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Mossberg MVP LC (308 Win) and Long range (223 Rem) rifles

This is an unusual test, as I have two rifles in two different calibres that are essentially, with the exceptions of some fixtures and fittings, the same animal. Also, I have tested some aspects of both before as we shall see. MVP stands for Mossberg Varmint Predator and they offer a wide choice of guns; a few months ago I tested the MVP Predator in 223 Rem, this showed a medium-weight, 24” 1-9” twist barrel in a laminate, Bench Rest (BR) style stock, feed was from an AR15-style magazine. Price-wise at around £700 it was a good rifle, OK a bit rattly in places but it shot well and had a deal of potential. This one is also available in 204 Ruger and 308 and this chassis forms the basis of the whole MVP range.

NEW CLOTHES

On test here are the more tactical offerings, with the MVP LC (Light Chassis) in 308 Win/7.62 NATO and LR (Long Range) in 223 Rem/5.56x45. Like the more sporting Predator, these calibres can switch between models. With few exceptions the mechanics are identical and feed is from appropriate Magpul P-Mags or similar 223/308 AR15 platform and also M14-type magazines. From the box this means a capacity of 10 + 1 as standard.

Where the rifles really differ is in their furniture, with the LC using the MDT (Modular Driven Technologies Corp.) alloy unit that accepts AR15 pistol grips and buffer tubes and therefore any AR/CAR15-style butt assembly and comes with a Magpul CTR butt! The beauty of this is it’s pre-machined, complete with recoil pocket for the action, so no need for bedding etc. Combine this with a generous free-float and, as I discovered, the LC is a shooter straight from the box! It also comes with a Caldwell non-cant bipod, whereas the LR doesn’t.

The LR wears a green synthetic version of the Predator’s laminate BR stock, with an adjustable comb and two x QD sling studs up front and one at the rear. Pillar bedded as standard, it too offers a full free-float, which is certainly better executed than on the laminate Predator. There’s also a push-button adjustable comb, with a rubberized Mosscote™ finish. The downside is the non-negotiable, 13.25” length of pull (LOP); come on guys I’ve seen junior air rifles with better than that! I asked Mossberg why and also if they do a spacer kit, which would seem logical, they said: “We do not offer a space kit for the MVP. Please visit our website so you can see the variety of firearms we offer with a space kit.” Why not, as they went to all the trouble of making an adjustable comb, to then spoil it with a too short LOP!

COMMON COMPONENTS

The basic mechanism shows a fluted bolt with a large handle, the safety is a 2-position lever rear/right of the action and on the left is a push-down bolt release. The receiver shows a one-piece Weaver rail, which makes fitting optics easier! Though both use generic AR magazines, they approach the release catch differently. The LC has a modified version of the original AR system, with the button rear/right of the mag well. The LR has a pull-back catch at the front of the well, which actuates the standard side release. The trigger is what Mossberg calls their LBA Adjustable, which is similar to the Savage AccuTrigger, including a central inner blade and can be set up from 3-7lbs.

Due to the choice of feed system the bolt is distinctive, as up front this twin lug design with plunger-type ejector looks very standard. However, the 6 o’clock section of the bolt head shows a hinged feed arm that pushes the rounds out, then swings up as the bolt is withdrawn on the ejection stroke. One unusual aspect of the design is the magazine-actuated last round hold open, a feature found more on military bolt-action rifles. It’s a bit of a mixed blessing; as it precludes single loading, unless you remember to short-stroke the bolt.

RATES AND MEASURES

The barrels are medium/heavy, half-fluted, with the LC’s being the heavier of the two. They are carbon steel and phosphate-type finished as are the receivers, which fits in well with the tactical theme and feel of these two. The 20” 223 LR came threaded ½ x 28 UNEF (with protector) so will take any/all AR attachments and offers the tight, military twist of 1-7”. The LC’s is 18.5” with a 1-10” pitch and was fitted with a Silencer Co Saker Trifecta muzzlebrake, which offers three ports venting each side.

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The twist rates are debatable, as 1-7” in 223 means heavy bullets 75-77-grains, which are not a popular choice in the UK. It has doubtless been done to fit in with the identical NATO standard rate, which might give the rifle more appeal with military and police. The 1-10” of the 308 LR also means it will shoot better with heavier bullets; up to a point. The 18.5” works well though looses a little velocity; I feel 20” or 22” would be better? In the LC there’s the option of the Tactical, which is identical but with an even shorter 16.5” barrel in both calibres, though with the same twist rates.

GET DOWN

Ammo-wise I did not have all I wanted! In 308; 150-grain Hornady Superformance GMX (non-lead monolithic hollow point), GECO 165-grain ballistic tip, Hornady 168- TAP A-MAX and Remington 180-grain SP Express. In 223 I had: Hornady 53-grain HP Match, PPU 55-grain FMJ, 75-gain PPU Match BTHP and some reloads - 55-grain Hornady V-MAX over 24,5-grains of Varget, which I had been working up for my 1-8” straight-pull Speedmaster.

I fitted a Hawke 4-16x50 Endurance 30 SF to the LC and a Vortex 6-24x50 to the LR. The 223 also got a Harris BRS bipod and a Wildcat EVO10 moddy; I also put a BRS on the LC, as that Caldwell pod was not all that; even though it looks like a Harris; it ain’t!

Getting down behind the MVPs showed up some plus and minus points. The LR’s 13.25” LOP meant the scope has to be pushed as far forward as possible, even then I was cranking my head back a little. Reach-forward mounts and/or a set of spacers would be mandatory for my needs! The LR’s adjustable comb is good and solves any cheek weld/eye scope issues. However with NV on board, the shorter LOP is to be appreciated! The 223 mag feels a bit slack when engaged, though feed was not affected it’s just annoying, also and with the bolt closed the release catch is very stiff!

COMB REQUIRED

The LC, with its length-adjustable butt did not show any LOP problems, and it’s lockable so you don’t get that rattly feel as you can with similar systems! However, the high scope mount and no comb left the head floating a tad. The website shows the same butt with a clip-on comb section that cures this, but my tester did not come with anything. If I was considering this model I’d go with a LUTH-AR CAR 15 butt, which has an adjustable comb and LOP as standard. Magpul’s PRS (precision rifle stock) could be another option, but you’d need a full-length (A2) buffer tube, which might make it a tad too long!

The rubber, Magpul MOE pistol grip is full and features the fill-in back strap, so offering a good trigger finger position. MDT’s Light Chassis system is good and 100% rigid as well as free-floating the medium/ heavy barrel. There are five holes underneath, so you can move the QD sling stud for the bipod position you want. For off-hand work I found the forend too slim, OK, perhaps not a concern on a rifle like this, but the option of putting on rails with guards on top would be nice.

ON THE LINE

With everything sorted it was time to turn live into empty and I started with the LC! The 165 GECO was printing an inch at 100m, which did not surprise me as the 1-10 twist would seem better suited to this weight area. The 180 Remington proved a bit heavy, with groups of 2-3” and the 150 Superformance was similar with ragged 2-4” clusters. I did not have any lead-cored ammo in this weight and I do know that GMX can be rifle-fussy in terms of accuracy. For example my Ruger Scout rifle which is also 18.5” loves it! No prizes however for the winner – the 168-grain TAP with its A-MAX bullet was literally cutting one-hole groups, as a 308 load it has always been my favourite. However, I reckon moving up to lead-cored 155-grain pills would strike a good compromise and later I loaded up some Sierra Tipped Match Kings in that weight and they were shooting 3/4” easily. The muzzle brake certainly played its part, really taming the recoil of all the loads; however blast is aggressive!

The 223 was simpler and a lot more dictatorial, as its 1-7” twist is really designed for heavier bullets, which in the past I have had mixed success with. It was OK ish with the 75-grain PPU Match, shooting 2”, however, I have used this load through my 1-8” AR15 and it does sub-1”; go figure! The 53-grain Hornady Match fared about the same, but I did find a compromise in my 55-grain V-MAX reload. It ran a lot slower at 2850 FPS, but and like the 168 TAP was shooting tiny, bug hole groups. This is often the way to use lighter bullets in a tight twist tube, but it does rob velocity, which in a 223 you want. To prove this the 55-grain FMJ PPU doing a more respectable 3100 FPS was scattering it’s groups at around 2-3”; again this shoots more respectably in my AR!

END GAME

Overall two good rifles, with a few grey areas. My favourite by far was the LC in 308 Win, as that shoots very well with off-the shelf ammo in an acceptable twist rate. Though a higher or adjustable combed butt would be better. I like what the LR has to offer but would never buy a 1-7 twist 223 as I do not want or need the hassle of heavier, non-hunting bullets. OK, I did not have any 62-grain loads, which might make it more generally acceptable, so the jury is out on that one! The short LOP is annoying, though reach-forward mounts would help, but a spacer kit would be better. For the UK the 24”, 1-9” twist Predator action in the LR stock would be a far better option for most uses!

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