Kolesar, GetZone.com Contributor

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Montana rifle company, mrc x2, rifle, guns, new guns, hunting

Left-handed people tend to adapt quickly to a right-handed world. For most of us, learning to use right-handed scissors, can openers, doors, car controls and other stuff that right-handers take for granted are a minor irritation that is quickly forgotten over time. Left-handed folks automatically reverse instructions on most everything in a left-friendly sequence and carry on. Writing upside down is easily learned, as is loading and firing a belt-fed machine gun from the left shoulder. It’s all in a day’s work for a left-handed person.

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It’s nice though when someone actually designs something for the 14 percent of the population that uses the right side of the brain. Up until about 50 years ago, there weren’t too many left friendly guns out there, except for the Colt Single Action Army (supposedly Sam Colt was left-handed). Weatherby and Savage were early portside rifle producers with Remington, Winchester, and Browning also making bolt rifles beginning in the late 70’s/early 80’s (Remington and Winchester produced left handed shotguns as well). Of course, you could get a custom bolt rifle made to order but it would cost you big-time. Most lefties just adapt and shoot a right-handed gun without any issues. Levers, pumps, and semi-autos are easier and also left side usable. I never noticed the empty shells being ejected in front of my face when shooting a semiauto shotgun or rifle. Stuff like this is expected if you’re a left-handed shooter.

Montana rifle company, mrc x2, rifle, guns, new guns, hunting
A perfect set up for a lefty — Montana Rifle Co X2 Extreme in caliber .30-06, Meopta 6x42mm and Talley lightweight low rings. MRC makes them for right-handers, too!

THE MRC X2 EXTREME

Enter the MRC ’99. Almost 20 years ago the 1999 action was introduced by the Montana Rifle Company. From the beginning, you could get your Montana action with the bolt on the port side. The ’99 action is simply an all-stainless steel clone of the pre-64 Winchester Model 70, with some Mauser improvements, like a ’98 style ejector, thrown in. The investment-cast actions were a little rough at first — most gunsmiths working with them noted they needed a bit of fitting and finishing during a build. As time went on, the guns got better — way better. The rifle actions are now beautifully finished, with no tool marks evident. My rifle cycles flawlessly and was smooth from day one. No break-in period or gunsmithing was needed to slick up the action. The internals, including the bolt raceways, are nicely polished.

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MRC X2 barrels are stainless steel, button-rifled, hand-lapped, then glass bedded and free-floated during stock bedding. The classic styled carbon fiber synthetic stock is made in-house by MRC. I like this stock — it’s got a good high comb, with a black-matte finish that’s “grippy” without being irritating. The forend is slender and comfortable. Action pillars are Kevlar reinforced for strength and the barreled actions are individually glass-bedded.

Montana rifle company, mrc x2, rifle, guns, new guns, hunting
The floorplate/trigger guard assembly is all stainless steel, looking much like a M70

A few features on this rifle (besides being built for a lefty) I really like. A one-piece bolt, controlled feed, the traditional M70 trigger, a full 24″ length barrel and a very nice bolt stop/release are a few. Add in the fact you can get your MRC X2 rifle or barreled action in 33 calibers (both left and right handed) and two action lengths. MRC has no problem deviating a little from what’s offered in the catalog and will work with you to build the X2 you want, if at all possible. That includes different barrel lengths, stock colors, fluting, coating, etc. MRC also has a full custom shop. If you still don’t find what you’re looking for on their website, give them a call and ask for what you need.

Montana rifle company, mrc x2, rifle, guns, new guns, hunting
The buttstock has a well-fitted, functional 1″ thick recoil pad. Stock is painted a flat black with gray webbing.

Shooting the X2

I’ve had my MRC X2 now for almost a year. During that time I’ve put several hundred commercial factory loads, GI match rounds and M2 GI ball ammo down the tube. I’ve had no issues with function; the long slender .30-06 round feeds and chambers well in the Montana 99 action.

Montana rifle company, mrc x2, rifle, guns, new guns, hunting
Comparison of the bolts of an MRC 99 (left) and an older pre-64 M70 Winchester. MRC action design is an improved M70. Note the 3 position safeties on both.

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After receiving my rifle, I took the barreled action out of the stock, checked the glass bedding for proper contact, put the rifle back together and torqued the guard screws to factory specs. Trigger weighed in at just over 3 lbs., without any creep.

I mounted my favorite scope, a Meopta 6x42mm, in Talley lightweight low rings and headed for the range. That’s all I’ve done-no fiddling with the trigger or playing with the bedding. I also didn’t “break in” the barrel. I shot it and then cleaned it after each range session.

Montana rifle company, mrc x2, rifle, guns, new guns, hunting
The bolt stop/bolt release is much easier to use than on the original M70 release.

My MRC X2 shot the way I expect a semi-custom rifle to shoot — exceptionally well. Over a period of about a year, I put 400 rounds or so downrange, from 100 yards out to 300 yards. Best groups were fired with Nosler 165 and 180-grain Accubonds, with Barnes Vortex 150 and 180-grain TTSX a close second. Both brands averaged well under 1″ (100 yards, 3-shot groups), with several from the 165-grain Accubonds going into a ½”. I shot a bunch of LC (Lake City) ball for fun and to see what kind of accuracy this stuff would deliver in a good barrel. 3-shot groups from the GI ammo hovered just over 3″. OK if you need some combat ammo when the zombies start showing up in the neighborhood — the GI LC match wasn’t too much better.

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MRC muzzles are perfectly crowned and recessed to protect the crown. A good muzzle crown is critical to accuracy.

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What was very satisfying were the groups shot with some Winchester factory 180-grain PowerPoints I had. Three, 3-shot clusters at 100 yards averaged just over 1″ — pretty good for “economy” ammo. It’s nice to know a box of commonly available .30-06 softpoints can work in a pinch if the expensive rounds you brought somehow came up missing.

Montana rifle company, mrc x2, rifle, guns, new guns, hunting
Best groups came from factory Nosler Accubonds, using 165-grain bullets. This group was three shots, fired at 100 yards.

Final Thoughts

Finding a bolt rifle with all the features I like is a beautiful thing — especially if the bolt is on the port side. You could make a VERY good case for buying an MRC X2 in .270, 7mm or .30-06 and then hunting North America without buying another rifle. Just mount a quality 6X or 3-9X, get your zero with proper bullets and head out for the high country. This rifle is up to the task. Boring, but it could be done.

This is the first centerfire rifle I’ve owned I haven’t done ANYTHING to — no tuning, no trigger work, no playing with the bedding. Nothing. I mounted a scope, drove to the range and started shooting. I had no issues, no malfunctions, and excellent accuracy. I didn’t do a barrel break in — I only cleaned my rifle after each range session. The Montana .30-06 shot to zero with a clean, cold barrel or when it was warm and fouled — no sighters were needed to “settle in” after bore scrubbing.

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Bob used a wide range of ammo while testing the MRC rifle. His best groups were from factory Nosler Accubonds and Barnes Vortex TTSX bullets.

This rifle was built to hunt. It’ll be with me for more than one trip early next spring. And several more in the years ahead.

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MRC X2 Specifications

  • Manufacturer/Model: MRC X2 Extreme
  • Caliber (tested rifle): .30-06 Springfield
  • Action: stainless controlled feed two-lug rotating bolt with Mauser-style ejector, left or right handed
  • Barrel: 24″, stainless, button rifled and hand-lapped
  • Stock: synthetic carbon fiber, glass bedded with Kevlar-reinforced pillars. Painted black paint w/grey webbing, 1″ recoil pad & 13.6″ length of pull
  • Trigger: classic M70, adjusted for 3 to 3.25-pound pull
  • Safety: M70 style, three position
  • Weight (empty): 7.5 pounds
  • Overall length: 42″
  • MSRP: $1,412.00

For more information, visit:

Montana Rifle Co (MRC): www.montanarifleco.com

Meopta (optics): www.meoptasportspotics.com

Talley (scope rings): www.talleymanufacturing.com