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Range Report: CVA's Upgraded Cascade XT Hunting Rifle

The multi-purpose centerfire bolt-action is built with precision-oriented hunters in mind.

Range Report: CVA's Upgraded Cascade XT Hunting Rifle

CVA upgrades its premier centerfire bolt-action rifle to arrive at the Cascade XT, a version for hunters who want long-range capability in an easy-carrying platform. (Photo courtesy of CVA)

Founded in 1971, CVA has become an industry leader in the development of technologically advanced in-line muzzleloaders. Over the last decade, CVA (part of the BPI family, which also includes Bergara, PowerBelt and others) has climbed to the top of the muzzleloader market and is now America’s top-selling muzzleloader brand. Building on its reputation for providing customers with guns and accessories at the best value, in 2019 CVA launched its first bolt-action centerfire rifle, the Cascade. Earlier this year, CVA introduced the upgraded Cascade XT (X-Treme).

CVA notes the XT is designed to be “precision-oriented” with key features to make it a multi-purpose rifle for a variety of hunters. For example, a heavier fluted barrel (No. 5 taper) improves the balance of the rifle and allows multiple shots to be taken rapidly with less worry about accuracy loss from a hot barrel. Additionally, the barrel is finished with graphite black Cerakote and is threaded for accessories; in most chamberings the XT’s barrel has 5/8x24 threads, but the .450 Bushmaster version has 11/16x24 threads. The barrel includes a muzzle brake designed to reduce recoil substantially, providing comfortable shooting on the range and in the field, which is especially nice for the XT’s magnum chamberings. Lastly, the 70-degree-throw bolt with a tactical-style knob is designed to allow hunters to manipulate the bolt with greater leverage in any shooting position.

hunter with rifle in forrest
Despite its heavier-contour barrel, the Cascade XT remains a well-balanced and maneuverable rifle for the timber. (Photo courtesy of CVA)

Atop the action assembly, CVA includes a two-piece Picatinny mount to make the rifle optics-ready. The trigger pull weight is user-adjustable from approximately 2 to 4 pounds. To adjust, first remove the barreled-action assembly from the stock, and then turn the screw at the front of the trigger housing clockwise or counterclockwise to increase or decrease pull weight, respectively. A two-position safety is conveniently located behind the bolt handle for easy operation. The flush-fit detachable magazine holds four rounds in short-action models and three rounds in long-action models.

The barreled action is fitted into a synthetic stock featuring the Realtree Hillside camo pattern that provides concealment across a wide range of terrain and habitat types. Dual swivel studs on the fore-end enable attaching a sling and an accessory, such as a bipod, simultaneously. The butt end of the stock features a single swivel stud, a Crushzone recoil pad and a removable spacer to decrease the standard 14-inch length of pull to 13 inches for smaller shooters. Removing or adding the spacer is a simple process, but removing it first requires cutting the camo film at the front of the spacer to prevent tearing. Follow the detailed instructions in the owner’s manual for the best results.

The Cascade XT is available in a variety of calibers and chamberings, ranging from 6.5 Creedmoor to .450 Bushmaster. The standard barrel length is 22 inches; the 6.5 PRC, 7 mm Rem. Mag. and .300 Win. Mag. feature a 24-inch barrel. CVA plans to expand these offerings in the future.

The Cascade XT I received for review was chambered in 6.5 PRC, which is a favorite round of mine for Coues whitetail hunting. During my initial inspection, I found the fit and finish of the gun to be stellar. I installed the bolt and cycled it several times; it functioned smoothly. I inserted the flush-fit detachable box magazine, released it and then inserted it again. The magazine fit well into the stock and action, and the release located in front of the magazine was easy to manipulate with either hand.

I tested the trigger pull and estimated it to be approximately 3 pounds from the factory. Preferring a light trigger, I adjusted it—following the owner’s manual instructions—to about 2 pounds. Finally, I made a clockwise quarter-turn on the adjustment screw to ensure the threads were securely engaged.

Before mounting a riflescope, I verified that the Picatinny mounts were tightly fastened to the action with approximately 30 inch-pounds of torque. I mounted and leveled a Vortex Strike Eagle 3-18x44 mm riflescope using Vortex Pro Rings. Once the scope was positioned, I torqued the mounting hardware to the appropriate settings. I did not boresight the rifle and scope combo.

hunting rifle with scope
An extended bolt knob ensures fast and positive cycling should follow-up shots be necessary. (Photo by Darren Choate)

For the accuracy test, I arrived at the range at daybreak. The range elevation was approximately 2,500 feet. The ambient temperature was 54 degrees Fahrenheit with little wind. For the initial sight-in, I placed a target at 30 yards. After four shots and accompanying minor scope adjustments, the rifle and scope combination was sighted in at that distance. For the final sight-in, I placed a new target at 100 yards. One shot proved the rifle was already zeroed at 100 yards.




With the rifle zeroed, I fired three, three-shot groups of factory ammo from Federal and Hornady. I chronographed each load during the test. During my evaluation, the rifle performed flawlessly, and both ammo types were impressively accurate, producing three-shot groups well within CVA’s MOA guarantee.

hunting rifle with scope
Shipping the Cascade XT ready to accept an optic, CVA includes two Picatinny-style bases conveniently mounted on the rifle’s receiver. (Photo by Darren Choate)
test rifle set up
The test rifle proved to be exceptionally accurate, especially considering its retail price, turning in sub-MOA groups with two loads of factory 6.5 PRC ammunition. (Photo by Darren Choate)

The 70-degree bolt throw combined with the tactical knob made cycling the rifle smooth and easy. In the heat of the moment, while shooting at big game, this combo is a huge boon for hunters. That said, I have one suggestion. If using a throw lever on your riflescope’s magnification-adjustment ring, as I was with the Vortex Strike Eagle, ensure the throw lever does not interfere with the cycling of the bolt. Doing so will ensure speedier follow-up shots without acquiring busted knuckles.

The moderate weight and classic stock made the Cascade XT compact and maneuverable. With the Vortex scope and a Harris bipod mounted on the front swivel stud, the rifle still balanced well. As tested, the rifle weighed 10.6 pounds. However, without the attached bipod, the XT would have been a lightweight mountain rifle. With a front bipod and heavier optic, it can just as easily become a heftier rifle that further reduces recoil.

Recommended


There is a lot to like about this new rifle from CVA. The Realtree Hillside camo coupled with the graphite black Cerakote barrel finish gives the Cascade XT an appealing look. The stock’s SoftTouch finish combined with checkering on the fore-end and grip provide reliable handling. Conveniently positioned, the flush magazine release works well. And although it’s a minor feature, it’s still worth mentioning that the installed Picatinny mounts make it easy to install an optic.

Most importantly, I am impressed by the accuracy of the Cascade XT. I am a hunter and don’t claim to be a professional shooter or even close. Still, I was able to shoot sub-MOA groups with both ammo types I tested. True to CVA’s reputation, the Cascade XT provides hunters with both performance and value.

  • This article was featured in the August 2023 issue of Game & Fish Magazine. How to subscribe.
CVA Cascade XT
A second swivel stud on the fore-end enables hunters to attach both a sling and a bipod. (Photo courtesy of CVA)

CVA CASCADE XT SPECS

  • Info: cva.com
  • MSRP: $825.99
  • Type: bolt-action centerfire rifle
  • Caliber: 6.5 PRC (tested)
  • Barrel: 24"; 4140 steel with No. 5 taper, fluting, muzzle brake; graphite black Cerakote finish
  • Trigger: user-adjustable single stage; 2- to 4-lb. pull weight
  • Safety: two-position toggle
  • Magazine: detachable box; 3-round capacity
  • Sights: none; Picatinny bases included
  • Stock: synthetic with removeable spacer; 13" or 14" length of pull; Realtree Hillside finish
  • Overall Length: 44 1/2"
  • Weight: 7 1/4 lbs.

SHOOTING RESULTS

Load: Federal Fusion Bonded Soft Point
  • Bullet Weight: 140 grs.
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,764 fps
  • Average Group: 0.97"
Load: Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X
  • Bullet Weight: 143 grs.
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,761 fps
  • Average Group: 0.63"

Muzzle velocity is the average of three consecutive shots fired through a Caldwell G2 chronograph at 10 feet. Accuracy is the result of three consecutive, three-shot groups fired from a sandbag rest at 100 yards.

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