On a late May black bear hunt in northern Alberta I had the chance to field test a version of Mossberg’s new Patriot rifle. Prior to flying north I spent a fair amount of time with this gun on the range. The results were pretty impressive.
“Mossberg has been in the production rifle business for about 12 years,” Linda Powell, Mossberg’s Director of media relations, told me in camp. “Even though we are one of the top-selling rifle companies out there, one of the items lacking from our line was a classic-style hunting rifle. So the Patriot is the culmination of our past bolt actions. From those earlier rifles we learned a lot about what consumers like. And so, we took the best of those rifles into the new platform that features a redesigned and streamlined bolt handle, bolt knob, and classic-style stock. The result is a large family of 63 different versions of the same basic rifle that come with a Weaver-style base. They’re available with classic walnut, modern synthetic, and durable wood laminate stocks, with choice of matte blue, or weather-resistant marine coat metalwork in 11 different caliber choices from .22-250 to .375 Ruger — a first for Mossberg. The line also includes youth models and a line that comes complete with Weaver-style scope rings and a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×40 riflescope.”
Some key general features include a 22-inch free-floated, straight fluted barrels — “We selected 22-inch barrels because this produces a more balanced hunting rifle and, essentially, this is the barrel length that most of today’s consumers ask for,” Powell said — Mossberg’s LBA (Lightning Bolt Action) adjustable trigger system that adjusts from 2-7 lbs., a fluted bolt, and the bolt handle has been re-engineered to change the angle of the bolt slightly, which provides proper clearance for people who have large hands or when wearing gloves, preventing accidentally lifting the bolt out of battery. All come with a detachable box magazine. The .375 Ruger version is unique to the line in that it comes with a non-fluted barrel and iron sights.
The stocks were designed to incorporate the classic features found on many popular hunting rifles for decades. The feature textured stippling on the grip and 3 surface areas of the fore-end, as well as a straight comb with rounded edges on the cheek piece.
“Now Mossberg has narrowed our rifle lines to two basic families, the Patriot and also the MVP line, introduced back in 2011 and a line that features AR-compatible magazines,” Powell said. “The difference between the two is a completely different option with the AR magazines, which at the time was a breakthrough concept and design. We see the Patriot as a classic hunting rifle, while the MVP is more of versatile platform with many different options.”
For dealers, the price point is right in the sweet spot, with MSRPs as follows: Patriot rifles, Scoped Combos, Deer Thug Scoped Combos, Bantam and Super Bantam, $386 – $584; Patriot Vortex Optics Scoped Combos, $552; and Patriot Night Train Tactical Rifles, $634 – $811. Only right-handed versions are currently available.
As the world’s largest maker of pump-action shotguns — according to the company, Mossberg is 45 percent larger than the No. 2 shotgun maker and owns 31 percent of the U.S. shotgun market — the company is hoping that the Patriot launch will show both dealers and consumers the company is much more than just a shotgun brand. “Initially our dealers told us that one of the things we needed to provide them was the Vortex scope combo in both a synthetic and a wood stock combination, and that if we did they would be able to sell them as fast as we could provide them,” Powell said. “So far, the initial acceptance of this combo by dealers has been very strong. Also, since we discontinued our 4X4 and ATR lines, we’ve rolled all production efforts into the Patriot family, so there is no trouble at all for us to deliver all Patriot SKUs to dealers on time with no backorder issues.
“Also, when most companies introduce a new product line they come out a limited number of SKU’s as they test the waters to see if it will sell. Mossberg is so confident that the Patriot will be a big seller that they came out with 63 SKU’s,” Powell said. Patriot rifles are all-American made at the company’s shop in Eagle Pass, Texas which opened back in 1989 and underwent a 120,000 square foot expansion in 2014.
My test Patriot was the classic wood stocked version chambered for .30-06 and topped with a Swarovski Z6i 1.7-10×42 Gen-2 4A1 riflescope. On the range I fed it 7 different factory loads, 2 of which produced mediocre 3-shot groups of 2 1/2 inches, while the other 5 loads yielded groups ranging from 1-1 ¾-inches. On my black bear hunt I used Hornady’s new Full Boar load featuring the 165-grain GMX bullet, which grouped very well and knocked the stuffing out of two very large bruins.
For a complete list of available models and more information, visit mossberg.com.