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Mossberg Patriot LR Tactical: Best Budget Long Range Rifle?



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Looking past some brush, you scan a distant clearing. Next to a small sapling, you find what you’re looking for — a square, white piece of steel. Kneeling in the dirt, you snap your bipod open and place your rifle on the ground. 

You lift your laser rangefinder to your eye, steadying yourself to get a good reading. It’s close enough to 500 yards that you don’t need to check your dope. You know your hold is 2.7 mils for 500, so you dial it in on your top turret and set your parallax. Dropping down behind your rifle, you wiggle into position, lining up behind your rifle and pointed straight at the steel target. 

Checking some trees between you and your steel prey, you notice some wind. You’re still learning the intricacies of calling wind, but you figure you should hold right a bit. You adjust your rear bag and find the target in your scope. 

After tweaking your position some more, you check the wind again, flick off the safety, and place your reticle toward the right edge of the target. Your trigger finger lightly brushes against the trigger as you push the air out of your lungs. You make final small adjustments to your aim, then calmly press the trigger. 

“Impact!” Noticing that your impact was closer to your aiming point than you expected, you make a mental note that you overdid the wind call.

Doesn’t that sound like fun? Indeed, long-range shooting has rapidly grown in popularity, from precision rifle competitions to long-range hunting to recreational outings. But so too have the associated price tags, with rifles, optics and accessories, and ammunition all conspiring to punish your bank account like a vindictive ex.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Mossberg’s known for providing solid performance for a good price. Their new precision gun, the Patriot LR Tactical, is a chassis rifle developed in collaboration with MDT to create an accurate, customizable long-range bolt gun that’s affordable and accessible to a wider audience.

It’s offered in three popular calibers — .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 6.5 PRC. The first two chamberings come with 22-inch barrels, while the 6.5 PRC sports a 24-incher; all have medium bull contours. The 6.5 tubes are 1:8 twist, while the .308 is 1:10. Comprised of chromoly 4140 steel, the barrels are button rifled and heat treated. 

The muzzle is finished off with an 11-degree match crown and threaded 5/8-24 to accept the muzzle device or suppressor of your choice, indexed on the shoulder. Mossberg ships it with a thread protector. 

The rifle’s based on Mossberg’s Patriot action, first introduced with the company’s line of economical hunting rifles. 

It’s a dual-lug push-feed design with a rounded receiver. The bolt handle is straight, with an oversized knob for easy and quick operation, while the bolt itself is machined with spiral flutes. The safety is on the right side; flick it forward for fire, rear for safe. The bolt stop lever is on the opposite side.

Chassis systems don’t require custom bedding. The barreled action is simply secured to the chassis for a no-fuss, versatile, free-floating barrel setup. The new chassis from MDT is reminiscent of the Oryx, with a traditional stock design. The action beds on an aluminum V-block, nestled in an overmolded flat dark earth polymer stock. 

The handguard has four M-LOK slots each at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, to attach a bipod or other accessories. Sling studs at the front of the handguard and bottom of the buttstock are also included. You can tailor the stock to your body and preferences — slide the cheekpiece vertically up to 1.5 inches (on our sample; Mossberg specs 2 inches of adjustment) and tighten it down with a knob on the right side. 

Changing the length of pull is accomplished by adding or removing quarter-inch spacers from the buttpad, providing up to 0.75 inch of adjustment for a total length of pull of 13.5 to 14.25 inches. 

The grip is nearly vertical and comfortable, with interchangeable grip panels. Mossberg includes panels with the same proprietary grip texture that they use on their pistols and shotguns; they also have nice meaty palm swells. There’s a bit of a shelf on top, where you can rest your thumb. 

Like Mossberg’s Predator series, the receiver is topped with a one-piece Picatinny rail to mount your optic; in this case, it has a 20 MOA cant to provide more elevation adjustment in your scope for long-range targets. Note that the rail is screwed to the receiver; it’s not integral.

The bottom metal takes AICS-compatible magazines, with a large magazine release lever integrated in the trigger guard. The 6.5 PRC variant comes with a 7-round metal MDT magazine without the front binder plate, given the length of 6.5 PRC cartridges. The other two come with 10-round polymer MDT magazines.

Finally, Mossberg fitted the Patriot LR Tactical with its adjustable Lightning Bolt Action trigger, which you can set anywhere from 2 to 7 pounds. The trigger safety dingus feels rather Austrian and ensures the weapon will only discharge when you actually press the trigger. Ours broke out of the box at a crisp and clean 2.5 pounds, with minimal creep or overtravel. The polymer trigger guard is oversized, to accommodate big meat hooks and gloves.

KITTING OUT 

An oft-repeated rule of thumb for scoped rifles is that you should be prepared to spend as much or more on an optic as you did on your rifle. While the truthfulness of that old maxim is questionable, the affordability of the Patriot LR Tactical could free you up to splurge a bit on your glass.

We managed to come pretty close, with Crimson Trace’s Hardline Pro 6-24x50mm scope retailing roughly the same as the rifle itself. Functionally, it’s a great match with the rifle as well, providing clear glass, a useful first focal plane reticle, good reach, and bang for the buck. 

The red-illuminated MR1-MIL reticle features clearly marked mil scales in the first focal plane, so they can be easily used at any magnification setting. The 30mm tube accommodates 20 mils of elevation and windage adjustment, and the exposed turrets deliver distinct 0.1 mil clicks, as well as a zero stop feature. The parallax knob is on the side for quick and easy adjustments between targets. We mounted it in Wheeler Sporter scope rings.

Another must-have is a bipod. Magpul’s handy Bipod for M-LOK attached seamlessly to the bottom slots on the handguard. Made of aluminum and polymer, it quickly deploys and extends from 6.8 to 10.3 inches. It also tilts and pans, a healthy 50 and 40 degrees respectively. Continuing on the theme of this article, the Magpul bipod provides great performance for a reasonable price.

Stripped down, the Patriot LR Tactical weighs in at 8.9 pounds; fully kitted out, it weighs 11.3 pounds. This places the Mossberg squarely into a general-purpose role — heavier than a purpose-built hunting rig and about half the weight of a dedicated PRS gun.

PATRIOT GAMES AT GUNSITE

Mossberg had us, along with their engineering staff, out to Gunsite Academy to shake out the rifle (as well as other goodies to come — stay tuned). Gunsite’s skilled instructors took us through abbreviated elements of their precision rifle course. 

We started by hitting the deck and zeroing our rifles off the bipod in prone. With Hornady 147-grain ELD Match, we averaged 2,776 feet per second and drilled an impressive sub MOA group. 

Later, back at home, we tested Federal’s Fusion bonded soft points, with the 140-grain hunting load averaging 2,790 fps and delivering just under 1 MOA groups.

Our next stop on Gunsite’s sprawling 3,000 acre grounds in Paulden, Arizona, was their long-range pad. We proned out with a rear bag and our Patriot LR Tactical perched on its bipod. Lined up with a few other writers, we took turns engaging steel targets farther and farther away, eventually out to 700 yards. 

Every single press of the trigger was rewarded with a satisfying impact — except for one target on which we inexplicably held right when the wind call was to hold left. Brain farts are a hell of a thing.

RESULTS DON’T LIE

Our impressions with the new Mossberg rifle were very positive. 

Most importantly, it’s a tack driver — sub MOA shot off the deck is great. It may not be as sexy as expensive rigs with feature-laden all-metal chassis, but the new polymer-on-aluminum MDT chassis has everything you need to get the job done, with a bit of flair for a traditional stock design. Hitting a more affordable price point comes with trade-offs. 

Adjusting the length of pull involves a screwdriver and spacers, so you can’t make quick adjustments on the fly. The buttstock doesn’t fold, a convenient feature for transport and storage. 

And it’d be nice to have an option for an integrated ARCA rail on the handguard. But you can deal with these things, and the stock was very comfortable to use and easy to adjust for a good shooting position and cheek weld. We also liked resting our firing hand thumb on the rear of the stock.

As configured by Mossberg, the rifle alone is 8.9 pounds. As a general-purpose gun, it comes with the compromises of a do-it-all product. It’ll serve you well on a hunting trip, though you might wish you could shave off a pound or more after humping it all day. 

Then, you could shoot a PRS match with it the next weekend; it’s light for that, but you could easily add weight to it.

Mossberg’s LBA trigger is excellent, and even if some might not like trigger blade safeties, the fact is that it allows you to get a great, light trigger from the factory that lawyers haven’t watered down. And you could always give Timney Triggers a call if you wanted. 

The LR Tactical shows its more budget-minded Patriot roots when working the action. It’s not as glassy smooth as pricier actions out there, and the bolt handle can get more wobbly the further you retract it. But when you’re sending rounds downrange rather than finger f*cking your gun in your living room, you don’t really notice any of it.

And that’s the bottom line — what’s most important is the results you get downrange. The Patriot LR Tactical is damn accurate. It’s a precision gun, and it delivers precision on target. 

Street prices will be even lower than the $1,085 retail price, so you’ll have no more excuses for not getting into the long-range game. 

SPECS

  • Mossberg Patriot LR Tactical
  • Caliber: 308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC (tested)
  • Capacity: 7 (6.5 PRC), 10 (308, 6.5CM)
  • Barrel length: 22 inches (308, 6.5CM), 24 inches (6.5 PRC)
  • Overall length: 44 inches
  • Weight: 8.9 pounds (rifle only), 11.3 pounds as shown
  • MSRP: $1,085
  • URL: mossberg.com

Accessories:

  • Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 6-24x50mm FFP MIL: $1,100
  • Wheeler Sporter high rings: $36
  • Magpul bipod: $110
  • Total as tested: $2,331

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