“ATR” 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 expectations—and too often dash them. While you can’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 that’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 100ATR’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 there’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 I’d like. But to be fair, proper hand checkering now costs more than Mossberg’s 100ATR rifle, ready to shoot. The checkering on this bolt gun is functional and complements the other features. There’s a small and useless spot of checkering on the outside of the bolt knob. Cosmetically, it’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 1:9½ 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 “Z” 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 didn’t want to shed the bolt without a tussle.
Mossberg’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 accuracy—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. Federal’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.
I’ve experienced no malfunctions of any kind with this rifle. Given its low price, fine accuracy and, yes, walnut stock properly finished, it’s one of the better values out there. The 7mm-08 is, arguably, more versatile than either the .308 or .243. If you’re seeking another big-game rifle but are ashamed to ask your children for a loan, consider the 100ATR from Mossberg. It’s more than an entry-level bolt gun.