We’ve published a review on the Mossberg Patriot Predator before, and normally I wouldn’t go back to the same well. Occasionally, though, a rifle/cartridge combination comes along that’s impressive enough to make it worth reexamination. The newest Mossberg Patriot Predator is one such case.
Actually, calling this rifle “Predator” does the combination a bit of a disservice, because the new 6.5 PRC chambering makes it one of the most versatile big game rifles out there. Sure, the rifle will get the job done on coyotes and such at any shootable distance, but the cartridge also has the speed, energy and trajectory to make it an excellent choice for whitetails, mule deer, pronghorns, black bear, sheep and more.
Hornady’s 6.5 PRC is one of the newer 6.5mm entrants in the battle for the hearts and minds of America’s hunters. Today there are seven factory cartridges of that diameter trying to establish supremacy: 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Rem., 6.5-300 Wby. Mag., .26 Nosler, 6.5-284 Norma, 6.5 RPM and 6.5 PRC. The 6.5 PRC stands in the middle, considerably faster than the Creedmoor and the .260 but not quite on the power level of the .26 Nosler or 6.5-.300 Wby. The 6.5 PRC brings the energy without the recoil and blast of the bigger 6.5s, and this makes it a great pairing for a rifle like the Patriot Predator.
The Patriot line is perhaps the most consistently accurate of today’s crop of affordable bolt actions. The heart of the Predator is a twin-lug, push-feed action, and the 6.5 PRC Predator version feeds from a detachable, four-round polymer box magazine that fits flush and is easy to top-load. As someone who dislikes protruding magazines in hunting guns, this makes me happy—as does the fact it can be top-loaded.
The Patriot Predator sports a fluted bolt with an oversize handle. The safety is a two-position lever on the right side of the receiver, and it does not lock the bolt on Safe, which I prefer. The bolt release lever is on the left side of the receiver.
The top of the receiver features a Picatinny rail. It’s held in place with Torx screws, so you can take it off if you prefer two-piece mounts.
One of the features that sets the Patriot action apart is the Lightning Bolt Action (LBA) trigger, one of the best bladed-style triggers out there. It’s adjustable from two to seven pounds, and my sample came from the factory breaking at one pound, 15 ounces with very little pull-to-pull variation.
The fluted barrel is 24 inches long and has a 1:8 twist. It is affixed to the receiver via a smooth barrel nut. The muzzle is threaded 5/8x24 for addition of a suppressor or muzzle brake, and it comes with a thread protector. A polymer block insert in front of the mag well acts as a bedding block.
The synthetic flat dark earth stock has a classic straight comb with shadow-line cheekpiece. The grip and fore-end feature stippling, although I do wish the stippling was more aggressive for a better grip with wet, cold or gloved hands.
Bare weight of the rifle is 6.5 pounds, which I think is right at the sweet spot for a hunting rifle meant to be carried a lot. Mounting a Nightforce SHV 3-10x42mm (see review on page 10) boosted total unloaded weight to eight pounds, five ounces. I like this scope and think it’s a good mate for the Patriot Predator, but it does weigh 22 ounces and you could go to a lighter scope if you wanted to pare overall gun weight to less than eight pounds.
There aren’t many 6.5 PRC loads out there yet, and I shot both Hornady loads along with a handload featuring a 127-grain Barnes LRX bullet. You can see the results in the accompanying chart, and I think they’re impressive as hell. That’s not just for a gun with a suggested retail of $455—and a street price just a bit north of $300; that’s for any production bolt-action rifle.
In addition to the 100-yard testing, I shot several groups at 200 yards, and the rifle maintained its accuracy. The ELD Match load actually shot better at 200 yards than it did at 100, with groups in the 0.4- to 0.5-m.o.a. range.
Other than the stippling on the stock and the slightly off-putting look of the muzzle end of the barrel, which steps up in diameter to accommodate the threading, I have no complaints.
In fact, I think it might be the best all-around rifle out there today: super accurate, affordable, light and chambered to a versatile caliber that’s flat-shooting and hard-hitting without beating the crap out of you. Yes, it’s too early to tell whether the 6.5 PRC will withstand the test of time, but with this rig you can play in the PRC pool without a big investment.
Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC SpecsType:
2-lug bolt-action centerfireCaliber:
.243, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC (tested), .308, .450 BushmasterCapacity:
30-round magazine suppliedBarrel:
24 in., fluted, threaded 5/8x24, 1:8 twistOverall Length:
Flat dark earth syntheticFinish:
LBA; 1 lb., 15 oz. pull (measured, as received)Safety:
O.F. Mossberg & Sons, mossberg.com