Range Report: Mossberg MVP — A Great Rifle!

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Range Reports

The Mossberg MVP is a light rifle with a fluted barrel, flat-bottom forend, smooth bolt action and generous magazine capacity. It’s designed as a sporting rifle for popping varmints, crows, predators and other types of small game. It’s related to the Mossberg Patrol rifle, a similar bolt action designed for law enforcement. The MVP isn’t supplied with iron sights, having instead a Weaver-type rail for mounting an optic.

Mossberg MVP right

The Mossberg MVP is a neat light bolt-action rifle.

The rifle has several advantages. It’s affordable, it looks good, and it’s more accurate than one would first suppose. Another advantage is that it accepts AR-15-type magazines. The rifle is quite interesting in its particulars. The bolt is fluted, which once was a custom touch; the bolt handle is swept back for rapid manipulation; and the trigger is a modern user-adjustable type.

The rifle is based on modern design principles and chambered for the 5.56mm NATO cartridge. The rifle was designed from the first for use with AR-15 magazines, which took some effort. There are many 5.56 bolt-action rifles, but not many use a removable magazine. The bolt had to be modified to feed from a box magazine rather than a blind magazine, and the magazine had to be an AR-15 type.

Mossberg Thunder Ranch rifle right

The Mossberg Thunder Ranch rifle uses the same action as the MVP, but it’s chambered in .308 Winchester.

The engineering is interesting. There is a small lever at about 6 o’clock on the bolt face. This lever acts as a feed guide to grab a cartridge from the magazine. The lever has a little give in its motion, and when the cartridge is chambered this lever moves to fit close to the bolt face. I hope it works well in the long term. I purposely slammed the bolt hard on a couple of magazines of ammunition in rapid fire. This is abuse, but you will probably slam the bolt pretty hard during a critical incident. It works just fine.

The bolt itself is interesting. Take care during disassembly. It isn’t that tricky, but it’s different than most two-lug bolts. The extractor demands care due to its strong extractor spring. That’s good, but it also means that without attention to detail you will have parts flying across the work bench during disassembly. The ability to use an AR-15 magazine is good, especially if you own an AR-15 in addition to this rifle. However, some effort is necessary in choosing magazines.

Bolt head on Mossberg MVP

Note the lever on bolt head that snatches cartridges from the magazine.

The AR-15 features a magazine well that encompasses much of the magazine and keeps it steady. The Mossberg does not. The magazines will rattle to an extent. Ten-round magazines are less offensive, and some of the polymer ones are a tighter fit. I used the Magpul PMAG with excellent results. The magazine release works well. All in all, it’s a good system and one that makes for good utility. If you live in one of the People’s Republics that limit semiautomatic rifle ownership, this is the rifle for you.

The stock is nicely checkered. The feel is good, the wood-to-metal fit is excellent, and overall I find it to be a useful and nice-looking stock. The trigger is called the LBA, or Lightning Bolt Action. It’s adjustable for a lighter let-off. If the rifle is reserved for personal defense and general pest and predator popping at moderate ranges, I think the 3.5 pounds it came set at would be more than adequate. However, if you are going to sit on a hill and address a varmint population at 150 yards or more, I think setting the trigger for 2.5 pounds would be advisable. Trigger adjustment is easy enough. Take down the rifle, and look to the trigger action. Simply turn the slotted screw in front of the trigger action.

This trigger and the rifle’s overall quality and good fit are part of the reason the rifle is so accurate. The barrel is short but stiff and fluted toward the muzzle. The barrel lug features a tight fit to the stock. The barrel is stamped with a 1:9-inch twist. The barrel twist is important in a .223 rifle, but then this is a 5.56. This rifle is incrementally better suited to 40-grain varmint loads than the faster 1:7 twist. While it is a thrice-told tale, the .223 Remington and the 5.56 NATO are not quite the same. With the NATO chamber, this rifle can safely use surplus ammunition without difficulty.

Federal 62-grain Vital Shok

Federal’s 62-grain Vital Shok is consistently accurate and by any standard one of the top .223 Remington loads in the country.

For accuracy testing, I mounted a Nikko Stirling 3x9x40mm scope. Like you, I looked across the Cheaper Than Dirt! catalog and found a combination of affordability and utility. I wanted something easy to sight in, practical and that didn’t cost a month’s pay. As it turned out, the Nikko Stirling gave good results. The rifle is well balanced and looks good when properly set up. Accuracy limitations are more about the shooter than the rifle. Getting the butt into the shoulder, grasping the forend correctly and controlling the trigger are what count with this rifle. Recoil is light, hardly a consideration. There is no muzzlebrake, as is fashionable for some rifles, and it’s something I can do without.

The rifle proved quite accurate on the range. I’ve seen rifles that were dogs and did not improve, and others that were superbly accurate from the beginning. The Mossberg MVP is the most accurate rifle I’ve fired in the weight class. This means you have to pay attention to detail. It’s a joy to lug across the field due to its light weight, but you also have to learn to stabilize it. This isn’t a benchrest rifle, but it will serve well in the field.

The first load I tested was the affordable American Eagle 50-grain JHP. I used this to get the rifle sighted in and an initial feel for the MVP. Results were good, with a three-shot group of 1.5 inches at 100 yards. Since this is a varmint rifle, I tried the Federal 40-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip. This is a great choice for vaporizing varmints, with typical Federal quality control. Results were excellent, with a .8-inch three-shot group at 100 yards. I wanted to try at least one heavier bullet, so I loaded the Federal 62-grain Fusion. This number put three bullets into .9-inch. (Remember, I was not cleaning the barrel or letting it cool between shots.) The .223/5.56 rifle is regarded as an accurate combination, but the MVP is a tack driver, and accuracy comes easily to a practiced shooter who pays attention to stabilizing it.

Where does this rifle fit in? Just about anywhere, and it’s behind the rear seat of the truck at present. For varmints and predators, this is a great choice. For those who like to hunt deer-size game with the .223, with the proper heavy bullet load it would serve as well or better than most. For those trapped in one of the People’s Republics or the Left Coast where the AR-15 is limited, the MVP would serve well. It’s more of a hunter than a tactical rifle, but its versatility is obvious.

Bolt guns are known as the silent killers and Mossberg has a hit with the MVP. Share your thoughts about the MVP or bolt guns in general in the comment section.

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Comments (1)

  • VT Patriot

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    Great write up. Seens Nossberg is often considered a small player in the bolt action rifle field. I’ve had a Mossy for about 5-6 years in 243 that is well built, nicely finished and very accurate. I’m more than tempted to give this new baby a try in 223. It would nice to bring only one ammo for 2 guns, this and the AR.

    Reply

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