Mid last year, I spent quite a bit of time researching .30 cal bolt guns. Naturally the Remington 700 topped the list, and I checked a few others (Howa, Mossberg), but finally settled on the Marlin. Also settled on .30-06 rather than .308, since I had been concurrently stocking up on milsurp ammo from the CMP for my Garand. For $305 from Bud's, the XL7 was just too good a deal to not try, as the reviews have been pretty universally positive. Got my XL (XL is the long action, and XS is short action) in camo. First impression is that it's really light, a bit biased towards being nose heavy, and frankly the stock is kinda cheapy feeling. However, I like the stock's profile, with good texturing in the right places, and it has a substantial recoil pad. Bolt is very smooth operating. Trigger is fairly smooth and crisp. Rifle came with a one piece base. Mounted a Leupold VXI in 4-12 x 40 from SWFA. Loctited in the screws. Strangely, the front (of the 4) screws to mount the base would not bottom out, so it would contribute nothing to holding power -- so I left it out. Maybe a machining / threading aberration on my rifle, and I just didn't think it was worth messing with. The camo rifle and black scope look good together. Went out in the fall, and got it "on paper," but didn't spend further time sighting it in. Came home and cleaned it -- so no, I didn't do any special barrel break in. Today, went out again, set up a solid shooting bench, and went to work. Target was at 75 yards. I was shooting the Greek HXP mil surp FMJ ammo from CMP. Fired a total of 4 rounds to get it zeroed. And the good news .... at this range, I then put 7 rounds in the bull, ALL TOUCHING. Yeah, I know the range wasn't that far with the nice Leupold set at 12 power, but to put 7 rounds into a nickle size hole felt pretty dang good. Then I decided to fire a few rounds of hunting ammo. Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt PSP. Fired only 3 rounds, but this was about a 1.5" spread. I was very surprised and disappointed in that. I expected the milsurp to be less accurate. I believe the mil stuff is typically 168 grain (I'm sure someone will come along and correct that). Maybe the rifle just likes lighter rounds. I may try some 220 grain in the future, just for giggles. Recoil was very managable -- I fired a total of over 20 rounds in about an hour, and no issues or sore spots on the shoulder at all. The .30-06 certainly recoils with authority in that light rifle, but if felt great. I did notice quite a bit of muzzle jump with each shot, but again not too surprising in this light rifle. Trigger has one little slightly gritty spot in the middle of travel -- not bad, but I was looking for it, so that made it noticeable. Net, I'm an unequivocal fan of this rifle. You simply can't argue with the accuracy or the price. It's so light I wouldn't mind schlepping it through the woods, it swings nicely if you need to shoot it offhand, the bolt is exceptionally light moving and smooth, grip and profile fit me well, and it has a great recoil pad. I think I'll be buying an XS in .308 and having the barrel cut to 20" to make another nice handy package.