Well, my cop friends—active and retired, representing several different agencies—liked Mossberg’s MVP Patrol. Here’s what impressed them: It’s compact, at a bit over 35 inches overall length, just about the same as a standard AR with flash suppressor (which the MVP Patrol also has). They liked the rigid action and stiff barrel, which suggests that it should shoot (and it does). They liked the Picatinny rail mount on the receiver. And, honestly, they liked the Mossberg brand, which meant that it just might be within the budgets of their respective departments.
Although I wasn’t too concerned about law enforcement budgeting, I pretty much liked the same things and maybe a bit more. The MVP Patrol is a no-nonsense, no-frills bolt-action with a 5.56 chamber, synthetic stock and a fairly stiff 161/4-inch “medium bull” barrel. So far that’s pretty straightforward. The action is Mossberg’s MVP which, in .223/5.56, is very rigid. Even though the barrel is short, there’s a lot of steel in it—likewise the action. The rifle could’ve been fairly heavy, but things are mitigated by a very slim (.223-scaled) fluted bolt of 11/16-inch diameter, so the actual weight without scope (but including the Picatinny rail mount) is a very comfortable 7 pounds. But there’s quite a lot more…
The MVP Patrol has all the bells and whistles you might expect on a rifle intended for the tactical/LE market. The Picatinny rail runs the length of the receiver, and the supplied scope is a UTG 3-9×32 in sturdy detachable mounts of the same make. I was not previously familiar with this scope, marketed by Leapers Inc., but it has a Mil-Dot reticle with external turret adjustments and illuminated reticle with both red and green. All the features, but in a wonderfully compact one-inch tube scope measuring just 81/4 inches end-to-end. This particular version of the MVP Patrol is a package deal: rifle with scope; mount; slip-on cheekpiece and threaded barrel with flash suppressor (the rifle is also available with Picatinny mount and plain barrel; collapsible stock with pistol grip; with or without scope).
As mentioned, the stubby, chubby barrel sports a threaded muzzle and A2 flash suppressor. The rifle wears good iron sights, an adjustable rear and red fiber optic front sight on a ramp. A stout recoil lug is found between barrel and action; this plus the polymer magazine housing serves to “bed” the action into the stock, with exceptionally good fit.
Ah, that magazine well. Here is a significant difference: The MVP Patrol comes supplied with a 10-round detachable magazine that’s interchangeable with standard 5.56 AR mags. I actually questioned this at first. Initially, I was unable to get a Magpul 30-round magazine to seat. Heck, I even went back to the instructions to make sure I’d read them correctly. Yep, AR magazines are supposed to work. So I tried it again, and it was altogether my fault—I was babying it. It seated perfectly every time when I slammed it home.
The ejection port is generous enough that it’s no problem to top-load the magazine while it’s seated. Perhaps I’m fumble-fingered, but there is one caution: The action is massive, and .223 cartridges are small. It is a bit of a chore to try to single-load cartridges directly into the chamber. On the bench I found it far easier to either start with a loaded magazine or press cartridges down into the magazine through the ejection port.
Some years ago, when Mossberg first got into the bolt-action centerfire business, I did sort of a roundup on several economically priced bolt guns from different manufacturers. Unlike their competitors, Mossberg didn’t have much history with this type of rifle, so while bolt-action technology is neither new nor rocket science, I was surprised at how accurate that Mossberg was. I don’t recall exactly which rifle in that group was the most accurate—it could well have been the Mossberg—but if it wasn’t, it was definitely in the running. A lot of bolt guns have come out of the Mossberg factory since then, and I had expectations that this rifle would shoot.
It didn’t disappoint me. The barrel’s 1:9 twist enabled it to stabilize heavier bullets and still be OK with 50-grain bullets as well. Heck, it didn’t seem to matter what I fed it.
Now, nobody, not even gunwriters, are immune to the current ammo shortages—especially as regards .223/5.56, so the selection I had available wasn’t huge. I had Black Hills 69-grain OTM 5.56mm, a hollowpoint bullet; and three .223 loads: Nosler’s Varmageddon 53-grain, 69-grain Match Grade HP and 60-grain Ballistic Tip. I tend to think the 60-grain Ballistic Tip load grouped the best, but the margin was so small that it could have just been me. All groups were excellent and very consistent, generally running about ¾ inch, occasionally down to a half inch, but never so large as a full inch.
This is clearly extremely good for any out-of-the-box factory rifle. However, to be absolutely fair, I really don’t know exactly how accurate this particular rifle is, but I’m pretty sure it shoots even better than I was shooting it. I liked the compactness of the 3-9x32mm UTG scope. Together with the rifle, it makes a perfect rig for patrol or pickup truck, but for prairie dogs, I’d use a different scope. The crosshairs are fast and highly visible, but I was shooting at a Hornady target with a one-inch center diamond, and the intersection of the crosshairs on the scope completely subtended that aiming point. It was a bit easier to shoot the two-inch squares. The center was completely covered, but at least the corners were visible. For serious accuracy I’d want a much finer center crosshair, although the heavier lines are definitely faster and more visible. With average groups just under ¾ inch, it’s obvious that accuracy didn’t suffer very much, but I’m sure the rifle shoots even better than that.
While the crosshairs might have been a bit too bold for target work, Mossberg’s Lightning trigger was a real ally. This is one of several of those “new” triggers with a takeup bar set in the center of the trigger. In effect, this sort of makes it a two-stage trigger in that the spring-loaded bar must be taken up before the finger makes contact with the actual trigger. But it’s actually a trigger safety, which allows the actual trigger to be fully adjustable without risk of going too far and causing jar-offs.
This type of trigger actually goes back to a long-expired 19th century patent, but Savage was the first manufacturer to offer a similar trigger on a new rifle, and last year Ruger used that type of trigger on its American series. Mossberg’s is called the Lightning, and the trigger bar has a little lightning slash in it. To adjust it, all that’s necessary is to undo three hex-head action screws, take the action out of the stock, and there’s a single set screw on the front of the trigger assembly. While you have it apart, take a look at how the magazine well serves as a bedding block to snug the action into the stock. No wonder it shoots so well.
Fit, Finish, Feel
The barrel itself is free-floated ahead of the recoil lug, with surprisingly tight tolerance. The metalwork is matte finished, almost Parkerized, while the triggerguard and magazine well are black polymer. The stock is almost black, not much different in color from the metalwork, and it has rough grip panels on both fore-end and pistolgrip. Although the MVP Patrol is 100-percent all business, it gives the impression of being made extremely well. Hey, any factory rifle that shoots that well is remarkable, but I was equally impressed by the bedding system and the way the action snugs into the stock.
The action itself is not noteworthy. It’s a simple push-feed action with hook extractor and plunger ejector. The two-position safety is on the right side, just behind the bolt handle. Nothing special, but it works. It feeds perfectly and flawlessly from AR magazines, which is actually saying quite a lot. I like this rifle, which is quite a compliment, because it really isn’t my style, but it’s handy and shoots straight. It also feels like a million bucks. The rigid action puts a lot of weight between the hands. Couple this with the stubby barrel, and it’s amazingly fast and lively. The rifle was supplied with a Beartooth slip-on cheekpiece, set up with an insert to raise the height of the comb. This made the fit just perfect for me. The rifle comes up exactly right, scope on target, and stays there.
But What’s It For?
So we have a compact, accurate 5.56mm bolt-action with a fine trigger pull with the added convenience of accepting AR magazines. Great, but what purposes does it serve? As chance would have it, my neighbor, Chuck Herbel, was hosting a concealed carry class on his next-door farm when the rifle came in. Chuck is a retired homicide detective, and the two instructors are active law enforcement officers. So I asked my cop friends, and they didn’t just like it, they loved it. Quick to load, reload and unload; compact enough for a trunk rack or vertical mount; and extremely affordable. At that point we didn’t yet know that it shot as well as it did, so it got the thumbs-up based purely on design.
LE requirements are considerably different from military sniping. Ranges are usually much shorter, and over-penetration is a significant concern. So an accurate 5.56 with a good scope can be useful, especially if such a rig is affordable to small departments.
I’ve long since done my last patrol, but even so, I find the MVP Patrol to be extremely useful. Come to think of it, any rifle that shoots this well right out of the box has to be useful, especially at its price. It probably isn’t a serious varmint rifle, although it’s accurate enough to be one. Since it’s in 5.56mm, it isn’t a serious big-game rifle either (although it would be legal for deer in some states). I’d probably call it a perfect “pickup truck” rifle, where the same attributes of handiness and ease of loading and unloading apply. It would be great to carry around the farm in case of pests. It would also be an excellent rifle for calling predators and casual “walkaround” varminting. Well, I guess that’s a form of “patrolling,” isn’t it?
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