Mossberg’s reputation has long been built on offering functional, reliable firearms at inexpensive prices. Like most shooters, I’ve had more than a few of their shotguns, and you’ll find a 500 in my truck at all times. They’re good working guns. Building on that well-earned reputation, Mossberg has released their budget bolt-action rifle, the Patriot Predator in a series of calibers.
The rifle for this review came chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. I was particularly happy to see the 22-inch fluted barrel end in a thread protector, hiding the suppressor-ready muzzle. If you were a horrible person who hates America, I guess you could screw a muzzle brake on it instead of a silencer. The barrel has a matte Cerakoted finish. It looks fine, right up to the end. Most “tactical” rifles have a thicker barrel profile than the Patriot Predator, so it looks a little weird when the barrel sharply ends with the large thread protector.
The trigger is Mossberg’s own Lightning Bolt Action trigger (LBA). This user-adjustable trigger dials pull weight from 2 to 7 lbs and ships from the factory right at the minimum. Like many other modern rifles, this trigger includes an integrated safety bar.
Unlike many of those others, however, there’s a bit of squish and creep to this trigger, even at the lower pull weights. Compared to the newer triggers offered by Sauer, Savage, and Remington, the Mossberg LBA scores a solid meh.
This rifle ships with no sights, and there are no models or calibers in the Patriot Predator line that include them. Instead, the rifle comes with a Picatinny rail already mounted on the receiver.
The stock is yet another cheap synthetic semi-flexible mold job so common in budget guns. Mossberg’s is generally a better fit than some of the other rifles in this market, without the giant gap between the barrel and the fore stock that has become so common in this class of rifle. Unfortunately, “generally better” is a fairly low bar. You’ll find no bedding block and the recoil lug attached to the barrel simply slides in front of a plastic slot in the stock.
The problem with these stocks isn’t just that they are ugly — and they are — but it’s that they move and flex too much. They tend to perform well enough off the bench, but that performance degrades sharply as the stocks are pressed against, leaned against, and generally put pressure on as you do when you’re actually hunting with them.
That is certainly the case with this rifle. The fore stock is quite flexible. The barrel is free-floated, but there is a larger gap on one side than the other. On the narrow side, the stock just barely clears the barrel. It’s flexible enough that even a strong grip on the stock is enough to push it into contact with the barrel. That’s going to alter your point of impact at distance.
An inexpensive do-it-yourself fiberglass bedding job on this, or any of these types of rifles, would go a long way to ensuring consistent performance in hunting positions and varied environments.
The bolt knob is enlarged, and worked flawlessly. It’s set up well, with enough space under the bolt handle that I can quickly run my firing hand forward to catch the bolt handle in the web of my hand in order to quickly work the action.
That action also moved better than I would have expected on a rifle at this price point. Once lubed, there were no catch points along the bolt’s path. The bolt itself is spiral fluted, a nice touch which gives the gun a bit more of a high-end look.
Surprisingly enough, the entire magazine housing itself is also plastic. Upon assembly, it sits below the receiver and is attached to the receiver only when it is inside the stock itself.
I put 250 rounds through the gun over a week’s time. I lubed the gun with RemOil and passed a bore snake through the barrel a few times before shooting it. I did not clean the gun or disassemble it in any way again until the shooting portion of the review was complete.
The rifle never failed to load, fire, or eject with any ammunition. The box magazine never failed to lock in place. Magazine loading was easy with any round within SAAMI maximum length. Although it was a tight fit, I had no problem loading five in the magazine and one in the chamber. In short, I had no issues with the rifle’s reliability whatsoever.
Ejection is consistent, but not particularly powerful. It’s really shooter preference as to whether that’s a good thing or not. Generally, a powerful ejection is great, because it clears the hot shell from under your feet or your clothing and is less likely to get jammed back into the receiver if it hit a previously un-noticed tree branch while hunting. On the other hand, chasing brass all around the floor at an indoor range or digging it out of the dirt is no fun at all.
The Mossberg Patriot Predator requires a harder pull back to eject fully, and if you decide to just ease it back with your fingers while on the line (something I have a bad habit of doing) you may very well end up with the case not fully ejecting. I had that issue a few times, but it was entirely operator-induced.
I was pleasantly surprised by the precision the Patriot Predator was capable of. Mounting a US Optics 10X scope and shooting at 100 yards from a Caldwell Stinger Shooting rest, my best groups were using the Hornady 120gr ELD Match round. That cartridge printed 1/10 of an inch under 1MOA.
However, there was a considerable difference in group size using different rounds, even when bullet weights were the same. Federal’s American Eagle 120gr OTM printed 1.4″ groups under the exact same conditions. That’s still not bad for an inexpensive bolt gun, but it does, once again, prove that half the precision is in the load itself. Other loads shot between those two extremes. All groups were five-round groups averaged over four shot strings.
The Patriot Predator prints good to acceptable groups and does so with perfect reliability. It also handles well. It’s a fairly lightweight rifle, but none of the calibers it’s built for are particularly punishing. Combined with smart caliber choices and the generous recoil pad, shooting the firearm over long strings is easy.
The Patriot Predator is not an heirloom gun. Unless, that is, you intend to upgrade it over time. One of the benefits of purchasing a Mossberg firearm is the extremely wide range of parts available, not just from the aftermarket, but from Mossberg itself. Mossberg’s website provides spare parts, different stock choices, and a lot more and at very competitive pricing.
John Stewart over at Kiote Rifles turns these guns into solid 1/2 MOA machines with a barrel, trigger, and stock swap. After all, a budget rifle that’s slowly refined over time and passed down is a long-standing practice. This rifle’s not a bad candidate to carry on that tradition.
Specifications: Mossberg Patriot Predator
Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor (also comes in .243 Win, .308 Win, and .450 Bushmaster)
Barrel Type: Fluted, Threaded 5/8″ X 24 TPI
Barrel Length: 22 inches
Sight: None (Picatinny rail)
Barrel Finish: Matte Blued
Stock Finish: Synthetic (Flat Dark Earth)
MSRP: $441 (easily found online for $350)
Rating (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * *
The synthetic stock is without adornment or texture. The fluting in the barrel and the bolt are appreciated, but it doesn’t make up for the uneven layout of the barrel in the stock.
Customization * * * *
Because so many options are offered on the Mossberg website, there’s a lot you can do with this rifle. There are also lots of aftermarket choices for barrels, triggers, and better stocks.
Reliability * * * * *
I’m suspicious of the long-term durability of these light-weight synthetic stocks, but the rifle performed flawlessly for the course of the review.
Accuracy * * *
With just the right round, the gun will score sub-minute of angle groups. With most others, it’s just a bit more than that. That’s not bad at all for a gun at this price point.
Overall * * *
For what many shooters want a rifle for, the Mossberg Patriot Predator will fit the bill. It’s a perfectly reliable hunting rifle and will put rounds into the vitals of game animals well out to the ballistic capability of the cartridge it fires. The trigger is a little sub-par compared to other rifles in this category, and the stock is, sadly, right there on par with its competition.