I’ve just returned from a prairie rat shoot in Wyoming where I had the opportunity to shoot all the new Mossberg guns that debuted earlier this year. In case you haven’t noticed, this North Haven-based company known for providing value-priced guns to price-conscious hunters and shooters is making a move.
To be honest, in the past you just didn’t mention Mossberg’s 4×4 centerfire rifle (an obtuse moniker that to this day I’ve never understood!), in the same sentence with the Remington 700, Winchester Model 70, or Ruger M77. But times are changing. Gone is the entire 4×4 line, and in its place are the Patriot and the MVP lines, the latter being the only bolt-action rifle compatible with standard AR magazines.
It may come as a surprise to many that Mossberg, founded in 1919, is the oldest and largest family-owned U. S. firearms manufacturer, and having produced over 10 million Model 500s, is the world’s largest pump-action shotgun manufacturer. They are also the second largest exporter of rifles and are represented in 85 countries worldwide.
Anyway, for a flagship rifle the Patriot is now what it could have been all along, even though the changes made were almost entirely cosmetic. Thankfully they have deep sixed the hokey Monte Carlo stocks of the 4×4 line and replaced them with a good-looking rendering of a straight comb classic. The unique bedding system of the 4×4, however, remains unchanged in that it is a one-piece polymer bedding platform for the receiver that also serves as the housing for the detachable magazine. This bedding chassis, if you will, simply drops down into the stock and is not permanently mated to it. This same sub-assembly is found in all three stock compositions offered in the Patriot — an injection molded synthetic, a traditional walnut stock, and a wood laminate. The one-piece polycarbonate magazine, which fits absolutely flush with the belly of the stock, is an excellent one; it’s feather light, virtually indestructible, and one of the easiest to charge I’ve ever encountered. The medium sporter-weight barrel is fluted, and the bolt body is spiral fluted — two features that are both functional and cosmetically distinctive. Also new with the Patriot is that the .375 Ruger chambering has been added to the caliber lineup, a first for Mossberg and a step that bestows true big game credibility to the line.
The Patriot is offered in 11 calibers with prices ranging from $386 for the synthetic stocked version, to $584 for the black/gray wood laminate.
The two new models I spent most of my time with on the aforementioned rat shoot were in Mossberg’s MVP line — the LR (Long Range) and LC (Light Chassis). When initially offered a couple of years back, MVP stood for Mossberg Varmint/Predator, but today the line has morphed well beyond that. Both guns are based on the Patriot action and are available in .223/5.56 and .308 Win. Where they differ from the Patriot is in their extended, tactical-style bolt handles and the fact they are fed with AR-type magazines.
The LC consists of a 16-1/4-inch medium bull barrel in the .223 persuasion, and an 18-1/2-inch spout in .308. Both come standard with a removable SilencerCo muzzlebrake and threaded cap for those who’d rather not. The receiver is bedded in a V-Block that’s integral with the aluminum chassis and to which is attached a removable Harris-type bipod. A pre-installed 13-position Picky rail is also standard. The buttstock is a MagPul mil-spec adjustable for length of pull. The .223 version that I used for the first day’s shooting was the Scoped Combo version which comes with a pre-mounted Vortex 4-16×44 scope. So equipped, it weighed 10 lbs., 2 oz.
The other new offering that I used on day two was the Long Range iteration, also in .223. It’s a benchrest-style synthetic stock with an adjustable comb and a 20-inch fluted barrel of medium bull contour. It, too, was equipped with a Vortex scope.
The rather stout barrels on both guns produced groups averaging around one inch during our short sight-in sessions using Federal’s American Eagle 50-grain JHP ammo, which is saying something because that’s Federal’s promotional fodder. I would expect their Premium offerings to do even better.
With Mossberg’s new Patriot and MVP lines I also expect the company to be viewed in a different light by consumers who heretofore considered them as strictly entry-level firearms.–Jon R. Sundra