I’ve spent nearly a decade and thousands of rounds trying to identify the Ultimate Texas Hunting Rifle. For most of my life, it’s been a Ruger M77 Mark II in .243 WIN. Last year, I hacked four inches off the barrel, screwed on a silencer and fitted the stock with a cheek riser. It felt as if my rifle had been transformed. Suddenly, it was easier to get in and out of a blind, quieter and easier to bring to my eye. The issue: sub 100 grain 6mm pills need velocity to do their work; cutting off that much barrel took a toll. To find the next great thing, I started sniffing around and found the Mossberg MVP LR-T . . .
After a season of not beating my muzzle against the walls of my blind or the interior of my truck, I found that I rather liked the short barrel on my current hunting rifle. With its barrel reduced to a barely legal 16.25 inches, the MVP was nearly two inches shorter in length that my go-to rifle. Last year, I also grew quite fond of shedding hearing protection, so the threaded muzzle standard on the MVP caught my eye.
I’ve always admired the simplicity and reliability that a bolt gun brings to the table. But my various AR-15s have reinforced the adage that only drowning men have too much ammo. My go-to rifle feeds from an internal magazine. The MVP feeds from commonly available SR-25 pattern magazines which boast up to 20-round capacity — perfect for making sure there’s enough lead medicine on board.
With the hog population in Texas trending pretty closely to the number of Californian transplants in Austin, there’s a very high likelihood that any hunting rifle of mine would have the business end pointed at a very large, tough animal. While I have a lot of faith in the 6mm 80 grain solid copper TTSX from Barnes, there’s no replacement for displacement.
The MVP comes in .308 WIN; I can send anything from 125 grains up to 180+ downrange. The LR-T comes with a fairly fast 1:10 barrel optimized for the heavier bullets — a necessary concession when sacrificing velocity at the altar of barrel length. Given the above characteristics and chambering, the LR-T checked every box. Literally.
While Mossberg has never brought to mind bespoke craftsmanship, the LR-T is well finished — miles ahead of the Ruger American Rifle I tested last year — with no obvious machining marks, gouges or rough edges. The controls all work well, though there’s a bit of grit in the movement of everything from the bolt to the safety.
Staring at the muzzle end of the LR-T, you’ll notice two things. First, the muzzle is threaded, factory-equipped with a thread protector. Second, there’s a very bright fiber optic sight nestled right where the threading ends.
Purists can shoot this rifle straight out of the box without an optic. The LR-T’s sight radius is a bit shorter than might be desired (the fully adjustable rear sight sits in front of the receiver), but the sights are very quick and intuitive, great for point shooting. I’ve never been a huge fan of notch and post style irons, but this set seems to work well. Sans scope, I never had issues hitting vital zone sized steel plates at football field lengths, thanks to the crisp picture and bright orange dot.
Moving back from the muzzle down the fairly beefy sixteen inch barrel, you’ll notice an OD green stock with a fairly tall flat forend. The sandy, grippy texture covering the stock was initially offputting but grew on me very quickly. (Not literally.) Elements damned; the all-composite stock won’t flex or twist and you’ll have a solid grip should nature conspire against you. The LR-T’s flat forend is great off bags or barriers. It features two sling studs, one for a bipod, the other for a sling. I’m normally one to harp on factory composite stocks, but the LR-T’s is easily the most rigid and solid stock I’ve ever tested.
Further engendering warm feelings of love, I bring your attention to the butt end. (Stifle yourself!) You can raise or lower the LR-T’s adjustable cheekpiece to accommodate your choice of optic. At the lowest setting — or a touch up for those with oddly shaped faces — it’s perfect for irons-only usage. Slap a large objective scope like a Bushnell DMR on the rail and there’s still enough travel to optimize eye position in a high set of rings.
I would’ve preferred a bit more vertical palm swell, but I wasn’t put out by the more traditional angle of the stock. This is a gun that’s meant to be shot offhand or braced against a barrier, so a perfectly vertical palm swell wouldn’t be right. But still, nits need picking.
A stout receiver with a Picatinny rail — screwed to the top for mounting the optic of your choice — nestles between the LR-T’s butt and the muzzle. The magazine feeding system sets the MVP line apart from many of its competitors. Mossberg has designed the magazine well and bolt to work with large format PMAGs. I used both the ten-rounder that ships with the gun along with some twenty-round mags malingering around the shop. They all fed as reliably as a hungry baby.
Extracting the spent casings was a breeze. Try as I might, I couldn’t convince the MVP magazine system to fail. Mossie’s laid out the LR-T’s controls logically; like the ubiquitous Remington 700, the LR-T’s safety sits on the right side of the gun. Southpaws might have issues reaching around the back of the bolt to disengage the safety, but then they are the devil’s spawn.
The LR-T’s trigger is unremarkable, save for its fairly light weight. Mossberg claims it’s adjustable from three to seven pounds Mine broke fairly consistently at 2.5 lbs. While that’s light for a tactical or hunting rifle, I’ve always run light triggers in my hunting rifles. So no complaints here. (Your adjustment may vary.)
Like the majority of their competitors, Mossberg has fitted the LR-T with a crisp trigger with a safety bar (a trend started by Savage). The set-up will never be as good as an aftermarket item, but it’s a damn sight better than anything turned out by a major manufacturer a decade ago. Takeup is almost nonexistent with just a touch of creep. You’ll only really notice it if you go prone and take your time, or close your eyes and dry fire it while you’re writing a review. In practical shooting situations, it’s no an issue. There’s a firm wall past that point (again, stifle). The trigger breaks cleanly with only a hint of overtravel.
The LR-T’s stock’s length of pull is a bit short for prone shooting, making accuracy testing on paper a bit of a chore. This is a gun that’s most at home shouldered offhand, shot off the hood of a truck (remembering to clear the hood by a large margin) or held firmly against a fence post. Don’t let the word “tactical” in the description fool you. The Mossberg LR-T is a proper hunting rifle for the man or woman on the move. With the arrival of this rifle well past hunting season, and no hogs to be found at the family ranch, I settled for the next best thing: nutria at the stock tank.
We’ve had a recent infestation, and beyond looking ugly, they do a number on the local flora and fauna. So like the feral pigs, they have been elevated to “shoot on sight” status. And shoot on sight I did. A few minutes after rolling up to the stock tank, one broke the surface of the water. I picked him up on the move. The next time he surfaced, I ended his rapscallion ways with a 168 gr Eagle Eye projectile. With a confirmed kill on the books, I can declare it a proper hunting rifle and move on to the part TTAG readers relish: accuracy.
Frankly, I was disappointed. I’ve become so spoiled on today’s bolt guns shooting sub-MOA I half expected the Mossy to fall in line. No matter what ammo I tried, I could never get the LR-T to do anything but toe the 1 MOA line. In fact, the Mossberg boltie kept throwing fliers, even with quality match ammo. After a frustrating afternoon of shooting for groups, I picked the gun up by the scope and felt a barely perceptible wiggle. Popping the scope off revealed that all four screws holding the Picatinny base to the receiver were no more than hand tight.
Liberal cursing and the application of proper torque spec, and I found myself out of the good stuff for testing and a deadline to hit. I shot a few more groups, and noticed that ye ole Mossy still shot about the same. I reliably saw about 3 MOA with cheap plinking ammo from the likes of Tul and PMC Bronze with most match grade ammo in the 168 to 175 grain shooting sub 2 MOA. Norma factory 168 gr seemed to be the pet load turning in reliable 1.1 to 1.3 MOA five shot groups with a hot, dirty barrel.
Keep in mind that I don’t make it a practice to clean test guns prior to firing and I regularly do my accuracy testing on hot, dirty barrels. I’m certain that with enough coaxing, this rifle could break the 1 MOA barrier. In working guns, I’m more interested in the other 95 percent of the time. In those types of situations, I think you could count on the LR-T being a 1.5 MOA gun with good quality ammo. Moss berg’s graciously allowed me to hand onto the gun for a few more months; it’s destined to assist my Reloading for Dummies research.
A final note on testing. You’ll notice in the pictures that there’s a silencer screwed to the end of the barrel for most shots. Not surprisingly, a sixteen inch barreled .308 is LOUD without a silencer. Equally, the muzzle blast is punishing for the shooter and any spectators. Once I found a load that shot pretty well through the silenced gun, I screwed the can off to see if accuracy changed. It did not. Back went the can and there it stayed for the rest of my testing to keep my neighbors and sinuses happy.
Was I happy with he LR-T? It’s a fantastic rifle for filling a very specific niche: a workhorse, do-it-all rifle. Yes, I wish it turned out better accuracy, but a certain dose of reality is necessary. At 300 yards — the maximum range I think anyone would use this gun and still be able to call themselves ethical — the difference between 1 MOA and 2 MOA is 3 inches. That’s still minute of vital zone and there’s no indication that with good quality hunting ammo, this rifle wouldn’t be “accurate enough” for hunting.
Add in the fact that you can screw a silencer to the end and the option to run irons or an optic comfortably, and you have a really good rifle on your hands that’s chambered in America’s favorite full power rifle load. If you’re willing to give Magpul some money, you can load it up with 20+1 rounds of medicine for everything from river rats to corn fed sows. So, mission accomplished, at an affordable price.
Mossberg MVP LR-T
- Caliber: 7.62mm NATO (.308 WIN)
- Capacity: 10+1 with factory PMAG – higher capacity options avialable
- Barrel Type: Medium Bull
- Muzzle: Threaded 5/8″-24
- Barrel Length: 16.25″
- Twist 1:10
- Sights: Dovetail with fiber optic front sight
- LOP: Fixed @ 13.25″
- Barrel Finish: Matte Blued
- Stock Finish: Green Textured – Adj Comb
- Weight 7.5 pounds (7.4 on my scale)
- Overall Length: 35.75″
- Price: $945 MSRP — street prices hover around $700
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Fit and Finish * * * *
On the positive side, the stock is as stiff as a 2×6 laid on edge and the parts are brick sh*t house solid. On the negative sides, the scope rail arrived loose from the factory. Had that not been the case, the LR-T would have easily achieved five stars.
Accuracy * * *
The LR-T shoots well with match grade ammo, but nowhere near where as well as the rest of the market. Go downmarket in ammo selection and the groups open up considerably. Expect anything from 2-3 MOA from Winchester white box, PMC Bronze, and Tul.
Function * * * * *
This is a working gun from muzzle to butt. It will do an admirable job as a walking and stalking gun. It would be just as happy in the back of a patrol car as in the deer stand on opening morning. Add in the ability to load it up with 20 + 1 and you have a potent and powerful rifle in your hands.
Value * * * *
The LR-T is one of the best bang for the buck rifles you can buy. It has everything you’re looking for in a .308 hunting rifle, from a robust quality stock to silencer-ready barrel threading. The ability to feed common/affordable magazines is a big bonus. You can run it with irons only or pop a scope atop the Picatinny rail, and adjust the stock comb to match. All this for a $700 street price. Remarkable.
Overall Rating * * * *
A bit more QC and better accuracy and the LR-T would be a phenomenal firearm. But make no mistake: the LR-T does what it should and a little bit more at an extremely affordable price.