“ATRâ€ť stands for All Terrain Rifle. It retails for just $424. Call it an entry-level rifle, if you like. My first look at this Spartan bolt gun piqued my curiosity. How would it function? How accurate might it be? Expensive rifles bring high expectationsâ€”and too often dash them. While you canâ€™t expect the profile and fit and finish of so-called affordable rifles to compete with the upper crust, some perform all out of proportion to their price. In an economy thatâ€™s pummeled everyone, rifles that cost less get more attention.
I requested a test rifle in a new chambering for the 100ATR. This year the 7mm-08 joins the .243 and .308 in the short mechanism (the .270 and .30-06 are cataloged for the long receiver). You can pick a walnut stock or a synthetic with one of four finishes: black, Mossy Oak Brush or Breakup Infinity, and Realtree AP. You can get a black-synthetic rifle with iron sights. The walnut stock is available only in the short-action version. It hikes weight about four ounces, to seven pounds, or the heft of a synthetic-stock long-action rifle. Mossberg lists both long and short models in packages with 3-9×40 scopes.
The test rifle arrived with Weaver bases installed. I quickly attached a Nikon Buckmaster scope, a 4.5-14×42 with a long, lean profile that afforded plenty of free tube for the medium rings. The straight comb of the 100ATRâ€™s classic-style stock puts my eye naturally in line with the sight. The grip is long and quite open, and it is well dimensioned for my big hand. The butt wears a forgiving black pad an inch thick and nicely fitted to the quarter-sawn plain walnut. The barrel floats, if unevenly, in its channel. The fore-end is a bit deep, and thereâ€™s more wood around the action than necessary. Checkering on grip and fore-end is coarse, the diamonds not as sharp or the borders as fine as Iâ€™d like. But to be fair, proper hand checkering now costs more than Mossbergâ€™s 100ATR rifle, ready to shoot. The checkering on this bolt gun is functional and complements the other features. Thereâ€™s a small and useless spot of checkering on the outside of the bolt knob. Cosmetically, itâ€™s a nonissue, but any checkering on the outside of a knob scars cases and scabbards while helping you not at all with bolt manipulation. Fine checkering underneath a knob can assist on opening, but the topside should be smooth for quick palming on the close.
The 22-inch barrel sandwiches a washer-style recoil lug to the receiver and wears a nut for easy headspacing. Rifled 1:9Â˝ inches and lightly fluted on its forward half, the barrel has a matte-blue finish matched by the receiver. The bolt body is polished bright.
A blind magazine holds four cartridges in a staggered stack. The follower is polymer, the spring not the familiar flat â€śZâ€ť device but a music-wire type. It works fine. The push-feed bolt slicks up rounds as if self-powered. No hitch, negligible wobble.
The two-lug bolt has a recessed face and a plunger ejector. A substantial gas shoulder on the shroud blends with the receiver in profile. The two-position thumb safety behind the bolt handle is quick to access. The bolt release, a tab at the left rear of the receiver, operates easily enough, but the test rifle didnâ€™t want to shed the bolt without a tussle.
Mossbergâ€™s LBA (Lightning Bolt Action) trigger, standard on all 100ATRs and the upscale 4×4, has a blade that looks much like that on the Savage trigger. Internally, the two differ. The Mossberg blade blocks the sear until the blade is depressed. Adjustable down to a break weight of two pounds, the trigger on my 7mm-08 arrived with a crisp three-pound pull.
At the range, this 100ATR delivers good accuracyâ€”OK, excellent accuracy with selected loads. Winchester 140-grain Ballistic Silvertips have drilled the smallest groups to date (just under a half inch). A high-octane Hornady load with 139-grain SSTs prints subminute three-shot clusters. Federalâ€™s 140-grain AccuBonds and Partitions shoot more than accurately enough for deer hunting as far as the 7mm-08 will reach. I find recoil nicely throttled by the well-shaped stock, which, incidentally, has just the right pitch.
Iâ€™ve experienced no malfunctions of any kind with this rifle. Given its low price, fine accuracy and, yes, walnut stock properly finished, itâ€™s one of the better values out there. The 7mm-08 is, arguably, more versatile than either the .308 or .243. If youâ€™re seeking another big-game rifle but are ashamed to ask your children for a loan, consider the 100ATR from Mossberg. Itâ€™s more than an entry-level bolt gun.