Range Report: Mossberg Patriot Predator .243, by The Novice

The Mossberg Patriot Predator chambered in .243 Winchester is an attractive, easily carried, and smoothly operating firearm. It would be an excellent choice as an entry-level deer rifle.

The Backstory

Last year I did a range report on the Browning BAR Mk3 in .243 Winchester.

The BAR is a great gun, but with a manufacturer suggested retail price of $1,339.99 it is a bit pricey for many of us. As a result, I wanted to review a more moderately priced alternative. The Mossberg Patriot Predator in .243 seemed like a good choice. With a manufacturer-suggested retail price of $484 the Mossberg is much more affordable than the BAR.

The recent gun buying panic made it difficult to obtain a sample for testing for a time. But when things calmed down a little, Mossberg kindly remembered my request. They recently sent a Predator for me to review.

First Impressions

With a 22-inch barrel, the rifle is an almost ideal length. It is long enough to get excellent performance from its ammo, but short enough to be easy to handle.

I liked the shape and feel of the stock, and the location and operation of the safety near the right thumb.

The barrel is nicely fluted, and the muzzle is threaded as well. The gun arrived a little oily. It was not saturated with oil like many firearms are when they come from the factory, but I did get the sense that a good cleaning would be in order.

The magazine proved very easy to insert and remove. It is made out of polymer, and appears a little flimsy. I wondered how a fully loaded magazine might hold up to being dropped on a hard surface on a cold day.

In addition to the rifle, bolt, and magazine, the box contained several stickers advertising Mossberg, a lock, a manual, two distinct safety booklets from NSSF, and an invitation to join the NRA.

Like most modern rifles, the Patriot Predator did not come with iron sights. I like iron sights. A picture in the manual showed a version of the rifle with iron sights. I was intrigued. I wondered if this might be an option. Further research revealed that iron sights are included on the .450 Bushmaster, but are not available with any other chamberings of the Predator. This was a bitter disappointment.

The bag containing the bolt included a warning about twisting the bolt sleeve incorrectly. I read the instructions carefully, and then somehow inserted the bolt incorrectly anyway. When the rifle would not dry fire after bolt insertion, I reread the directions, tried again, and got it right the second time around. I was extremely impressed with the factory trigger as well as the smooth operation of the bolt.

I then read the manual in its entirety, including all of the safety warnings. I learned that the end-user can adjust the trigger pull from approximately two to seven pounds.

The manual includes clear procedures for handling hangfire and squibs. I have not noticed similar directions in other rifle manuals, and felt that they would be helpful for new gun owners.

The manual indicates that the bolt can be removed from the barreled action, and that the barreled action can be removed from the stock, but recommends that any further disassembly be left to a qualified gunsmith.

The manual also outlined an excellent function testing procedure including checks of bolt movement, the trigger blade, the safety, safety release, and dry fire. It also describes Mossberg’s two year limited warrantee.


My biggest initial challenge was finding ammo for testing. There was simply no .243 ammo available locally or at my favorite online vendors. The prices on Gunbroker were outrageous. I bid on several auctions without success. Finally, one of my trusted online vendors was briefly restocked, and I put in my order. The ammo ended up costing me about twice as much as it would have cost about a year ago.

Scope and Cheek Rest

My preferred scope for rifle testing and evaluation is a Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9X40 Tri-MOA. Each time I mount the scope, the process gets easier. The Predator stock includes an integral cheek rest, which made sighting through the scope more natural. The comb was just a little too low for the medium rings I was using, so I slipped a neoprene cheek rest holder over the buttstock, inserted several layers of cardboard cutouts into the riser pocket, and then secured everything in place with some strategically placed duct tape. If I owned the rifle, I would probably forgo the neoprene sleeve, and tape the risers directly to the synthetic stock with appropriately colored duct tape. But since the rifle was borrowed, I decided not to risk leaving glue residue on the stock.

The First Range Session

I took the rifle to the range behind my barn for testing. It was a grey, mid-November day. The temperature was about 37 degrees. The ground was wet from recently melted snow. A light breeze was rustling in the tops of the trees, but could barely be felt at ground level.

I began by placing the rifle in a Caldwell Lead Sled 3, and sighting the bottom center target through the bore. I then checked the crosshairs of the scope, and found them sighted in the same general vicinity.

Next, I chambered a single round of Federal Power Shok 100-grain JSP and put the crosshairs on the center of the target. As I sighted, I could see my pulse causing minute tremors of the crosshairs over the bullseye. I began to gently squeeze the trigger, and the rifle discharged more quickly than I expected. The trigger was unusually light and smooth.

The first shot was two inches high, and three and a half inches right of the center of the target. I adjusted the scope, chambered a second round, and squeezed the trigger again. The second shot was properly adjusted for windage, but was about one inch too low. I loaded and fired two more shots with similar results. I adjusted the scope again.

A few drops of rain fell, but quickly petered out. My next couple of three-shot groups were still just a smidgen low, so I made one final slight adjustment to the scope. I then fired several more three and four-shot groups.

The earliest groups were impressively tight, but the last couple opened up a bit. I am not sure if I was getting sloppy, or if the rifle is less accurate with a warm barrel than with a cold one.

My first impressions were very positive. The polymer magazine is extremely easy to remove, load, and reseat. It fits flush with the bottom of the rifle, which is a plus. The bolt operates extremely smoothly, and the trigger is outstanding. Accuracy is very good, especially when the rifle is cold. This is not the very most accurate rifle I have ever shot, but it is better than average. Overall, I was extremely pleased.

The Second Range Session

Five days later I returned to the range for another session. It was an overcast day, about 40 degrees, with the sun peeking through from time to time.

I tested the magazine to see how many rounds it would hold. It was just possible to squeeze six rounds into the magazine, but the magazine could not be seated with the bolt closed when loaded in this way. The magazine could be seated while fully loaded with six rounds if the bolt was open, or it could be seated with five rounds if the bolt was closed, giving the rifle a maximum capacity of 5+1.

I fired some six-shot groups from sandbags rather than from the lead sled. The rifle is light enough that its recoil was a little more noticeable than I expected for a rifle chambered in .243. Although noticeable, the recoil was not horrible.

I continued to be impressed with the excellent trigger, the smoothness of the bolt, and the ease of inserting and removing the magazine.

I also fired a group off-hand. It is amazing how much less recoil is felt firing off-hand than firing from a bench rest. Unfortunately, firing off-hand is also much less accurate. Whenever possible, it is best to fire from a braced position.


The Mossberg Patriot Predator in .243 is an attractive, reasonably-priced, entry-level rifle for hunting deer sized game. It has an outstanding trigger, a smoothly operating bolt, and a well-placed safety. It is light, and of a convenient length. The polymer magazine does not look impressive but operates extremely well. It is not accurate enough to be a target rifle, but is more than accurate enough to serve as an excellent hunting rifle. Anyone looking for an entry-level deer rifle would be well served by the Mossberg Patriot Predator in .243.


Mossberg was kind enough to loan me the Mossberg Patriot Predator in .243 for testing and evaluation. Previously, I had received samples and written articles about the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9X40 scope and the Caldwell Lead Sled 3. I tried not to let the kindness of these vendors influence my evaluation of their products, and I believe that I have succeeded. I did not receive any other financial or other inducements to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.