Hardware: CVA Cascade XT
CVA keeps making customers happy. With their leap forward in the precision Paramount series of muzzleloaders to their slide into the Cascade centerfire market, not to mention a plethora of muzzleloaders to fit any hunting scenario or budget, they keep delivering.
The Cascade rifle series includes the matte blue version, a Cerakote model and, released in 2021, the Cascade SB or short barrel. Make room. The engineers at CVA are adding another version to the lineup, the Cascade XT. What sets the XT apart? The CVA Cascade team added a heavier, fluted barrel for increased accuracy in a hunting rifle. Out of the box, the 6.5 Creedmoor shipped to me looked the part of a dependable hunting partner. The attributes were readily visible.
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As a team member in Bergara, CVA has access to Bergara’s famed barrels, and the XT uses a fluted, No. 5 taper carbon-steel barrel as the launching pad. A Cerakote graphite black finish protects the barrel. It is the heaviest barrel in the Cascade series. Nevertheless, CVA understands that you do not want to carry a boat anchor, so fluting equals weight savings while increasing precision capabilities. Rate of twist varies with the corresponding caliber. The 6.5 Creedmoor tested comes with a 1:8-inch right-hand rate of twist.
For fans of the suppressor trend, the barrel comes with a pre-threaded ⅝x24 muzzle. The .450 is threaded for ¹¹⁄₁₆x24. Although you do not get a suppressor with the XT (thanks ATF), CVA equips all XT rifles with a radial muzzle brake. Like a suppressor, a muzzle brake helps tame recoil, but unlike a suppressor, quality ear protection is advised as it increases decibels when shot.
The barrel length on the 6.5 Creedmoor is a comfortably spry 22 inches long making it compact enough to weave in and out of brush-country situations. Of course, it does not have quite the maneuverability of the Cascade Short Barrel, but it does not mimic the flailing of a long-barreled goose shotgun.
CVA understands the market demands ease in riflescope mounting and the Cascade XT delivers. It arrives with two Picatinny bases already installed. Choose your favorite rings and a scope for quick setup. I leveled and mounted a SIERRA6BDX 3-18x44mm riflescope in a matter of minutes with the factory installed bases. CVA also offers one-piece bases from their online accessory store.
One aspect that the CVA Cascade delivers on, XT version aside, is weight savings. The XT continues that trend weighing in at 7.25 pounds for the 6.5 Creedmoor test rifle I shot. It falls just outside the mountain rifle category for weight, but barely. After adding the SIERRA6 riflescope, my XT still weighed less than 8.5 pounds. That is a number I am comfortable with toting up any mountain. And to ensure you have the force behind you for your quarry, CVA offers the Cascade XT in eight calibers ranging from the versatile varmint caliber of .223 Remington to the pile driving .450 Bushmaster. In between you will find a selection of calibers to tackle everything from pronghorn to moose. Additional calibers include the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester, .300 Winchester Magnum and 350 Legend.
The free-floated stock is durable, like a coated truck bed. Constructed of synthetic and reinforced with fiberglass, the stock has the makings to withstand any bashing in the natural or truck cab environment you can give it. To guarantee a solid grip, CVA enhances the stock with what they call a SoftTouch finish. Checkering in the forearm and pistol grip enhances handling further. Those characters, combined with the lightweight character, make throwing the rifle to your cheek an easy and natural action.
An admirable trait of CVA’s Cascade series is the ability to adjust the stock to fit varying length-of-pull shooters. Regardless if you purchase the rifle for yourself, a youth or a female hunter, the buttstock of the XT has a built-in spacer to add or remove for LOP adjustability from 13 to 14 inches. The Crushzone recoil pad flexes just enough to absorb return energy from the shot of the 6.5 Creedmoor and although I did not test a larger caliber, it, combined with the muzzle brake, should team well to tame the beast. The recoil pad swaps easily while changing LOP.
A subtle, but pleasing feature is the addition of dual front swivel studs in the forearm. As a fan of the bipod, this allows you to attach a bipod separately from the sling, keeping the two separate for quick detachment or other tweaking as needed.
The XT’s one-piece action operates smoothly and I was impressed with the effortless 70-degree action throw. A short throw provides more scope leeway and faster cycling of another cartridge. A three-lug bolt combined with a sliding plate extractor perform the chores of cartridge insertion with purpose. A handy button at the rear of the action allows for easy removal of the bolt. The entire receiver is formed from 4140 carbon steel giving the working portion of the rifle a sturdy platform. The two-position safety is conveniently located forward of the pistol grip and affirms on and off with a reassuring click for operation. The single-stage trigger arrives from the factory set at 3 pounds with adjustability from 2 to 4 pounds.
For weight and presumably cost savings, the trigger guard, floorplate and magazine are a plastic composite. The removable four-cartridge magazine fits flush to the bottom of the stock and springs out surprisingly well with the simple press of a latch button. You can purchase a spare from CVA. Instead of adding a buttstock cartridge holder to a rifle, I prefer another loaded magazine ready to insert when extra cartridges are required quickly.
One of the most innovative elements of the XT is that CVA allows you to purchase the rifle and test it for 14 days to ensure the CVA guaranteed MOA is acceptable. Seems sensible to me.
• Type: bolt-action centerfire rifle
• Caliber: .223 Rem., 6.5 Creedmoor (tested), 6.5 PRC, 7mm Rem. Mag., .308 Win., .300 Win. Mag., 350 Legend, .450 Bushmaster
• Magazine: removable box; 4-rnd. capacity
• Barrel: 22″ (tested) -24″; No. 5 taper; fluted; button rifled; 1:8″ RH twist; threaded ⅝x24 w/radial muzzle brake
• Trigger: single stage; pull weight adjustable 2-4 lbs.
• Sights: none; two-piece Picatinny bases included
• Safety: two-position toggle
• Stock: straight comb; synthetic w/fiber-glass reinforcement; SoftTouch finish, Realtree Wav3X camo; LOP adjustable 13″-14″; dual front swivel studs
• Metal Finish: Cerakote graphite black
• Overall Length: 44″
• Weight: 7.25 lbs.
• Accessories: none
• MSRP: $799; cva.com
Article by MARK KAYSER