Stuart Wilson finds that ‘good things often come in small packages’ as he gets to grips with a newly calibred American hero – this week’s Gun of the Week, the Mossberg Patriot Predator.
Mossberg has been making guns for over 100 years, with O.F Mossberg & Sons founded back in 1919. The first one I ever used was the Model 500 shotgun, and this remains one of Mossberg’s most popular lines.
In recent years rifles offered by Mossberg have started to garner a solid following in the US, something that will surely follow more in the UK. I have already reviewed one of the chassis-based varmint weapons, the MVP-LC in .223Rem, so I am more than happy to be having a look at the Patriot Predator in .308 Win.
Opening the box reveals a dark earth coloured stock, with a matt finished barrel and action. After a standard safety check of chamber and magazine – you should always do this – I was keen to size the rile up and shoulder it; this will quickly show any areas that may need adjustment.
As this rifle is fixed stock, everything popped into the shoulder nicely. Invariably I perform the first shouldering with my eyes closed, hoping to open up to see a good height from the cheek weld and also nice and straight down the action – all was well.
The Mossberg Patriot Predator’s synthetic stock is a perfect choice for UK weather, for stalking or foxing, and whilst some might think .308Win is a little over gunned for foxing, it is perfect for opportune foxes whilst stalking and for when the wind would shuttle a lighter bullet around too much.
The moulded stock has a length of pull at 14” which is perfect for myself and most other shooters. The soft, grippy rubber butt pad offers all the grip, hold and recoil reduction you need, on pressing the butt pad you will feel some solid ridges within the pad spaced out with softer squishy sections, almost like a sealed ventilated pad, and the fit is pretty good to the end of the stock.
The overall finish of the stock is slightly textured, offering good grip and a matt finish. The shooter’s grip is further enhanced by the pistol grip and forend textured panels, bordered with a single chequer line – the interior of these panels are a stippled type texture, so the grip is very secure.
The pistol grip is swept back, but still presents the trigger finger comfortably to the trigger; this is housed and protected by the integrally moulded trigger guard. Front and rear sling swivels allow a bipod to be mounted up front, making for a neat and simple stock design.
The moulding shows some lines from the various joins within the mould body, and a few seams are visible and high enough to be felt by hand. Inside the trigger guard a slightly larger ‘nib’ is present, but is well out of the way. I only mention it in passing, and unless you are ruled by a compulsive desire to smooth minor manufacturing marks, it will go unnoticed.
Review calibre: .308Win
Overall length: 1080mm/42.5”
Barrel length: 560mm/22”
Length of pull: 355mm/14”
Weight: 3kg/6lbs 9oz
Trigger pull weight: 3.5lbs
The magazine well has a black liner, which holds the retention clip and release catch, and is both positive and very easy to use, there’s no struggling to insert or remove the magazine.
When the recessed release catch is pulled, the magazine drops cleanly into the hand, and – when fully inserted – the bottom of the magazine sits just proud of the bottom of the stock, neatly showing off the Mossberg logo.
The magazine holds five rounds, with the specification on the website listing 5+1, meaning a chambered round. Personally I would always just run with the five in the magazine, leaving the chamber empty until you are actively hunting, then when unloading the rifle for obstacles, or climbing into high seats, you simply eject the chambered round and reload it into the magazine before safely stowing the magazine in your pocket until it is safe to reload, which means you aren’t trying to manage one loose round. In my opinion, this is best practice, and the cleanest way to use the rifle.
The magazine is double stacked, feeding nicely, and loading easily. With nearly full plastic construction, it offers a robust magazine, whilst some question the durability of plastic magazine, I can assure you they don’t bend and stay bent, and they don’t dent when dropped, take my word for it (please don’t test it yourself).
I also think plastic magazines are quieter in operation, both in the rifle and when the mag is stowed in a pocket, they just don’t seem to chink as much.
The barrel of the Mossberg Patriot Predator measures 22”, a good useable length, plenty of length to get good velocities from most ammunition, whilst remaining quite compact, and the shorter length is always helpful for maintaining rigidity and staying compact, the gains will be evident in accuracy, consistency, and keeping the centre of gravity better balanced when a moderator is undoubtedly added by any stalkers.
The barrel is probably best described as a light varmint profile, with six 9” flutes running from the end of the forend area up to a couple of inches from the muzzle; fluting offers several advantages, saving some weight, adding more surface area to enhance cooling, and giving any rifle a slightly custom, or maybe just upgraded feel.
A small flare at the end of the barrel leaves a larger shoulder for the factory thread, 5/8 x 24 tpi, allowing the shooter to choose an additional muzzle brake or moderator. In the UK, a moderator is almost obligatory for hunting, with some organisations making then mandatory.
The twist rate for the .308Win is 1 in 10”, this seems to be becoming more standard than 1 in 12”, as the slightly faster twist will handle heavier bullets, and the barrel is manufactured using tried and tested button rifling – shoot it in carefully and it will give years of service.
The crown is slightly recessed and, with the knurled thread cap, it sits nicely protected with the matt blued finish covering all of the barrel including the crown area.
The barrel is fastened into the action using a smooth barrel nut. These barrel nuts offer a nice solution to the difficulty of machining barrel and action to mate perfectly and give the correct head space.
They effectively allows for an adjustable fit, moreover allowing adjustments in thousands of an inch. It looks neat and continues the profile of the action and recoil lug, then tapering off to leave a small step down to the barrel.
The action is a twin lug design, which does mean the bolt handle throws through 90 degrees. When closed, the bolt handle seats deeply and, when open, it is fairly high – care would be needed when mounting any night vision, but the action does come with an installed full length weaver rail, which does help to raise the mounts for clearance.
The weaver rail attaches to the action with four set screws, two front, two rear, and has nice matt finish, sitting on top of the stepped action, providing a solid base for your optical mounts.
If I was giving the rifle a longer term test, I would pop this rail off, degrease and set the rail back down with a small amount of lacquer, just to bed everything down and stop any moisture ingress.
Curiosity got the better of me, and I had to pop the action out of the stock, revealing the magazine housing which performs the job of bedding between the action and the stock, a solid profiled front to seat behind the recoil lug, and a V-type pillar at the rear. I was pleasantly surprised at the layout; quite a neat solution to providing a consistent bed on a mass-produced rifle.
The bolt is probably the most striking thing when you first see the Patriot Predator. There’s spiral fluting on the bolt – silver tops with blacked grooves – which as well as being aesthetically pleasing, also allows the bolt to run very smoothly because of the reduced friction. This also allows any dirt or grit, that may jam a standard bolt, somewhere to go, keeping the action cycling.
The bolt face provides a recess for the cartridge case, with the extractor sliding in one of the bolt lugs, and the ejector running as a spring-loaded plunger inside the bolt face.
Closer inspection shows the bolt head is separate to the main bolt body, attached with a cross pin – another simple solution to producing rifles of different calibre with the various bolt faces. The bolt handle is sturdy, solid, and tactical in both appearance and in operation, and whilst adding some weight, it will doubtless provide years of use in the field.
The bolt release is to the left of the action at the rear, a small button tucked out of the way. At the right side of the rear of the action is the safety catch, a very simple two position catch, forward for fire, rearwards for safe, with a clear red spot showing when the catch is live. The bolt remains unlocked even when the safety is engaged, allowing the rifle to be unloaded safely, simply and easily.
The Mossberg LBA trademarked trigger, (Lightning Bolt Action) is Mossberg’s answer to a safe two-stage hunting trigger, with adjustability from 2lbs to 7lbs, whilst offering excellent safety; the neat curved blade houses the central blade, complete with its lighting icon lasered out of the middle.
This test rifle’s trigger broke cleanly at just over 3lbs, not the finest trigger I have ever used and I would perhaps tune it down a little, but perfectly serviceable and very little creep or over travel.
The zeroing session out in the fresh air was a welcome break from being stuck inside, and I slipped a scope from the shelf that was already in a set of mounts. Two screw turns, and a couple of rounds at 50 yards pulled a satisfactory zero to pop the target board out to 100 yards.
I am limited to one choice of ammunition – Sako 123gr Gameheads, my go to round for .308Win at the moment, covering farmland roe stalking and opportune foxes.
With only one option for ammunition, it was going to be a ‘like it or lump it’ situation, and the first five shot group out of the Predator printed just over 1.5 inches.
I gave the rifle a quick pull through, and settled into the stock, with the rifle supported on a bipod and rear bag, quickly improving the group and tightening it to just over an inch. I was satisfied with the accuracy, and given a fair choice of ammunition, or home loads, I reckon the accuracy could be improved.
I do like using the 123gr Gameheads because of their flatter trajectory out to 200 yards. The rifle gives a good audible account of itself without a moderator – I just couldn’t get a thread to match the factory threaded 5/8 x 24 tpi, something else that would no doubt tighten the grouping as well.
The Mossberg Patriot Predator .308Win would ideally suit stalking duties, with the capability to deal with roe, red, fallow and sika, and even with the addition of a moderator would still remain compact and light enough for pretty much any woodland, highseat or hill stalking role.
I think the .243Win model could be a really good seller in the UK, fitting the bill of both foxing and stalking, and paired with a good muzzle mounted moderator would no doubt be very popular.
Hunt it down
Mossberg Patriot Predator (.308Win):
01423 780 810
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