Gun Review: Mossberg Patriot Dangerous-Game Rifle

We put the company's first dangerous game rifle through its paces

patriot rifle by mossberg
The Patriot comes with scope bases already affixed to the receiver.Rab Cummings

The Patriot heralds a new direction for Mossberg, one that the company is excited about, and rightly so. This rifle is the finest gun Mossberg has built recently both in terms of its performance and its aesthetics.

The latter observation is the more evident of the two. The Patriot doesn’t have a typical Mossberg look. I’m not sure there is a kind way to put it, but pretty rifles with sleek lines have not been a hallmark of the company to date. The ATR, 4x4, and MVP Flex rifles, to offer up some modern examples, have their virtues, but sex appeal is not among them.

The Patriot, in contrast, has a readily identifiable classic American look. The company crafted the stock along the lines of the Winchester Model 70. One could do much worse than to mimic the flat comb and other proportions of that iconic silhouette.

Other refined touches on the stock include a raised cheekpiece, an attractive laminate wood stock, and a thick recoil pad that is seamlessly fitted to the buttstock. Looking down the length of the rifle, another thing that jumps out are the two crossbolts running through the stock. These also indicate that Mossberg is doing something different.

Built for Big Critters
Crossbolts, used to add strength to a stock that is subjected to heavy recoil, are common on dangerous-game rifles. The Patriot is chambered in the heavy-hitting .375 Ruger, which qualifies it for use on the Big Nasties of Africa, and this is the first time Mossberg has wandered into this territory.

I carried this rifle in Alaska on a 10-day hunt for grizzly bears last fall and had no reservations about doing so. Not only is the cartridge an excellent choice for big bears, but the rifle performed in a way that gave me confidence while I crept along brush-choked streams in search of a big boar.

With its 22-inch sporter-weight barrel, the Patriot is light and handy. Mine weighed just 7 pounds 6 ounces unscoped and moved in a lively fashion while shooting. The thick recoil pad helped tame the rifle’s substantial kick but wasn’t so sticky that it would hang up on my jacket when I brought it to my shoulder. The two-position safety by the bolt shroud was simple and instinctive to use, and the crisp trigger made it easy to break the shot when desired.

STATS
Caliber .375 Ruger
Capacity 3+1
Weight 7 lb. 6 oz.
Trigger Pull 2 lb. 4 oz.
Barrel Length 22 in.
Overall Length 42 ¾ in.
Price $584
Contact mossberg.com

Cloverleaf Accuracy
The action cycled smoothly for me, and the gun fed and ejected without any issues.

The rifle’s accuracy is also excellent. With dangerous-game rifles, I eschew Outdoor Life’s typical 5-shot protocol for shooting groups in favor of the more common 3-shot groups, out of respect for my shoulder. Though shooting the Patriot off the bench wasn’t pleasant, the tiny groups it made at 100 yards were as lovely as you could ask for. Group sizes averaged 0.896 inches using three different bullet weights and styles. The smallest group was 0.571 inches with Hornady’s 250-gr. GMX round.

Getting that kind of accuracy requires a lot of things from a rifle. I already mentioned the Patriot’s nice trigger. Add to that a well-made barrel and good ammo, and that nearly explains it. But another key to accuracy is a solid connection between the action and stock, and the Patriot has a simple but smart way of doing that.

The magazine well is actually part of a large polymer insert with two tabs that jut off it, one that points toward the muzzle and another that points toward the buttpad. These tabs are sandwiched between the action and the stock so that when the guard screws are tightened down, they create a solid anchor that binds the two together, enhancing accuracy.

The detachable box magazine is the only part of the rifle I had any issues with. It functions very well, is easy to load, and slips into and out of the magazine well in a positive fashion. My gripe with it was this: The magazine is meant to take three .375 Ruger shells, but I was able to stuff a fourth in there without too much effort. Unfortunately, with four in the magazine, the rounds won’t feed. Also, when I went to pry out the top cartridge, I took a chip out of the magazine feed lip. Being a thorough gun reviewer—or a slow learner, take your pick—I did this twice, both times with similar results.

Budget Beater
I'm not sure if this counts as saving the best news for last, given how well the rifle performed, but the MSRP on the Patriot is $584, which makes it an exceptional value. For a rifle that can take any game on earth, the Patriot in .375 Ruger is easily the best bargain out there.

PERFORMANCE
Handling 10
Reliablity 8
Accuracy 10
Meets Purpose 8
Versatility 9

DESIGN
Craftsmanship 9
Ergonomics 9
Durability 10
Aesthetics 9
Value 10

TOTAL: 92

Notable Features:

laminate wood stock patriot
It can be difficult to adorn laminate wood stocks with traditional checkering that looks good. Mossberg’s answer was to laser-engrave the stock with stippling contained within borders defined by fine lines. This solution is attractive and provides excellent grip.Rab Cummings
detachable magazine
Detachable box magazines are not typically found on dangerous-game rifles, the concern being that it could fall free mid–buffalo charge. But people shoot dangerous game with single-shot rifles frequently, so that wouldn’t deter me from using it on safari.Rab Cummings