Purchased a Ruger American and will be doing a comparison between it and the Marlin XL7, both in 30-06 and publish later this spring or early summer my findings.
MarLin XL7 30-06
Ruger American 30-06
I am neutral concerning both rifles and will give them a fair going over and represent the facts. It is hard to get bug holes with a 30-06 of any kind but you can get real good to better than hunting accuracy, but I will be looking at the use of the whole system as a rifle and its over all function as a total. Any rifle has something another rifle doesn't but the rifle as an over all system as a hunting tool will be the determining factor for the final and total grade.
I bought the two rifles to run honest and fair tests using my reloading skills along with my shooting skills and using my experience of carrying rifles in the field on spot and stalk hunts all day for days at a time to determine the most suitable carry rifle between the two. I want to get a real world look for myself. I do not have a favorite to start out with and I don't care which one in the end wins and no body is paying me to do this (I bought these with my own money) - so I don't care what the manufactures think, I will draw my own conclusions.
I want to distinguish between the two rifles not only accuracy wise, but every thing from the one that likes the heavy bullets and the one that likes the lighter bullets for .308 caliber to the following: I will also consider fit and finish, function, bedding, style and looks, handling and balance and many other things. This will take time but I will lay out my plan to approach the rifles and then provide a tally sheet in the end.
I am under no delusion in reference to what I have purchased. I will say though that entry level rifles today are as accurate as the majority of custom rifles I had made in the early 80's and that says a lot. Those of us who have lived a while, hunted with, loaded for and shot guns from the past know that what we get for the buck spent today is a better value. Most entry level guns today are not trash and junk, especially when you consider what you get for the dollar spent.
I think the average guy who does not have a lot of bucks to spend can own an entry level rifle today and be proud of what he has and can kill a lot of game due to the accuracy achieved by entry level rifles. I have owned the high dollar custom rifles and high dollar factory rifles, and still own some of them, and the truth is in a hunting rifle (not bench or competition which no hunting rifle will ever be no matter how much you paid for it) there is not to much difference in the high dollar hunting rifle accuracy of today and the entry level accuracy. Both are certainly very acceptable hunting accuracy.
In fact there is not a single hunt I have been on through the years of hunting, that I could not have taken one of these two rifles and done the job pretty much the same, give or take a few circumstances. On top of that, I have the added benefit that if I fell off a ledge and landed on one of these rifles like I did with a fine custom and ruined it and the scope, I have not lost what cannot be easily replaced. Today a fancy and expensive custom or factory rifle when hunting does not give a great deal of advantage over the entry level rifles of today. If it makes a man feel like he is a better hunter because he has a rifle he can say "look at what I have" then buy the thing, but don't assume it will really make a man a better hunter or better shot.
I have lived among the hunting elite on leases costing 10,000 dollars a year as yearly guest (my friend was the president of the club) and the pressure to own the best rifle to fit in and I have discovered how much of a fool I was for buying into it and the bull all that stuff really is - so I hope the guy who does not have a lot to spend like me gains a great deal from my efforts to compare these rifles. Also, that the average guy can realizes that in these entry level rifles he can get the job done just the same as the guy with the Hot Dog Fancy Custom Rifle or Expensive Factory rifle and maybe much better, because he does not have to nurse his entry level rifle and baby it so it will keep looking good - he can actually hunt and hunt hard.
Also, I would not buy an entry level rifle for the purpose of ever tweaking it. Why, buy it for any custom work at all when it is cheaper to replace the entry level rilfe than to have most custom work done on a Rem 700 or any upper level rifle. The reason I do not want to try the Edge/Axis is their poor trigger and the Remington is not anything the Marlin XL7 is not and I get a good trigger in the Marlin and an outstanding trigger in the Ruger American. Those who buy an entry level rifle outside of falling off a ledge like I did and ruining the rifle, will more than likely not wear it out in their life time of hunting, because they do not use their hunting rifles (most don't - excluding me) for range rifles.
What is really going to be funny is if I get small consistent groups out of these two rifle from my handloads, and if so, that pretty much says it all. Now some might like to drive a BMW and I like my Chevys and Fords and guess what, we all get to where we are going, but if one feels it looks better feels better then by all means get the BMW, but whatever you do don't follow my four wheel drive pick up truck when I leave the smooth highways and head out through the dirty, muddy tough stuff and expect that nice BMW to ever look quit the same. You get in the mountains for 6 and 7 days of humping it or threading through a swamp and think that pretty rifle will not come back looking different, it will only be because you stayed in your tent or at camp and played with your new smart phone.