It is no secret that the 5.56 NATO cartridge is a great varmint round. In addition to that, military surplus ammunition is widely available, and most important of all, it’s cheap. That makes my AR-15 a perfect varmint gun right? Perhaps it is, but there are now other options besides Stoner’s legendary military carbine. Enter the Mossberg MVP. This rifle has several things going for it. It is accurate, economical, well built, and it takes AR mags. That’s right, you can use your standard AR-15 magazines in your hunting rifle. Of all the cool things we were able to see at the 2012 SHOT Show, for me, this varmint rifle really stood out. The point of this gun is to have a rifle that you can throw in the truck and use while hovering over a prairie dog town. You can use the extra large magazine capacity to play a live version of Whac-A-Mole. The barrel is is a fluted 24-inch medium bull barrel and will hold up to an impressive amount of use. Mossberg based the MVP on the 4×4 action, so it is a proven design. The gun feeds rounds flawlessly thanks to an odd little Drop Push Bolt that points in the southernmost position. For some reason, they fluted the body of the bolt, too. I’m not sure if Mossberg did this to save weight or something, but it does look cool. I was impressed at how well the magazine fits into the mag well. It seems to fit better than some budget AR lowers. The magazine release sits just forward of the mag well, and works flawlessly.
Mossberg’s Lightning Bolt Action Trigger works very well. Shooters can make an adjustment to the trigger weight in just minutes, with little instruction. A 2.5-pound trigger is easy to obtain right off the bat. The barrel twists in at 1:9, and Mossberg chambered it for 5.56, instead of the .223. Mossberg’s explanation to this feature was that military surplus ammo was plentiful and inexpensive, and they wanted the rifle to work well with it. Most people classify 5.56 and .223 as identical, but they actually aren’t. The NATO round burns a bit hotter, and this rifle is prepared for it.
There were only two complaints we found with this rifle. First, it fills with gunk very quickly. This rifle tends to be difficult to clean, but that’s no big deal for me, since I find that cleaning my guns is a relaxing pastime. Second, you have to make sure you catch the spring when cycling the weapon. If you aren’t careful, you can slide the extractor all the way out of the bolt, and then you have a pile of parts where your bolt used to be. These are minor complaints, and with proper use, won’t even be an issue. Overall, this is an excellent varminter rifle fit for a lifetime of use. I can’t wait to get my hands on one permanently.