By Jason Vincent
I’ve never purchased a Mossberg rifle—never even considered it. I’m an elitist when it comes to rifles, and, to me, Mossberg’s have always been basic.
There’s nothing wrong with being basic. Mossberg shotguns are basic, and I own several for defense and hunting. They’re reliable workhorses and they’re made to see rough use. Somehow this standard works for me in the scattergun world, but not when I want a precision instrument.
Here’s the truth: when Mossberg told Schoby they wanted to work with us, I told him, “Sounds good, but we’re only promoting their shotguns.”
They were actually ok with this, so we started receiving different shotguns for testing. All of them have been more than solid. The 590A1 Marinecote has become my defense shotgun, and all of us have Retrogrades that we show off to people more than we shoot them. Mine wears a bayonet and I hope to run at a home invader with it one day.
A few months ago, Rich Kirk from Mossberg invited Schoby, Jeff Johnston and me on a deer hunt at Lowrance Ranch in Texas. I quickly accepted the invitation because I’d heard about their deer the previous season. 43,000 acres of free-range West Texas bruisers and Mossberg is picking up the tab? Hell yes.
And then it hit me, I’d have to use one of their rifles. I called Schoby to discuss what we’d gotten ourselves into. “We said we weren’t going to do this and they were fine with it. Now they’ve invited us on a hunt, and we have to shoot their rifles. We made easy marks because they know we like free hunts and we said yes before thinking about it.”
Here’s the thing, I’ll get slutty for a good hunting invite, but I won’t promote a rifle to FE readers that I wouldn’t buy myself.
I talked to Rich, and he said he’d send me whatever I wanted. I chose the Patriot LR Tactical in 6.5 PRC because I figured it would have the best chance at shooting a respectable group, and about a week later the rifle showed up. I immediately took it to the back porch of the office and rattle canned over everything—a very basic camo job. I mounted a Leupold Mark 5 3-18 that costs around 2.5 times more than the rifle and I told myself it was ok because it would be a very temporary pairing. I’d zero the rifle, hunt in Texas and then put one of my favorite scopes back on a higher end, more deserving rig.
All the rifle had to do was shoot good enough for it to match value for its price tag and I’d be able to tell all of you the truth about it. Not glowing marks, but enough to keep Rich off my back. If it didn’t shoot worth a shit, I’d still tell you the truth and then things would be awkward in Texas.
I bore-sighted the rifle at 100 yards by removing the bolt and looking down the barrel. This always works well enough to get started. I threaded on a Silencerco Scythe-Ti and loaded the mag with Hornady 143 ELD-X and ripped a sub ½” group. 3 shots. Then I did it again. And again.
I switched to some 140gr Berger VLD hand loads, and it closed to just over ¼”. Then I shot a 5 shot group that was sub 1” with the silencer putting off such a serious heat mirage that I could barely make out that there was a still target at 100 yards.
2 weeks later I was standing over a dead pig in Texas. I dropped him in his tracks with one shot to the vitals from 390yds. I stood over a dead 10 point the night before.
I will not be swapping this Leupold Mark 5 to another rifle…ever.
Final Thoughts: If you can get a rifle that’s consistently capable of ¼” to 1/2” groups for under $1000 and you don’t do it, you’re an idiot. Is the rifle less refined than rifles 3x the price? Absolutely. That’s why I rattle canned it.
If someone stole this rifle, I’d immediately buy another.