Read more at Mossberg: http://www.mossberg.com/category/series/mossberg-patriot/
Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=mossberg%20patriot
Editor’s note: A bolt action rifle in February? Absolutely. There’s no better time. There are clearly more relevant times, like just before the fall whitetail season, but this is the best time to buy a bolt gun. Most hunters are just now getting sick of venison in their chili. The gun stores have all cut the prices on the hunting guns they didn’t sell last fall, and GunsAmerica is full of kickass deals. Steals, really. And this Mossberg Patriot may be an even bigger steal as most people don’t associate the Mossberg name with rifles.
A Box Full of Promise
The last time we met at the range, my editor limped over and handed me a box that obviously contained a rifle. We often get to choose the guns that we review, but sometimes we’re selected because we are the best person for a particular gun. Occasionally we are handed a gun because someone fell off the ladder going up to their attic and can’t operate a shoulder-fired weapon currently… which is exactly what happened with this one.
As soon as I got the rifle home I began the unboxing process. Inside the box was a fresh Mossberg Patriot Bolt-Action Rifle in 30-06 Springfield. This one has thin, fluted barrel with a recessed crown. The action is set in a polymer stock. The Weaver mounting rails on either side of the chamber will be familiar to almost everyone. The action itself has a feed ramp for reliability, and the gun is runs from a detachable box magazine. The bolt has a spiral-flute bolt and two locking lugs.
All-told, this is a utilitarian hunting rifle. The 30-06 is a fantastic round for whitetail. The polymer stock is incredibly light. It is easy to carry, almost indestructible, and–as we’ll get to–it helps with the absorption of recoil. The box mag is useful, too, as it allows (if you have more than one) to carry a variety of different loads for different distances, or types of game.
This trigger reminded me more of a Glock trigger than that of a bolt-action hunting gun. I don’t mean that it’s made of plastic, but the safety release in the center of the trigger reminds me of a Glock. I quickly gave the trigger a couple of pulls, and it was noticeably light. I measured it at a consistent 2 lbs., 1 oz. with my digital trigger gauge. There was some creep to the pull, but nothing intolerable.
I topped the gun with a Leupold VX-2 3-9 X 40 scope and rings. While the 3-9 isn’t nearly enough to maximize the long range potential of the .30-06, it is ideal for the Ozarks, where I hunt. I very rarely get terrain that opens up beyond 300 yards, and most of the hunting we do is at close range.
After a little research, I was shocked to learn that the suggested retail price on this nicely-adorned hunting rifle was a mere $386. I think we all know that after the initial rush, the price of a new gun tends to come down considerably, especially for those of us who are dedicated shoppers. Even so, at full retail price this gun is a bargain if it can shoot anywhere close to as good as it looks.
|Sight||Weaver Style Bases|
|Barrel Finish||Matte Blued|
|Stock Finish||Synthetic (Black)|
On the Range
In preparation for a trip to the range with the Patriot, I selected several brands and weights of ammunition. I think it is important to let a rifle tell you what kind of ammunition it prefers. By taking multiple brands and types of ammunition, I was hoping to give the Patriot a plethora of sweet spots to choose from.
When I got to the range, I set my target up at 50 yards and gave it a quick bore sight. It took me about six rounds to align the point of aim with the point of impact. Once everything was in sync, I set out to try the rifle for accuracy. I decided that my methodology would be to fire no more than a total of six rounds before allowing the barrel to cool to the touch. There are some who would prefer to let the barrel cool between every shot–and that may be the most honest assessment. Pencil thin barrels are easy to carry, but heat up fast. This is a lightweight hunting rifle–not a heavy-barreled bench gun. Odds are you will only get one shot that really matters on a hunt. Maybe two.
I started off with some Hornady Reduced Recoil 125gr SST to establish a good baseline. The gun quickly demonstrated its ability for accuracy. I was able to consistently shoot 1 MOA groups from the bench–not a bad start at all. I switched to some heavier Wolf 180gr copper soft-point brass-cased ammunition, and the accuracy of my shots was greatly diminished. I’m still not sure whether this was an issue with ammunition quality, or with the weight of the bullet. The rifle was still producing accurate groups, but they were much wider than those shot with the lighter rounds.
This is where the box mag could come in useful. Sitting in a tree-stand, waiting for that trophy buck? Rack in a round you know will drop a deer when placed with precision. And if a sounder of swine should saunter out under the feeder, pack in the heavier Wolf rounds and try to pop off as many pigs as you can before their flight instinct wins out.
Let’s take a moment to discuss the Patriot’s recoil. I found the rifle to be light-recoiling, and not at all as punishing and I had expected. Some light 30-06 rifles kick hard, but the polymer in the stock must be flexing and absorbing some of the impact. And the butt pad is thick enough to take out the shock. I had somehow managed to forget my Caldwell lead sled, and was using a range bag in its stead. All told, the whole package seems ideally suited for the caliber, and wasn’t at all hard on the shooter.
Whenever I see a gun with a value price but a load of features, I always wonder, “Can they repeat this? Or is this configuration a one hit wonder?” Well, when it comes to the Patriot, Mossberg produces way more flavors than the mere 31 that Baskin-Robbins offers. I stopped counting at 60 different variants based on caliber, finish, stock and optics. That’s a lot of options for such a modestly-priced rifle!
My takeaway from all this is that this rifle deserves a look no matter what your application is for a bolt-action gun. Whether the environment is hunting or tactical, the Patriot must be seriously considered among the bolt-action candidates. This is coming from someone who’s always equated Mossberg strictly with shotguns: not any longer.
If you’re in the market for a rifle, can you spend more and get more than the Patriot offers? Certainly. Is this gun going to compete with guns at ten times the cost? I don’t think so. But is the Mossberg Patriot going to go toe-to-toe with rifles that cost twice as much? I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.