November 16, 2022
Surely by now you’ve heard or read about the MVP—Mossberg Varmint Predator—because it’s been around for more than a decade. I know, it surprised me, too, but our review of the initial model appeared exactly 11 years ago. Through its lifetime the MVP has been offered in a variety of configurations, and these days the company has whittled the choices down to three series: Precision, LR and Scout/Patrol.
The newest is the MVP Patrol in .300 BLK, and it is the epitome of the all-round utility bolt-action rifle. Hey, you say, isn’t that exactly what Jeff Cooper’s Scout rifle concept is all about? While the Patrol does share a number of characteristics with its Scout stablemate, it differs in one key area. Instead of a ghost-ring aperture rear sight and the extended scope rail that permits the far-forward mounting of an optic, the Patrol employs a normal-length rail and a standard iron-sight setup, albeit one incorporating a fiber-optic front. That’s totally fine with me. I do like a ghost-ring aperture, but I’ve never embraced the idea of having a long-eye-relief scope mounted out past the receiver. So the Patrol is more to my tastes.
The new MVP Patrol’s other appealing trait is its choice of caliber. The model was already chambered to 5.56 NATO/.223 and 7.62 NATO/.308, the yin and yang of “utility” chamberings. The .300 BLK hits the sweet spot right in the middle. It’s not underpowered like the .223 or overpowered like the .308, the latter cartridge being Cooper’s choice for his Scout rifle concept. The .300 BLK is Goldilocks-right, and it shines in this new Patrol. The gun features a 16.25-inch barrel and weighs 6.5 pounds. Overall length is 36.5 inches. The weight and dimensions make this a great truck gun/ranch rifle, one that also carries nicely in the hands or slung over the shoulder.
The stock is black polymer. It’s nothing fancy—no funky pistol grip or beavertail fore-end, just a straight-up sporter. The stock has stippling on the wrist and fore-end, where you’ll also find the Mossberg “M” engraved on both sides. The butt features a slightly curved, cushy rubber recoil pad. The rifle feeds from a 10-round magazine. Unlike the .223 and .308 MVP Patrols, instead of a polymer Magpul PMag, the .300 BLK version ships with a metal magazine from D&H Tactical. These are aircraft-grade aluminum magazines, with ribs and feed lips optimized for this specific cartridge, along with D&H’s proprietary .300 BLK follower. The spring is made of 17-7ph stainless steel, a metal that resists fatigue and offers good corrosion protection—features you certainly want in a magazine you’re slapping in a defense rifle.
The MVP made a big splash when it was introduced because it offered a unique and useful proposition: It is a bolt-action rifle that uses AR-15 magazines, which are widely available and offered in various capacities and construction. The MVP is able to do this through a feature its designers call the Drop-Push bolt. It incorporates a small lever at the six o’clock position on the bolt face. This lever dips down and enables the bolt to strip a round from the magazine. Do note the lever also prevents you from cycling the action with an empty magazine installed. To close the bolt on an empty mag, simply depress the follower a bit and the bolt will slide forward.
Twin Locking Lugs
The bolt features twin locking lugs, with the sliding extractor housed in the right-side lug. A plunger ejector lives in the five o’clock position. The bolt body has a black finish and is fluted. The bolt handle is one piece and sports an oversize knob. Mossberg’s Lightning Bolt Action trigger needs no introduction, as it’s one of the best blade-style production triggers on the market. It’s easily adjustable simply by turning a screw once you’ve removed the barreled action from the stock. My sample averaged two pounds, five ounces as it came from the factory. It’s creep-free and really consistent.
The barreled action is pillar-bedded with twin aluminum pillars, and the barrel is joined to the receiver with a smooth barrel nut. The recoil lug is sandwiched between receiver and nut. The magazine well is polymer, and the mag release is forward of the well. It doesn’t protrude below the stock, and there’s not much to get a finger on. Also, there’s not much travel, so sometimes you don’t think you’ve pressed it enough to release the magazine. It takes a little getting used to, and I found it a bit difficult to operate with bulky gloves.
The bolt release is on the left rear of the receiver, and directly across from it is the two-position rocker safety. The safety does not lock the bolt, so it works like I think a safety should: forward to Fire, rearward to Safe and no middle positions or bolt releases to mess with. Like I mentioned, the barrel is 16.25 inches long. It has a stout profile, tapering from an inch in front of the barrel nut to 0.75 inch just behind the muzzle threading. The MVP Patrol ships with an A2 flash hider and comes with a knurled thread protector. Threads are 5/8x24, and it will accommodate common centerfire suppressors as well as other muzzle devices.
Up top, the Picatinny rail is 55/16 inches long and has 13 slots. It’s just shy of 0.4 inch high—zero m.o.a., in other words—and is fastened to the receiver with four hex-head screws. The V-notch rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage. Loosening the top screw allows the notch to drift left and right in a dovetail for windage. A screw in the right side permits the top half of the sight to slide up or down on a dovetail for elevation, and tic marks on the right side provide adjustment reference points.
The front sight is a red fiber optic, and it’s affixed to the barrel with a screw so you could change it easily if you wanted or needed to. The Mossberg front sight body is aluminum, and the replacement options I found from Midwest Gunworks and others are polymer. For testing I mounted a Skinner 1-6x24, a solid optic with a 30mm main tube and illuminated reticle. The latter has fat-to-thin posts at three, six and nine o’clock, with four holdover hashmarks and a floating-dot center. It’s a great scope for a rifle like the MVP Patrol, with the 1X low end providing fast target acquisition up close and enough power—and the right kind of reticle—on the high end for decent precision at longer ranges.
Even though the ammo shortage was starting to ease at the time I tested the rifle, .300 BLK was in short supply, so I was able to test the rifle with only three loads. Two were supersonic and one was subsonic, and for the latter I thought it was appropriate to spin on a Banish 30 suppressor from Silencer Central. For the supersonic loads, I opted for the thread protector instead of the flash hider. I found the stock’s comb to be rather narrow, so for comfort I added a strap-on cheek pad, which also helped get my eye closer to the center of the scope’s ocular—always an aid for more accurate shooting.
The RifleShooter protocol calls for three three-shot groups at 100 yards for hunting rifles, but since this could be used either for hunting or as a defense gun, I decided to go with three five-shot groups. I didn’t fire the individual groups rapidly, but I also didn’t dawdle between shots. Thanks to the relative tameness of the cartridge and the heavy barrel diameter, it didn’t warm too quickly. I did let the gun cool completely between groups—or as completely as I could on a day when the temps neared 90 degrees.
Results are shown in the accompanying table, and I was impressed because I’m always skeptical of the ability of super-short barrels to deliver accuracy. It’s one of those old-guy prejudices, I guess, and the MVP Patrol proved me wrong once again. While it’s not exactly a tack-driver, those are solid five-shot groups—fired at 6X magnification, which while reasonably powerful isn’t nearly the same as 9X or higher. Further, the groups weren’t stringy at all—just nice, round clusters.
Silencer Central Banish 30
This was my first go-round with the Banish 30, and I didn’t know what to expect from the rifle with it in place. Between the can and Hornady’s Subsonic load, it was like shooting a popgun in terms of report and recoil. Accuracy with the combination was decent as well. With the bench work completed, I moved the target up to 50 yards for some rapid-ish fire from offhand, kneeling and sitting with the Federal Fusion load. If I have one complaint with the MVP Patrol, it’s bolt cycling. The lift is on the stiff side, although the oversize knob really helps here. There’s also a lot of bolt play, especially at the rear of travel, and that interferes with fast, smooth cycling. It’s not like it hangs up; it’s just difficult to work really fast.
I’ve never liked weight out front on a rifle when shooting from unsupported positions, so for me the gun didn’t handle super-great with the suppressor in place, particularly in rapid fire. But when shooting deliberately, or when I braced against a shooting bench or range-cover roof post, the suppressed MVP Patrol could churn out fist-size groups with no trouble. With the can removed and the thread protector back on, I could really rock and roll. Unsupported offhand hits came easy, and from kneeling and sitting, I could knock out softball-size groups as fast as I could cycle the bolt.
Earlier I mentioned I thought the .300 BLK was the perfect fit for the MVP Patrol. That’s because aside from the mild recoil, it has a lot to offer ballistically. The subsonic load aside, the .300 BLK handily beats the standard 55-grain .223 load in terms of energy at the muzzle and at 100 yards. At the latter distance, the .223 generates only 983 ft.-lbs. of energy, which is below the commonly held threshold of 1,000 ft.-lbs. for cleanly taking deer-size game. By contrast, at 100 yards the SIG and Federal Fusion loads post 1,149 and 1,013 ft.-lbs. of energy respectively.
The .308 has way more power, of course. At 100 yards a 150-grain load generates more than 2,200 ft.-lbs. of energy. But that comes at a significant cost in terms of recoil. The 7.62/.308 version of the MVP Patrol is half a pound heavier than the .300 BLK, but even at that weight you’re going to take a bit of a licking and sacrifice some ability to fire fast, accurate repeat shots.
If I’m looking for a rifle that can handle tasks as varied as shooting a deer or a hog, pasting a marauding coyote or defending myself against a two-legged predator, that tradeoff of recoil versus energy in the .308 isn’t worth it, and the .223 is too anemic for my tastes. Therefore, the MVP Patrol in .300 BLK makes more sense to me for a utility rifle. It’s compact and light, a perfect truck or hiking companion. It’s accurate, with enough energy to tackle any appropriate job. It’s dependable. I know I said it doesn’t cycle maybe as fast as I’d like, but it never jammed or failed to feed. It offers the choice of mounting an optic or using the adjustable iron sights, and it’s an excellent choice for pairing with a suppressor. It has a great trigger.
And last but not least, it’s affordable. The MVP Patrol carries a suggested retail price of $658, and on the internet I’m seeing it in the mid to high $500s. Mossberg never fails to deliver a quality rifle at a good price, and the MVP Patrol in .300 BLK is no exception.
Mossberg MVP .300 BLK Specs
- Type: Two-lug bolt-action, centerfire
- Caliber: 5.56/.223, .300 BLK (tested), 7.62/.308
- Capacity: 10+1 rds.
- Barrel: 16.25 in. w/A2 flash hider installed, threaded 5/8x24
- Overall Length: 36.5 in.
- Weight: 6.5 lbs.
- Stock: Black polymer
- Finish: Matte black
- Trigger: Lightning Bolt Action adjustable; 2 lb., 5 oz. pull (measured, as received)
- Sights: fully adjustable rear, fiber-optic front; Picatinny optics rail
- Safety: Two-position, rocker
- MSRP: $658
- Manufacturer: O.F. Mossberg & Sons