Mossberg has developed into a noteworthy force in the US for multiple firearm categories — Shotguns, ARs and bolt-action rifles. Some may be late arriving at this revelation having only been exposed to the familiar Mossberg shotguns. The Patriot Predator line from Mossberg is quickly making its mark has an affordable rifle that shoots like it’s custom made.
The recent introduction of the Patriot Predator in .308 (also chambered in .243 and 6.5 Creedmoor) caught my eye. The Predator model can trace its lineage to previous Mossberg Patriot products and MVP series of rifles. The Patriot Predator is comprised of Mossberg’s building blocks for accuracy and reliability. The bolt action/receiver has a button rifled barrel, LBA trigger, free-floated slim profile fluted 22″ threaded muzzle barrel — overall length is 42.25″. The synthetic stock features integral bedding block and free floated forend that assists in improving improve accuracy. Did I mention the Predator only weighs 6.5 pounds?
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Attention To Detail
A notable feature found on the Patriot Predator is the oversized bolt handle, which facilitates rapid and sure operation of the smooth Mossberg bolt. The oversize bolt and smooth passage of the bolt in the raceway allows for minimal disturbance of the rifle when the bolt is worked. A four- round polycarbonate detachable box magazine and Picatinny rail scope base over the receiver complete the Predator’s tale of the tape. All of these features serve to maximize the Mossberg bolt’s potential.
Many individuals, not to mention industry competitors, want you to believe the moderately priced Mossberg must somehow be deficient when compared to rifles costing two to three times more. The Mossberg Patriot Predator takes a back seat to no rifle in terms of repeatable accuracy, ergonomics, reliability, and trigger. Many misunderstandings surround the Mossberg bolt action, most attributed to ill-informed conjecture surrounding the floating bolt head and barrel nut arrangement. Many critics mistakenly label the Mossberg floating bolt head and barrel nut as strictly a cost-saving measures — versus an ingenious alternative method of producing accuracy without spending time and money on precise hand fitting. This offers ease of manufacturing that translates into better economics for Mossberg customers.
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The purpose of the floating bolt head is to allow the bolt’s locking lugs to line up independently from the bolt body. This eliminates any minor imperfections between the axis of the receiver and the axis of the bore. The Mossberg bolt finds its own “sweet” spot when it locks up due to the floating boat head behaving independently of the bolts main body.
This is a key component in achieving accuracy out of a bolt-action rifle. This also contributes to relieving any stress on the action from the barrel constantly exerting pressure downward due to gravity. Other types of bolt action rifles need the hands of a custom Smith to achieve this type of interface between bolt head and receiver. The Mossberg system enables a truly “free floated” barrel.
The second Mossberg attribute misconstrued solely as a cost-saving measure is the barrel nut. Almost perfect headspacing is achieved using the unique barrel nut method. Yes, production costs are reduced due to the chambering and headspacing being automated because of the barrel nut design. However, the design also contributes to trued barrel-to-receiver alignment negating any conflicting alignment from associated parts.
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The Mossberg LBA trigger is a huge part of the phenomenal accuracy to cost ratio factor derived from the Mossberg Patriot Predator. The LBA trigger is just as important to accuracy as the Mossberg bolt action and quality barrel. A rifle’s trigger is the interface between shooter and rifle. Mossberg’s desire is to give the shooter an enhanced trigger that is crisp, creep-free and fully adjustable between 2 and 7 lbs. From the box, it measured just below 4 lbs. Without going into minutia, the LBA’s distinctive “trigger blade” release lever in front of the trigger proper is the secret to maintaining minimal trigger weight, without creep, while keeping the system safe. The “trigger blade” must be activated (i.e. moved rearward into the trigger) before the sear will move firing the cartridge. A sudden drop or impact will not do this, even if the safety is off. This allows the LBA trigger to be adjusted by the user without having to resort to an armorer. The LBA’s contribution to precise accuracy can’t be overemphasized.
The 1:10 twist barrel gets the most out of the various wide-ranging .308 loads on the market i.e. 147-grain to 180-grain. A Leupold Mark IV 3.5-10×42 scope was mounted on the one-piece Picatinny rail via Leupold Mk IV rings. The Leupold Mk IV is still a favorite optic of mine even if newer glass is available on the market. It has the typical great Leupold reliability, clarity, and image quality with a near perfect variable power range for a .308 rifle. Mossberg made a sound decision to provide a Picatinny rail that optics can be mated right up to the action for a solid zero maintaining connection between rifle and optic.
Various .308 loadings from Black Hills Ammunition, SIG SAUER, Winchester, and Hornady provided the basis of accuracy tests. The Black Hills load tested consisted of 180-grain Accubond bullets. The SIG SAUER chambering was the 150-grain HT load. 165-grain SST from Hornady was also used.
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The Mossberg Predators 22″ barrel produced velocities in the low 2,500 feet per second (fps) range with the 180-grain load up to 2,880 fps with the 150-grain SIG HT load. The Mossberg Predator produced 3 shot groups ranging from ¾ to 2″. The accuracy figures are based on firing five three-round groups and averaging group sizes. Three round groups were considered more realistic from the thin profile barrel.
Steel and paper targets were engaged with ease out to 250 yards using field expedient rests at Echo Valley Training Center’s Range #1 stepped berm including prone supported by a pack. The Mossberg Patriot Predator performed equal or better as other rifles tested costing significantly more. The Mossberg Patriot Predator is not a compromise candidate in terms of performance — a user will benefit from selecting it by having funds left in the budget for optics, ammunition and other gear.
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