Review: Mossberg MVP Patrol 5.56mm NATO (223 Remington) and 7.62 NATO (308 Winchester)

A recent trip to a local sporting goods store turned me into a Mossberg rifle owner.  Not only did I buy one, I bought two, a 5.56mm NATO (223 Remington) and 7.62mm NATO (308 Winchester). Like many, my Mossberg experience was limited to their 500 and 590 shotguns- and while I like the 590A1 series guns, I’ve always had an aversion to the 500 .   Because of this experience, I’ve been skeptical of the anecdotal reviews of the Mossberg MVP rifles I’ve read online (companies with big advertising budgets rarely have critical reviews), so I figured this would be the chance to put the rifles through their paces.

Mossberg uses “5.56mm NATO(223 REM.)” and “7.62mm NATO (308 WIN)” as caliber designations for these rifles.  Informally amongst shooters these designations may be used interchangeably, they are in fact different (a fact that has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere on the internet).  The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI) specifications for 308 Winchester can be found here and 223 Remington can be found here.  These differ from the NATO specifications for the similar chambers.   According to their Technical Data Sheet/ Unsafe Firearm and Ammunition Combinations, 5.56mm NATO should not be fired in a 223 Remington chamber.  Mossberg, by designating their rifles in such a matter, presumably feels it is safe to fire both the SAAMI and NATO equivalent in their rifles.

MVP 762 and 556

The Mossberg MVP product line is based off of the Patriot line of bolt action rifles.  What makes the MVP series unique, the ability to feed from commonly available detachable magazines.  The 223 MVP feeds from a standard AR-15/M16 M4 magazine, while the 308 MVP rifle feeds from either a AR-15 DPMS AR308 or M14 magazine.  The ability to readily accept these magazines at a fairly low price point undoubtedly has contributed to the obvious commercial success of the series of rifle.

The MVP Patrol rifles are equipped with 16.25″ barrels, iron sights, and a threaded muzzle with a flash hider.

To get a better look at what makes the Mossberg MVP Patrol line of rifles tick, I took them both apart.

Mossberg MVP actions 1

The MVP barreled actions, you’ll notice they are both round actions, with the 5.56mm NATO (223 REM) (bottom) being smaller in length and diameter than the 7.62 mm NATO (308 Winchester) action (top).  The barrels use a barrel nut system, similar to a Savage to set final headspace.  A separate recoil lug, similar to those found on the Remington 700/ Savage Model 10/110 rifles, is secured in between the barrel nut (smooth nut with a hole on the bottom for a spanner wrench) and action.  Note the rear action screw location is not located on the tang and is forward of the trigger guard, similar to the Savage 10/110.  Action screws on both rifles were coated in thread locking compound.  This is notable, since the included scope rails did NOT have thread locker installed at the factory.  Headspace on the 5.56 mm rifle was 1.464″+ and the 7.62 mm rifle was 1.633″+.  The safety is located toward the right rear of the action.

Mossberg MVP actions 3

The opposite sides of the barreled actions.  On both actions note the vent hole hole for escaping gases from a ruptured primer on the front of the action behind the recoil lug.  Note the camming surface for the bolt on the rear of the action, this helps facilitate primary extraction.  Average trigger pull for the 5.56 mm rifle was 3 pounds 14.6 ounces over five pulls, and 3 pounds 1.9 ounces for the 7.62 mm NATO.

Mossbegr MVP bolts 556 bottom 762 top

Both the 7.62 mm NATO (top) and 5.56 mm NATO (bottom) bolts come with spiral flutes from the factory.  While I grown to think they only serve an aesthetic purpose, this is a nice feature for an entry level rifle.

DSC_0854

The bottom of the MVP bolts are designed to feed rounds from standard detachable box magazines.  Note the 5.56mm MVP (left) has a protrusion that swings down on a pin, while the 7.62 mm MVP (right) uses two nubs.

Mossberg MVP bolt face

Both rifles use a spring loaded ejector and extractor.  The 5.56mm NATO bolt face is shown above.

DSC_0859

The 7.62mm NATO bolt face.

Mossberg MVP barrels top 308 bottom 223

The MVP Patrol rifles, shown above, have a 16.25″ long medium bull barrel that is threaded for a standard A2 style flash hider at the end.  The rifles are both equipped with a set of iron sights from the factory, the front sight has a fiberoptic insert.

Mossberg MVP rear sight

A view of the rear sight.  Note it is adjustable for windage and elevation with a small screwdriver.

Mossberg MVP stocks, 762 bottom

Both rifles are fitted with synthetic stocks.  The 5.56 mm NATO MVP’s stock (top) is noticeably lighter than the 7.62 mm NATO’s (bottom).  Both are equipped with QD studs at the front and rear from the factory.

mossberg mvp stocks 762 bottom

Both versions of the MVP use a polymer “bottom metal” system which is quite different to a system you would expect to encounter on a Remington 700 or Savage 10/110.  The 5.56mm version (top) accepts standard AR-15/M16 M4 magazines, while the 7.62 mm NATO version (bottom) accepts either 308 AR DPMS style or M14 magazines.  Note the trigger guard isn’t part of a traditional bottom metal system on either version of the rifle.  It is secured to the stock with a screw at it’s rear.  The rear action screw goes through the front of the trigger guard and the front action screw goes through a washer or escutcheon on both models.  The part of the stock that accepts the magazine is known as a “magazine guide”, this is pushed through from the top of the stock.

Mossberg 556 MVP stock top 762 bottom

A look at the insides of both stocks.  The material used to build the stock for the 7.62 mm NATO MVP (bottom) is more dense than that used in the 5.56 mm MVP.  Note both rifles have metal pillar sleeves to surround the action screws.  The magazine guide assembly is forced over these sleeves and contact the action when it is installed.

MOSSBERG 556 and 762 MVP side view top

To evaluate the rifles in the field the equipped them with an optic and bipod.

The 5.56 mm NATO MVP (top) was equipped with:

The 7.62 mm NATO MVP (bottom) was equipped with:

To test accuracy, I fired them prone, from a bipod with rear bag.  A IPSC target was placed at 50 yards to bore sight and gain a rough zero, then I moved to 100 yards and shot on 2″ orange dots.

First up, I shot the MVP in 7.62 mm NATO.

MVP 308 target

The first few groups were erratic, mostly because of my rookie mistake to Locktite the factory scope base.  It was tight when I bought it, but quickly worked loose.  I managed to fire the following five shot groups at 100 yards; Winchester 147 grain FMJ 1.929″ (2704 feet/second, SD 24.0), IMI 150 grain FMJ 2.525″ (2582 feet/second, SD 14.2), Federal 175 grain Gold Medal 2.668″ (2351 feet/second, SD 17.4), Federal 168 grain Gold Medal 1.817″ (2447 feet/second, SD 13.7)  and Hornady 168 grain TAP 3.353″ (2362 feet/second, SD 13.7).  Average group size was 2.844″ (2.716 MOA).

Next up, the MVP 5.56 mm NATO (223 REM).

MVP 556 target at range

I ran into the same problem (and rookie mistake) of no locktite on the factory supplied and installed rail for this rifle.  Once it was resolved, I managed to shoot the following 5 shot groups; PMC 55 grain FMJ 2.199″ (2645 feet/second, SD 46.7- not a typo), Black Hills 68 grain match 2.390″ and 1.389″ (2685 feet/second, SD 26.1), Federal Gold Medal 69 grain .937″ and 1.336″ (2554 feet/second, SD 28.7), and ASYM 75 grain 3.426″ and 2.362″ (2640 feet/second, SD 49.2).  Average group size was 2.006″ (1.926 MOA).

Mossberg MVP 556 fed gold medal

Between the two rifles, this was the best group, .937″ with the 223 Remington Federal Gold Medal.  This ammunition uses the excellent 69 grain Sierra MatchKing (SMK).

almost great group moss mvp 556

This Federal Gold Medal 69 grain SMK group looked really promising (.449″) until the fifth and final shot opened it up (1.336″).  That wasn’t shooter or wind, the gun just sent that round all the way over there by itself.

After my initial accuracy testing, I quite a bit of time shooting both rifles under field conditions.  Both rifle functioned with 100% reliability during this time.

Here are my thoughts on the Mossberg MVP Patrol rifles:

  1. I like the 5.56 mm NATO (223 REM) better than the 7.62 mm NATO (308 WIN) version.  The rifle has a slick little action, used more readily available magazines, and was more accurate in our testing. Take a look at the pictures above, note how much more stream lined the smaller rifle appears, these looks carry over too function and handling.
  2. Felt recoil on the 7.62 mm NATO (308 WIN) MVP was noticeable, as it would be for any light, bolt action rifle in that caliber.  The gun wasn’t nearly as pleasant to shoot or operate.  Precision wasn’t as good as its smaller counterpart.
  3. It is about time shooters got what they want.  Mossberg was dialed into consumers for this one.  I can list a myriad of reasons not to market a bolt rifle with a short barrel, flash hider, and MSR style magazine system, however, it is still pretty cool and people like it.  While the MVP may be lacking a hefty price tag and the panache and refinement of a custom built precision rifle, it is a hoot to shoot.  When Ruger made the RPR, they didn’t build a better mousetrap, they built the one the shooters wanted and it took off.  Lots of lessons for manufacturers to learn here.  If Remington was as responsive to the shooting community, you’d see a 700 SPS in 6.5 Creedmoor with an AICS magazine system for a reasonable price and they would sell by the thousands.
  4. Both rifles were 100% reliable in feeding, firing, extraction and ejection during testing (I fired a couple hundred rounds through each).  I wish I could say that about every rifle I lay my hands on.
  5. As is expected, the stock profiles on both rifles work well for iron sights or non-magnified optics use.  The stock height is low for use with magnified optics.
  6. The stock, bottom metal and magazine system make accuracy work, such as bedding difficult for these rifles.   To upgrade the stock system, I would suggest looking at the MDT LSS.
  7. A better scout rifle?  Jeff Cooper’s scout rifle concept has been around for decades, while some will say it’s a pistol experts idea of the ideal rifle, it is notable in the gun community.  While these rifles don’t meet all of Cooper’s criteria, some do.  In the spirit of the scout rifle, the MVP Patrol’s open sights, short barrel and detachable magazine system make for a handy little rifle.
  8. Fun.  While I don’t see a future for this in a professional capacity such as military or law enforcement use (despite the cool ads Mossberg runs), it is a pretty neat rifle for the recreational shooter who wants to send rounds downrange.